McAdam: Ross signing gives Sox options

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McAdam: Ross signing gives Sox options

Since the end of the season, the Red Sox have publicly identified first base, outfield and pitching as their primary positional needs.

But Saturday, in their first personnel move of the off-season, the Red Sox added to a position they weren't necessarily in the market for: catching.

The Sox signed David Ross to a two-year, 6.2 million deal, according to a source. FoxSports.com was the first to report the signing.

Ross, 35, is a veteran of 11 major league seasons, having spent the last four years with the Atlanta Braves. In 2012, he hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBI, serving as the backup to All-Star Brian McCann. With McCann battling shoulder issues in the second half of the season, Ross was the Braves' starting catcher in the National League wild card game.

This marks Ross's second stay with the Red Sox. A late-season acquisition in 2008, he played in eight games that year before signing with Atlanta in the off-season.

On the surface, the move appears curious, since the Red Sox have two catchers under control: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway.

But adding Ross gives the Red Sox a number of options:

It frees them to trade Saltalamacchia at a time when the catching market is thin.

As many as a half-dozen teams -- including Texas, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and the New York Mets -- are in the market for a starting catcher, or catching help.

The Mets, in particular, would seem to be a good matchup for the Sox. They need a catcher and have a number of players in whom the Sox are interested including first baseman Ike David, outfielderfirst baseman Lucas Duda and infielderoutfielder Daniel Murphy.

The Sox would love to pursue lefty Jon Niese, but the Mets' asking price would include far more than Satlalamacchia, and more than the Sox would want to sacrifice.

It allows the Sox to platoon Saltalamacchia and Ross, with Lavarnway optioned to Pawtucket for more development time.

Like Kelly Shoppach, Ross would seem a good fit for Fenway, with good pull power to take avantage of the ballparks' dimensions.

Curiously, Ross has actually performed slightly better against righties (.771 career OPS) than he has against lefties (.764). Last season, the difference was even more pronounced: .818 against righties and .712 against lefties.

It leaves open the possibility that the Sox could shift Saltalamacchia to first base while using a catching tandem of Ross and Lavarnway.

According to a baseball source, however, that scenario is the least likely of the three.

The Sox were also attracted to the veteran's makeup and leadership skills. Ross also comes with a reputation for being one of best receivers in "framing'' pitches to help his pitchers expand the strike zone.

Ross also control the running game exceptionally well, having thrown out 39 percent of baserunners over his career. Last year, he gunned down 15-of-34 would-be base stealers for a 44 percent success rate. As recently as 2009, he threw out 48 percent of all baserunners attempting to run on him.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.