According to a major league source, the Red Sox won’t be one of the teams to conduct a private workout for Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas.

The Red Sox did attend Tomas’ showcase in the Dominican Republic April 21.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox won’t be one of the teams to conduct a private workout for Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas.

The Red Sox did attend Tomas’ showcase in the Dominican Republic April 21.

According to the source, the team is intrigued by the 23-year-old’s power potential, which current Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo compared to that of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu talking about Tomas with (Click here to read all of Castillo’s comments regarding Tomas.)

But due to the excess of outfielders, along with some concern over Tomas’ strikeout rate while playing in/for Cuba, the Red Sox don’t appear to motivated to engage in an aggressive bid for the free agent corner outfielder.

The Red Sox did hold a private workout for Castillo prior to signing the outfielder to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal.

For a complete scouting report on Tomas from MLB Trade Rumors, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

On the one hand, Ben Cherington is the architect of a World Series winner. On the other hand, he’s steered the team to a pair of last-place finishes that have bookended that triumph.

Good luck reconciling those drastically different conclusions to the three years of Cherington’s GM tenure. Of course, Cherington is not interested in reconciling those finishes. He’s interested in avoiding further repetitions of seasons like 2012 and 2014. The fact that he has not represents a failure of sorts.

“It’s hard. It’s been hard on us, the extreme outcomes. Obviously I like the upside, but the downside is hard to deal with, painful for everyone, and it’s not at all what we want to be. It’s not at all what I’ve said we want to be in the past,” said Cherington. “We want to build something that’s got a chance to sustain and be good every year. I don’t think — you can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and contending teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not, so obviously, based on the results of the last three years, we haven’t accomplished that yet.

“We need to figure that out and find a way to do that. I still believe that we will,” he continued. “I believe that there are too many strengths in the organization not to do that, but we have to sort of, we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves honestly what we can do to make sure that happens. That will be a big part of the offseason and moving forward. It’s a very competitive landscape, I think, in baseball. I think the talent is more evenly distributed than it was 15, 20 years ago. So we’re always going to need talent. We’re going to need good players. We’re going to need to construct the roster well. And then we also need to look for every other possible area of competitive advantage. If we do well enough in all of those areas, it will lead to what we want. We haven’t gotten there yet.”

Manager John Farrell likewise grimaced that the 2013 World Series triumph felt “longer ago than just one year.”

The struggles of the team’s young position players — most notably, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. — played a meaningful role in contributing to that volatility (though it would be a mistake to point solely to that group, given the lackluster production that came from elsewhere).

Did the Sox rely too heavily on prospects? Cherington answered that question by offering context for how the team ended up with three young position players.

“Going back to last offseason, we felt like as we looked towards 2014, 2015 and beyond, trying to build a team that could sustain a level of success, we felt at some point, we were going to have to integrate some young position players, and then at some point we were going to have to integrate some young pitching. We really didn’t want to do both at once if we could avoid it,” said Cherington. “Given where people were in their development, we felt there was a better chance to integrate some young players in 2014 knowing that inevitably there was going to be some transition on the pitching side after that.

“So looking back on it, what we tried to do was build a team that would allow for that, where young players were protected enough where we could still be competitive and winning, and then get into a season and make adjustments if we had to. That was our plan. It’s certainly fair to say we didn’t execute the plan as well as we should have. That’s what I look back on and ask myself, is there a better way I and we could’ve executed the plan, and the answer is yes, because the results are the results.

“We need to execute better and that leads to better performance, and I take responsibility ultimately for the performance. We’re not going to and we can’t shy away from the idea of committing to young players when they prove they should be committed to. That’s still going to be the best way we can sustain a level of success over a long period of time.”

And as difficult as this year was, Cherington and Farrell suggested that he doesn’t believe the Sox are so far away from being able to get to the place where they want to be moving forward.

“I think there are two things that quickly come to mind and it’€™s been a roster of change and it’€™s one that’€™s building and when you think about the young talented guys that have emerged this summer, it is exciting,” said Farrell. “It’€™s exciting because you can look on the field and see a couple of guys or multiple guys that could be together for a long period of time. That’€™s not to guarantee anything but their early returns on opportunities provided this year have been positive. When you start to look at Mookie [Betts], Xander, Rusney [Castillo], Christian [Vazquez], you start to get a number of names that because of their and because of what they’€™ve done in the early stages of their career it’€™s very promising.

“I think we’€™re well positioned. I think we have a challenging offseason ahead of us that’€™s sort of, in a way, simple to see but not, that doesn’€™t mean it’€™s easy to execute. If you look at all the things an organization needs to be successful I think a lot of those things are in place,” added Cherington. “You need stable ownership, support from ownership, you need resources, financial and otherwise, you need good people, we have good people in the front office, we have good people on the field. We need talent ‘€“ major league clubhouse and in the farm system, I think we have both. We have to add to it and we have to construct a roster that works and that wins games next year because ultimately the results are the results and that’€™s what we’€™re judged on. I feel good about the strengths we have in the organization but certainly we can learn from what happened this year do whatever we can to avoid it from ever happening again.”

Among the other items discussed by Cherington and manager John Farrell in a 40-minute session looking back on the season and looking forward to the work that lies ahead to move forward:

– Cherington identified adding to the rotation, adding a left-handed hitter and the bullpen as three areas of emphasis for the team this offseason. He suggested that third base could be an area where the team looks to upgrade offensively, though he also noted that Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini and Brock Holt give the team internal options.

– Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo both impressed in their big league debuts. The ideal position for both next year, with Dustin Pedroia back, is likely center field. Cherington did not seem worried about finding roles for both.

“I don’€™t think we can assume it’€™s a problem until it’€™s a problem. In October, it’€™s not a problem. If it’€™s a problem at some point, great, we’€™ll have a problem,” said Cherington. “If we have too many good players for the spots we have, then I guess that’€™s a problem and we’€™ll deal with it. We all know a lot can happen between now and next April and we’€™ll see where we are. We finished in last place, so we need more good players, not less. So hopefully we’€™re building that and we need to continue to build that.”

– Farrell was not prepared to say if there would be any changes to his coaching staff, suggesting that there were “a number of conversations to be had.” He noted that the coaching staff was the same one that earned accolades en route to a World Series, but also suggested, “We’re always looking for ways to get better.”

– Cherington took stock of an increasingly challenging environment in which to improve an offense. He noted that standards have changed, to the point where a .950 OPS at the corners is no longer a given, but suggested that the team didn’t want to “throw out the baby with the bath water” by giving up its emphasis of a grinding approach to drive up pitch counts in pursuit of less-disciplined power.

– Cherington on whether the team would pursue extension talks with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes: “You know, we’ve really enjoyed having him here in the time that he’s been here. He does a lot of things on the field. He seems to have fit into the clubhouse pretty quickly. And he does sort of provide an element in the middle of the lineup — confident hitter with men on base and all of those things that you see that we can use. It’s just a conversation I think we’ll have at the right time. There’s no specific date we’re planning on having that. So far, we think the relationship is off to a good start.”

On whether Cespedes’ interest in an extension would impact whether the team explores trading him: “As far as Cespedes is concerned, we sort of look at the baseline of him being on the team next year as being a very good thing. Anything on top of that would be good if it makes sense for everyone. We just like having him on the team next year, there’€™s nothing conditional on it. We look forward to having him on the lineup next year.”

– Cherington on whether the group of young pitchers supplied any of the rotation answers going forward: “On the one hand, there absolutely will be some answers from that group, but also fair to say that we don’t know exactly who yet and probably won’t until we get to spring training and get into the deeper part of March. We believe that some of the pitching solutions will come from the group that’s in the organization now, but we’ll look to add to it, too.”

Farrell said that he could envision some of the pitchers who were given an opportunity to start this year contributing out of the bullpen in the future. He noted that both Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa had experience pitching out of the bullpen.

– Farrell said that the team would be “very comfortable” with having Christian Vazquez as its primary catcher. Cherington said that in an ideal world, the team would be able to add a left-handed catcher, but he said that the Sox wouldn’t be beholden to a left-handed hitting profile for a catcher. He also said the team wasn’t going to rule out a return of David Ross.

– Though the Sox offense continued to struggle after the deals for Cespedes and Allen Craig (along with Joe Kelly) after the deadline, Cherington said that he feels that while the deals did not bring the Sox’ offseason work on the lineup to a conclusion, they did bring the team closer to having a deep, productive lineup for 2015.

As for Craig, who hit .128 with a .234 OBP and .191 slugging mark in 29 games after being traded from the Cardinals to the Red Sox, Cherington said he believed that there were better days ahead.

“He has such a strong track record all the way back to his college days, through the minor leagues and with the Cardinals,” said Cherington. “This was a tough year for him. He had a tough injury last fall that he tried to play through, played in the world series with, but he would tell you and I think it’€™s clear it affected his off season, which probably affected the beginning of his season and he was swimming up stream the whole year and then the trade. You’€™re talking about a guy who had signed an extension not too long ago, who had settled into a place in St. Louis and then he gets traded. The whole year, there was a lot coming at him but in the time we’€™ve gotten to know him we’€™ve found him to be an accountable guy, obviously an intelligent guy. And he knows what he needs to do this off-season to put himself in a position to be more successful next year. And the track record and his age suggest he will. We knew were getting a guy in a down year and he’€™s going to fight back from that.”

– Cherington said that, even with the struggles of the young players this year, the team would not adopt a rigid approach to the amount of Triple-A service time needed before promoting players.

– Likewise, Cherington said that the team did not have any bright lines regarding the number of years to which it would be willing to sign a pitcher in his 30s.

“I think there’€™s a presumption we would prefer to stay away from those but that’€™s not a policy,” said Cherington. “There’€™s a preference to avoid really long term contracts with pitchers or position players in their 30s but that’€™s not a hard policy. But it would guide us. Obviously length becomes an issue as guys get into their 30s certainly.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who missed the final homestand of the season with soreness in his right hand/wrist (an area that had been injured when hit by a pitch in May), is expected to return to complete health with rest.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced that right-hander Clay Buchholz was expected to undergo a minor right knee procedure to repair his meniscus by head team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis.

Clay Buchholz will have what GM Ben Cherington described as a minor right knee procedure. (Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz will have what GM Ben Cherington described as a minor right knee procedure. (Getty Images)

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced that right-hander Clay Buchholz was expected to undergo a minor right knee procedure to repair his meniscus by head team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis. Cherington said that Buchholz had been dealing with the issue on and off for some time, though the discomfort hadn’t always been present and it was not significant enough to prevent him from pitching. Cherington described the meniscus injury as “not a debilitating issue,” and was not at the root of the player’s struggles (8-11, 5.34 ER) in 2014.

“Given where we are in the calendar, it’s a fairly quick recovery. Let’s just knock it out and he should have a normal offseason,” said Cherington. “It’s something that we managed. I think he would tell you it did not affect him. We’re just trying to be proactive so it doesn’t turn into something bigger.”

– Brock Holt will see Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9 to get clearance that he’s recovered fully from his concussion. He won’t play in games (that visit will come too late to clear him for fall instructional league), but given that Holt took batting practice and grounders in the final homestand of the season, all parties appear comfortable that he will enter the offseason healthy.

Mike Napoli is expected to recover from his toe, knee and finger injures with rest. He’s also been dealing with sleep apnea for a number of years, with the condition worsening in recent years. The team will work with Napoli to see if that condition can be addressed this offseason.

David Ortiz (wrist soreness) is expected to be fine with rest.

Dustin Pedroia‘s recovery from thumb/wrist surgery is proceeding in a fashion that is expected to permit him a full, healthy offseason strengthening and conditioning program in Arizona.

Shane Victorino is recovering from his discectomy on his lower back.

“Still has a road ahead of him, but you know, if he stays on track without any significant setbacks, should be active in spring training at some point. I don’t want to put a date on it yet,” said Victorino. “I think our hope would be that he’ll be in games at some point in spring training. It’s too far away to know exactly when.”

– Cherington said that the team does not feel that there are any health concerns related to Allen Craig’s foot.

“We’ve had it examined. We don’t believe — he doesn’t believe — it’s an issue. So he’s just focused on having a good offseason. I think we’ve done everything we can to make sure that the foot is OK going forward,” said Cherington. “No further testing needed.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Will Middlebrooks missed the final homestand of the season with a hand/wrist injury. (Getty Images)

Will Middlebrooks missed the final homestand of the season with a hand/wrist injury. (Getty Images)

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who missed the final homestand of the season with soreness in his right hand/wrist (an area that had been injured when hit by a pitch in May), is expected to return to complete health with rest. That said, the 26-year-old has decided against the team’s recommended course of going to winter ball.

GM Ben Cherington said that Middlebrooks gave the matter consideration, and while the team did want him to play in more games after missing roughly half of this season due to injuries, the decision about whether or not to play this winter would not impact whether the team views him as major league-ready in the spring.

“He’s made a decision that he’s going to focus on other things this winter. He feels he can address what he needs to address without playing winter ball. That’s a decision that he’s made,” said Cherington. “I don’t think whether or not he plays winter ball should be a determining factor on where he is next March or April. We talked to him about it. We felt there was some merit. But players have to make some decisions that they think is in their best interests.

“We’re going to present information and what we feel like might be helpful, but ultimately offseasons belong to players, and they need to do what they think is in their best interests,” added Cherington. “He gave it consideration. He thought about it. I think he understood where we were coming from. I think he just feels like it’s in his best interests to focus on an offseason without playing, to get strong, get ready for spring training.”

Cherington said that the 26-year-old is expected to be healthy after resting for the next month. Middlebrooks hit .191 with a .256 OBP and .265 slugging mark in 63 big league games this year, his season compressed by a pair of stints on the DL for a calf strain and broken right index finger.

Middlebrooks discussed his view of the 2014 season, and his reluctance to go to winter ball, here.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason.

Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason. The left-hander is slated to start the Athletics’ one-game playoff against the Royals on Tuesday night, his opponent (in almost comical coincidence) Kansas City ace James Shields.

With Lester on the mound following a 16-11 season, career-low 2.46 ERA, career-high 219 1/3 innings, 220 strikeouts (9.0 per nine) and career-low 48 walks (2.0 per nine) and on the cusp of free agency, the baseball world will be watching closely. That, of course, includes the Red Sox organization that traded him on July 31 (along with outfielder Jonny Gomes) for Yoenis Cespedes.

The negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Sox and Lester after the pitcher had stated a desire to sign a long-term deal to remain with the Sox, even if it meant taking a discount to do so, lorded over the Sox’ season. That was true while Lester was with the team, and it’s true now that he’s gone, given that the Red Sox make no secret of the fact that they have a significant amount of work to do regarding the rebuilding of their rotation, and more specifically, the front of their rotation.

“Hopefully we can get right back into it if we fix the top of the rotation,” Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said.

“That’s absolutely our intention,” team chairman Tom Werner said on Sunday about whether he believed that the Sox could build a rotation to return to contention in 2015. “We have the resources. Hopefully it will all fall into place soon.”

That would represent a contrast to how things developed with Lester. The negotiations in spring training represented little more than a false start, and even with the possibility of middle ground apparent, the initial gulf between the two sides was such that there wasn’t a great deal of movement in negotiations.

With hindsight, Werner was asked, was there regret about the shape that negotiations with Lester took?

“No. I don’t want to go back too much, but let me just say that we expected a little more dialogue back and forth than happened,” said Werner. “But I’ll take our share of the responsibility in that.”

By contrast, Kennedy suggested that the fact that dialogue between the two sides was amicable left little ground for regret.

“There’s a lot of stuff that probably went on behind the scenes that is not for public consumption,” said Kennedy. “I think we feel really, really good about the way both sides handled the discussion. Very positive.”

While the two sides did not find common ground during the season, the Red Sox seem likely to pursue Lester anew this winter. Whether there is a greater likelihood of an agreement come November remains to be seen, though Kennedy suggested that characterizations of the Sox’ philosophical rigidity — particularly a bright line unwillingness to go beyond deals of four years for pitchers in their 30s — may not be accurate.

“I don’t know what we will do or won’t do, but I would be surprised if we wouldn’t consider every and any option — whether that means a long-term deal for a pitcher over 30, I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rules,” said Kennedy. “I think there’s a philosophy and empirical data that shows [deals of five-plus years for pitchers in their 30s have] not worked in most situations. But I’ve never heard, we don’t do this, we don’t go long on a pitcher, we don’t go more than six years, or seven years.

“There was a lot of talk after the Dodgers trade about what we were going to do or not do vis-a-vis existing players. We traded Adrian and Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. And then shortly thereafter, we made the deal with Dustin Pedroia. Having a long-term extension with a player going well into his 30s.”

Does that mean that the Sox, who would not have to wonder about Lester’s fit for Boston or whether he has a routine that would give him at least a chance to sustain success into his 30s, might make another serious run at Lester?

“On the pitching front, I don’t know. I really don’t know what will happen. I think a lot will depend on the market and what the market looks like,” said Kennedy. “Obviously, I’m not at liberty to say one word about any potential free agents but I said before the trade that I was hopeful we would have certain players here for a long time. I’m hopeful that we’re active in the free agent market.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

It was a glorious day, bathed in warmth and sunlight, an idyllic atmosphere that carried a faint reminder: There would be no autumnal chill, no baseball in the vivid fall hues where each pitch carries the weight and magnitude of a full season. This was the final reminder of a backwards season that ultimately is defined by the absence of October baseball.