NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Could the Red Sox get into the Edwin Encarnacion bidding? Probably not, but based on the slugger’s interest in Boston, maybe they should at least kick the tires.

Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Could the Red Sox get into the Edwin Encarnacion bidding? Probably not, but based on the slugger’s interest in Boston, maybe they should at least kick the tires.

The Red Sox continue to be on the outskirts of negotiations for the services of Encarnacion, still seeking to acquire a replacement for David Ortiz via a short-term deal. The Sox’ motivation for the approach is seemingly driven by a desire not to eclipse the luxury tax threshold.

But if the Red Sox’ strategy does change, it would seem there would be a very clear path.

According to a source close to Encarnacion, the 33-year-old designated the Red Sox as one of the three teams he identified heading into free agency as a preferred landing spot. Another was Toronto, who have already signed Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. The third club was not known, although it wasn’t the Yankees.

With Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran each agreeing to one-year deals, with the Yankees and Astros, respectively, some of the free agents still being attached to the Red Sox for short-term solutions are Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli.

Ortiz reiterated his endorsement for Encarnacion over the weekend at his Celebrity Golf Classic, which the former Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter attended.

For more from the MLB Winter Meetings, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who resurrected his career in September of 2015 with the Red Sox, hit it big in free agency on Monday, agreeing to a three-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers, the team announced.

Rich Hill

Rich Hill

Veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who resurrected his career in September of 2015 with the Red Sox, hit it big in free agency on Monday, agreeing to a three-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers, the team announced.

The Milton native, who converted to a starter with the independent Long Island Ducks before signing with the Red Sox on Aug. 14, 2015, went 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA between Oakland and Los Angeles last season.

The 37-year-old has played for eight teams in his career. He went 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA over parts of four seasons with the Red Sox.

He underwent a late-career renaissance in part because of an increased focus on his curveball, under the guidance of assistant Red Sox pitching coach Brian Bannister.

Hill is 38-28 with a 4.10 ERA over his 12 years in the big leagues.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

The Red Sox have had dalliances with Pedro Alvarez over the years. Could he finally join them?

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez

The Red Sox have had dalliances with Pedro Alvarez over the years. Could he finally join them?

With the Red Sox in the market for an affordable DH on a one-year deal, and higher-profile performers like Carlos Beltran (Astros) and Matt Holliday (Yankees) leaving the board, someone like Alvarez could be a fit.

That would be a dream come true for the Bronx native, who actually grew up a Red Sox fan. It’s why his college coach, Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, worried that Alvarez would spurn him after the Red Sox selected him in the 14th round of the 2005 draft.

“He’s a New York kid, so you would’ve thought the Yankees were his team,” Corbin said in 2014. “But all along the Red Sox were his favorite team. That raised some concerns with me with where his emotions would lead him.”

According to former Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod, the team was prepared to budge off its $850,000 offer to move closer to Alvarez’s desired $1 million, but in the end he chose school and it worked out, because the Pirates eventually made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, signing him for $6 million.

“It came right down to that morning,” Alvaerz said in 2014. “School was very important to my family, and [signing] just didn’t feel right at the time. Something was telling us to go the school route, and we just held onto faith and hoped that everything worked out. Once I made the decision, there was no turning back.”

When the Red Sox considered ways to fill their hole at third base after the 2014 season, they canvassed the league for players whose arbitration numbers could make them trade targets. Alvarez’s name was on that list, but the Red Sox couldn’t risk acquiring a third baseman who had just committed 25 errors and was certain to move to first base or DH, positions the Red Sox had filled with Mike Napoli and David Ortiz, respectively.

They instead chose Pablo Sandoval, a decision that contributed to GM Ben Cherington losing his job and the Red Sox finishing last in 2015.

Times have changed, however. Alvarez just slugged .504 with 22 homers for the Orioles. He hit 21 homers with an .848 OPS against righties and could give the Red Sox the left-handed half of a potential DH platoon.

They’ve missed out on him twice. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — When Greg Holland executed his showcase for prospective employers in early November, he was only throwing in the low 90’s.

Ned Yost

Ned Yost

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — When Greg Holland executed his showcase for prospective employers in early November, he was only throwing in the low 90’s. Still, teams came away impressed enough with the 31-year-old’s health and performance that he remains one of the most sought-after relievers in the open market.

Talking to his former manager, there is an understanding why clubs might be willing to live without the kind of stuff Holland had prior to his Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season.

“Absolutely,” said Royals manager Ned Yost from the MLB Winter Meetings Monday when asked if Holland could once again duplicate the kind of results that made him one of the best closers in baseball through 2013-14. “I don’t know if he is ever going to be what he was … and I mean stuff-wise, 97, 98 mph. But the thing about Greg Holland is I’ve never met anybody that was more of a fierce, fearless competitor than he was. And when you have that in your DNA you can get by at 92, 93 mph. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets back to being the dominant guy he was before because he has that makeup and that mentality. When he steps on that mound he’s some kind of fierce competitor.”

The Red Sox remain interested in Holland while looking for another eighth-inning option. (One MLB source called the reliever a “very popular” player among teams at the meetings.)

The idea of having more than one reliever who can close has become a popular notion on big league rosters, as was first evidenced with Yost’s bullpens in Kansas City. Along with Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox are hoping Joe Kelly and/or Matt Barnes can join a healthy Carson Smith as pitchers the Sox can lean on in high-leverage, late-inning situations.

“I think what teams are trying to do, or what the successful teams have done, they have a seventh inning guy, an eighth inning guy and a ninth inning guy and all three of them can pitch in the ninth inning,” Yost said. “All three of them can pitch in the ninth inning. All three can close. When you have that it’s a huge advantage late in the game.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — If there Red Sox are going to lock up Greg Holland, it’s not going to be easy.

Greg Holland

Greg Holland

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — If there Red Sox are going to lock up Greg Holland, it’s not going to be easy.

According to a major league source at the Winter Meetings, the 31-year-old reliever is “a popular guy” in this free agent market. WEEI.com recently learned the Red Sox have been among the most aggressive teams pursuing Holland, although their level of interest is shared by multiple teams.

Holland remains an interesting option for the Red Sox, who are prioritizing finding an eighth-inning reliever.

The former Royals closer missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but showed good health while performing in a showcase for teams in early November. Holland won’t start throwing again for another few weeks after taking some time off following the workout.

The righty had been one of the most dominant closers in baseball prior to pitching with a bad elbow in 2015. From 2013-14, Holland went 93-for-98 in save opportunities, totaling a 1.32 ERA and .170 batting average against.

One potential late-inning relief option came off the table when Joaquin Benoit agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies Sunday, according to multiple reports Former Blue Jay Brett Cecil also is off the table, inking a four-year, $30.5 million contract with the Cardinals.

As for late-inning relievers still on the market, Sergio Romo and Brad Ziegler are two who remain available.The Red Sox are not believed to be in the mix for the free agent market’s high-end closers, such as Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford