Red Sox

Alex Cora backtracks from holding team meeting in New York, offers muddy explanation

Alex Cora backtracks from holding team meeting in New York, offers muddy explanation

NEW YORK -- Let's just call it the team meeting that wasn't.

On Wednesday, the trade deadline passed without the Red Sox making a move. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski then very frankly acknowledged that he would've been more inclined to deal if the Red Sox were closer to first place.

Cora mentioned on Thursday he'd call a team meeting in New York to make sure everyone knew the stakes the rest of the season. Then he rethought the meeting after the Red Sox were swept by the Rays later that night.

On Friday in New York, he sounded flustered while describing his intentions, laughing nervously when asked if had changed his mind or was just kidding.

"All of the above," Cora said. "What I said two days ago is we might address where we're at after the trading deadline. Somebody asked me about the mood in the clubhouse and if they were down because we didn't add somebody that day. I said we might address it, we might not, I might talk to the guys about where we're at. They know where we're at. Then somebody asked me yesterday about the meeting and I said I might do it tomorrow, I might not. And now . . ."

On Thursday, Cora had said that calling such a meeting was "not common at all." On Friday, he clarified that what he had made sound like a formal meeting was actually nothing more than his normal day-to-day interactions.

"We always talk," he said. "The way I said it, yeah it sounded that way, but we always address stuff during the day. It can be in the food room, in the hitters' meeting, pitchers' meeting. We always try to find something positive we're doing, or if we're not doing something right, just address it. We do it on a daily basis. The way I said it was out of proportion.

"First of all, if we're going to have a team meeting, you guys are going to be the last people to know about it. And second, we communicate with the players on a daily basis. Different places. It can be at breakfast in the morning or lunch or in the clubhouse, the bus. That's the way I operate."

As for the over-arching issue -- did the lack of action at the trade deadline cause the team to play poorly on Wednesday and Thursday while Tampa was finishing a sweep? -- Cora shook his head.

"No. I just think we didn't execute pitches," he said. "Offensively we did a good job throughout the series against the Rays. If you look back, that first game we had bases loaded, two outs, with our best hitter at the plate. (Rafael Devers) hit a fly ball to left, we don't cash in. We had Christian [Vazquez] first and third, two outs, and hanging slider, and he missed it. If we put a good swing there and we score, probably the narrative would be different, like these guys are relentless and they don't care what happened on July 31 and now we go. But we didn't do it, so the narrative is going to be like, they're down and all that. But I don't think it's that."
 

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Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

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MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

The start of baseball's offseason has included some thank-the-lord movement, with a second-tier starter (Zack Wheeler) landing a $118 million deal from the Phillies and the hyperactive Rays dealing away a stalwart outfielder (Tommy Pham), much to the chagrin of ace Blake Snell.

With baseball's annual winter meetings beginning on Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, all eyes will be on Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox, who have yet to make a major move, but will soon be on the clock.

So, what can we expect? Here are five areas of focus.

1. IS THERE A MOOKIE BETTS TRADE?

The Red Sox would be crazy not to consider deals for Betts if they believe he intends on reaching free agency, which he has made clear both publicly and privately over the last two years. They'd be crazier to give him away for nothing, however, and thus begins the dance of the offseason. The question they must answer is, "How much is too little?" and then draw a line in the warning-track sand. Potential trade partners like the White Sox and Braves have already spent aggressively, which means a Betts deal likely needs to happen sooner than later, since whomever acquires him must fit $28 million into their 2019 payroll and pretty soon that money will start disappearing. One team to watch: the Dodgers, who have money to spend, prospects to trade, and a World Series hill to climb after three straight near-misses.

2. DEALING DAVID PRICE

Chris Sale just started throwing, per WEEI.com, and his five-year, $145 million extension kicks in on Opening Day. Selling low on the potentially dominant left-hander is a recipe for regret, especially since his contract could end up being pretty reasonable if he returns to health. The better trade candidate is Price, who turns 35 in August and has three years and $96 million remaining on a contract that's more likely to provide diminishing returns, but paradoxically includes fewer short-term questions. We laid out the case for Price being an actual trade asset on Thursday; as free agent pitchers leave the market, someone will be left short, and maybe Price becomes a target.

3. FINDING A STARTER (OR TWO)

Trading Price may ease the financial crunch on a team hoping to drop below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, but it will blow another hole in a rotation that's already down one starter with the presumed departure of free agent Rick Porcello. The Red Sox obviously won't be in on Astros ace Gerrit Cole or Nationals World Series hero Stephen Strasburg. They also can't afford Madison Bumgarner or maybe even old friend Wade Miley. Will they go the opener route? Take a flier on a reclamation project like Felix Hernandez or Michael Wacha? Try to turn center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. into a starter? Here's where Bloom's creativity will be put to the test.

4. SURPRISE US

Until he starts dealing, Bloom remains an enigma. He's beholden to no one on the roster, a position which allowed predecessor Dave Dombrowski to cut ties with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez while they were still owed money. Could Bloom decide a roster overhaul is in order and use a supposed foundational piece like All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts or outfielder Andrew Benintendi to swing a larger deal? We may start to get some clarity on his thoughts next week.

5. RIGHT SIDE OF THE INFIELD

At this time last year, the Red Sox were foolishly counting on 125 games out of second baseman Dustin Pedroia (he played six) and 162 out of a first base platoon of Mitch Moreland (91) and Steve Pearce (29). While some portion of either job could go to second-year slugger Michael Chavis, the Red Sox will be in the market for help at first and second, and this is a spot where Bloom helped unearth some legit finds in Tampa, from Carlos Pena to Logan Morrison to Ji-Man Choi. There should be no shortage of affordable options at first, in particular, from Justin Smoak to Travis Shaw to C.J. Cron.

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