Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

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Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

PROVIDENCE Provisional rosters for each country in the World Baseball Classic were announced on Thursday. Four Red Sox players are on rosters including right fielder Shane Victorino for the United States, right-hander Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), highly regarded prospect Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands, by way of Aruba), and right-hander Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico).Final rosters are due Feb. 20, with pool play beginning March for the 28 teams in the tournament.Having players out of camp for an extended period, not under the eyes of their organizations, is not easy for teams.Its case by case, but the guys right now that are candidates to play were OK with, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. And those are guys that weve talked to and talked about and are comfortable with their participation.Still, theres a degree of anxiety involved.I guess whenever you have less control over a player you have a little bit of anxiety, Cherington said. But, look, theyre going to be playing games one way or another. Theyre either going to be playing game in Fort Myers or in the WBC. I guess perhaps the intensity level is a little bit different but you take it case by case.If you have real concerns about a guy, sometimes its taken out because of an injury, sometimes you can have a conversation with a player and it makes sense to sit it out and the player decides himself, which weve had this year, and other times its not really much riskier and were comfortable with it. So I think its case by case but I think the organizations and each federation they really do a very good job. And each time its gotten better at including safeguards for players and managing workload and timing it at the right time of spring training so guys are kind of naturally ready anyway so its a pretty well-oiled event at this point and certainly one we support.It can be particularly nettlesome for a new manager, such as John Farrell, who is still trying to get to know his players, especially those new to the organization who werent with the team while Farrell was pitching coach from 2007-10.Well theres a couple of things that quickly come to mind, Farrell said. In this first spring training for us, for the new staff, with a number of new players, the time that we spend together will be critical for us as personally feel how we identify each other is going to be key. But were not going to stand in the way, nor can we stand in the way of the WBC and representing countries that our players are from. So what that final roster looks like, who we might miss, probably reserve judgment till we see the total number of players that might be out of camp.Several players will be leaving Fort Myers with questions. Aceves is expected to be in the Sox bullpen this season, but will be stretched out in case he is pressed into duty as a starter. How he will be used on Mexicos staff is uncertain.I dont know, Cherington said. Its safer to assume he is going to be a starter just from an innings standpoint so wed probablyunless were told hes nottry to get him stretched out and get his pitch count up before he reports.Theres probably two approaches, Farrell said, of what he would like Aceves to work on during the WBC. One, if youre a reliever, youre probably a little bit more accepting rather than that gradual build-up over time that a starter needs to go through. Our intent in spring training was to stretch Alfredo out. He and Franklin Morales will join five other guys as starting pitchers to get a number of guys with multiple innings under their belt. Well take the necessary steps to, if in fact, he does go and do what we can with the time allowed.Bogaerts, the Sox much-heralded shortstop prospect, will be on a Netherlands team that includes two other prized shortstop prospects, the Rangers Jurickson Profar and Braves' Andrelton Simmons
I dont know, Cherington replied when asked where Bogaerts would play. Im sure well have a conversation. I wouldnt expect him to put on catchers gear or anything like that. Im sure theyll find a spot on the field where he can be safe.I think wed probably mostly be concerned with safety and putting him in a spot where he can be comfortable. Im sure they want his bat in the lineup.

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- When Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski almost casually mentioned in October that John Farrell would return for the 2017 season, he was, predictably asked about the option that the club held on the manager for 2018.

Dombrowski noted that he would speak to ownership about that matter over the off-season. Apparently, it didn't take long.

The Red Sox announced Monday that the team had, indeed, exercised the option on Farrell, putting him on a guaranteed deal through the next two seasons.

"John's done a real fine job for us,'' said Dombrowski. "We had a very good year last year. I thought he did a good job handling the club. We're in a position where we have a good working relationship. He has the respect of our players; our players played hard for him, so we're very happy to have done that.

"It puts stability to our staff going into spring training.''

Dombrowski said the issue would have been addressed sooner, but the team had to deal with the departures of former GM Mike Hazen, former bench coach Torey Lovullo and other front office members.

"There were just so many issues that happened after (the end of the season),'' he noted. "There was no rush. This didn't have to be exercised until 10 days after (the competition of the 2017 season)... (But) John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations. I think he's done a very fine job.''

Farrell became a focal point for criticism from the team's fan base and some in the media when the Red Sox struggled to separate themselves from the rest of the American League East in the first half of the season.

After winning a World Series in his first season at the Sox' helm in 2013, Farrell managed the Sox to a last-place finish in 2014, and the team was mired in the East basement in mid-August of 2015 when it was revealed that Farrell was battling lymphoma.

He took a leave of absence for the final seven weeks of the season and when the team's record improved under Lovullo, acting as interim manager, the pressure on Farrell was turned up for 2016, with Lovullo, Farrell's long-time friend, seen as the heir apparent should the team under-perform.

That pressure remained hot until the final month when a hot streak vaulted the Sox into first place and carried them into the post-season, where the team was swept out of the Division Series by Cleveland.

"I'm thrilled that (the option) has been exercised, obviously,'' said Farrell. "I love the city, the organization, the players that we have. This is an exciting young team - the young core group of players that we talk about is developing year after year.

"(This was the) first full year that Dave and I had a chance to work together and I appreciate his confidence...We addressed and faced a lot of challenges over the course of the season and we came out of it stronger and in a better place.''

Farrell maintained that "the status of my contract never changed (how I managed) day-in, day-out. And it won't going forward. My focus is what we can do (on a given) night to win a game and put our players in the best position to succeed. And that won't change.''

In four years, Farrell owns a 339-309 record (.523 winning percentage). He joined Joe Morgan as the only Red Sox managers to guide the team to multiple division titles.

 

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.