Red Sox

The perfect Red Sox GM candidate just became a free agent -- Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman

The perfect Red Sox GM candidate just became a free agent -- Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman

The shocking elimination of the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday creates an opening for the Red Sox to pursue their white whale -- Andrew Friedman.

L.A.'s president of baseball operations is widely considered the shrewdest executive in the game, and he has built a juggernaut out west, with the Dodgers simultaneously cutting payroll and competing for World Series titles on an annual basis.

His contract happens to be up, and there's some unease about why he hasn't yet agreed to an extension. A couple of weeks ago, all involved expressed optimism to the L.A. Times that Friedman would return, albeit in less than absolute terms; president Stan Kasten said he was "pretty confident" Friedman would be back.

And if he's not? Expect the Red Sox to be first in line.

The 42-year-old cut his teeth over a decade ago with the Rays, becoming their general manager in 2005 at age 28 and building the 2008 team that beat the Red Sox in the ALCS to reach the World Series. Friedman worked wonders in the small-market setting en route to four playoff appearances before joining the Dodgers in 2014.

All he has done since is build one of the game's most sustainable success stories. L.A. has won seven straight division titles, first by spending limitless amounts of money -- their $291 million payroll in 2015 remains the highest ever -- and then by doing it in a way that should certainly capture the attention of Red Sox owner John Henry.

From that high four years ago, the Dodgers have steadily dropped, culminating in 2018, when they dropped below the luxury tax threshold with a $195 million payroll to reset their penalties. They barely surpassed the limit this year, checking in at about $210 million. That's where Henry would like to get the Red Sox, who hope to drop from $242 million to $208 million.

Friedman did it by building a powerhouse player development system that has produced stars like MVP favorite Cody Bellinger, All-Star right-hander Walker Bueller, and slugging shortstop Corey Seager. Friedman's Dodgers have also been opportunistic on the margins, adding stalwarts Max Muncy and Justin Turner for nothing after they were jettisoned by the A's and Mets, respectively.

The Dodgers are set up to maintain their success, too, with $113 million committed to next season, $89.5 million on the books in 2021, and only $20 million committed to 2022 (per Baseball-Reference). Compare that to the Red Sox, who have $118 million in guarantees committed to 2022 as part of a bloated payroll that's the reason they're seeking new leadership in the first place.

The Dodgers do not have a single player on a $100 million contract. Their highest-paid player is left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who signed a three-year, $93 million extension before this season. His two remaining years are eminently more manageable than, say, the five years for Chris Sale staring at the Red Sox.

In Los Angeles, Friedman built an All-Star front office featuring no fewer than five former GMs: Josh Byrnes, Alex Anthopoulos, Tommy Lasorda, Ned Colletti, and Gerry Hunsicker. He hired liberally from the Red Sox, stealing respected figures like Dave Finley and Galen Carr. He has built the Dodgers into an analytics-driven powerhouse, which is how they ended up on the forefront of the launch angle revolution.

Friedman has proven he can win with baseball's smallest payroll and its largest payroll. He has laid out a blueprint for shedding salary while remaining competitive -- his first act as Dodgers boss was to rid the organization of bloat like Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Dan Haren, acquiring young talent such as Yasmani Grandal and Kike Hernandez in return -- and it's hard to imagine a more qualified candidate emerging for the task now confronting the Red Sox.

The Dodgers could render this entire discussion moot by agreeing to an extension with Friedman tomorrow. But until that happens, consider him the most important free agent of the offseason if you're the Red Sox.

Top 20 MLB free agents in 2019-20>>>

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Pedro Martinez tweets his thanks for the trade that brought him to the Red Sox - 22 years ago today

Pedro Martinez tweets his thanks for the trade that brought him to the Red Sox - 22 years ago today

Twenty-two years ago, the Red Sox were coming off a disappointing season where they were an AL East also-ran and big offseason moves were being contemplated for the franchise.

Sound familiar?

Only general manager Dan Duquette, whose team had finished 78-84 and in fourth place in the division, wasn't looking to shed payroll, but add to either the bullpen or starting rotation.

They chose to target the rotation and specifically, to go after the Montreal Expos' Cy Young Award-winning, 26-year-old ace in a trade - rather than Marlins closer Robb Nen, who had just helped that franchise win its first World Series. 

The result was a franchise-altering trade for Pedro Martinez, who tweeted his thanks for the move Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the deal - some would say "steal" - that brought him to Boston.

The Sox traded pitching prospect Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Expos for Martinez, then signed him to a six-year, $75 million contract. Duquette had traded for Martinez once before, four years earlier, when, as GM of the Expos, he acquired Martinez from the Dodgers.

Martinez, of course, would go on to go 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in seven seasons in Boston, some of which were the most dominant ever for a pitcher. His final season culminated with the first Red Sox World Series title since 1918.

So, all new Red Sox baseball boss Chaim Bloom has to do is pull off a deal like that. Simple, right?

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David Ortiz's son writes heartfelt birthday message to father on Instagram

David Ortiz's son writes heartfelt birthday message to father on Instagram

David Ortiz turned 44 on Tuesday, but you wouldn't know it by his youthful exuberance and undeniable style.

Even Ortiz's son, D'Angelo, considers Big Papi to be young at heart. He took to Instagram with a heartfelt message for his dad, and the former Red Sox slugger had the perfect response.

“Happy birthday pops. seeing u do what u do everyday drives me to wanna be better and better ur the best role model ever and also my best friend,” D'Angelo wrote. “Its crazy to think ur getting older because everytime u dress up for salsa Sunday u dress like ur 20 and everytime I see u it reminds me what real swag is love u pops have a great day.”

Check out Ortiz's response below:

Never question Papi's "swag."

It's been a difficult year for the Ortiz family, to say the least, so this birthday is an extra special one. Fortunately, Ortiz has fully recovered after being shot in the Dominican Republic in June, so both he and his swagger should be with us for many years to come.

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