Boston Red Sox

Red Sox prepare for Tuesday's arbitration deadline

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Red Sox prepare for Tuesday's arbitration deadline

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Even before the Red Sox make any free-agent signings, or, for that matter, potentially lose any of their own free agents to other teams, they have some decisions to make by Tuesday midnight.

One decision was made for them Tuesday, when one of their free agents -- catcher Victor Martinez -- agreed to a four-year contract with the Tigers. Now they have until midnight to decide whether or not to offer salary arbitration to the other three: third baseman Adrian Beltre; catcher Jason Varitek; and infielder Felipe Lopez.

There are three different scenarios in play:

If the Sox offer arbitration to a player, and the player accepts -- the deadline for that is Nov. 28 -- that player is bound to the Red Sox for at least the 2011 season.

If the Sox offer arbitration to a player, and the player declines, the Red Sox will get draft picks as compenstion if the player signs elsewhere.

Finally, if the Red Sox don't offer arbitration to a player, they stand to receive no compensation if the player signs elsewhere.

For one, the answer is obvious: the Sox will offer arbitration to Beltre, assuring themselves of two draft picks -- a team's first or second round pick, depending on other variables, along with a sandwich pick. They've already received that from Detroit for Martinez.

There's little risk for the Red Sox in offering arbitration to Beltre, who is in high demand on the free agent market and almost certainly will not accept the offer of arbitration.

In the incredibly unlikely choice that he did, the Sox would gladly retain him -- either on a one-year deal, or through a negotiated long-term deal.

Otherwise, the Sox will reap a harvest of additional draft picks next June, which features one of the deepest talent pools in several years.

Using the same measuring stick, it's hard to see the Sox offering arbitration to Varitek, who, at 37, no longer is viewed as a No. 1 catcher by most teams.

Though the Sox have had internal discussions about bringing back Varitek as a backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- an option that became more attractive now that Martinez is gone -- offering him arbitration would bind them to a more costly process.

Varitek made 5 million in 2010 as part of a two-year deal negotiated by the catcher and the club after the 2008 season and that base salary would be a factor in determining Varitek's 2011 salary through arbitration.

On the other hand, if the Sox don't offer arbitration, they could still negotiate a one-year deal without being bound by the arbitration guidelines. That way, the Sox could bring Varitek back at, say 1.5-2 million rather than a far higher figure determined by an arbitrator.

Quite simply, the reward of a sandwich pick -- Varitek and Lopez are Class B free agents -- is too high when measured against the risk of having to pay Varitek 3 million or more in an arbitration process.

Finally, there's Lopez, who joined the Red Sox in the final week of the season in a strangely-timed acquisition. When Lopez joined the Sox, the supposition was that the Sox were obtaining for the express purpose of getting compensation for him over the winter.

That, of course, would require the Sox to offer his arbitration first. Lopez made 1 million with St. Louis last year and had a poor year, losing his regular spot in the lineup.

The guess here is that the Sox will end up offering Lopez arbitration. In a worst-case scenario, even if he accept the offer and they lose an arbitration hearing, or arrive at a settled salary figure, the Sox could always release him in spring training and owe him only a portion of his salary.

Should the Sox offer arbitration and Lopez signs elsewhere, the Sox will gain a sandwich-round pick as compensation.

Beyond their own free agents, the Sox will be interested to see which other free agents are offered arbitration by other teams. Outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, both of whom interest the Sox, are guaranteed to be offered arbitration by their present teams for the same reason the Sox are sure to offer arbitration to Beltre and Martinez -- the risk is almost negligible and the payoff considerable in the form of draft picks.

The Red Sox will also be especially interested to see if some of the set-up relievers are offered arbitration, since that could impact their degree of interest in signing one or more.

It seems certain, for example, that Toronto will offer arbitration to Scott Downs, one of the better relievers on the market. Last July, when the Red Sox -- and a handful of other teams -- were interested in dealing for Downs, the Blue Jays set the asking price high: two top prospects.

They did so knowing that, if Downs reached free agency and didn't re-sign with the Jays, as a Type A free agent, he would fetch them both a first-round and sandwich pick.

If some set-up relievers cost compensation and others don't, the Sox might be more willing to go with those who don't require forfeiting a pick.

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

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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