Source: Rangers, Braves, Dodgers in hunt for Beckett

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Source: Rangers, Braves, Dodgers in hunt for Beckett

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are willing to listen when it comes to dealing pitcher Josh Beckett, a baseball source said, but they're not aggressively seeking to move him before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver deadline.

In addition to the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers -- who continue to talk about a deal with the Chicago Cubs for starter Ryan Dempster -- have called to inquire about Beckett.

The source said the Sox are not aggressively shopping Beckett and won't take back much of the approximately 37 million remaining on his contract. But in a thin pitching market, if a team is willing to make it worth the Red Sox' while, the Sox are not opposed to listening to what teams have to offer.

Another source, while not ruling out the possibility of a deal, put the odds of the Sox moving Beckett at less than 50-50.

Beckett, of course, has 10-5 rights -- 10 years in the big leagues, the last five with the same team -- and as such, has the right to veto any deal.

The Sox haven't been anywhere close to the point where they've approached Beckett about getting his permission for a deal. The Red Sox would have to most of the parameters of a deal in place before going to Beckett, who is scheduled to pitch Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers.

The Rangers' invovlement is noteworthy because, only last week, some officials expressed open concern about his impact on the Texas clubhouse.

"Obviously,'' said a baseball executive with one club, "his reputation from a national standpoint isn't very good right now (following the chicken-and-beer scandal last fall and Beckett's involvement in a golf outing in May after he was scratched from his next start).''

But in recent days, after a number of available starting pitchers were dealt elsewhere -- including Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, and especially Zach Greinke -- the Rangers are said to have softened their chance, especially since Greinke was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rangers' biggest threat in the A.L. West.

The Dodgers, suddenly flush with cash from new ownership, have been aggressive on the trade front, obtaining shortstop Hanley Ramirez -- ironically, the top prospect in the deal that brought Beckett to Boston in December of 2005 -- from the Miami Marlins last week, while agreeing to absorb all of his remaining 38 million in salary obligations.

The Braves, who no longer spend as they once did, would seem to the least likely of the three interested teams to take on most of Beckett's money. But they have shortage of young pitching prospects to make a deal if the money could be worked out.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''