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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David Ortiz's wife provides great update on Red Sox legend's health

David Ortiz's wife provides great update on Red Sox legend's health

On a day when law enforcement identified the man who orchestrated the assassination attempt on Red Sox legend David Ortiz, good news has surfaced from the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

According to a statement by the Red Sox on behalf of Tiffany Ortiz, David's wife, Ortiz's doctors have upgraded Big Papi's condition to 'good' and he "continues to make progress with his recovery." 

“We remain grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston," the statement read. "David’s journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time.”

Additionally, according to ESPN's Marly Rivera, Ortiz has been able to eat soft foods and keep in touch with loved ones — including former teammates — over the phone. Ortiz has been admitted into Mass General Hospital since June 10, and had previously been in serious but stable condition. 

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How Colten Brewer delivered three key outs in tense Red Sox victory over Twins

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How Colten Brewer delivered three key outs in tense Red Sox victory over Twins

Rick Porcello had given the Red Sox all they could expect in Minnesota on Monday, protecting a 1-0 lead for seven innings. When manager Alex Cora signaled the bullpen to start the eighth, he didn't tab Brandon Workman or Matt Barnes, however.

He went to . . . Colten Brewer?

With his four top relievers unavailable for various reasons — Heath Hembree on the IL, Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden from recent use, Matt Barnes needing a break — Cora sent the curve-balling right-hander to the mound with simple instructions.

"Be ready, be nasty, and be yourself," Brewer relayed to reporters in Minnesota after protecting that 1-0 lead in what ended up being a 2-0 win that gave the suddenly streaking Red Sox six straight victories and a chance to win a series against a playoff team for the first time since sweeping the Rays in April.

This one was about the pitching staff, from Porcello's seven shutout innings to Brewer and Ryan Brasier slamming the door. For all the slings and arrows they've absorbed this season, Red Sox relievers have actually pitched fairly well. That doesn't mean they don't need help — they're being overused, after all — but they might be better than people think.

"People think it's short," manager Alex Cora said to reporters in reference to his bullpen. "I think it's just limited because those guys have good stuff. Matchup-wise, Brew makes sense with a lot of those guys. And obviously Brasier was fresh so we went with him. Sometimes I made the mistake of saying short. It's not short, it's just limited."

The eighth wasn't easy, but the Twins helped Brewer's cause after a leadoff single by Jonathan Schoop and a walk to Max Kepler. First, the AL's leading hitter, Jorge Polanco, sacrifice bunted the runners along, giving Brewer a key out in the process. With Rafael Devers covering third, Brewer aggressively pounced off the mound before throwing a strike to first to nip Polanco by a half step.

He then induced a swinging bunt to power-hitting Nelson Cruz, deftly underhanding the ball to catcher Sandy Leon to trap Schoop in a rundown that took the Twins right out of the inning. When Eddie Rosario grounded to first, Brewer had officially escaped one of the biggest moments of his career.

"That's what we live for as baseball players, getting in the situations and getting out of them," Brewer said. "It's definitely a special moment to share with your teammates."

That still left the ninth inning, which brought yet another surprise: Brasier, who left the team last week while on the bereavement list. Making his first appearance in a week, Brasier delivered a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the dangerous Miguel Sano to end it. It was just his second clean inning this month.

"That's what I expect," Brasier said. "The bullpen has been taxed a little bit the last three or four games and I was ready to go."

Add it together, and two unlikely contributors helped the Red Sox secure one of their most important victories of the season.

"We're rolling right now and to keep it rolling against a team like that and to scratch some runs together and keep them off the board is huge," Brasier said.

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