Free agency overview: Catcher

Free agency overview: Catcher

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at catcher. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

OVERVIEW
The Red Sox made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez in September, which was roundly and predictably rejected. Speculation has that deal worth just over 20 million, which is far less than Martinez will command on the open market.

The Detroit Tigers are expected to be big players for Martinez and may be willing to give him a four-year contract. That would seem more than the Sox would be comfortable with, given they don't expect Martinez to be a full-time catcher by 2013 and would be paying him catcher's money to DH over the final two years of the deal.

The Red Sox are high on prospect Ryan Lavarnway, currently taking part in the Arizona Fall League. But while his power is enticing (.882 OPS between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland), Lavarnway is still quite raw behind the plate and is at least a year away from contributing at the major-league level.

If Martinez outprices himself, where do the Sox go for a season (or two) at catcher?

FREE AGENT TARGETS
John BuckBuck had a nice year with the Blue Jays, posting career highs in homers (20), RBI (66), slugging (.489) and OPS (.802) while throwing out 28 percent of would-be base-stealers, which is about average.

Buck made 2 million with the Blue Jays on a one-year contract and can probably expect, at 30, to get a multiyear deal. Whether the Sox would be interested in signing him for more than one year remains to be seen.

Bengie Molina
Molina, of course, spent the first half of the season with the eventual N.L. (and World Series) champion San Francisco Giants and the second half with the eventual A.L. champion Texas Rangers. He's been part of World Series teams before, too, having caught for the Angels in 2002, so the postseason isn't anything new to him.

Molina is a good handler of pitchers, but his production dipped sharply this season. After averaging 18 homers and 85 RBI from 2007-09, he had just 5 homers and 36 RBI combined with the Giants and Rangers.

Still, as a one-year, stop-gap measure, the Sox could do worse than Molina.
Miguel Olivo
The World Series ended Monday night and already it's been a bizarre offseason for Olivo. On Thursday he was traded by Colorado to Toronto, which then declined Olivo's 2011 option, making him a free agent. (The Blue Jays, the thinking goes, will offer him arbitration and get themselves a draft pick.)

Olivo, like Buck, can probably expect to get more than a one-year deal on the open market. Also like Buck, Olivo supplies decent power. But he has a better arm than Buck, having gunned down 35 percent of baserunners over his career.

Other names of note
Gerald Laird, Rod Barajas.

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

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Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON - The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.