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Tag:2012 free agency
Posted on: November 11, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:59 pm
 

What do Red Sox do without Papelbon?

Bard, Papelbon

By Evan Brunell


With Jonathan Papelbon (photo, right) signing a contract to pitch for the Phillies, what does that mean for the Red Sox?

Boston has a closer-in-waiting in Daniel Bard (photo, left) ready to take over the role, but can they afford to elevate Bard into the role?

Over the last few seasons, the Red Sox have seen how valuable having two elite relievers at the top of the bullpen is. Former manager Terry Francona has often said that Bard was perhaps the most important reliever in the bullpen, even more so than Papelbon. Francona was able to deploy Bard in any inning he saw fit, as opposed to Papelbon, who was largely limited to the ninth inning with a lead as conventional baseball says is done these days. But if Bard ascends to the role, the Red Sox suddenly have a void as setup man, and it may be one more difficult to fill than closer.

The free agent market is saturated with closers, and a handful are expected to be available via trade as well. The setup man market? That's not exactly dripping with talent. While the natural inclination is to simply promote Bard into the closer's role, it may not make the most sense from Boston's end if they're committed to the best one-two punch at the back of the rotation.

But would that be OK with Bard? The Boston Globe says that Bard remaining as a setup man would harm Bard's financial goals. That's obvious -- even as valuable as a setup man is these days, it is far more lucrative to be a closer or a starter. The Globe says that if Papelbon had remained in Boston, Bard would have requested a transition to being a starting pitcher, something he flamed out attempting in the minor leagues. Either way, it appears as if Bard has approached no man's land -- either he's going to start or close. Of course, the Red Sox could simply force him to remain as setup man if the club signs Ryan Madson or Heath Bell. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that the Red Sox "will be in on" the two closers -- but Bard would be an unhappy camper if this occurs and likely bolts once he hits free agency. Does Boston want that?

One potential solution is to bring in a new closer, albeit temporarily, and ink Bard to a long-term deal with the goal of eventually making him a closer. While this outcome wouldn't work if the Sox signed Madson to replace Papelbon, it might work if that man is Joe Nathan or another closer that would only come on a one- or two-year deal. Boston could ink Bard for lesser dollars up front, followed by commensurate salary for a closer in the latter years, which would give the team time to find a bridge to Bard. Of course, anyone that agrees to a one- or two-year deal to close is doing so for a reason. Can the Red Sox put that much risk into the closer's spot?

Signing Madson or Bell doesn't necessarily preclude Bard from an eventual closer's spot. He's tied to the Red Sox through 2015, so even a four-year deal for another closer could set Bard up to become a closer once he's eligible for free agency, but Bard would be giving up a ton of dollars in the arbitration process as a setup man.

The Red Sox could also go a different direction, such as taking a risk on Jonathan Broxton for one season and installing him as setup man to Bard. Don't forget the team already has Bobby Jenks in the fold, who is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred 2011. He could be the setup man that the team needs if Bard becomes closer. That doesn't solve the setup man conundrum long-term, but it would work for 2012.

Here's a radical thought. Why doesn't Boston take this opportunity to tweak what it means to be a closer? Bard, simply by virtue of having pitched in these situations, knows how valuable an elite setup man can be. What if the Red Sox told him that while he was going to become the closer, he would also pitch in tight situations earlier in the game as needed? Does Boston really need to hold Bard back from a crucial eighth inning for the easy three-run lead ninth-inning save? This is pretty much wishful thinking, as the conventional idea of a closer is pretty much set in stone, but it's fun to dream.

No one knows which direction Boston will go. Heck, even GM Ben Cherington probably isn't 100 percent positive how things will unfold now that he has several different scenarios to juggle. This much is clear: Cherington has a challenge on his hands to replace the best closer in team history.

Check CBSSports.com's free-agent tracker, and follow all free-agency news from Eye on Baseball.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Phillies reach agreement with Papelbon

By Matt Snyder

Jonathan Papelbon is going to be changing organizations for the first time in his professional career. He has agreed in principle to sign with the Phillies for a four-year contract that approaches $50 million, pending a physical, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The deal was first reported by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the Phillies had agreed to a deal with incumbent closer Ryan Madson, but that situation fell apart, and several reports later this past week indicated the deal was never fully agreed upon and that the earlier reports jumped the gun. And when things started to fall apart, the Phillies shifted their focus to Papelbon.

Papelbon, 30, is a four-time All-Star and a much more established closer, with 219 career saves (to Madson's 52). The two pitchers are very similar in age (Papelbon is just under two months younger), but, again, Papelbon has a lot more experience as the ninth-inning guy.

Last season, Papelbon saved 31 of 34 chances with a 2.94 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. A move to the NL should help a bit, though the NL East should prove to be pretty tough next season.

As for Madson, he's left looking elsewhere, as he's surely looking for a closer's job and several teams are seeking an established closer. 

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:19 pm
 

Marlins see Cespedes, set to host Pujols

Pujols

By Evan Brunell


The Marlins continue to be big movers and shakers in baseball's hot stove, attending a private workout for Cuban star Yoennis Cespedes and making plans for Albert Pujols (pictured) to come to Miami sometime in the next few days.

But with newfound money and a desire to spend it, also comes controversy. Hanley Ramirez addressed rumors that the Marlins were after Jose Reyes, telling the Palm Beach Post that "“I’m a shortstop."

The Marlins' visit to visit Cespedes was to decide if the 26-year-old was ready for the majors. Among the positions Florida -- which will officially change its name to Miami on Friday -- is thought to be seeking an upgrade in is center field. That's the position Cespedes plays, although many feel as if he will need seasoning in the minors. Cespedes was a star in Cuba, but the talent of that league is of the Class A variety.

“We had our top baseball people there,” Samson told the Palm Beach Post. “They were certainly impressed with his ability, He’s got to tools. He’s certainly an impressive player.”

The Marlins will have to contend with the Yankees, among other teams, for Cespedes' services. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler earlier today reported he could beat Aroldis Chapman's deal, which was for six years and $30.5 million. The Marlins are poised to be a big player in free agency, but can they withstand the Yankees' advances?

“We think we’re a great fit because we are Miami. We are a natural destination for any Latin player,” Samson said. “I think that he agrees but we have to see if we can make a deal that makes sense for both parties.”

Meanwhile, Samson, along with baseball operationss president Larry Beinfest and general manager Mike Hill, who all attended Cespedes' workout, now turn their eyes to Albert Pujols. MLB.com reports that Pujols is slated to meet with the Marlins as early as Saturday. It still seems like a long shot for Pujols to sign, but without a clear suitor for Pujols, anything is possible. The team has already hosted Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes.

Hanley Ramirez is one guy feeling a little slighted by the Marlins' pursuit of Reyes, as it could knock him out of the shortstop role. However, he also praised Florida for trying to acquire Reyes.

"I think it would be a good move for the Marlins because they want to improve our offense and he’s a pretty good player and this organization needs him," he told the Post. "But otherwise, what can I say. I cannot control that. What I can control is to just get ready for the season and opening day. We have to build a winning team.”

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Report: Red Sox call Sizemore, not Beltran

SizemoreBy Evan Brunell

In baseball's hot stove season, it's tough to figure out which rumors are credible and which are not.

For example, the Red Sox have been linked to Carlos Beltran rather extensively, but the Boston Herald says Boston has yet to call on Beltran's services. The team, however, has called Grady Sizemore (pictured), who is a free agent after the Indians declined their team option on the outfielder.

The Red Sox are thought to be seeking a new right fielder -- and one that is right-handed. Internal prospects Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish are both left-handed. However, the Herald says that until DH David Ortiz's situation is resolved, both Beltran and Sizemore are long shots. If Big Papi doesn't return to Boston, it would give the Red Sox a ton of different options in filling both DH and the right field spot, so it makes sense why the Red Sox are dragging their feet.

Fortunately, most of baseball are slow to sign free agents as they await the resolution of baseball's new labor agreement, which is in the process of being negotiated. The new agreement may change free-agent compensation rules, which would affect the free agent market. Sizemore and Beltran aren't expected to sign anytime soon, while Ortiz's market has been a bit quicker to develop due to Ortiz's market being more clearly defined.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Indians interested in Japanese righty Fukuhara

By Evan Brunell

There's no shortage of rumors of Japanese players heading across the ocean to play in the MLB. There's Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Norichika Aoki and Tsuyoshi Wada.

You can add Shinobu Fukuhara to the list.

Fukuhara has received interest from the Indians, as the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports. The 34-year-old does not need to be posted as he is an international free agent free to sign with any team. He spent 2011 as a reliever, tossing 48 2/3 innings while punching out 59 and walking 16 en route to a 2.59 ERA. The right-hander flashes a fastball that averages out at 90-91 mph. He also, like many Japanese pitchers, has an array of pitches in his arsenal, including a curveball, cut-fastball, forkball, slider and shuuto (essentially a reverse slider).

He has also started in the past, but his last start came in 2009 and he has not extensively started in his career outside of 2004-06 after being drafted with the No. 3 pick overall in 1999.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:02 am
 

Rockies showing interest in Oswalt, Prado

By Matt Snyder

Being that it's still only November 10, it's going to be a while until most of the offseason activity even begins. It's mostly just a bunch of rumors and speculation at this point as teams get their ducks in a row. So here's your Rockies update.

Martin Prado has reportedly already been made available by the Braves via trade -- as we've previously passed along -- and the Rockies have interest, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. As far as a return? Seth Smith interests the Braves, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors)

Prado, 28, could fill a hole at either second or third base for the Rockies, where Jonathan Herrera and Ian Stewart, respectively, likely sit atop the current Rockies' depth chart at those positions. Without Smith, the Rockies could still use Eric Young Jr. or Ryan Spilborghs in the outfield alongside Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler in the outfield. Smith would then likely slide in as the left field starter for the Braves.

Also, MLB.com reports the Rockies have interest in starting pitcher Roy Oswalt to anchor the rotation. We've already heard about strong interest in Oswalt by the Nationals and at least mild interest from the Rangers and Yankees, so add the Rockies to the list.

Oswalt, 34, would definitely be the established, veteran presence if the Rockies brought him in. With Jorge De La Rosa still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rockies are left with some mix of Jhoulys Chacin, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Jason Hammel and Esmil Rogers in the starting rotation.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:34 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Norichika Aoki to be posted

By Matt Snyder

Japanese star Norichika Aoki will be posted, according to a report from a Japanese news outlet (via Yakyubaka.com). The posting system -- if you might recall from the famous cases of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki and Kei Igawa -- is used when a player already under contract with a team in Japan wants to play in America. A Major League Baseball team submitting the highest sealed bid will pay that fee and is granted an exclusive negotiating window to sign the player. In this case, whoever decides to bid the most will pay the Yakult Swallows of the Japan Central League for the rights to negotiate with Aoki.

Aoki is 5-foot-11, 182 pounds and plays center field. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.

"When I was in college, I really felt like wanting to play in that kind of an environment," he said (Yakyubaka.com -- translated from Japanese). "It's not without uncertainties. I haven't really compared myself to other players. I want to go the Majors because I want to go. That's it."

Aoki, 29, hit .358 with 14 homers, 63 RBI and 19 steals in 2010. He has signed on with agent Nez Balelo of CAA Sports. The agency provides Shane Victorino as a mild comparison, saying Aoki is "a Gold Glove center fielder with a high average and extra-base power."

Aoki won the Gold Glove 2006-10 and was a member of the "Best 9" (which is like an All-League team) from 2005-10. He was the fastest player in Japanese history to reach 500 hits and won the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year.

Aoki had a down year in 2011, hitting .292 with just four homers and eight steals. CAA sports attributed Aoki's off-2011 season to being distracted by the earthquake and tsunami's effects on his hometown and adjusting a new ball.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 9:42 pm
 

Are Red Sox even interested in Papelbon?

Papelbon

By Evan Brunell


Do the Red Sox even want Jonathan Papelbon back?

The Red Sox are on the hunt for a new closer, and despite Papelbon being the best name on the market, the Red Sox don't seem all that interested in hurrying a decision along.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said on Wednesday that while he has had dialogue with David Ortiz's agent and talks are progressing faster because the market is more easily determined, the same can't be said about Papelbon.

“With Pap, it’s a little bit more difficult, because more options in terms of the National League, more unknown about what’s out there,” Cherington told WEEI. “So [there's been] less dialogue with him, but keep the door open certainly and we’ll talk again I’m sure next week.”

So far, so good, right? Nothing out of the norm that would make you raise your eyebrow. But Cherington wasn't finished talking about Papelbon, and what he said is worth some notice. Cherington said that the Red Sox aren't obligated a courtesy call or right of refusal on Papelbon.

“Those things can happen fast sometimes,” said Cherington. “He doesn’t owe us a call. I don’t think we expect that. We expect we’ll keep the door open and keep talking. But if he gets something that he really wants and there’s a deadline on it he can take it.”

Listen to the type of language being used. As far as bringing the righty back, Cherington said twice that Boston is keeping "the door open." And yet, if Papelbon gets an offer he likes from another team, "he can take it."

It doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for bringing Papelbon back. The Red Sox might be more interested in promoting Daniel Bard to closer and bringing in some relievers, which would allocate more money to the team to address the starting rotation and right field. Still, it's a bit surprising the Red Sox don't seem all that hurried to strike a deal with Papelbon, which could cost them the closer. Papelbon's agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, are known for working quickly while Cherington is noted to be patient.

Nothing here precludes the franchise leader in saves from re-signing in Boston, and it's possible the Red Sox are intentionally downplaying their interest in Papelbon, but it's still notable how little interest Boston seems to have.

Hot stove report: Boston interested in Carlos Beltran

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com