Red Sox assistant GM Brian O'Halloran, in an interview on Thursday night's Red Sox Hot Stove show, said that while he would not comment directly on free agents including first baseman Adam LaRoche, the club continues to talk with free agents with first base representing an "area of focus" at a time when there is still no official deal in place with Mike Napoli.
While Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal in December to be the Sox' primary first baseman, that agreement hasn't been finalized in the aftermath of his physical. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that the Sox have been in touch with LaRoche -- the top free agent alternative at first base, albeit one who would cost the Sox not just the years and dollars it would take to sign him but also a draft pick -- though it remains unclear if those conversations have been anything beyond preliminary at this stage.
"I’m not going to be able to address any specific free agents. I will say that Ben has been in touch with a number of free agents," O'Halloran said. "First base … is an area of focus. Not the only area of focus -- we’re looking to strengthen our club any way we can. That process never ends. But Ben has certainly been in touch with a number of free agents, ongoing conversations, over the last few weeks."
Asked if he would be surprised if other teams were checking in on Napoli's status (something that WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reported has happened), O'Halloran said he would not.
"That wouldn’t surprise me at all," said the assistant GM. "Mike Napoli’s a really good player, so no, that wouldn’t surprise me at all."
O'Halloran also discussed the Sox' decision to trade for Joel Hanrahan, a closer who will be a free agent next year, while sending another pitcher who, before his struggles in 2012, enjoyed considerable success in the NL Central (Mark Melancon) and won't be eligible for free agency for four years, to Pittsburgh.
"I think the main thing it sort of boils down to is our belief in Joel Hanrahan. That’s not to take anything away from the guys we sent over there. You’ve got to give something up to get something," said O'Halloran. "You referenced Melancon, and obviously his season, especially early on, didn’t go quite as he expected or we expected, but he’s a good pitcher and we strongly believe that Mark is going to have success with Pittsburgh. He worked his tail off after that blip early on and went down to the minors and pitched his tail off, did a really good job, came back up, helped us, pitched better. So we know we’re giving something up in Mark and certainly the other guys who went over to Pittsburgh in that trade. But it boils down to, we saw an opportunity to acquire what we believe is one of the top closers in the game in Joel Hanrahan, a guy with the kind of stuff we believe can play in the American League East and really anywhere. We thought that would be something that would make sense for our club, give ourselves a chance to improve for 2013, and we believe we can compete for a division title in 2013. We think Hanrahan will be a big help in doing so."
Rodney Harrison, NBC Sports, joined MFB to discuss last night's game against the Chiefs, the Patriots' issues on both offense and defense, and how he feels Brandon Browner will impact the defense as he returns from suspension.
Greg, Steve and Chris zero in on the O-line specifically and look at what it will take to right the ship. Is the running game a solution or more blocking from TE's, LaFell etc. ?
The boys discuss what is going on with the Pats offense and why Brady has looked a little off so far. Is it O-line or WR issues? They specifically discuss Amendola, Thompkins and Dobson - who's the odd man out?
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Joe Castiglione does his annual wrap-up of the season by reading the poem by Bart Giamatti.
Mut and Rob discuss the "kids" and the variety of young bodies the Red Sox called upon this season. Specifically, they look at Bogaerts and Bradley, Jr. and where things went wrong. They give their opinions on which one will right the ship next season.
Description: Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett looks back at the 2014 Red Sox prospect season by answering listener questions about a number of Red Sox prospects as well as broader issues and themes in the farm system.
DJ Bean, WEEI.com, joined the guys to talk about the Bruins signing two young stars to 1-year contracts.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
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The guys opened the show discussing the Pats brutal Monday night loss.
John Dennis left the show mid segment.
Christian's nephew twisted his ankle and missed Sunday's game because he (supposedly) slipped while rushing down the stairs to stop his puppy from peeing on the floor. Lou addresses the Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty from last night's game, in which a Chiefs player was flagged for dropping to his knees during a TD celebration. And Christian is dubious of some photos of LaRon Landry.
A familiar sentiment has arisen regarding the Patriots offense. Tom Brady is locking in on 2 guys (Edelman and Gronk) and no one else seems to be getting a look. A 37 year old, future Hall of Fame QB, has little to no weapons in 2014.
Lou, Christian and Tim break down last night's embarrassing loss on national television. They wonder just how much progress has been made towards building a championship team.
We discuss the Rajon Rondo injury and conspiracy theories, and whether or not his tale about falling in the shower holds any water. Get it? Shower... water? Nevermind.
We bring you the stuff you might have missed that we didn't have a chance to touch on today.
We tackle four topics all inspired by Derek Jeter's long goodbye.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Ben and Russ break down some rumors surrounding Real Madrid and Manchester United. Also on the docket is the MLS and your New England Revolution.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Gerry's passionate defense of Tom Brady, going to lunch and clock issues in the third edition of Breaking Balls.
Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett looks back at the 2014 Red Sox prospect season by answering listener questions about a number of Red Sox prospects as well as broader issues and themes in the farm system.
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