Red Sox

Mookie Betts removed from Red Sox season ticket web page

Mookie Betts removed from Red Sox season ticket web page

Are the Red Sox sending a not-so-subtle hint about Mookie Betts' future in Boston to prospective season ticket holders?

When you visit the portion of the team website seeking new season-ticket buyers, the illustration on the web page shows Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale.

Barstool Sports' Jared Carrabis pointed out earlier this week that Betts had been removed from the illustration. The Red Sox All-Star right fielder and 2018 AL MVP, the subject of much trade speculation as the team prepares to shed payroll this offseason, actually appeared on the page in mid-August. By last week, Eduardo Rodriguez had replaced him. The current graphic has Sale on the left.  

Just like the others pictured on the page, Betts isn't a free agent...yet. Bogaerts and Sale have signed long-term extensions and the Sox are reportedly ready to talk about an extension with Devers. Betts? He'll likely receive more than $30 million for the 2020 season in arbitration then command a long-term deal of $300 million or more when he tests the free-agent market after next season.

That kind of financial commitment due the soon-to-be-27-year-old (happy birthday on Monday, Mookie) - and Red Sox ownership's admission that their goal is to get under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold - has led many to believe that Betts will be traded this winter.

A report even emerged this week of what the Red Sox would be seeking in a Betts trade. 

Red Sox team chairman Tom Werner said last week the team remains hopeful of keeping Betts. Still, with his teammates assuming he'll be gone before next season begins, the Sox appear to be reluctant to promote a player to season-ticket holders who'll be in another uniform.

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MLB rumors: 'Mystery team' joins Yankees, others in Gerrit Cole pursuit

MLB rumors: 'Mystery team' joins Yankees, others in Gerrit Cole pursuit

The MLB offseason is in full swing, and free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole is the top player available and drawing interest from several teams.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and a mystery club are in on Cole.

How much will teams need to spend to acquire Cole? Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the veteran starting pitcher's next contract is expected to be worth more than $300 million.

For some context, the Washington Nationals re-signed starter Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $245 million contract earlier this week, which is the most expensive deal ever given to a pitcher.

Cole is a fantastic pitcher, there's no doubting that. He posted a 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts and 0.86 WHIP in 2019. Cole also was a driving force in the Houston Astros reaching Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, where they lost to the Nationals.

The 29-year-old right-hander would be a tremendous upgrade to any rotation as a clear No. 1 ace. The Yankees are the most logical landing spot for Cole given their need for a No. 1 starter. New York might actually be the betting favorite to win the 2020 World Series if it lands Cole in free agency. The Dodgers also make sense as a potential destination. The National League West champs have deep pockets and a need for a proven playoff pitcher after Clayton Kershaw's latest October meltdown.

The Boston Red Sox would greatly benefit from Cole leaving the American League and signing with an NL contender such as the Dodgers. Cole going to the Yankees would be a huge blow to Boston's chances of reclaiming AL East supremacy next season.

Report: Red Sox 'actively' trying to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.>>>

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There's no defense for Red Sox fielding last season, and Alex Cora knows it

There's no defense for Red Sox fielding last season, and Alex Cora knows it

SAN DIEGO — In all of the ways the Red Sox collectively regressed last season, not enough attention is paid to the defense.

A year after ranking fifth in the American League in defensive efficiency and featuring three Gold Glovers and two other finalists, the Red Sox sank to 11th in an across-the-board slump.

"Inconsistent. Yeah, we were inconsistent not only in the infield, but I think in the outfield," said manager Alex Cora. "We saw that early in the season. For how great they are, I do believe that there's more there, and we'll address it. We'll address it. I think Benny (Andrew Benintendi) can become a complete player. I know he's been in the final vote of the Gold Glove the last two years, but I think he can make some strides.

"I think early in the season we were a step slower than the other teams, and we paid the price because of that, as far as like communication and the way we were moving in the outfield. We can do better."

How can they improve? Cora basically went around the diamond. He believes third baseman Rafael Devers will benefit from more experience, as well as conversations with five-time Gold Glover Adrian Beltre.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts ranked dead last among regular shortstops in defensive runs saved last year (minus-21), a function of decreased range. A revolving door at second base didn't help in the double play department, either, where the Red Sox ranked last in the American League.

"I think the next step for Xander is to become a better defensive player," Cora said. "For how sure-handed he is, I think his first step can be better. He's that good of an athlete, so that's the next challenge. If we do that, we'll be better. Turning the double play, we have to do that. It's funny because I mentioned that in Orlando a few years ago. Double plays are game changers. You don't turn over the play, you pay the price. You turn over the play, you go and hit and score runs. So we have to do better than that."

Cora also noted that Gold Glove finalist catcher Christian Vazquez experienced his own struggles, particularly when it came to passed balls.

"Defensively behind the plate, for how great he was, blocking wasn't great for Christian. He's working on that. There's a few things that I have learned over the last two months that we didn't do right, and we can do better. If we do that, we're going to have a good season."

Cora suggested that defense is a renewed emphasis under new boss Chaim Bloom.

"One thing we're going to talk about with Chaim coming from an organization that's very aggressive as far as defense, is why they do it, how they do it, and if that aggressiveness is going to — he can help us out," Cora said. "And that's something that I'm looking forward to sitting with Chaim and see where it takes us. If that aggressiveness can help Xander and Raffy defensively, so be it. So we'll talk about it."

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