Sox focused on pitching as winter meetings begin

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Sox focused on pitching as winter meetings begin

DALLAS -- Teams and agents who've been in contact with the Red Sox on the first day of the winter meetings report that, not surprisingly, the Sox seem most intent on talking about pitching -- both the starting and closing variety.

"The market on (free agent) closers is very aggressive right now," said an official from an American League team.

That's likely because some of the landmark deals signed by former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (four years, 50 million) and, more recently, Heath Bell (three years, 27 million).

Those two deals are probably at the high end of the closer's market -- at 12.5 million AAV and 9 million AAV respectively -- though a lot of agents suddenly have the idea that their clients are worth close to that.

But supply-and-demand is at work here. There are now more closers on the market than there are teams seeking them, so a handful of clubs seem contend to sit back and let the market settle before acting in a rash manner and having to over-spend.

Among the remaining free agent closers still available: Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Frank Francisco, Francisco Rodriguez, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.

Madson continues to be linked to the Red Sox, though it's hard to see how that's a good fit. If the Sox wanted to sign a 31-year-old closer to a four-year deal, wouldn't they have just kept Papelbon?

The fact that they didn't so much as make an offer for Papelbon, a known commodity, suggests they aren't going to do so with someone with only one full season of closing experience.

More than likely, the Sox are merely staying in touch with Madson's agent, Scott Boras, in the event the market collapses and Madson has to take a shorted, less expensive deal.

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.