Source: Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine being considered for United States Ambassador to Japan https://t.co/BIEGYrBMUg pic.twitter.com/A0N6lubNB1

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 9, 2016

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was just about a week into his career as Red Sox manager. Now he may be on the verge of becoming a United States ambassador.

Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was just about a week into his career as Red Sox manager. Now he may be on the verge of becoming a United States ambassador.

According to multiple sources, Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan. The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Such a move would be viewed as another unorthodox appointment by Trump, who named former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon to serve as the administrator of the Small Business Administration Wednesday.

Yet Valentine’s history, and connections to Trump and Japan, make the possibility of such a decision very real.

The former Red Sox manager has known both Trump and his brother, Bob, since the early 1980’s. He is also very close to Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. And it was New Jersey governor Chris Christie who, according to a source, first surfaced Valentine’s name for the position.

The connections don’t stop there.

Valentine is still very popular in Japan, having managed the Chiba Lotte Marines for seven seasons, becoming the first U.S. born manager to win the Japan Series with a championship in 2005.

During the former big leaguer’s time in Japan, the Ambassador to Japan was Tom Schieffer, who also was president of the Texas Rangers during Valentine’s tenure as manager with the team. (Caroline Kennedy is the current ambassador, having been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013.)

Valentine is friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like the former All-American, attended the University of Southern California.

A few other elements that may help Valentine’s case include Japan prioritizing bringing baseball back for the 2020 Summer Olympics, along with the athletic director’s familiarity with SoftBank Hawks owner Masayoshi Son. Son recently announced after a meeting with Trump that SoftBank would be investing $50 billion in America’s technology sector.

Valentine is also close with McMahon, who serves on the board of trustees at Sacred Heart (where a new student commons building is named after the former WWE executive).

Another recognizable name who served as Ambassador to Japan is former Vice-President Walter Mondale, who manned the post during President Bill Clinton’s administration, from 1993-96.

2020 baseball coming back
Preliminary
Short list
Linda McMahahon, head of sports advisory commitment Sacred Heart
Christie
Scarmuci
Only American to get Sho Rickey Award
Avi Prime Minister went to USC, known for a while
Tom Scheefer, Ambassador, President of Texas Rangers
Son, Son 50 million infrastructure deal, owner SoftBank Hawks

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

According to multiple reports, Koji Uehara is leaving the favorites to win the American League to sign with the team that is favored to win the World Series.

Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

According to multiple reports, Koji Uehara is leaving the favorites to win the American League to sign with the team that is favored to win the World Series.

Uehara has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth “around” $4.5 million to pitch for the Cubs. In Chicago, he would serve as one of the set-up men for newly-acquired closer Wade Davis.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at the just-completed MLB Winter Meetings that his club did recently extend an offer to Uehara. Since then, however, the Sox traded for set-up man Tyler Thornburg to round out their bullpen.

The 41-year-old Uehara impressed after coming back from a torn pectoral muscle, not allowing a run in any of his 11 appearances after the injury. He finished his fourth season with the Red Sox totaling a 3.45 ERA in 50 appearances.

Uehara’s run with the Red Sox was remarkable, with the righty finishing the four years with a 2.09 ERA while going 86 for 98 in save opportunities. During that span opponents hit just .179 against him, with the Sox going 183-62 in his appearances. He also struck out 308 and walked 37 in that span.

Uehara would end up making $26.5 million with the Red Sox, having signed a one-year deal with a team option, followed by his two-year, $18 million contract.

Along with Davis, Uehara figures to be finishing off games with relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

(The Boston Herald was first to report Uehara was close to signing with the Cubs, with Nikkan Sports first to report the deal was done.)

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Red Sox opened the offseason hoping to add a left-handed hitting first baseman to provide some lineup balance and give Hanley Ramirez a chance to stay fresh at DH. On Thursday, they introduced him.

Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland

The Red Sox opened the offseason hoping to add a left-handed hitting first baseman to provide some lineup balance and give Hanley Ramirez a chance to stay fresh at DH. On Thursday, they introduced him.

The signing of Mitch Moreland may have been overshadowed by the Chris Sale blockbuster, but the Red Sox still have big plans for the Gold Glover, who agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal.

“Against right-handed starters, Mitch would be the first baseman,” said manager John Farrell on a conference call. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. We’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers. Last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career. With Mitch getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH spot alignment, we also have the ability against a quality left-handers that Hanley would go back to first base and then we have the ability to rotate some guys through the DH spot. His versatility, his strengths as a player are many. We feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways.”

Moreland, 31, is coming off a disappointing season that saw him hit .233 with 22 homers and a .720 OPS. However, in 2015 he hit .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS.

He still had multiple options in free agency as a low-cost bounce-back candidate, but chose Boston because of the roster and atmosphere.

“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s a place I really wanted to play,” he said. “Getting the opportunity to come here and be a part of that winning environment, being a part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me personally. This is a great option.

“What they were able to do last year, you knew you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type of player, as a gritty type player. Hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was a guest of the Hot Stove Show on Wednesday night to discuss the Chris Sale trade and his general approach to the winter meetings, and he made it clear that despite trading prospects at a steady clip since arriving, he plans for the Red Sox to contend, “for the next 10 years.”

Josh Rutledge wasn’t gone for long.

The infielder, outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, rejoined the organization on Wednesday when the Red Sox selected him from the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft.

Josh Rutledge

Josh Rutledge

Josh Rutledge wasn’t gone for long.

The infielder, outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, rejoined the organization on Wednesday when the Red Sox selected him from the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft.

Rutledge must remain on the big league roster or be offered back to Colorado.

“We did try to re-sign him,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters at the winter meetings. “He just thought his opportunity to play at the big-league level at this point would be more [elsewhere].”

Rutledge, 27, gives the Red Sox a right-handed utility infielder to complement the left-handed Brock Holt, as well as some short-term insurance at third base against Pablo Sandoval. He has hit .276 in parts of two seasons with the Red Sox.

He underwent knee surgery in August, which ended his season, but the Red Sox see a role for him in 2017.

“It lines up for him to be with our club,” Dombrowski told reporters. “We know him. We like him. It looks like there is a path for him.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase