No contract, but is it still a deal?

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No contract, but is it still a deal?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Two years ago, the Red Sox were outbid by the New York Yankees for free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, a move that left both a sizeable hole in the Red Sox lineup and their pysche, having been beaten by their longtime rivals.

Players like Teixeira, who can impact a team both offensively and defensively, are rare and the feeling at the time was the Red Sox missed out on a chance to obtain a game-changing, middle-of-the-order force.

With the pending acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox have made up for their swing-and-miss on Teixeira, though in an least one way, the price they paid was higher.

According to baseball sources, the Sox have a deal in place to obtain the 28-year-old Gonzalez for a package that includes three top prospects -- Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes along with a fourth player to be named later.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.com

The deal is apparently contingent on Gonzalez passing a physical and agreeing to a contract extension, the latter of which is expected to rival the deal signed by Teixiera with the Yankees (eight years, 180 million). Gonzalez is otherwise eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

Major League Baseball has granted the Red Sox and Gonzalez' agent, John Boggs, a window until 2 p.m. Sunday to work out a contract extension.

According to an industry source, Gonzalez underwent a complete physical Saturday morning in Boston, and while the shoulder is still healing, "should be fine."

As recently as three weeks ago, general manager Theo Epstein doubted that the Padres would deal Gonzalez this winter, believing that the surgical procedure on the first baseman's right shoulder would postpone serious trade talk until teams could see for themselves that Gonzalez was fully healthy.

Epstein also believed that it was more likely that the Red Sox would sign Gonzalez as a free agent rather than involve themselves in any bidding war next July. The reason: the Sox far preferred to sign Gonzalez and lose only compensation draft picks.

The Sox were further emboldened by the knowledge that, this time out, they would not have to compete with the Yankees. With Teixeira signed for six more years, they would have neither a position nor the interest for Gonzalez.

But within the last 10 days, the landscape began to shift, and with it, Epstein's approach. As more and more teams begin approaching San Diego GM Jed Hoyer, Epstein sensed that the time was now.

In between jetting around the country to visit with prospective free agents Carl Crawford (Tuesday night in Houston) and Jayson Werth (Wednesday night in Chicago), talks intensified for Gonzalez.

After initially refusing to include pitching prospect Casey Kelly, the Sox came to the realization that a deal could not be made without him. The Padres, seeking an eventual replacement for Gonzalez at first base, also wanted Rizzo, and the athletic Reymond Fuentes, the last first-round pick by Jason McLeod, the former Red Sox scouting director, now Hoyer's assistant in San Diego.

Having satisfied the Padres, the Red Sox must now satisfy Gonzalez and agent John Boggs on a contract extension.

It seems unlikely that there had not been at least some communication, however preliminary and informal, between Boggs and the Red Sox on what Gonzalez would be looking for.

When Hoyer and Boggs met after the 2010 season to see what Gonzalez would demand in a contract extension, Hoyer was told that the deals signed by fellow first basemen Ryan Howard and Teixeira would be good comparisons.

That was enough for Hoyer and San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad, who understood that the Padres' payroll couldn't handle a player making more than 20 million annually.

The decision to shop Gonzalez, then, became a matter of "when," and not "if."

At the GM meetings three weeks ago, Hoyer said the surgery on Gonzalez wouldn't necessarily stall trade talks, emphasizing that while Gonzalez wouldn't be 100 percent until March, he had managed to play the final four months of the year while injured and without much of an impact on his production.

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

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.
 

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.