Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

With the general managers meetings slated to kick off in Phoenix Monday, Red Sox Ben Cherington is preparing to hatch his team’s offseason plan. Appearing on MLB Network Radio, Cherington explained the Sox’s approach to a few key items:

(On interest Red Sox might be getting from teams in regards to Yoenis Cespedes)

“We’ve gotten calls. By this time we’ve talked to just about every team. Several teams have asked about our outfielders, not any one in particular. Because we have some depth there, theoretically, we’ve gotten asked on that, particularly with teams that may match up. I’m not ruling out getting into a trade conversations where we might match up. But there is no particular player that we’re looking to move, including Cespedes. But we’re going to make the team better where we can and we’ll try to be open-minded when trying to do that.”

(If Cherington believes the Red Sox have a solid enough relationship with Jon Lester and his representatives to get a deal done)

“I do. I don’t think there is anything in the relationship that would prohibit that. In fact, the history we have together eliminates some work in a way because you really don’t have to do the due diligence you normally would on a free agent of his caliber. Look, he’s earned the right to free agency and players don’t get that right all that often so he’s going to need to go through his process and obviously there will be other teams interested and we look forward to being one of those teams and we’ll see where it goes. I feel confident that we will be able to have a constructive conversation. There’s nothing that has gone on that would prohibit that, but we’ll see where it goes. Other teams will be interested, too, no doubt.”

(If the Red Sox will be in the mix for some of the other top free agent pitchers, such as Max Scherzer and James Shields)

“What I would say is that we are committed to building a winning team next year. We want to do that in a way that makes sense for the long-term. We are committed to building a winning team for next year. It’s no secret that a big part of doing that is adding to the rotation, and maybe that comes in different forms. It happens to be an offseason where there are options to do that, both in free agency and trades. I think we’ll certainly have support of ownership to make good offers. We’ll just have to see where that goes. As you know, the thing about free agency is nobody really knows exactly where it goes. So we’ll just have to get in there and see, but we look forward to having that conversation and being part of the mix.”

(On the Red Sox interest in free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval)

“I’m sure we’ll talk to his agent, but as you know we’re going to talk to a lot of agents next week. I think because we stated an interest in adding a left-hand bat somewhere and because theoretically third base could be a place to do that, that is sort of an obvious link between us and Sandoval. Look, he’s coming from a team that just won a World Series and is interested in keeping him, and we have to look at every alternative for that kind of guy who we’re looking to add, the left-handed hitter somewhere, and there’s different ways to do that. … He’s a good hitter at a position that’s tough to find, and that’s why there will be a lot of teams interested, including the one he’s playing for.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Dodgers announced that they’ve hired former Red Sox outfielder (and minor league manager) Gabe Kapler as their director of player development.

The Dodgers announced that they’ve hired former Red Sox outfielder (and minor league manager) Gabe Kapler as their director of player development. Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the big leagues, including a stretch from 2003-06 with the Red Sox, before retiring after the 2006 season in order to become the manager of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate. At the end of that year, however, Kapler resumed his playing career, spending three more years with the Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He went to spring training with the Dodgers in 2011, but was released near the end of camp. He’s been working as an analyst for Fox Sports since 2013.

Additionally, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com is reporting (via twitter) that the Dodgers will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr. Carr — who has been with the organization for 14 years — was considered one of the top evaluators in the Red Sox organization.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that his client is seeking a six-year deal. Vasquez went on to suggest to the newspaper that the length of deal was more important to Sandoval than the money.

Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that his client is seeking a six-year deal. Vasquez went on to suggest to the newspaper that the length of deal was more important to Sandoval than the money.

“Pablo is 28,” Vasquez said in the report. “He is still young. Maybe if he was 30 or 31 we could talk about four or five years. But he’€™s 28. He deserves more than that.”

The Red Sox are believed to have interest in Sandoval, who would fill a need for the Sox as a run-producer who can hit from the left side. The third baseman also is considered an above-average fielder.

Vasquez told the Chronicle that once his client identifies an offer he likes, “He’ll sign fast.”

(Click here to read the entire report.)

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Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

In an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, Mets beat reporter Marc Carig or Newsday described New York’s National League club as being “somewhere in between” as they chart an offseason course, partic

Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler

In an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, Mets beat reporter Marc Carig or Newsday described New York’s National League club as being “somewhere in between” as they chart an offseason course, particularly as it pertains to the possibility of dealing starting pitchers.

At a time when Matt Harvey is expected back for the start of next season, the team has a number of high-end talented young pitchers from which to deal — including Rookie of the Year finalist Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.69, 9.2 Ks/9 in 140 1/3 innings in 2014), right-hander Zack Wheeler (11-11, 3.54, 9.1 Ks/9 in 185 1/3 innings) and top prospect Noah Syndergaard (a 22-year-old with a 3.25 ERA, 10.0 Ks/9 and 2.6 walks per nine in his minor league career, including a 4.60 ERA in the hitter’s paradise of Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014). The team’s pitching inventory also includes less glamorous but nonetheless useful options such as left-hander Jon Niese (9-11 with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts in 2014, under contract for $16 million total over the next two years with two team options through 2018) and right-hander Bartolo Colon (15-13, 4.09 ERA in 202 1/3 innings in 2014; one year remaining on his two-year, $20 million deal).

“They’ve certainly got some choices. They’re somewhere in between,” explained Carig. “Their two biggest needs are a corner outfielder with power, particularly a right-handed bat. That would be one. And right behind that would be a shortstop. I think any team that could offer one of those things to them becomes of extreme interest. Now it becomes a question of whether the Mets want to put in play their best trade chips. ‘€¦

“They’ve got a really good core of young arms who would make a deal go. We’re taking Noah Syndergaard, their top pitching prospect, Jacob deGrom, who’s probably going to be the Rookie of the Year. It’s those guys where they’ve got to decide, are we going to put that in play? Zack Wheeler had a very good first full season in the major leagues this year. If you start talking about those types of guys, now you’ve got the keys to the kingdom. Now you can make something happen. I don’t think they’ve shown much indication of wanting to do that. So the second level would be some of the veteran pitchers they’ve got.

“Now you’re talking about the left-hander, Jon Niese, who’s had his injury issues but when he’s been healthy he’s been pretty good. And then you’ve got a guy like Bartolo Colon, who at 11 million bucks is what he is. He’s a guy you can plug into a rotation. Depending on how the market shakes out, that might be the going rate. That’s a decision they must make, and that’s why they’re sort of caught in between, because if they put those higher end guys in play then I think a lot of options open up. But if they don’t, I think they’ve got a juggling act here to try to make something out of Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon.”

Given the team’s desire to acquire a corner outfielder with power, could the Mets view Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes as a possible target?

“I think they’re clearly intrigued by him because they need the power. But this is an organization that values on-base percentage and that’s a strike against him,” said Carig. “Let’s put it this way. I think if the Red Sox would put him in play, I would imagine they would get better offers elsewhere. I can’t imagine a scenario where the Mets are putting their better chips in play for a guy like Cespedes, just because for all the power he brings, that lack of being able to get on base is a big strike against him. I would think that would make them wary of really pursuing him super-hard going into the winter time.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, said that while he can imagine a scenario in which Reds starters Johnny Cueto and/or Mat Latos are dealt prior to the July 31 trade deadline in 2015, he does not expect either pitcher to be dealt this coming offseason.

“I don’t see either one getting traded, Johnny Cueto because he’s coming off such a good year. I think the Reds think their best chance to win is with him. In Mat Latos’ case, he’s had three separate injuries that put him on the disabled list last year, so I don’t think the market for him is as great as it once was,” said Fay. “Now if the Reds struggle out of the gate, and they decide to sell around the trade deadline, you could see one or both of them go, but my guess is that you’ll see them start the season with both of them.

“I think you’ve got to look at the mindset of the owner,” added Fay. “They have the All-Star Game next year. He thinks this is a big chance  to sell some season tickets and to make a run, and they think their best chance is with those guys.”

Cueto went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 243 2/3 innings in 2014. He will be pitching under a $10 million team option in 2015, after which he’ll be eligible for free agency. Latos was limited to just 16 starts with a host of injuries, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA, but that snapped a string of four straight years of 30-plus starts for the 26-year-old, who has a 3.27 ERA over the last five years. Latos, like Cueto, will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

Fay said that he can see the Reds making a deal involving another member of their 2014 rotation, with an eye towards improving the team’s offense, with left field (and an elevated on-base percentage) a focus of Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty.

“I think the need is a left fielder. They were 13th in on-base percentage in the National League last year after being third the year before. A lot of that had to do with Joey Votto being out and the loss of Shin-Soo Choo,” said Fay. “From what Walt Jocketty said, they see the need for an on-base guy. Aoki might fit what they do. They might go after a free-agent like Michael Morse. I don’t think they can afford all four [starting pitchers] long-term.

“I think there’s a better chance that one of the lesser guys would be traded, with Alfredo Simon or Mike Leake, where the Reds try to make a deal to help the offense. The offense wasn’t good enough last year,” he continued. “The situation in left field, their best hitting prospect is maybe one year away, so I don’t see them locking up a guy for three or four years for left field. Their payroll is probably to the brink of where they have to sell off just to try to make the budget work. I think they want to improve the team, but I don’t think they’re going to tear it up and make any huge moves in the offseason. I could be wrong but that’s the feeling I get.”

Fay said that he believes that the Reds will have enough money available to sign one of either Cueto or Latos to a long-term deal, but not both.

“It’s just a matter of who they choose,” said Fay.

Fay suggested that he thinks the Reds will struggle to keep closer Aroldis Chapman, the 26-year-old who averaged a mind-blowing 17.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014, over the long haul.

“He’s a free agent after ’16. I just don’t see them keeping him, but the owner really likes him. He brings an electricity to the end of the game and the fans really like him. If you’re talking just from a Moneyball perspective, they’re going to pay a closer a lot of money. He’s eligible for arbitration the next two years and I don’t think he’s going to break the bank there. But signing him long-term could be very difficult,” said Fay. “He’s one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Can I team like the Reds afford that? I think they can. They probably at some point should have put him in the rotation, but that ship has kind of sailed. My guess is they trade him next offseason or he ends up walking as a free agent after ’16.”

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, who is a free agent after having concluded the season with the A’s following a July 31 trade that sent him and

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, who is a free agent after having concluded the season with the A’s following a July 31 trade that sent him and Jon Lester to Oakland in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, acknowledged that he and other Red Sox players were puzzled when word leaked of Boston’s unexpectedly modest four-year, $70 million offer to Lester early in the season. Gomes was whether he was surprised by the nature of the offer to the Sox’ Opening Day pitcher.

“Yeah,” he said. “[But] I’m a baseball player. There’s so much we don’t know. That’s why there’s so many front-office people. There’s language this and language that.

“At the end of the day, Jon Lester is going to pick where he wants to play. He’s going to land somewhere where he wants to be and they want him. The market changes every single year. I don’t know what’s fair and what’s not fair. … I can’t determine the market, the years, the wear and tear of a guy’s age, the wear and tear of a guy’s innings, but if it was Game 7 of the World Series and I had to pick just one guy, Madison Bumgarner just did it but I tell you what, Jon Lester has done it quite a few times and I’d still pick that guy.”

Gomes explained why he views Lester as the top player on the free-agent market this winter.

“I think he is [the top free agent],” said Gomes. “It was a crazy metaphor that I was explaining to a younger kid the other day. It’s like horse racing or dog racing or even dog shows. What do you go after first? You go after the pedigree. You go after they’ve won before. They’ve won the Triple Crown. Is there this young guy coming up with a lightning arm and all that? Yeah, absolutely. But when you go after No. 1, you go after pedigree. You see the Giants getting pretty decorated now. … Everyone is going to be looking to that guy with the pedigree to provide the answers, and everyone is going to try to get the ball in that guy’s hand.

“He’s got that pedigree. At the same time, you do a character check about him. He believes in all the right things, he’s a guy who’s a darn workhorse, if you see him not in uniform in the clubhouse he’s got sweat coming off of his head. That’s what you want out of your ace. When your ace is also your hardest worker, that’s a pretty good matchup.”

Gomes also discussed his own foray into free agency. Whereas Lester is reaching the open market for the first time in his career, Gomes is a veteran of the process, as this winter represents his fifth trip to free agency. His previous encounter with the process resulted in the first multi-year deal of his career, a two-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox.

“At the end of the day, you’re unemployed. At the end of the day, you don’t have a manager, you don’t have a boss, you don’t have a uniform you can call home, a ballpark you can call home,” said Gomes. “I’d say the first couple times around were definitely more stressful. But I think now, 10 years in, my thumbprint, my blueprint, I think you don’t really need a character check at this point.

“I think teams pretty much know what they’re going to get when I show up and teams know what they get when my phone rings and negotiating starts and all that. … No telling how this go-round is going to be. I just want to land on my feet.”

Gomes also discussed the player for whom the Red Sox traded him and Lester, Yoenis Cespedes — and specifically Cespedes’ struggles to gain comfort playing the famed left field wall at Fenway Park. Gomes noted that his own transition to handling the position was aided by the fact that he’d spent time in Triple-A playing beneath the “Blue Monster” in Durham (the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate) and by his opportunity to work with the replica Green Monster in the Red Sox’ spring training facility in Fort Myers.

“That Monster is a monster,” said Gomes.”The best thing the Red Sox organization did was put that Monster in spring training. You need hundreds and hundreds and upwards of thousands of balls off that to even simulate one or two in-game. I could take 100 fungos off that exact column, and then you come in games, and obviously the velocity is going to be different, the right-handed spin vs. the left-handed spin, all new footwork. It comes with time.”

To listen to the complete Gomes interview, click here. To hear the entirety of the Hot Stove Show, click here.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier