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Red Sox Bolster Bullpen with Hanrahan

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The Red Sox strengthened the back-end of their bullpen – acquiring All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates, without giving up a single player that matters to them in 2013 (and beyond).

The move is a clear no confidence vote in Andrew Baileywho will yield his closer role to Hanrahan and slide into a set-up role, unless Boston deals him.

Of course, Bailey did nothing to earn Boston’s confidence, having his annual injury early in the season and then pitching poorly late in the season. Bailey had a 7.04 ERA and six saves in nine opportunities.

Look at Hanrahan as a one-year investment. He is a free agent after the 2013 season – so Hanrahan is well-incented to turn in a big year. Hanrahan says he is looking forward to the intensity of the AL East.

Hanrahan is not without risk – but almost every closer has risk – as evidenced by the jump in his walks last season.

Boston did not give up any top talent to land Hanrahan:

  • Mark Melancon, who failed to deliver in his one season with the Red Sox and will play a set-up role in Pittsburgh.
  • Jerry Sands, a power hitter who came to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade – but unproven in the majors.
  • Stomly Pimentel, a pitching prospect who has yet to put it together enough to graduate from AA Portland.
  • Ivan DeJesus, an infielder that Boston removed from their 40 man roster.

And the Red Sox also acquired infielder Brock Holt, who has hit well in the minors but not considered a top prospect.

Trade Takeaways

  • The trade is another signal that Boston plans on contending not just rebuilding in 2013. This has not been an off-season where the Red Sox acquired big names – but the team has added a solid group of veterans with a number of them looking to rebound from down years.
  • Speaking of rebounds – look for Hanrahan to improve on last year’s performance. Both Hanrahan and the Red Sox say they have identified the source of his wildness last season.
  • The Red Sox have a strong group in the bullpen – depth which can come in handy in supporting a weak starting staff. And provides trade options including potentially moving Hanrahan at the mid-season trade break if the Sox are out of contention.

What do you think the Red Sox should do next in building their 2013 roster?

Written by Albie Jarvis

December 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Finding a Lefty First Baseman/Outfielder for the Red Sox

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Assuming the Red Sox close the deal with Mike Napoli, Boston could use a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder for the roster. Here are five options:

  • Nick Swisher is still out on the market. The drawback is he would cost a draft pick in free agent compensation – a cost the Red Sox have avoided with their other free agent signings. Swisher would also require big bucks. The Indians are said to be pursuing Swisher – and had offered Shane Victorino four years/$44 million (a higher total value than the Red Sox). The Phillies and Rangers are also in pursuit.
  • Tyler Colvin. He has been a low-cost player but is headed for arbitration for the first time this off-season. The Rockies need pitching so perhaps a match can be made.
  • Matt Carpenter. He brings great versatility – at first, third and outfield. Carpenter won’t be arbitration eligible until 2015 so he would be a very tough get.
  • Matt Adams. The Cardinals just picked up Ty Wigginton so they may not have a roster spot for Adams. He is unproven at the major league level – but demonstrated big-time power in the minors. And more a first baseman than outfielder.
  • Mitch Moreland. If Swisher signs with Texas, Moreland could be available. Ian Kinsler may be moving to first base. Swisher would be an upgrade over Moreland for the Rangers (helping him make up some of Josh Hamilton’s lost thunder).

Three others to consider: Garrett Jones, who would be the top choice. However, I just don’t see Pittsburgh moving him (but the Sox should ask). Also, Logan Morrison – the Marlins would need a replacement first baseman – and Lance Berkman – a free agent but probably too injury prone for the field these days.

Other Moves

  • Can Jose Iglesias handle shortstop in 2013? It appears the Red Sox have doubts with the Stephen Drew signing, which is a good move on a short-term deal.
  • The Tigers may be hunting for a closer to replace Jose Valverde. How about shipping Detroit Andrew Bailey for Rick Porcello? He has won 48 games and will only be age 24 next season, but may be expendable with the recent Anibal Sanchez signing. The Red Sox should be acquiring every young arm the team can get.
  • And to replace Bailey – then, sign Rafael Soriano. Yes, he would cost a draft pick but if Boston can get Soriano for one or two years, he would be an upgrade over Bailey. A couple Plan B closer options: Brian Wilson if he gets medical clearance and Rubby De La Rosa, relief would be good for a year to build back arm strength after Tommy John surgery.
  • Lastly, one move not to make is trading Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox should ride Ellsbury’s contract year performance and deal with signing or not signing him after 2013. They will have the financial resources to compete in retaining him if the team wants to (and if Ellsbury wants to stay).

Who do you think the Red Sox should acquire to fill out their roster?

Five Players for Red Sox to Target at Baseball’s Winter Meetings

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The Hot Stove League hits the big time at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Here are five players that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington should be looking to acquire.

R.A. Dickey. Priority number one for Boston is a number one starter. The Red Sox will not contend again until they have a top starter. There can be nothing from the seasons that Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz turned in which would give Cherington and manager John Farrell confidence they can fill that role.

The ideal acquisition would be Rays pitcher David Pricewho may be on the market. But it is unlikely Tampa Bay will trade him to another team in the AL East (but Cherington should check).

R.A. Dickey is having trouble coming to terms on a contract extension with the Mets (and the salary bar has recently been raised with the Andy Pettitte signing by the Yankees).

Cherington should put together a package that starts with a top pitching prospect like Rubby De La Rosa and get a deal done.

Wil Myers. If Cherington believes if Royals super-prospect Wil Myerswho is a valuable trade chip – can become a premier power-hitting outfielder, then go get him even if it costs Lester.

This type of deal would be a great test of Cherington’s player evaluation skills.

Can Lester rebound or is last season a signal of future performance?

Is Myers a stud or an Andy Marte-like dud?

Cody Ross. Well things can’t be going well with the contract discussions with Cody Ross or he would be signed by now.

It’s all about the cost– isn’t it always?

The Red Sox have payroll room to spare.

Ross thrives at Fenway.

Sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

Look for Cherington to get this one done in Nashville.

Joakim Soria. Do you feel good about Andrew – I get hurt every season – Bailey as the closer?

Cherington probably doesn’t feel too bullish on that thought either (even though he traded for him).

Joakim Soria is coming off Tommy John surgery and on the free agent market. Add him to the Boston bullpen – and as he builds his arm strength back, Soria can perhaps be ready to help – or replace – Bailey in the closer role should the Red Sox need a Plan B.

Jeff Keppinger. Breaking his leg may be bad for Jeff Keppinger but good for the Red Sox if his free agent market shrinks some.

Keppinger has versatility and crushes left-handed pitchers.

He could help out in a firstbase platoon – if the Red Sox go that route – and also be available to spell Dustin Pedroia at second and Will Middlebrooks at third.

Keppinger is not a difference maker starter – but can be a key contributor like he was last season with the Rays.

Who is on your target list for the Red Sox to acquire at the Winter Meetings?

Red Sox Winter Meetings Warm-up

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The Boston Red Sox and the rest of baseball are arriving in Nashville for the Baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Let’s take a look at a few baseball developments that have preceded the meetings.

Tommy Hanson Trade

The Atlanta Braves dealt starter Tommy Hanson to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden.

The Red Sox should be in the market for a starter but Hanson looks like a risky pick-up, a pitcher who has seen his ERA rise and velocity drop since mid-2011. Primarily due to a rotator-cuff tear and a back injury in 2011 – not good injuries for a pitcher.

And who is the closest Red Sox comparable to Walden – Daniel Bard.

From a Braves’ view, Walden is a better pick-up than Bard (he of the 6.22 MLB ERA last season).

Overall, a good move by Boston in passing on Hanson – especially since it would have probably cost more talent than Bard.

Red Sox Starters

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Franklin Morales will go to Spring Training as a starter but he has yet to determine a role for Alfredo Aceves.

Morales had his moments as a starter last season but did not demonstrate the consistency or durability to give one confidence he can be a 30 game starter.

As for Aceves, he has some value (so was worth tendering a contract) but Farrell’s comments don’t indicate he has reached a meeting of the minds with Aceves (if that is humanly possible). So look for the Red Sox to explore moving Aceves if there is a market for him.

The Non-Tenders

It doesn’t look like there is a David Ortiz or Edwin Encarnacion players who were previously non-tendered – in the current crop of non-tendered players. The best in the bunch:

  • Brian Wilson. The Sox probably don’t have a ton of confidence in Andrew Bailey despite Bailey’s proclamations he plans on closing. Boston should pass on Wilson (coming off his second Tommy John surgery) unless he accepts a low base, incentive-laden contract.
  • Nate Schierholtz. Good bench outfielder who will probably attract a lot of interest. With Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava and maybe Jerry Sands, Boston has a pretty solid outfield bench so it is unlikely they will pursue Schierholtz.
  • Tom Gorzelanny. Lefty pitchers are always good pick-ups so Boston should kick the tires on Gorzelanny (who could take Morales’ bullpen role if Morales makes it to the rotation) – and also take a look at John Lannan, another non-tender lefty from the Nationals.

The Red Sox should also look to bring back Rich Hill and Scott Atchison.

What big move are you expecting from the Red Sox at the Winter Meetings?

Five Trade Options for Red Sox in an Alfredo Aceves Deal

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Alfredo Aceves. Love the arm and durability. Not wild about the pitching results last season. Can’t stand the drama.

For a team desperately looking to add more pitching talent, it would seem counter-intuitive for the Red Sox to trade Aceves, but that’s precisely what they should do.

Next season is all about starting anew under manager John Farrell.

And part of that is building some team chemistry. Aceves is too much of an emotional rollercoaster to include in the team plans going forward. Even if Farrell is impressed with Aceves’ versatility.

His on-field behavior with manager Bobby Valentine was at times inexcusable. The Red Sox cannot afford to have a repeat performance.

The salary cost for a team acquiring Aceves should still be reasonable (he is eligible for arbitration for the first time this off-season). And the earliest he can become a free agent is 2015.

Move Aceves in a deal for a productive player with a bad contract or as a piece in a larger deal. The guy has got talent. Perhaps, there is a willing trading partner who thinks they can draw that talent out on a consistent basis.

Red Sox Trade Options

  • Mike Cuddyer. Colorado is going nowhere and needs pitching. Cuddyer’s deal has two more seasons at $10.5 million. The Red Sox have the financial flexibility to absorb the contract. Cuddyer is a right-handed bat with some pop. And Cuddyer would give the team another option in the OF and at 1B.
  • Jeff Francoeur. Another righty bat with a bad contract – but Francoeur’s has only one year left (at $7.5 million). The Royals want to open up an outfield spot for super-prospect Wil Myers and are looking to bolster their starting rotation. So Aceves may actually be overpaying for Francoeur.
  • Kendrys Morales. A stretch target. Aceves alone would not be enough to land Morales – but can be a conversation starter. The Angels have a surplus at first base (Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo). And after cutting ties with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, the team needs starters (they also need bullpen help). Aceves-plus could perhaps get Morales in return.
  • Logan Morrison. How about an exchange of players who have worn out their welcome on their teams? LoMo is still young; maybe he just needs a change of scenery to live up to the potential he once showed.
  • Chris Perez. Here’s another player who most likely won’t be returning to his team – plus Perez is creeping up the salary scale a little too high for Cleveland. Aceves had great success before under manager Terry Francona. Perhaps Aceves-plus can bring Perez – if Boston doesn’t feel totally confident with Andrew Bailey in the closer’s role.

Do you see Aceves as a keeper or someone to move out of town? And if you want to trade Aceves, what do you think the Red Sox can get in return?

Diamondbacks Chris Young Trade – What it Means for Red Sox

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In a three-team trade, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded OF Chris Young to Oakland for SS Cliff Pennington and minor leaguer Yordy Cabrera – and then dealt Cabrera to the Marlins for closer Heath Bell.

A few thoughts on these deals and the Red Sox:

  • No, missing out on acquiring Young is not a mistake by Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. Young is a classic physical tools player who can’t hit for average (a career .239 AVG hitter, who has hit below that mark in the last two seasons). And he is scheduled to make $8.5 million next season. Young would have added nothing to the Red Sox – even if they part ways with Jacoby Ellsbury this off-season. That’s why Arizona got so little in return.
  • Take note on the worthlessness of Bell. I get he had a lousy season and has a big contract. But Bell should be a reminder to Cherington – don’t trade value for relievers, like he did in acquiring Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey last off-season. Better to go find next season’s Fernando Rodney (a cast-off free agent who signed for a big pay cut from the previous season). Note: last off-season, it was Boston’s professed goal to find the next Alfredo Aceves (a low-cost free agent reliever who stands out). Cherington missed on that one. Let’s see if Boston can comeback this off-season. And, by the way, let’s get rid of Aceves. Enough of the drama.
  • Pennington moving to Arizona eliminates a potential trade home for Mike Aviles, if the Red Sox decide to commit all the way to Jose Iglesias (a move I wouldn’t make). This blog recently covered potential trading partners in an Aviles deal, which included Arizona. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay would be the best bets for a Boston move involving Aviles.
  • While we are exploring potential shortstop trades, time to throw out an out-of-the-box move – Boston should look into trading Pedro Ciriaco. I know you are screaming – What? Let’s look at the reasons. Figure in 2013, Boston is either committing to Aviles or Iglesias – or keeping both (which is the right move). After the 2012 season, will Ciriaco ever have higher trade value? Probably not. Good hitter, versatile player, low salary. That combination opens up a range of trade partners. Boston should explore every single option. The team needs talent – especially pitching. If Ciriaco can help bring it, deal him. Go find the team looking for a low-cost starting shortstop – who believes in Ciriaco’s upside.

Next Three Steps for Red Sox after Dodgers Deal

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No need to wait for the off-season.

Boston GM Ben Cherington started to reshape the underperforming Red Sox with a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The deal frees up some big money – more than $250 million – to reinvest in talent to fill holes.

And the Red Sox have some big needs in their quest to return to being a World Series contender.

The list includes a top-tier starter to fill the ace role Josh Beckett once had – and probably another starter for the rotation. And it also includes a big bat to replace Adrian Gonzalez.

Next Three Steps

  • Keep Working the Waiver Wire. The expanded playoffs have resulted in more contending teams late in the season. The Red Sox should keep looking for motivated buyers. Think big – Jacoby Ellsbury (if the Sox don’t see him as signable in the long term). And think extra pieces – Vicente Padilla could be a good bullpen addition for a contender. All with an eye to adding more young talent.
  • Evaluate Players with Focus on 2013. Play Ryan Lavarnway to see if he is ready for a starting role at the plate – and behind it. Put Andrew Bailey in the closer role – Alfredo Aceves is a warrior but not sure he is closer material. Let’s get a look at what Bailey can do in Boston. Determine if Franklin Morales can handle a starting role – or is a reliever – for 2013. And let’s see what SS Jose Iglesias has and bring P Daniel Bard back to the majors.
  • Make the Bobby V Decision. As this blog has written previously, manager Bobby Valentine is not the top culprit in the team underperforming – the players are. But with the Dodgers trade, Cherington is signaling a fresh start for the team. Part of that fresh start should include a new manager – announced the day after the season closes.

And from there, Boston will move onto what should be an exciting off-season.

What do you see as the next move for the Red Sox?

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