Cherington: We're not who we want to be

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Cherington: We're not who we want to be

BOSTON At 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after word first began to emerge, the Red Sox officially announced their blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, sending right-hander Josh Beckett, left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and utility infielder Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney, infielder Ivan DeJesus, Jr., right-hander Allen Webster, and two players to be named later (believed to be right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and outfielderfirst baseman Jerry Sands).

The reason for the trade was simple to the Red Sox, who go into Saturday nights game against the Royals with a record of 60-66, in fourth place in the American League East, despite a payroll of 175 million.

I think we recognized that we are not who we want to be right now, said general manager Ben Cherington. Its been a large enough sample performance going back to last year that we felt like in order to be the team we want to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes. So as we looked forward to this offseason we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, that we want, required more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team.

And while it was a difficult thing to do, to trade away four players like this, guys that, Beckett in particular that have been here for a long time and been part of our best times here, been on the mound for big games. Gonzalez and Crawford both obviously key acquisitions two offseasons ago and Punto a great teammate, utility player. So we gave up a lot of talent, good guys. Excited about the talent we got coming back and excited about the opportunity this gives us to build the next great Red Sox team.

The deal had been formulating most of the season, Cherington said, but really began to take shape leading up to the July 31 trading deadline.

We talked to the Dodgers all year it seems back to earlier in the year, Cherington said. I had talked to Dodgers GM Ned Coletti about Kevin Youkilis. So weve had consistent dialogue all year and at certain points that dialogue picked up. We talked quite a bit before the deadline. Didn't agree on anything at that time.

But when you talk that much you share ideas, you get to know a little bit more about what their motivation is and what theyre trying to do, and you share ideas. There were conversations at the ownership level also and over time and then recently earlier this week those conversations kind of jelled into a more sort of firm concepts in talking about what a trade might look like. So we were able to pull it off. There wasnt any one moment. It was a process that started earlier in the year and involved a lot of conversation and ideas going back and forth and ultimately led to this.

The deal gives the Sox two things they have been sorely lacking in recent seasons payroll and roster flexibility as they were hamstrung by several long-term, big-money contracts. With the Dodgers assuming all but about 12 million owed to the four players, the Sox have approximately 260 million coming off the books, money they can use going forward.

Weve looked, as we always would this time of year, weve started to look at opportunities in the offseason, Cherington said. I think the key is we are absolutely committed to building the best team that we can in 2013 and beyond and were going to do that in the most disciplined way possible. When weve been at our best weve made good decisions, disciplined decisions, found value, whether in the free agency market, trade market. Thats our job to do that. We have a core of players here still, a very talented core of players still that will be a part of our next great team and well do whatever we can to put together the best team for 2013.

It was the lack of disciplined decisions Cherington mentioned that had become an albatross for the organization.

The decisions weve made that got us to this point in aggregate I think its fair to say didnt work, Cherington said. We have to acknowledge that. We have to be honest about the fact that what we have been over the last few months of major league play is not what we want to be and theres not one decision that led to that. Its just a combination of things, different reasons. Some of them had nothing to do with personnel decisions. There are other things that are involved. Injuries are factored. etc. My point is going forward we have created flexibility for us with this deal and well take advantage of that opportunity best if we are disciplined and aggressive at the right time on the right deals for the right players.

The trade also creates several holes for the Sox, too, though. Just one player, Loney, will be joining the major league team. Loney can be a free agent at the end of the season. Additionally, the Sox have several other needs they will have to address in the offseason for 2013 and beyond.

Fans can expect us to work our tails off to put the best team together going forward starting this offseason and for 2013, Cherington said. We have to be disciplined in the way we do that. We can't go out tomorrow or the next day and fill up the payroll flexibility we just created. So that'll happen. Theres a clear commitment from ownership here. We are going to continue to have a significant payroll. Were going to continue to spend money on players and were going to be committed to building the bests team we possibly can. Its up to us to make good decisions, make disciplined decisions and thats, I think, in the past thats whats led to our best teams. I dont remember in 2004 and 2007 people talking as much about what the size of the payroll was. Just talked about how good the team was.

But, with Gonzalez and Crawford lasting less than two years in Boston despite long-term deals, will it be more difficult for the Sox to attract players going forward?

It is something we considered, Cherington said. I feel like if we are who we want to be on the field, off the field, we will be a great place for players to be and I think this ownership group knows more than most how quickly things can change. At the end of 2001 it wasnt a great time in the Red Sox organization and it wasnt a few months later where everyone wanted to be in Boston. We get back to being the team we want to be and players are going to want to be here. This is a great place to play. The highs are really high when things are going well and when theyre not it can be tough. Thats why its so important for us to get back to where we want to be and then the highs will be really high again.

The trade could also impact the culture of the clubhouse, which had been varying degrees of sour over the past calendar year, from the September 2011 collapse to on-going instances this season.

The culture will feel better when we start winning more games, Cherington said. This was about creating an opportunity to build a better team moving forward. It was not a trade that was made to try to fix a cultural problem. It was about opportunity, giving us opportunity moving forward and the culture will feel very good when we do the things that have made us good over time, the things that help us win games. So when we do those things the culture will feel good.

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.