Red Sox

Red Sox talking contract extension with one of their core players

Red Sox talking contract extension with one of their core players

BOSTON — While free agency creeps along and the Red Sox continue their pursuit of relief pitching, the team too has actively tried to lock up at least one member of its core.

The Sox have recently had extension talks with one of their current players, talks that may pick up again soon, sources told NBC Sports Boston. It’s unclear which player the Sox engaged, but indications are it is a player who would require a large commitment — hence, a possible reason the team is engaging one player, rather than a bevy all at once.

Regardless of the outcome of these particular negotiations, the fact the Sox are pursuing them is notable validation of the club's stated intent to look toward the future with an already high payroll by attempting to lock up their beloved stars after a 2018 World Series title.

Speculation among industry sources pegged Andrew Benintendi as a likely candidate the Sox have been engaged with. Sources said the team does not appear to have anything brewing at present with Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts or J.D. Martinez — other high-profile players who would need a large commitment.

Now, a lack of current or recent engagement with Sale, Betts and co., does not necessarily mean the Sox lack interest in locking them up. But Benintendi naturally has more incentive to work out a long-term deal, because he has just two years of service time and therefore remains a year away from becoming arbitration-eligible. He's four years away from free agency, and a deal for him would inevitably require some concession of potential earnings — a trade-off of security for him in exchange for cost certainty and likely some savings for the Sox.

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Sale, meanwhile, is a year from free agency and could command a huge haul, and the Sox already have starting pitchers David Price and Nate Eovaldi under contract. 

Betts, the reigning MVP, likely still wants to see what Manny Machado and Bryce Harper pull in, as their markets will impact his two years from now. Bogaerts and Martinez, meanwhile, are Scott Boras clients who are likely to command big bucks just a year from now. 

Benintendi, entering his age-24 season, slashed .290/.366/.465/.830 in 2018 with 16 home runs. If indeed he is the recent target, there are a lot of comps for the sides to look at.

Extensions for players with two years of service time have ranged widely, and there have been many, per MLBTradeRumors.com's Extension Tracker. Buster Posey of the Giants and Mike Trout of the Angels both agreed to nine-figure deals with two-plus years of service time.

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Recently, Rougned Odor of the Rangers received $49.5 million for six years in 2017. Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays got $53.5 million over six seasons in 2017 as well. Ender Inciarte of the Braves and Odubel Herrera of the Phillies both got five years and about $30.5 million in 2016.

Jason Kipnis of the Indians got six years and $52.5 million from the Indians in 2014, while Andrew McCutchen got six years and $51.5 million from the Pirates in 2012.

Carlos Gonzalez signed for seven years and $80 million with the Rockies in 2011. Hanley Ramirez signed for six years and $70 million with the Marlins in 2008.

The Red Sox gave Jon Lester a five-year, $30 million extension in 2009 with two years of service time. Clay Buchholz got a four-year, $29.25 million deal in 2011. 

On the position player side, Dustin Pedroia in 2008 signed with the Sox for six years and $40.5 million.

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Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Midway through the 2019 MLB season, the struggling Boston Red Sox made an attempt to shake things up on their bench and get them back into the playoff race. That decision involved designating Eduardo Nunez for assignment.

Nunez spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox after he was acquired at the 2017 MLB trade deadline. Nunez quickly endeared himself to Boston fans by batting .321 and smashing eight homers in 38 games with the team.

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But after his first season, Nunez's production tailed off. He was still productive during the team's 2018 World Series run, though he was hampered by a knee injury, before things bottomed out in 2019. He was hitting just .228 at the time of his release and his defensive range was declining because of his balky knee.

Now, after remaining out of MLB work for almost half a year, it looks like Nunez is getting one more shot at sticking around in the MLB.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the New York Mets have invited Nunez to join them as a non-roster invite at spring training in 2020. 

It may be tough for Nunez to ultimately win a spot with the Mets, who also have former Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jed Lowrie on the team. But he is going to be on a minor league deal as a result of this signing.

And if injuries strike and Nunez proves himself, perhaps he could eventually earn a roster spot.

We'll soon see what happens with Nunez, but it is nice to see the 32-year-old get another chance to play at the MLB level, even if it is just a spring training invite.

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Los Angeles Dodgers team president Stan Kasten, in his first public comments on the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball, lamented that he still has many unanswered questions after Major League Baseball's punishment of the Houston Astros. 

Kasten noted that the investigation isn't over, with MLB continuing to look into the Red Sox' alleged sign-stealing using video - a system that Alex Cora reportedly brought to Boston as manager after serving as Astros bench coach.

"This investigation isn't over," Kasten said, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who along with colleague Ken Rosenthal broke the stories detailing the Astros' and Red Sox' schemes.  "I’d like to have answers to many questions about what happened, by whom and when."

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Kasten saw his Dodgers lose World Series in 2017 to Houston and 2018 to Boston, only to have those two championships called into question after MLB's report on the Astros' tactics led to the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora also parted ways with the Red Sox amid the controversy and Carlos Beltran, a player on the '17 Astros involved in the scheme, was fired just months after being named manager of the New York Mets.  

Houston was also fined $5 million and docked draft picks. The Red Sox could face similar penalties.

Here are Kasten's full comments, via Drellich:

Earlier this week, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred shot down suggestions that the World Series titles could be stripped from the Astros and Red Sox, a request made by, among others, the L.A. City Council. 

Speaking specifically about losing to the Astros in the 2017 Series, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday, questioned the legitimacy of Houston's title.  

"We know how hard it is to win a World Series," Turner said. "We know that it's something you really have to earn, and with the commissioner's report and the evidence and what they had, it's hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions."