Boston Red Sox

Red Sox designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment, release expected

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Red Sox designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment, release expected

BOSTON — One of the worst contracts in Red Sox history and an untenable situation at third base came to a head Friday, when the Red Sox designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment.

The struggling third baseman, who signed for a guaranteed $95 million ahead of the 2015 season, is still owed at least $41 million from the 2018-19 seasons, including a $5 million buyout of a team option for 2020. A bit more than halfway through the season, there’s more than $7 million of his 2017 salary still to be paid out, leaving more than $48 million still on the Red Sox’ books in all.

"That was hard," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Friday afternoon of the decision. "Talking about a lot of money. I give ownership a lot of credit that they are willing to allow us to do this."

Sox manager John Farrell said defense was the biggest problem for Sandoval.

"We were not a better club if he were on our club at the major league level," Dombrowski said.

The Sox have seven days to make a move with Sandoval now that he has been DFA'd. Sandoval will pass through release waivers, at which point another team can pick up Sandoval for the minimum with the Sox on the hook for all that dough. Per Dombrowski, Sandoval told the team on Thursday he would not grant the Sox permission to send him to the minor leagues — which is within his rights because of his major league service time.

If released as expected, then, Sandoval's salary counts against luxury tax threshold — minus any salary from where ever he may land.

"I think there’s more baseball left in him," Farrell said. 

A trade is technically possible, but would still require the Red Sox to eat the vast majority of the money owed to Sandoval. Dombrowski said Friday he already tried to shop Sandoval unsucessfully.

A discussion about going to the minors came up with Sandoval as far back as Monday, Dombrowski said, and talk of making this move internally stretched even further back with ownership.

"Talked about it a while ago, really a few weeks ago actually," Dombrowski said. "Spoke with John Henry and Tom Werner."

Sandoval, 30, was nearing the end of a minor league rehab assignment and the Red Sox had to make a call on their future at third base. Farrell has spoken about the infusion of energy Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero have brought, and for now, they'll handle the third-base duties. Their presence made the move easier, Dombrowski acknowledged.

Sandoval finished his two-plus seasons with the Red Sox with just 161 games played, hitting .237 with a .646 OPS. He hit .212 in 32 games this season and looked poor defensively.

Sandoval had glory days in San Francisco before joining the Red Sox, but it went south quickly. He missed nearly all of 2016, a year when he was noticeably out of shape, because of shoulder surgery.

Former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington’s legacy was bettered in the last year, particularly because of the young core of players that drove the team to a 93-win season and an American League East title in 2016. But Sandoval’s acquisition is virtually guaranteed to go down as his worst move.

Top prospect Rafael Devers' path to Triple-A was cleared with the exits of Sandoval and Jhonny Peralta. The latter was released on Thursday.

BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

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BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

1:00 - Shaughnesy, Drellich and Merloni give their leading off impressions regarding the Red Sox

4:00 - Dan Shaughnessy explains why he is still skeptical about the Red Sox team, and why he will not be able to feel confident until he sees them play in the postseason

9:00 - Does our Baseball Show crew have a problem with the Red Sox letting Chris Sale pitch the 8th inning so he could get his 300th strikeout?

15:00 - Jared Carrabis joins the Baseball Show crew to discuss what matches he likes for the Red Sox in the playoffs. 

17:00 - Jared Carrabis on how would the Red Sox match up against the Yankees in the playoffs

20:00 - How does Jared Carrabis think about the use of David Price as a relief pitcher?

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

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Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

CINCINNATI -- Mookie Betts wasn't about to stop. Neither are the Red Sox, who are heading home with a chance to win another division title.

Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it in the eighth inning and dashed home from second base on an infield single, rallying the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory Sunday that moved them closer to an AL East championship.

By winning 14 of its last 17 games, Boston has left virtually no opening for the second-place New York Yankees to catch up. The Red Sox, already assured a playoff spot, completed an 8-1 road trip that put them in excellent position to win a second consecutive division crown, something they've never done.

Coupled with New York's 9-5 loss in Toronto, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to three. They lead the Yankees by five games with seven to play.

That means Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston finishes the regular season at home with three games against Toronto and four vs. Houston.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves," said Doug Fister, who pitched into the sixth. "We can put ourselves in a corner early and fight back. If we need a touchdown, the boys can put up a touchdown."

Boston inched closer with more late-game flair. The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases against Raisel Iglesias (3-3), who had blown only one save chance all season. Betts had fouled a ball off his foot on Friday night and missed one game. His double tied it 5-all, and he sprinted home on the still-sore foot - diving headfirst into the plate - on Rafael Devers' infield single.

"I felt he had a chance to beat it, and with me running it was going to be a tough play at the plate," Betts said.

Robby Scott (2-1) got the win, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 39 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.

Billy Hamilton helped the Reds go up 4-1. He tripled home a run and brought the crowd to its feet by scoring after getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a wild throw, and Hamilton kept going when nobody covered home.

"In my whole career, that's one of the best ones, especially since I was in a rundown and just trying to get to second base and then I end up scoring," Hamilton said.

GOT THEIR BACKS

Red Sox and Reds players stood for the national anthem. Boston manager John Farrell said if any of his players decide to follow the example of other athletes and make a statement during the anthem, he'll support them. "We strive to create an environment that's inclusive," Farrell said. "We would have their back as an organization if that's the expression they chose. It's their constitutional right."

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Reds all-time in the regular season and have won nine straight, their longest winning streak against any NL team since interleague play started in 1997. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 16-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-15.

90 LOSSES AGAIN

The Reds reached the 90-loss mark for the third straight year. They lost 98 games in 2015 and 94 last year. It's the first time they've had three straight 90-loss seasons since 1930-34.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez ran the bases before the game, his next step in recovering from a sprained knee.

Reds: Hamilton was back in the lineup after getting a day off. He's played twice since returning from a broken left thumb.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) on Monday night. Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

Reds: After a day off, they finish with three games in Milwaukee and three at the Chicago Cubs. Deck McGuire (0-0) makes his first major league start Tuesday night against Zach Davies (17-9).

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