Red Sox

John Henry on Red Sox hiring Alex Cora: 'We needed change'

John Henry on Red Sox hiring Alex Cora: 'We needed change'

BOSTON — Alex Cora is here and John Farrell is not because there was a prevailing feeling at the end of the season that the Red Sox needed change, owner John Henry said on Monday.

THE RED SOX HIRE ALEX CORA

“We didn't just change managers,” Henry said after Cora’s introductory press conference at Fenway Park. “I think when the end of the season came, we were all of the mind that we needed change. Sometimes an organization benefits from change. We decided that the organization would benefit. John had a tremendous tenure here; back-to-back division championships is a really difficult thing. Sometimes you want change not just because of your results but there's a time and a place for it. We thought this was really the right time.”

Henry and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner were coincidentally in New York when the Red Sox interviewed Cora during the postseason, Henry said. So they were a part of the interview as well. 

"Interview processes are limited,” Henry said. “It doesn't matter what industry you're in, but it's obviously, we left there really impressed with Alex's philosophy: the way he broke down our team and his team, the things he had to say with regard to what he thought he could bring."

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said seven people were part of the interview process in all. Dombrowski's hiring of Tony La Russa didn't strongly suggest Dombrowski was on the lookout for the newest ideas, but to his credit, he had a wide range of people involved in Cora's hiring.

"They were all very thorough," Dombrowski said. "I thought it was important to have a mixture of individuals there, people from scouting and front office perspective. Also then having somebody like [vice president for baseball research and development Zack Scott] from the analytical perspective. And I wanted [vice president of player personnel] Jared Banner, a lot of people don’t know Jared he’s a very sharp baseball but he’s much younger, [at age 31], so I thought it was good to get perspective of all different ages in there. And when we got done we would sit down and visit and talk about it and everybody said at that point if somebody else is going to be our manager after this, they’re going to be outstanding because all of us felt so good about our meeting with Alex."

Henry said he wanted the best man, not the best man of a certain ethnicity. Henry is the first owner in Red Sox history to hire a minority as manager, with Cora hailing from Puerto Rico. On Monday, Henry said he was not seeking out anyone but the best available candidate.

“How significant is it?” Henry said when asked about hiring the team’s first minority manager. “In my mind, it did not play a role. We chose the best man. We weren't looking to make a statement; we were looking to do the best thing for the organization.”

Cora held up the Puerto Rican flag during his press conference with Dombrowski, thanking Dombrowski for the team’s relief efforts following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The Sox said they collected money and sent some supplies.

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

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Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone"...to the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and TheAthletic.com reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  
 

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

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Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.