Boston Red Sox

Red Sox exercise option on Ortiz

191542.jpg

Red Sox exercise option on Ortiz

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

The best business deals, it's often said, are the ones in which both sides are each left somewhat unhappy. By that measure, whatever happens between the Red Sox and David Ortiz Thursday will be an unqualified success, since neither is likely to completely satisfied.

The Red Sox have until Thursday midnight to determine whether to pick up a 12.5 million option they have on Ortiz for 2011. Every indication is that the Sox, with some reservations, will exercise the option.

WHY THE RED SOX WILL BE UNHAPPY

Ortiz remains a productive hitter, having hit 32 homers with 102 RBI in 2010. But there are two troubling aspects to Ortiz.

First, he's been a very slow starter for the past two seasons. In 2008, Ortiz produced next to nothing in the first two months of the season before finding his swing at the beginning of June and salvaging his season. Last season, he hit exactly one homer and knocked in four runs in April and was reportedly within days of being released before he caught fire in May and was named the American League Player of the Month.

The Red Sox' fear, of course, is that one of these seasons, the slow start will be permanent rather than temporary, leaving them with an expensive and unproductive player.

Then there's the matter of expense.

In 2010, when Ortiz also made 12.5 million, he was easily the highest-paid DH in the American League. Among A.L. regulars, Vladimir Guerrero was next highest-paid DH at just over half (6.5 million) of Ortiz's salary.

Increasingly, American League teams no longer view the DH position as the exclusive province of a single individual (usually an aging slugger), but rather, an opportunity to mix-and-match and provide some less stressful at-bats for veteran position players.

As an example, the Yankees expected to divide up their DH at-bats between Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and, assuming he's re-signed, Derek Jeter. That should keep the three veterans fresh, while enduring that the Yanks don't overpay for a one-dimensional slugger to fill the role.
WHY ORTIZ WILL BE UNHAPPY

As the 2010 season wound down, Ortiz told anybody and everybody that he would not be satisfied with the Sox merely picking up his 2010 option and that he thought he deserved a multiyear extension.

Ortiz has repeatedly said that he doesn't want to go through a repeat of the last two seasons, when every early-season at-bat turned into a referendum on his career and future with the team.

Ortiz labeled that experience a "roller-coaster'' for him and said a multiyear deal would help take the focus off the day-to-day results and allow him to concentrate on hitting.

In a perfect world, the Sox would love to re-do Ortiz's deal, paying him around 7.5-8 million in 2011 with a vesting option for 2012. But that deal carries with it its own risks for the Red Sox.

If Ortiz had a poor start to 2011, he would undoubtedly see his playing time sharply reduced. (As it is, depending on how the remainder of the roster fills out, he should expect to get fewer at-bats against lefties next year, having hit just .222 with two homers in 185 at-bats against them last year.)

And if Ortiz is benched for an extended period of time, he surely will see this as the Red Sox attempting to ensure that he doesn't get the necessary playing time or plate appearances to vest his option for 2011.

Ortiz is already making his displeasure with the option publicly known. If he feels the Sox reduced his base pay for 2011 and then further reduced his playing time, putting his 2012 salary at risk, he could become a public relations nightmare.

Should the Sox pass on the option Thursday, they would have until Saturday midnight to reach an agreement on a new deal. After that, Ortiz would be free to speak with other clubs and while the market isn't great for aging sluggers, he might find interest from the likes of Tampa Bay, Baltimore or Oakland.

As ambivalent as the Sox might be about handing out 12.5 million, they can't necessarily afford the risk of losing yet another run producer from a lineup that already stands to be without free agents Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez.

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

Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with the addition of Nunez

red-sox-rafael-devers-072617.jpg

Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with the addition of Nunez

BOSTON -- The cherub stays.

There's no way Rafael Devers is headed back to Triple-A before the homestand starts Friday, right, Dave Dombrowski? Not for the newly acquired Eduardo Nunez, who's a fine player but has nowhere near the offensive upside of Devers, the 20-year-old phenom you just rushed to the big leagues.

MORE RED SOX

You probably weren't really considering sending Devers straight back, were you now, Dave? Sometime in the 3 o'clock hour Eastern time on Wednesday morning (after a 13-inning, 6-5 loss to the Mariners), you did tell reporters in Seattle that you would need to sit down with manager John Farrell to figure out the plan at third base from here.

Likely, you're just making sure your ducks are in a row. That Nunez himself has a chance to shake hands with you, and gets to hear straight from you what he'll be doing.

That's fair. But let's be doubly sure we're on the same page.

As long as something else doesn't happen between now and then -- no other trades for third basemen, no injuries -- Devers must at least platoon at third unless he shows he can't handle it. Nunez bats right, Devers left.

But it wouldn't be crazy to let Devers have the bulk of the playing time, either, and use Nunez to spell Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia. Or simply have him come off the bench.

Devers didn't look overmatched in his very first big-league game Tuesday night. On the contrary, he was patient at the plate, drawing the walk that started a sixth-inning rally against Felix Hernandez. (King Felix is quite the draw for a someone making his major-league debut, we should note.) He looked like a happy kid, and sounded like one after the game.

"For me it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there," Devers told reporters through translator Daveson Perez. "That's what I was trying to do and I think I did that."

Devers finished 0-for-4 with a pair of walks, one strikeout and a run scored. He didn't make any errors and looked smooth and quick, his athleticism shining through some baby fat.

Dombrowski spoke during the last homestand about the lack of league-norm production at third base. Nunez can bring that, if nothing more. He is, at a position that's had no certainty, some form of certainty. A stable piece that can help out around the infield and has valuable versatility.

But Nunez is not what the Sox need most: A bopper.

Devers has pop. The chances he blossoms this year are not in his favor because he is the youngest player in the majors. But it would be a most strange and almost cruel choice to call the kid up for two days and then decide you don't need him because of Nunez, who entered Tuesday with the same OPS as Mitch Moreland (.745).

If you're the glass-is-half-full-type, the first four-game losing streak of the season for the Red Sox was numbed by a third-base situation that's been upgraded twofold. Let's assume the Sox know how to best deploy the two from here -- in the big leagues together, until shown a reason to change course.

Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

mariners_celebrate_072517.jpg

Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

SEATTLE -- Guillermo Heredia provided the early punch with a home run, then turned an extra 90 feet into the winning run for the Seattle Mariners some four hours later.

Heredia went from first to third on a wild pitch and then came home when Jean Segura rolled an RBI single up the middle with two outs in the 13th inning to cap a two-run rally and give the Mariners a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in a game that ended early Wednesday morning.

"In my opinion, the biggest play in the game was him going from first to third on the wild pitch, keeping his up head up there and taking the extra base, which allowed him to score the winning run," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "A lot of crazy plays in that game, but it says a lot about the effort of our ballclub."

Mitch Haniger walked with one out in the 13th off Doug Fister (0-5), pitching his third inning, and was forced at second on Ben Gamel's fielder's choice. Heredia, who had a three-run homer in the second, singled Gamel to third. Gamel scored on a wild pitch to tie it, with Heredia advancing all the way to third. Mike Zunino then walked. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded Segura's roller behind second, but his off-balance throw was way late.

"Obviously, I didn't know right away. I was aggressive on the play," Heredia said through a translator. "Once I looked back at the catcher, he was a little careless on it, I took off for third."

The Red Sox, who stranded two runners in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings, had taken a 5-4 lead in the top half when Sandy Leon singled home Hanley Ramirez with two outs off Tony Zych (5-2).

"Our bullpen did a great job of extending it, we had opportunities throughout, we fight back from 3-0, unfortunately the ending is what it is," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's a tough loss, particularly the way we've scuffled offensively for a period of time now."

Zunino opened the seventh inning with his 15th home run to bring Seattle even at 4-4.

The Red Sox capitalized on a sudden loss of command by starter Felix Hernandez for three runs in the sixth to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Highly touted prospect Rafael Devers, making his debut, walked to open the inning and Andrew Benintendi drew a one-out walk. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Dustin Pedroia followed with a two-run double. Pedroia advanced on Ramirez's flyout and came home on Bradley Jr.'s single.

Heredia's three-run homer off starter Drew Pomeranz staked the Mariners to a 3-0 lead in the second.

Ramirez cut it to 3-1 in the fourth with 17th home run, a two-out shot to left.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game. It got a little longer than we expected, but we'll take it," Servais said.

The 20-year-old Devers, who began the season at Double-A and then was called up Monday after just nine games at Triple-A Pawtucket, flied out to center in his first at-bat, walked, hit into a double play in the seventh, and walked again in the ninth. He struck out in the 11th to end the inning with the go-ahead run at third and flied out to center to end the 13th. He finished 0 for 4 with two walks.

"In the first inning I was very nervous, but thank God I was able to get my feet under me," Devers said through a translator. "For me, it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there, that's what I was trying to do and I think I did that. I'm not happy that we lost, but I'm happy for my first big-league game.

RED SOX TRADE:

Boston acquired INF-OF Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league RHPs Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos, GM Dave Dombrowski announced mid-game. Nunez, 30, hit .308 with 20 doubles, four home runs, and 31 RBI in 76 games for the Giants this season.

RED SOX MOVES

Dombrowski also announced several moves following the game. LHP Luis Ysla, currently at Double-A Portland, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. RHP Blaine Boyer is expected to be activated off the 10-day DL (right elbow strain) on Wednesday. ... RHP Ben Taylor is scheduled to be placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly, on the 10-day DL (left hamstring strain) is getting closer to returning. "That was an encouraging bullpen by Joe today, 25 pitches, 80 to 85 percent," manager John Farrell said. "His next bullpen will be on Friday when we get back home, so he's making pretty good progress." Kelly likely will need at one least rehab outing before returning, Farrell said.

Mariners: CF Jarrod Dyson, who sustained a hyperextended toe when crashing into the wall Saturday, missed his third straight game, but was improving.

UP NEXT:

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 2.58) closes out the three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Sale has gone at least six innings in all but one of his 20 starts. He has not allowed an earned run in three of his last four starts. Sale leads the AL with 200 strikeouts.

Mariners: RHP Andrew Moore (1-2, 5.70) has not won in four starts since a victory in his debut on June 22. Moore, the Mariners' second-round pick in 2015, has allowed nine home runs in 30 innings.