Cleveland Indians

Michael Brantley as far down on Red Sox' free-agent list as you can get

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USA Today Sports Photo

Michael Brantley as far down on Red Sox' free-agent list as you can get

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. Tuesday is dedicated to Indians outfielder Michael Brantley.

BOSTON -- There is probably no area the Red Sox are stronger than their outfield, leaving Michael Brantley about as far down on the list of viable free-agent pursuits as one could imagine. 

The only way adding Brantley would make a lick of sense is if the Red Sox were to flip someone presently on the team in an effort to prevent this group from breaking up all at once. Hypothetically moving Jackie Bradley Jr., and then pushing Andrew Benintendi to center field and playing Brantley in left, for example.

But there’s no evidence yet the Sox are ready to act that way, and they haven’t yet under Sox president of baseball operations of Dave Dombrowski.

FREE AGENT FOCUS

Assume, then, that Brantley’s movements will largely be a spectator sport for the Red Sox this winter. His presumed departure from the Indians is significant, considering Cleveland has been one of the consistent powers in the American League along with the Red Sox in recent years. Brantley played a combined 101 regular-season games in 2016-17, but was able to stay on the field for 143 in 2018.

Entering his age-32 season, Brantley represents a high-upside signing for a potential rival. The Sox had the best offense in the majors in 2018, but Brantley was the 17th-best offensive producer in the outfield, by one advanced metric, weight runs created plus -- a hair better than Benintendi, who was 22nd.

But that kind of production comes with the risk seen in recent years: Whether Brantley stays on the field. 

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Red Sox aren't only team with cheating allegations against Astros

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USA Today Sports Photo

Red Sox aren't only team with cheating allegations against Astros

After reports came out this week that an Astros employee was removed from Fenway Park during Game 1 for attempting to take photos of the Red Sox dugout, a number of cheating allegations against the reigning World Series Champions have arisen. 

In a story published by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, the allegations against Houston were revealed.

Kyle McLaughlin, the same man removed from Fenway, was removed from Cleveland's Progressive Field during Game 3 of the ALDS for taking pictures of the Indians dugout. McLaughlin is not listed as an official employee of the Astros, but a picture of him with Astros' owner Jim Crane and a photo of him in front of an Astros private plane have been removed from his Instagram.

The report goes on to detail other investigations into the Astros. In August, Oakland A's players believed that the Astros were stealing signs. The A's believed players in the Houston dugout were using claps as a way of relaying pitches to hitters. There was an MLB investigation, but the resolution is unclear.

In the last couple years, two other major leagues have claimed to see the Astros hitting a trash can in the dugout as a way to relay signs. 

Sources say the Dodgers also believed that Houston was stealing signs in last year's World Series.

According to ESPN, sources believe that the incident in Fenway Park will likely result in nothing more than a fine.

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