Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’€™s most recent offseason acquisitions.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’€™s most recent offseason acquisitions. To hear the segment, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Red Sox‘ signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in a precarious situation. He was acquired in a trade at the non-waiver deadline in July, but he could be on his way out in a trade this offseason because Ramirez is expected to start in his position. Cherington tried to downplay the urgency to move the Cuban outfielder.

Said Cherington: “We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’€™s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions. We’€™ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’€™ll know more about who’€™s here and how it all adds up.”

Pablo Sandoval signed a reported five-year, $95 million contract. With the production he’€™s had over his career and the fact that two other teams were bidding on the third baseman, Cherington said the final contract fell in line with what he thought it be before Sandoval signed.

“It ended up being about in the neighborhood where we thought,” Cherington said. “Again, given his age, his sort of platform and what he’€™s done in the postseason and everything about him. And then the fact that he’€™s done it in a major market, he was going to get attention, there was going to be competition and we felt like he would end up in the neighborhood he ended up. It just so happened that the three teams involved in the end were all pretty much in that same neighborhood, and we’€™re obviously very happy he chose us.”

Before the 2013 World Series run, the Red Sox landed Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino on three-year deals. This time it took two more years to get Sandoval. Cherington said age played a role in the contract differences.

Said Cherington: “First of all, every guy is different, and I think most if not all of the contracts two offseasons ago were with guys past 30. … In Sandoval’€™s case he’€™s 28, so the calculus is a little bit different. … The other thing is, the market is changing. Every year for every player in baseball, contracts continue to move, the dollars continue to move. So you have to adjust to that. What was valued three years ago is different. Every year we’€™re trying to build the best team we can and end up finding the players that fit into that plan.”

Ramirez has been an infielder his entire career, playing either shortstop or third base since 2006. Coming to the Red Sox, he will play the outfield, which makes some people skeptical. Cherington said Ramirez probably won’€™t have the new position down pat right away, but he does have the open mind to play there.

“I think it’€™s really a combination of two things: one is his desire to do it and his openness, the willingness to do it in the context that he had opportunities,” said Cherington. “He could’ve gone places and played the infield. He wanted to do it because he wanted to be here. There’€™s a desire, there’€™s a willingness to work at it. He’€™s already agreed to get down to Fort Myers early, we’€™ll have a dedicated coach with him. The desire was one part, and the other part is we’ve known this guy since he was 17. One of the things that has always stood about him is that he picked up things quicker than anyone else did, whether it was learning English or learning baseball or whatever it was. He was a quick study. You take a guy who’€™s played shortstop at the major league level who’€™s that kind of athlete and is a quick study and who wants to do it, I feel confident in time he’€™ll figure out how to be good. He won’€™t be perfect on day one, we’€™re not expecting him to be perfect on day one. We know he’€™ll get the work in, and in time we’€™re confident he’€™ll end up being good out there.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On if the current situation would be different if Will Middlebrooks played in winter ball: “I wouldn’t want to ever make sort of conditional decisions like that. … I don’€™t think that’€™s right, I don’€™t think it’€™s fair. We talked to Will about that because we felt like there might be some benefit. And that’€™s a conversation you have to have with a player, player has to make a decision for himself.”

On if the Red Sox will acquire a top pitcher via trade or free agency: “We really don’€™t know yet. We are going to add to the rotation. It seems most likely we’€™ll do that through different means. We may do that through free agency and trades. And where guys slot in and if you want to put guys in the one through five holes, I don’€™t know No. 2 comes from, where No. 4 comes from, where No. 5 comes from as far as whether its internal or free agency or trade. We’€™re trying to put the best five together we can and we just don’€™t know yet where those roles are filled from.”

On if the Red Sox will enter the season with a rotation ace: “I think we have to build a good rotation, there’€™s different ways to do that. Of course any team would benefit from having an ace-level performance. More than that, what teams needs is just good pitching, good rotation. There are different ways to do that. The Giants obviously benefit from having a young ace on their team. He really carried them through the postseason. So of course a team benefits from that. The Orioles benefited from having just a really cheap pitching staff and having good pitchers one through 12.”

On if Mookie Betts will be with the Red Sox in 2015: “He is someone we really value, he’€™s got a lot going for him. He obviously proved the time he was in the big leagues this year that he’€™s more than capable of helping a team, it looks like he’€™s ready. Certainly easy to see him as part of the team next year, but we’ve just got to get a little deeper into the winter and see how it all lines up.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

The only completely consistent people are the dead. 

-- Aldous Huxley

John HenryThe logical tension is obvious. 



Ever since meeting David Ortiz in the minor leagues in 2008, Pablo Sandoval has always had a tight relationship with the Red Sox slugger.

Now, that relationship figures to get even tighter.

Sandoval was playing for San Francisco’s Double-A team in Richmond, Va. when he met Ortiz, who was rehabbing a wrist injury with the Portland Sea Dogs. There was a story circulating that the two had dinner last week and that Ortiz spent the evening recruiting him. Sandoval set the record straight Tuesday.

“It’s false that we had dinner last time I was in town,” Sandoval said. “It’s not even true. I was talking to him. He gave me advice [in the minors] that I always carry with me and don’t forget those things. Now that I’m here, and we do a Pepsi commercial together. He’s just a funny guy. To be his teammate is going to be exciting, to be 162 games, postseason, it’s going to be very exciting to spend time with him.

“The only thing we talked about was it’s a great organization. They take care of your family first. That’s one of those things that made my decision clearly when I came here last year to meet with Ben. It’s one those things that he told me, family is first [in Boston]. That’s what care about. That’s why I love to be a Red Sox now.”

Sandoval said he’s also excited to join new teammate Hanley Ramirez, who was introduced five hours later Tuesday at Fenway Park.

“We are good friends, we have a good relationship,” Sandoval said of Ramirez. “We had dinner [Monday] night. Now being on the same team is going to be fun. He’s funny. He loves his teammates.”

Ortiz, Sandoval and Ramirez carry a lot of potential for a dynamic middle of the order. So good, as a matter of fact, that Sandoval said there’s a nickname being thrown around in the organization.

“It’s exciting for me to be with Hanley and David Ortiz,” Sandoval said. “Like everyone says right now in media relations, it’s the ‘3 Amigos.’ It’s just exciting to be part of this lineup and this organization.”

There is the likely possibility that Sandoval will be playing for the Red Sox well after Ortiz retires, leaving a hole at the DH spot. But Sandoval insisted Tuesday he isn’t thinking about that at all right now.

“€œNo. I want to prove myself that I can be a third baseman on this team for the rest of my career,” he said. “That’€™s what I’€™m going to work through with this organization right now. I want to be a better defensive player, prove that I can play third base.”

This past season, Sandoval was third among NL third basemen with a .971 fielding percentage and put together a career-best 73-game errorless streak from May 25-August 22. His lifetime .960 fielding percentage at third base ranks third among active major league third basemen with least 750 games at the position. He has also played first base (63 games, 55 starts) and catcher (14 games, 12 starts) in his major league career.

As for being clutch, Sandoval also has that in common with Big Papi.

Only Ortiz (.455) has a higher World Series batting average than Sandoval (.426) among those with at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic. A year before Ortiz won the World Series MVP, Sandoval was named MVP of the 2012 World Series, in which he hit .500 (8-for-16) in the Giants‘€™ four-game sweep of Detroit.

Sandoval has reached base safely in 36 of his 39 career postseason games for a .344 batting average (53-for-154), best in major league history among those with at least 150 postseason plate appearances.

Now all he, Ortiz and Ramirez have to do is get to the Fall Classic together.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

John Henry offered some clarity Tuesday as to where the Red Sox might go from here when it comes to their offseason approach.

John Henry

John Henry

John Henry offered some clarity Tuesday as to where the Red Sox might go from here when it comes to their offseason approach.

Following the press conference to introduce new left fielder Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox principal owner said that he was not averse to blowing through the $189 million luxury tax threshold this offseason.

The comment was notable considering the Red Sox would need to reach such financial heights if they were to commit to signing a top tier free agent pitcher, such as Jon Lester. The last time the team went past the threshold was 2011.

(The team’€™s payroll currently stands at approximately at $182 million.)

“The way it’€™s structured we can blow through one year,” Henry said. “Again for next year we have tremendous flexibility so we could go could through for one year and not overly effect us.”

In regards to Lester, Henry made it clear that the pursuit of the free agent pitcher is a top priority for the Red Sox, responding to the question of whether or not he was optimistic about signing the lefty with, ‘€œI am. I’€™m hopeful.’€

When asked about the email sent to WEEI.com by one of Lester’€™s agents, Seth Levinson, saying that the Red Sox had shown ‘€œgreat respect’€ during the ownership group’€™s visit to the pitcher, Henry said, ‘€œI don’€™t know that it sends a signal. I guess the signal it sends is there’€™s never been a problem between Jon and the organization either way. He’€™s been a huge part of what we’€™ve accomplished here and I think when we went to see him a large part of our presentation was finishing that legacy. We’€™re hopeful he can do that.”

Henry did add regarding how the Lester market is unfolding, ‘€œI don’€™t think we have any idea what the market is with regard to any other team.’€

Other Henry items ‘€¦

On if the Red Sox need a proven top tier, front of the rotation starting pitcher

“That’€™s our strongest suit in the minor leagues. We have great strength in pitching coming up. But obviously we’€™re doing everything we can to sign a top tier pitcher, Jon Lester. And hopefully he’€™ll come back.”

On the thought that the Red Sox have broken from a philosophy of shying away from long-term deals

“That was really overblown because one comment quoting a study which says more about the structure of major league compensation. Players aren’€™t compensated that well in their 20’€™s. They have to get to free agency, so almost by definition you’€™re going to get more bang for your buck when a player is in his 20’€™s. That’€™s just the way the structure is set up. That doesn’€™t mean you’€™re not going to go out and sign 30-year old players. You can’€™t win unless you engage in free agency. We always engage in free agency. After the ‘€™12 and ‘€™14 season, we had such a flexibility during the offeseason that we went into the free agency market both time for 30 year olds. I don’€™t see that as a departure. But I understand because so much was made as if we were never going to have a long-term contract. We were never going to sign a 30-year-old. I thought that was a little much to assume. ‘€¦ We signed Dustin to a long-term deal.”

On if the signings of Sandoval and Ramirez will have an affect on their approach to expensive free agent pitching.

“Will it affect it? No. It’€™ll make it more competitive perhaps because we’€™ve taken a lot of the offense off the market. But I think that was going to happen whether we were successful or not.”

On the risk of signing Sandoval and Ramirez

“I think the risk of doing nothing was much larger. Again, Ben striking early in the process was key to the offseason. Now we can concentrate on pitching because we’€™re so deep offensively and defensively. I think we’€™re in good shape at this point.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

There’s a crowd.

There’s a crowd.

The addition of Hanley Ramirez to an outfield group that already included Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. suggests that the Red Sox have more outfielders than reasonably can fit into a roster. Does that necessitate a trade?

“I don’t know that we have to [make a trade]. I think this increases the likelihood that we will,” said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. “There’s a way to make it all fit. [The Ramirez signing] probably increases the likelihood that we do and we’ll just see what’s available to us. We’ve had a lot of interest in our guys already. We’ll see what comes now that these moves have been made. We know we have to add to the rotation. I think we have to be open-minded in how we do that. We have to be willing to look at all sorts of different options, trade or free agency. So we feel we’re in a position to do that and we don’t know where that will land and what it will look like, but by the time we get to spring training, I’m confident we’ll be able to do some stuff.”

The likeliest avenue for the Sox, of course, would be an effort to address their rotation in a trade, though Cherington said that the Sox will still explore both trades and free agency to round out a rotation that, for now, only includes the penciled-in names of Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.

“I think we felt like we could look at a pretty broad array of options on the pitching end even before today and before these deals. I think we feel like we’re in a strong position to pursue all sorts of pitching options either through trade or free agency,” said Cherington. “We have a little better idea than we did even at the GM meetings as to what those possibilities are, but we’re also not on the doorstep on anything. So I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time over the next several days and into the winter meetings working on that.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

There were no hard feelings or expressions of disrespect coming from Pablo Sandoval Tuesday at his introductory news conference inside the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park. The reason the free agent third baseman said he chose Boston was a simple one.

There were no hard feelings or expressions of disrespect coming from Pablo Sandoval Tuesday at his introductory news conference inside the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park. The reason the free agent third baseman said he chose Boston was a simple one.

“I want a new challenge,” said Sandoval. “I made that choice to be here in Boston because I need a new challenge. The legacy they have here. To show them the fan support they have here. That’s what I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. It took me a long time but I’m happy to show the fans all the support they gave to this team. Now I want to show I came here to give them the support to go into the postseason again.”

Of course, the Red Sox did make it worth his while financially. As Alex Speier reported, Sandoval, with the help of his brother and agent Michael, agreed to a $95 million deal with a breakdown as follows: $3 million signing bonus and $17 million in 2015-17; in 2018 and 2019 he earns $18 million. Cherington confirmed Tuesday that there is also a club option for 2020, believed to be worth $17 million in 2020 with a $5 million buyout. The Giants offered a similar package in terms of dollars, and a sixth year.

But there were reports Monday night that Sandoval left San Francisco because he was disrespected by the offer from the Giants and their concern over his weight. Sandoval denied those Tuesday.

‘€œIt was a tough decision for me,’€ Sandoval said. ‘€œIt took me a long time to be sure that I was going to make the right decision. This is similar, but the Giants gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues. Opened the door, teach me how to respect the game. The Giants fans, one of the best, but in that time I want to close the cycle that I got there.
Pablo Sandoval has arrived in Boston.”

The 28-year-old Sandoval has only known the National League Giants as his home in his first seven big league seasons, winning World Series in three of the last five seasons, 2010, 2012, and 2014. The Giants showed their appreciation in a statement Monday.

“He has been with us through some of the greatest moments in San Francisco Giants history — including all three World Series championships. We will never forget his World Series MVP performance in 2012 and his numerous contributions to the 2014 championship. His connection with Giants fans — young and old — is truly special, and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.”

Indeed, last season, Sandoval hit .279 with 26 doubles, three triples,16 home runs, and 73 RBI in a career-high 157 regular season games and 153 starts. But Sandoval really turned it on in the postseason. He batted .366 with seven doubles, five RBI, and five walks in 17 postseason games, collecting an MLB record 26 hits in the postseason run.

Now in Boston, Sandoval will try to help the Red Sox resolve their third base woes. With Will Middlebrooks showing inconsistency and Xander Bogaerts entrenched at short, general manager Ben Cherington has been looking for the right fit at third base. He thinks he has the perfect XL fit in the big Panda.

‘€œWe believe he fits the ballpark well,” Cherington said Tuesday. “He’s a line drive hitter who puts the ball in play a lot, hits a lot of balls hard to left and left center. There’€™s a lot about it that appealed to us.

“Third base, has been a position we’€™ve been trying to figure out now for a couple of years. We had some talented players that I’€™ve been involved in at third base that we’€™ve given opportunities, but this is an opportunity to add just a really good player, a great person, and a great fit for our team in a position of need.”

Against right-handed pitching, the switch-hitting Venezuelan native is a career .304 batter, with an on-base of .357 and a slugging percentage of .493. Sandoval thinks he can take advantage of Fenway Park, like his good friend David Ortiz.

“I live for that so bad,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this ballpark. It was one of the things I was thinking about in my decision.”

As for his larger-than-average girth, Sandoval said he doesn’t take offense to people wondering about his playing shape, promising to work with Red Sox personnel to make sure he’s ready for Fort Myers come February.

“I don’t take it personally,” Sandoval said. “I just take advice given to me. They want me to be a better player, they want me to show I can be a better player for them, so I learned a lot of things from that. So, now in my new organization I’m going to show that I can do those things, that I’m mature, and I’m grown enough for those challenges.”

“I want to be ready. That’s why I have my training. I want to work on those things, be ready out there, play third base for five years, six years, and I’m going to be out there and making sure I’m taking care of all those things to play third base.”

As for his famous Kung Fu Panda nickname?

“Ben didn’t sign one guy,” Sandoval said with a glowing smile. “It was a two-part deal. Me and the Panda.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia