Red Sox

Red Sox won't be part of Bryce Harper's free-agent journey

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Red Sox won't be part of Bryce Harper's free-agent journey

EDITOR'S NOTE: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Monday is dedicated to Bryce Harper.

Bryce Harper's quest to shatter MLB's existing salary ceiling -- his agent, Scott Boras, has described Harper's "true value" as between "$400 million and $500 million" over a multiyear contract, which would explain why they summarily rejected the Nationals' 10-year, $300 million proposal to keep him in Washington -- may have a successful conclusion. If so, however, it'll happen without any help from the Red Sox.

The first thing Harper and Boras will need to get where they're aiming for, financially speaking, is a deep-pocketed suitor. Preferably several of them. The Red Sox' pockets are as deep as anyone's, and they've been known to swim in the far end of the free-agent pool before.

But not this time. The Sox have no need for, and no interest in, Bryce Harper. For several reasons.

First, the immortal words of Lou Gorman -- "Where would we play him?" -- never rang truer. The Red Sox' biggest star, Mookie Betts, and one of their rising stars, Andrew Benintendi, are both outfielders. J.D. Martinez may eventually become more DH than position player, but for now he still plays the outfield on more than just occasion. And whatever you may think of Jackie Bradley Jr., he is a Gold Glove center fielder.

Still, there are always ways around such problems if you're really interested in a particular free agent. But now comes the second, and most important, reason: Money. It's not that the Red Sox don't have it; it's that they're going to have to spend a lot of it in the next few years to keep the core of their championship team intact. So much of it that lavishing the biggest contract in the history of baseball on Harper makes no sense, not with the bill coming due on veteran stars whose contacts are either expiring or have out clauses (Martinez, Chris Sale), younger standouts about to graduate from arbitration to free agency (Betts, Xander Bogaerts), and even younger hopefuls farther down the road on the same journey (Benintendi, Rafael Devers). The Sox may not be able to afford all these players as it is -- we'll probably see the first financial casualty (Craig Kimbrel) this offseason -- and they'd definitely have to part ways with more of them to bring Harper, who they don't really need, aboard.

Even without the Sox, Harper won't have any trouble attracting attention on the open market. The Phillies are said to be desperate to add a big-name star; the Cubs have always been interested in Harper; Boras has spent recent days batting his eyes at the Giants, hoping to get San Francisco into the mix. And even the Yankees -- once thought to be the odds-on favorite to sign him, since Harper grew up a Yankee fan and wears the number 34 because the two digits add up to Mickey Mantle's number 7 -- may be a stealth player. They're reportedly keeping their free-agent focus on pitching and allegedly are staying away from Harper and the other marquee free agent, Manny Machado, but they've zigged when they said they were zagging before. Such as in 2008, when they swooped in and signed Mark Texeira after barely showing any interest. And 2004, when they nabbed Alex Rodriguez after an offseason of A-Rod-to-Boston speculation. 

It'll be quite a game.

The Red Sox, however, won't be playing.

MORE ON BRYCE HARPER

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Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling is in his eighth year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Is this the year that he'll finally get in?

The former pitcher spent 20 years in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox. He went 216-146 record, a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts (good for 15th most all-time) in his storied career. 

It's his postseason dominance (11-2, 2.23 ERA) that elevates Schilling's Hall candidacy. He's a three-time World Series winner, two of which came with the Red Sox, was a co-Series MVP with Randy Johnson in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and was named an All-Star six times.

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Despite his numbers, Schilling hasn't gotten into the Hall yet. While he may be inching closer to making the cut, he isn't counting on getting in with the 2020 class.

"I don't think I'm going to make it this year," Schilling told MLB Network's Bob Costas in a recent interview. "The trend has usually been that players will drop a certain amount of percentage between the public and the private ballots. And I don't think I'm high enough above that 75 [percent needed for election] for the tail-off not to get me."

Though Schilling doesn't think he'll get in, he's not worrying about it too much. And he's focusing on the fact that there are plenty of great players who never made the Hall of Fame, including another former Red Sox ace.

"There are also some pretty good people who aren't in the Hall of Fame," Schilling said. "If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right."

Schilling does have a good point. There are plenty of great, deserving players that haven't made the cut for the Hall of Fame. He still has three more chances to get in, so perhaps his time will come.

And speaking of Tiant, there surely is a case for him to be a Hall of Famer. He went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA in a 19-year career and also struck out 2,416 batters. Had the Red Sox gotten him a ring in 1975, perhaps he would've had a stronger case to get in.

Red Sox add LHP Matt Hall via trade with Tigers, designate Travis Lakins for assignment

Red Sox add LHP Matt Hall via trade with Tigers, designate Travis Lakins for assignment

The Boston Red Sox made their second trade of the week Friday.

The Sox acquired left-handed reliever Matt Hall from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor league catcher Jhon Nunez.

Hall appeared in 21 games for the Tigers the past two seasons. He was 0-1 with a 9.48 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 18 walks and a 2.07 WHIP in 31 1/3 innings in that span. Hall made his major league debut for Detroit in 2018.

To make room for Hall on the team's 40-man roster, the team designated right-handed pitcher Travis Lakins for assignment, per Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic.

Lakins, 25, made his major league debut in 2019 and logged 16 appearances for the Red Sox. He went 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 1.41 WHIP in 23 1/3 innings of work.

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On Wednesday, the Red Sox traded first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs, while also designating lefty pitcher Bobby Poyner for assignment.