Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’€™s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss the Red Sox‘€˜ recent moves and to look ahead to the 2015 season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have been very active in the last day or so with adding to their starting rotation. Wednesday night they reportedly traded for Arizona’s Wade Miley and Thursday they traded for Rick Porcello with the Tigers, and also reportedly signed free agent Justin Masterson. Olney feels the way things are going, they are in good shape relative to the rest of the American League East.

“I would say this, Miley, Porcello, you’re talking about No. 3 type starters, but here’s the thing, you have to remember where the Red Sox are in context of this division,” said Olney. “The Orioles are way down, they’ve taken a couple of huge hits during this offseason. The Yankees are in a very murky situation. A lot of older players. The Blue Jays have some real holes on that team. Tampa Bay seems to be taking a step back. I still think with a couple more moves, the Red Sox could easily win this division again, especially with the additions they have made with their lineup.”

Although the team has added three pitchers, none of which are so called “aces.” Olney notes adding a potential No. 1 starter, such as Cole Hamels, may be easier said than done given the current market.

“It’s really not clear whether they are going to get that No. 1 because like a game of musical chairs, the options are certainly drying up,” Olney said. “We’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been talk with the Phillies that we know of about Cole Hamels, as much as we maybe anticipated. They may already know this is something that is not going to happen. They are on his no-trade list for a reason and a lot of pitchers, especially where they are in the second half of their careers, they don’t want to pitch in the American League. They don’t want to go to the American League East. Imagine if you are Cole Hamels and you could try and steer yourself into a situation where you could go back to Southern California where he is from, or you could leave yourself in a position where you have to be the guy to replace Jon Lester in Boston — in terms of comfort level that’s not really close.”

Olney also discussed Jon Lester signing with the Cubs for $155 million over six years. He said he was always under the impression if Boston matched or was close to another team’s offer, Lester would return to Boston.

“I know from from talking with people who knew Lester, that if it was close, or the Red Sox had matched the other offer, that he would have been in Boston,” said Olney.

He feels the Red Sox made a mistake with their initial four-year, $70 million offer last spring, which represented a total misread of the market. That mistake got them into the position they were in, with other teams fighting for Lester’s services.

“I think they made a huge mistake at the beginning of the negotiations and at the end can you really say they were completely at fault at the end in terms of what they offered? No, when you look at the history of long-term deals you can understand why they would hold back at the back end,” said Olney. “Look, if you make an offer of $70 million and then 10 months later you’re offering almost double that to the same player, that tells you you made a mistake. Not only did you make a misread the market in terms of where it was going to go because he wound up being offered as they say it close to $100 million more than what you offered, but you also misread the person that Lester would react so strongly to that.

“So basically once he got that offer of $70 million he essentially shuts down negotiations and you can’t reengage in those negotiations during the course of the summer. Look, there’s no question when you look at that offer in relation to where the market was for guys like Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels, it wasn’t even close. It was 50, 60 percent less than what other guys are getting. You can understand why it would become a competition for Jon.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

SAN DIEGO — The only thing that could stop Ben Cherington’s activity at the winter meetings? The plea over his plane’s loudspeaker to power down all electronic devices.

The Red Sox general manager punctuated his stay at the Manchester Hyatt with a flurry of pitching acquisitions, although Cherington was only prepared to discuss one — trading Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Detroit for pitcher Rick Porcello — by the time he ventured to the airport.

Along with Porcello, according to sources, Cherington was on the verge of completing a trade for pitcher Wade Miley in exchange for pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, while also coming to terms with free agent hurler Justin Masterson on a one-year, $9.5 million with incentives.

A source also confirmed that the Red Sox met with free agent pitcher James Shields at his San Diego-area home.

Here is what Cherington had to say before leaving the meetings:

(Discussions involving Cespedes?)

Many. Going back to the beginning of the offseason and GM meetings. I’ve said before, there were plenty of scenarios where we were keeping him. We were not looking to trade Yoenis Cespedes, but as we got into the offseason and looked at what the alternatives were and the need to build a rotation and the depth we have in the outfield, we feel good about the outfield group that we have. We just felt like it made sense. And Detroit’s getting a good player. I expect him to have a very good year for them.

(Outfield logjam with Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo?)

Yeah, well, I think it’s those three guys. With those three guys, we feel confident we’ll figure out a solution that works. I don’t think we feel like we need to do it right now. Obviously in Mookie’s case, he’s the youngest of the group. he came up and played very well and looked like he’s going to be more than capable of playing center or right or any other positions potentially. Castillo’s a natural center fielder and has looked really good defensively in Arizona and Puerto Rico now that he’s down there. Obviously we made an investment in him and believe in him as a player. And then obviously Victorino is a huge part of the team and the best right fielder in baseball in 2013 and went through a tough 2014 because of injuries. If he’s recovered, and we expect him to be recovered, he can be a very good player. I just think it’s something we’ll figure out as we get closer to the season. We feel like, as you guys all know, center and right, both really important positions. We feel like between the three of them, we’ll come up with a good solution. And then certainly Craig gives us protection at both corners, first base. And so we feel like we have some options and some offensive depth that we were able to consider trading Cespedes because of that.

(End result of Jon Lester trade?)

Yeah, I guess if you look at it in that context, I think if we had known in July that we weren’t going to sign Jon Lester, I think we would’ve been happy to trade him for Rick Porcello. So that’s not what we were expecting to do when we traded for Cespedes, but I guess in the final, this is the sort of net-net, we’re excited to have Rick on board.

(How view rotation after moves?)

I think we feel like, hopefully, if we’re able to push some other stuff across the goal line that we’ll be in strong position with the rotation. It doesn’t mean that we’d be disinterested in considering other stuff, but that we’d be in strong position with the group of guys who we feel can be good major league starters in our division next year and also because of the group of young pitching that we would’ve protected and have a chance to develop behind them.

(Possible extension talks with Porcello?)

Just get to know him a little bit first. I’m sure we’ll have a chance to get him up to Boston sometime soon and introduce him to some of the things we do and get to know him a little better. I don’€™t want to rule anything out but that’€™s not something we’re talking about right now.

(Moving young starters into the bullpen?)

I think it’s more likely than not that at least one of the spots in the bullpen if not more than that will be filled by some of the group that’€™s here ‘€” the younger pitching group. That’€™s not to say we wouldn’€™t look to add to the bullpen externally also this winter; we may do that. But we wouldn’€™t mind creating an opportunity in the bullpen for one of the younger guys.

(Looking for ground ball pitchers?)

We’re just looking for the best fits. Guys that keep the ball out of the air, there’s some benefit to that in Fenway Park obviously. There are fly-ball pitchers we looked at too. There are different ways to pitch, and there’s not a certain type that we’re looking for.

(How view infield defense with ground ball pitchers?)

We feel good about the way our infield defense has gone. Obviously the right side has and should continue to be a strength. For right-hand pitchers that keep the ball on the ground, really the right side of the infield is the most important ‘€” not the only important part but the most important. Sandoval has been a good defender and we should see probably improvement at that position defensively. As we saw, Bogie is still developing as a shortstop in the major leagues. But the way he looked after he moved back to the position late in the season and what he did late in the year and even what we’ve seen in this offseason from him, we feel confident he’s going to be a solid defender there.

(How view Porcello?)

We see, starting just with what he is now or what he has been the last couple of years, we feel he’s been one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. He’s been on a staff with a lot of big-name pitchers and really good starting pitchers, so he sort of gets buried in the names in Detroit because he’s been part of such a good rotation. He’s been really good in his own right. Given his age, we feel there may be more upside. Even what he is right now we think is really going to help us.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Sports Illustrated baseball writer and FOX color commentator Tom Verducci joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to recap baseball’s Winter Meetings and also was able to give his thoughts on the Red Sox adding pitchers Rick Porc

Tom Verducci (right) says the Red Sox got two "All-Star" quality pitches in Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Tom Verducci (right) says the Red Sox got two “All-Star” quality pitchers in Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated baseball writer and FOX color commentator Tom Verducci joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to recap baseball’s Winter Meetings and also was able to give his thoughts on the Red Sox adding pitchers Rick Porcello and Wade Miley. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Verducci was on the show right as the Porcello trade broke, so he was able to give instant analysis of both the deals, which he was in favor of given the durability of both Porcello and Miley.

Miley was acquired for Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, while Porcello was acquired for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier.

“I think, you guys know all the names in their farm system the great arms they do have sitting there, you really do need protection for them so they don’t have to throw so many innings and you have two guys now I think are both really good athletes, really don’t have red flags in their deliveries or stuff, profile well to remain durable,” Verducci said. “That is a very valuable thing. To me that’s always been an underrated skill in the game — is durability. Can you do it year-after-year? And these guys can. They have protection and they are pretty good pitchers too. It’s not like they just got guys who are so called innings eaters — the Edwin Jackson‘s of the world — they got two really good pitchers who can pitch at All-Star levels.”

Added Verducci on Porcello: “Makes sense to me. Teams like flexibility, the fact that both of these guys are in the last year before free agency, not a bad thing for either team. I really like Ricky Porcello. He’s a lot younger than you think. I think he is 26, 27 years old. The way he has incorporated his curve ball the last few years I think has brought him to another level.

“A ground ball pitcher, make sure you have a good defensive infield behind you because he suffered for that in Detroit for most of those years when they didn’t have a lot of range behind him. Total gamer. You guys remember the fight at Fenway a few years ago. Pitched in a big game when he was 20 years old, Game 163. That is exactly the kind of move I would do if I was the Red Sox — flip Cespedes for a year of Ricky Porcello.”

Verducci also discussed Jon Lester signing with the Cubs for six years. He said Lester does have some intangibles off the field that can make the whole Cubs rotation better, but also notes the game has changed with more reliance on bullpens.

“You have to love Jonny Lester. Lets face it, he’s been durable. I do think he’s the kind of guy that can make other pitchers on your staff better, he’s that kind of influential guy in terms of work ethic and focus, all those things,” said Verducci. “I get it. There is a little bit of a halo effect with Jon Lester as well. Take a look around the game too. The game as really changed a lot. I wrote this earlier in the offseason, don’t look at starting pitching the way we did for 100 years. In other words, you always started out well, how many aces do they have, I mean real good starting pitchers does a team have?

“The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the playoffs two years in a row without having anybody pitch 200 innings and you can do that in todays game because the game is so dependent now on bullpens. It’s more and more guys who throw harder, who pitch to fewer and fewer batters at a time, they just keep flipping guys into a game. You don’t need guys to throw 230 innings. If guys are out there like Lester or [James] Shields it’s great to see those guys, but I don’t think it is imperative that you have to have the prototypical ace. In a perfect world you’d love to have that guy, especially when he is homegrown in  his 20’s. You know what, the Red Sox had those years with Jon Lester. You don’t have to have those years before 31-36.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Red Sox have a one-year agreement with free agent right-hander Justin Masterson, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox have an agreement with free agent right-hander Justin Masterson. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale adds the deal is for about $9 million.

According to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, Red Sox medical officials met with Masterson last week after he endured a season-long struggle with health in 2014 that stemmed from torn cartilage in his rib cage and a consequent buildup of scar tissue. (A detailed look at Masterson’s injuries last year can be found here) The injuries contributed to a year-long struggle (7-9, 5.88 ERA in 28 games and 25 starts) with the Indians and Cardinals.

Masterson was drafted by the Red Sox in the second-round of the 2006 draft. He pitched in 67 games with the Red Sox, mostly out of the bullpen, between 2008-09 going 9-8 with a 3.76 ERA. Masterson was traded by the Sox to the Indians with prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price at the ‘€™09 trade deadline for Victor Martinez.

The Red Sox now have a starting rotation (not in any order) of: Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, and you could also throw Anthony Ranaudo into the mix given his major league experience last year.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.


Blog Author: 
Buster calls in from the Winter Meetings to react to the trade and discusses potential moves going forward.

[0:00:35] ... what they end up with. But Stewart dates you hear reaction this Jon Lester signed first WG at this one. I think a lot of people wonder if this if the Red Sox there one of ...
[0:03:16] ... that offer. In relation to where the market was for guys like Matt Cain Cole Hamels went in close and 5060%. Less. Then what other guys are getting and you can understand why did he would become a ...
[0:04:01] ... there hasn't been talked with the Phillies have we know lot about Cole Hamels here as much as maybe we anticipate it. You know what they they may charity note that this is something not gonna happen there on a no trade list are recent and a lot of pitchers. Especially when you're the second have their careers that flop it numerically there don't wanna go to the American League east and imagine if you Cole Hamels. If you could try that sort of steer yourself in the situation where you go back to the California where he's from. Or you could leave yourself in position where you have to be the guy to replace Jon Lester bought in terms of comfort level. That's not really close L. I would say that I agree with your assessment you know ...
[0:06:27] ... group tomorrow he's perceived to ask for too much off and again. Cole Hamels if he doesn't want to go to the American League leaders weren't there at suck it's not gonna happen. Then you're gonna ...

According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox have traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for Rick Porcello.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for Rick Porcello. The Red Sox will also be sending relief pitcher Alex Wilson and a lower level minor league pitcher to Detroit. The trade was first reported by CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports 1.

Both players are in the final year’s of their contract, but Porcello can be given a qualifying offer and the Red Sox would get a compensation pick if he were to sign with another team after the season. Cespedes on the other hand can not be given a qualifying offer or get a compensation pick in return.

Check back soon for more details…

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley may soon be on the way to the Red Sox via trade. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)SAN DIEGO -- Jon Lester was only the beginning.