The Hall of Fame ballot announced Monday includes a trio of standout pitchers, including Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who should take

Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Hall of Fame ballot announced Monday includes a trio of standout pitchers, including Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who should take headlines back from the stars who were tainted by Major League Baseball‘s steroid era.

Joining Martinez as first-time candidates are five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson, who amassed 4,875 career strikeouts (second only to Nolan Ryan), and Braves legend John Smoltz, who is the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves.

Martinez, who won two Cy Youngs, compiled a 219-100 career record with 3,154 strikeouts.

Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra also makes his first appearance on the ballot.

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — all linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs — are back. Clemens and Bonds both received 35 percent of the votes last year, well below the number needed for admission. McGwire dipped to 11 percent, and he only has two more years of candidacy. Sosa fell to 7 percent last year, and if he dips below 5 percent he’ll be removed from future ballots.

Results will be announced Jan. 6. The induction ceremony is scheduled for July 26.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

While the Red Sox engage in a whirlwind of moves to spice up the Hot Stove season, one of their perceived building blocks continues to map his way through an alternatively interesting offseason.

The addition of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez would represent a dramatic statement by the Red Sox. But would they still be able to address their pitching?</p>
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Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

While the Red Sox engage in a whirlwind of moves to spice up the Hot Stove season, one of their perceived building blocks continues to map his way through an alternatively interesting offseason.

After seeing his stint in the Arizona Fall League cut short due to a bruised thumb, Rusney Castillo has seemingly gotten his winter ball schedule back on track. The outfielder is slated to join former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora‘s team in Puerto Rico Friday, with an eye on playing his first game Dec. 2.

The plan is for Castillo to play both right field and center field, while getting close to 100 at-bats for Criollos de Caguas.

The Puerto Rican Winter League’€™s regular season schedule extends until the end of December. Among the players playing for Caguas is Red Sox minor league outfielder Henry Ramos, who hit .326 in 48 games for Double-A Portland last season.

With the Suprise Saguaros of the AFL, Castillo hit .278 (10-for-38) with 10 runs and a .333 on-base percentage over eight games. With the Red Sox he hit .333 (12-for-36) with two homers, totaling an OPS of .928.

The righty hitter was recently examined in Boston and cleared by the team’€™s medical staff.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

While one major league source confirmed a report by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Pablo Sandoval on the heels of Sunday night’s agreement with

Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

While one major league source confirmed a report by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Pablo Sandoval on the heels of Sunday night’s agreement with Hanley Ramirez, Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for Sandoval, said that there is “no truth” to the report, and that Sandoval is continuing to decide between opportunities.

“We have offers,” Vasquez said in a text, “[but] no deal.”

Industry sources over the weekend said that Sandoval would make a decision between the three finalists for his services — the Giants team with whom he’s spent his career, the Red Sox and the Padres — this week. While Sandoval and Ramirez had been viewed as an either/or at third base for the Red Sox, on Sunday, industry sources suggested that the Red Sox could be interested in both, with Sandoval ticketed for third and Ramirez potentially set to move to left field.

If the Sox do add both, it could reshape dramatically an offense that slipped from the best in baseball in 2013 to 11th in the American League in 2014, with the switch-hitting Sandoval (who puts up dominant numbers against right-handed pitchers) and right-handed Ramirez (who crushed both right-handed and left-handed pitching) likely added to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in the middle of the Red Sox lineup.

Sandoval, 28, hit .279 with a .324 OBP, .415 slugging mark and 16 homers in 157 regular season games for the Giants in 2014 before a standout (.366/.423/.465) postseason as he helped the Giants to their third World Series triumph in five years. The Sox have pursued him as an upgrade after their third basemen combined for a line of .211 with a .271 OBP and .308 slugging percentage, all marks that ranked among the bottom two among AL teams at third base.

If Sandoval does indeed join the Sox, it would be as a third baseman. Ramirez — considered a below-average shortstop and not likely to be Sandoval’s equal at third — would then likely move to left field, with Xander Bogaerts expected to stay at shortstop.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Hanley Ramirez didn't always leave a positive impression during his time with the Dodgers. (Getty Images)"We do keep open the prospect of signing a long term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime.



An industry source has confirmed that free agent Hanley Ramirez is on his way to Boston to finalize a five-year agreement with the Red Sox.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter), free agent Hanley Ramirez is heading to Boston to finalize a deal with the Red Sox on Monday. Rosenthal reported that the agreement was “in the range of five years, $90M.”

Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican in 2000 but was traded by the organization (with Anibal Sanchez and others) to the Marlins as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the ‘€œclosest right-handed hitter to Manny [Ramirez] I have seen,’€ someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’€™s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched free agent Pablo Sandoval’€™s numbers against righties (he had a .283/.362/.439 line, compared to Sandoval’€™s .317/.363/.461) while proving even more impactful against lefties (.282/.393/.476). For his career, Ramirez has a higher OBP and roughly the same slugging percentage against righties as Sandoval and a massive advantage against lefties.

Still, a number of concerns appeared to dampen a potential free agent bonanza for Ramirez. Among them: He’ll be 31 in December, meaning that most of his next contract will fall outside of his career prime; he has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons; his defense at shortstop is poor, and while there is some belief in industry circles that he could represent a quality option at a corner position, his ability to adapt to a new spot represents something of an uncertainty; and concerns about his makeup with both the Marlins and Dodgers have been significant.

That said, those concerns were largely against the backdrop of expectations that a deal could reach more than five years and upwards of $20 million a year. The concerns still exist, but the risk undertaken by the Sox would appear to be at least somewhat diminished by the terms as reported by Rosenthal.

It remains to be seen what Ramirez’s role with the Sox will be. The Sox were one of three finalists for Ramirez’s fellow free agent, Pablo Sandoval. As midnight approached on Sunday night, the team had not given any indication to Sandoval’s representatives that it was no longer pursuing the 28-year-old switch-hitter.

Obviously, if the Sox fail to sign Sandoval, Ramirez would represent an immediate candidate to become the Sox’ starting third baseman. He would likely move off the position to flank Xander Bogaerts. But the team might also be able to fit both Sandoval and Ramirez in its lineup.

The Sox could sign Sandoval and Ramirez, putting Sandoval (who grades statistically and by evaluators as an above-average defensive third baseman) at third and Ramirez at short (thus displacing Bogaerts, who would either move to the outfield or become a trade candidate). Or — perhaps more likely — the team could have Sandoval at third while moving Ramirez (who grades as one of the worst defensive shortstops in the big leagues) to another corner position, most likely left field while keeping Bogaerts at short. In that scenario, the Sox might look to move Yoenis Cespedes.

It may take some time for the dust to settle to determine exactly how the Red Sox lineup will look. But Ramirez represents a bold and unexpected first stroke to the offseason, while permitting the team all manner of flexibility going forward this winter.

Both Christopher Meola (via twitter) and Jake Wesley (via twitter) reported earlier on Sunday that Ramirez’s deal with the Red Sox was all but finalized, with Wesley reporting that the length and salaries had already been determined. While industry sources told WEEI.com on Sunday evening that a Ramirez-to-the-Red Sox deal could come together quickly, Meola’s and Wesley’s initial reports remained unconfirmed until Rosenthal’s follow-up.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier