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Carl Crawford: Boston Red Sox Steal CC From Halos for $142 Million

The Boston Red Sox have fired their second warning shot across the bow of the American League East by signing Carl Crawford to a seven-year deal valued at $142 million, according to multiple media outlets and first reported by the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham.

The ink likely still wet on the trade sending Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox ownership group have dug deep into their pockets and managed to deliver Crawford the largest single payday in Boston since the signing of Manny Ramirez.

When the deal is finalized, the Red Sox will have committed themselves to roughly $300 million within a week’s span, and Epstein will have staked his legacy to the performances of these two superstars.

Always reluctant to sign players to such lengthy and lucrative contracts, Epstein has earned a sometimes wise, sometimes miserly reputation across baseball. Given that reluctance, Epstein certainly is setting himself up for close scrutiny. Whether these deals prove sagacious will write much of Epstein’s story as the boy-wonder GM.

Also, when the deal is finalized, Boston will have acquired perhaps the fastest, finest defensive outfielder in the game today. The 29-year-old Crawford put up a 21.2 UZR/150 in 2010 en route to winning his first Gold Glove award.

Combine that defensive prowess with roughly 54 stolen bases per season and an 851 OPS last year, and one can understand why the four-time All Star and 2010 Silver Slugger could electrify both the Red Sox franchise and the Fenway Faithful in every facet of the game.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Hot Stove Rumors: Red Sox Considering Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Beltran

Fresh off acquiring Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for three prospects and a player to be named later, the Boston Red Sox are considering acquiring one of several slugging outfielders, including former Tiger Magglio Ordonez and current Met Carlos Beltran.

According to multiple reports headlined by ESPN’s Adam Rubin, Boston is kicking the tires on trading for New York’s slugging superstar center fielder just days after including his young cousin, Reymond Fuentes, in the deal for Gonzalez.

The Mets reportedly have opened the door on Beltran, who is coming off an injury-diminished season in 2010 and is fast approaching free agency in 2011.

A career .282 hitter with an .853 OPS and a plus rating as a defender, Beltran hit just .255 and posted his lowest ever UZR/150 (-8.6) in 2010. At the moment, Beltran may be a buy-low candidate, but the Mets may also be reluctant to deal him before the season begins. If he can re-establish some value in the first half, the Mets might turn Beltran for a bigger haul near the trade deadline.

That said, Boston apparently considers the 33-year-old Beltran a fallback option should they fail in their pursuit of other available outfielders, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The primary bat Boston is discussing rests in the hands of former Detroit Tiger Magglio Ordonez.

Ordonez, who turns 37 in January, hit .303 with an .852 OPS in just 84 games on the 2010 campaign. Not nearly the defender Beltran has long been, Ordonez represents an excellent option against lefthanders in a lineup frought with lefty bats. The right-handed Ordonez knocked southpaws around at a .371 clip in 2010. What’s more, Ordonez posted an 1.171 OPS against lefties last year and owns a .967 career mark in that same category.

As such, Ordonez represents the best possible option for the lefty-heavy Sox should they be able to sign him to a short-term deal.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Boston’s Unfinished Business: Red Sox Need More Than Adrian Gonzalez This Year

As a Red Sox fan, I’m as happy as anyone that the Red Sox have acquired Adrian Gonzalez. However, Boston’s work is far from done in this offseason: if they are to succeed in 2011 and beyond, the Red Sox need Carl Crawford and several relievers.

While the prospects dealt to San Diego in the Gonzalez blockbuster are tremendous talents, they’ll probably hit the bigs too far in the future to help a Red Sox team poised for success now. Casey Kelly would find himself logjammed behind a locked-up rotation, Anthony Rizzo is a first baseman, and Reymond Fuentes is years away from achieving anything close to the success of his cousin Carlos Beltran.

San Diego snatched a strong haul, but it’s a much stronger haul for a small-market team than for a team capable of filling any need through free agency and less reliant on a farm system’s continual production. While the Red Sox need quality homegrown players like Bard, Buchholz, Ellsbury, Lester and Pedroia to produce at a high level for a relatively low cost, they don’t need to fill an entire 25-man roster with low-cost pre-arbitration youngsters. The Sox can afford the Adrian Gonzalezes of the world.

So, yes, I’m a big fan of this deal, which also means that Boston avoids committing four or more years to a productive but inconsistent and aging corner infielder like Adrian Beltre. This move gives Boston tremendous flexibility moving forward.

That said, Boston cannot rest on its laurels and settle for only minor improvements between now and spring training. Boston needs both Carl Crawford and multiple relievers.

Although Gonzalez may hit .320 and provide more than 40 homeruns and 100 RBI per season, he less than replaces the combined 2010 production of Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. Those two sluggers launched 48 bombs, drove in 181 and averaged .310 for the season.

The Sox need another bat, and it had better be in an outfield that’s only one year removed from losing JD Drew and Mike Cameron. Crawford’s dominant speed and defense make him by far the best available option for years to come.

Just take a look at the potential free agent outfielders next Winter, and you’ll quickly recognize what an opportunity teams have right now to sign the likes of Crawford. The Sox shouldn’t be afraid to sign two franchise players to six or eight year deals at the same time. Crawford and Gonzalez can carry this club for a long time.

Then there’s the bullpen. Young flamethrower Daniel Bard recently commented to the Boston Herald that the pen needs a veteran presence. They need some help out there.

With Hideki Okajima non-tendered, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez dealt away last season, and Jonathan Papelbon diminishing each time he takes the mound, the Sox need to bolster the pen for 2011. Recently, they’ve been connected to Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, Koji Uehara, and Ron Mahay.

The smart money’s on Fuentes and Guerrier. Either way, the Sox cannot rely on recent acquisitions Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz. Soon the free agent relievers will be gobbled up like holiday leftovers.

The Sox need to get in on this arms race.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Boston Red Sox Re-Sign Jason Varitek To a One-Year Deal

The Boston Red Sox have answered all the many questions surrounding their 2011 catching platoon by re-signing Jason Varitek today to a one-year, $2 million deal, according to multiple sports writers, including SI’s Jon Heyman.

That is, the signing answers the question of who will tag-team the Fenway dish along with the young Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As late as this morning, speculation ran rampant that the Sox might trade for the Dodgers‘ Russell Martin, a non-tender candidate with high upside and an injury history.

Re-upping Varitek all but forces the Dodgers’ hand regarding Martin.

With the non-tender deadline looming this evening, the Dodgers might have hoped to deal the over-priced Martin to the likes of Boston sometime today and avoid offering him arbitration. The Sox are one of the few teams with a need and the resources to potentially waste $4 million or more on the two-time all-star.

That rumor can probably now be put safely to rest. Varitek’s knowledge of the Boston pitching staff and his ability to mentor Saltalamacchia make him perhaps the wisest choice for 2011.

Although Varitek will turn 39 next April 11, the catcher demonstrated significant pop during an injury shortened 2010 campaign. Over just 123 plate appearances, Varitek homered seven times and posted a .766 OPS.

Interestingly, the switch-hitting veteran was remarkably more comfortable against right-handers in the friendly confines of Fenway Park during the 2010 season, and, in fact, Varitek hasn’t hit well during away games since 2007.

Odds are the Red Sox will chose to play Varitek mostly at Fenway against right-handed pitchers, which unfortunately doesn’t match well with Saltalamacchia’s strengths and weaknesses. Saltalamacchia is a career .273 hitter against righties, but he’s hit only .207 against southpaws.

With Victor Martinez departed for Detroit, the catching situation in Boston should be an adventure in 2011. Varitek has thrown out just 24 percent of base stealers in his career and Saltalamacchia has managed only 20 percent.

In this writer’s opinion, Boston could very likely be trading for a backstop by mid May.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Hot Stove Rumors: Red Sox Targeting Carl Crawford, Hold Meeting In Houston

The Boston Red Sox are “serious” about Carl Crawford and are meeting both the outfielder and his representatives in Houston, according to Yahoo’s Tim Brown.

While most early speculation has centered around Boston inking free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth, Boston’s attention seems to be focused on the younger, more athletic speedster from the division rival Tampa Bay Rays.

The 29-year-old Crawford is a career .296 hitter who’s posted a .781 OPS and averaged over 50 stolen bases during his eight full seasons with Tampa.

Defensively, the Type-A free agent ranked first among all Major League outfielders with more than a 1000 innings in the field in UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) in 2010. Only Brett Gardner came close when it comes to flashing the leather.

In this contract year, Crawford also attended his fourth All-Star Game and won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards.

According the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Crawford could be seeking an eight-year deal worth more than $160 million. Were the Red Sox to sign Crawford to such a contract, it would represent the largest single financial commitment made under the new ownership group.

With JD Drew and Mike Cameron set to become free agents at the end of the 2011 season and Jacoby Ellsbury’s relationship with the front office a question mark, signing a dynamic outfielder in his prime seems of paramount importance to the Red Sox organization.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Hot Stove Rumors: Red Sox Considering Rod Barajas As V-Mart Replacement?

The Red Sox are kicking the proverbial tires on veteran backstop Rod Barajas, according to’s Jon Paul Morosi and

While the Red Sox reportedly made a bid to retain Victor Martinez behind the dish for at least the next couple seasons, they lost him to a more aggressive Detroit Tigers’ organization early last Wednesday.

Although former Toronto Blue Jays All-Star John Buck might have represented a nice replacement, he was inked to a three-year, $18 million deal by the Florida Marlins at free agency’s opening bell.

With the top two free agent catchers snatched up so quickly and Yorvit Torrealba having signed with Texas, the number of quality free-agent backstops is dwindling quickly.

Rod Barajas, who has apparently drawn the Red Sox’ interest, joins Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek as the remaining unsigned catchers.

Although the 34-year-ol Pierzynski is rendered less attractive to potential suitors by virtue of his Type-A status, he remains the only truly viable option for a contender such as the Boston Red Sox.

While I try to keep the commentary to a minimum in these pieces, I have to seriously question the Red Sox wisdom in even considering Rod Barajas as a catcher fit for Fenway.

The 35-year-old Barajas hit .240 in 2010 and posted a 731 OPS on the back of 17 long balls. Although he’s averaged throwing out 32% of potential base stealers over his career, Barajas managed to catch only 15% in 2010.

As such, Barajas represents neither a significant upgrade offensively nor a more reliable arm defensively compared to Jason Varitek, the obvious low-cost veteran option.

Rod Barajas is not the answer. But now that Martinez is gone to Motor City, there may be no clear answer.

However, the whole situation begs the question: what is Boston’s true philosophy regarding their own free agents?

Considering Martinez’ willingness to catch, platoon at first, and serve as designated hitter in Detroit, one has to ask why the Red Sox didn’t retain him to do just that in Boston?

If Boston truly believes Martinez’ catching time to be limited, surely they couldn’t have done better than to replace David Ortiz with Victor Martinez as designated hitter after the 2011 season.

Draft picks are quite valuable, particularly in such a strong draft as looks to come along next June, but the Red Sox are now in a tenuous position regarding the catching position, and the process that’s landed them there should concern the Red Sox faithful.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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MLB Waiver Wire: Red Sox Claim Taylor Buchholz from Toronto Blue Jays

There’s another Buchholz in Beantown. Long living in the shadow of the more dominant Clay Buchholz, reliever Taylor Buchholz has made his way from the Philadelphia to Houston to Colorado to Toronto and has landed in Boston after being claimed off waivers earlier today, according to

This 29-year-old Buchholz was first drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round of the 2000 amateur draft. In eight seasons developing and rehabbing at the minor league level, Buchholz owns a 3.95 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

First appearing on the Major League stage for the 2006 Astros, Buchholz was less than stellar over 113 innings in which he posted a 5.89 ERA. However, that rookie year inflates his career numbers significantly. Ignoring that rough first year at the Show, Taylor Buchholz can boast a career 3.40 ERA in 172 innings of better-than-solid relief work for Colorado and Toronto.

Due to Tommy John surgery in 2009, Buchholz became somewhat overpaid for the remainder of his time in Colorado and his brief stint in Toronto. Earning $1.055 million each of the last two seasons and approaching another year of arbitration, Buchholz probably priced himself off the Blue Jays’ roster.

Buchholz joins the Marlins‘ Andrew Miller as the second relief pitcher acquired by the Red Sox in as many days.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Red Sox Acquire Lefty Andrew Miller for Dustin Richardson

The Boston Red Sox have traded young lefty reliever Dustin Richardson to the Florida Marlins for another young southpaw, Andrew Miller, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The move is somewhat surprising as Richardson, who has struggled with walks at the Major League level, was beginning to show signs of putting it together as a reliever for the 2010 Sox. In 13 innings out of the Boston bullpen this season, Richardson posted a 4.15 ERA and 2.23 WHIP. The 26-year-old lefty was particularly effective against righties.

A first-round draft pick (sixth overall) by the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 amateur draft, Andrew Miller has battled hard with control issues throughout his career.

One of six players dealt to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, Miller owns a career 5.84 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. The 25-year-old has struggled throughout his young career, but the Red Sox apparently hope he can turn it around in the pressure cooker that is Fenway Park.

With lefty reliever Hideki Okajima growing increasingly less effective out of the pen, the Red Sox are clearly starting to piece together alternative options. Beyond Type-A free agent Scott Downs, there aren’t a lot of effective lefty pitchers available.

Miller is hardly the answer, but he may still possess great upside.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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2011 Red Sox Preview: Everything You Need to Know About Boston’s Long Hot Stove

Distressing as it may be for the Red Sox Nation, the 2010 campaign died months before the season itself concluded. With heavy hearts, skeptical brows and gnawed fingertips, the Nation did its best to stomach a Sox-less October and look toward the 2011 season with growing optimism.

Shaking off the nasty sense of déjà vu 2010 has cast on Beantown will require some serious action at both the personal and franchise levels. Who would have thought the Red Sox could experience more horrific, season-derailing injuries than in 2006?

At least—most sports commentators contend—this should be a busy winter for general manager Theo Epstein as he looks to retool his Red Sox for a more successful “next year.” But will it indeed be a busy off-season brimming with possible mega deals and spotted with excellent free-agent signings?

This writer isn’t so sure.

While the major media outlets will surely keep the Faithful on their hopeful toes with heart-thumping “trade rumors,” a more pragmatic analysis of the Red Sox roster indicates that less flamboyant signings will figure prominently in Boston’s unfortunately long winter.

For what it’s worth, here then are one writer’s views and predictions for the upcoming Red Sox off-season.

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Boston Red Sox Exercise Club Option on Designated Hitter David Ortiz

In a largely expected move on Thursday morning, the Boston Red Sox exercised their $12.5 million club option on David Ortiz. The information was relayed via tweets from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

The decision comes even as Ortiz has commented this week that he would prefer Boston not to exercise the option and instead offer him the security of a multi-year extension: “I’m not comfortable coming back just for one year because it’s going to be the same roller-coaster that I had this year,” Ortiz commented to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

To many in and out of Boston, Ortiz has unquestionably produced at a level deserving of a multi-year deal. In 2010, Ortiz hit .270 with an 899 OPS, 32 home runs, and 102 RBI. While his 2010 production, measured sabermetrically, didn’t approach his career years between 2005 and 2007, it did outstrip a $12.5 million salary.

The issue at stake for the Red Sox front office doesn’t seem to be Ortiz’ production; rather, exercising his option seems all about roster flexibility.

Were the Red Sox and Ortiz to negotiate a two or three-year deal, surely they could have arrived at a yearly salary closer to $10 million. But by choosing the more expensive, short-term option, Boston has allowed itself the freedom to sign or acquire a big slugger in 2011.

With Prince Fielder on the block and Adrian Gonzalez a free agent in twelve months, avoiding an extension with Ortiz seems a shrewd move.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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