Source: Rangers, Braves, Dodgers in hunt for Beckett

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Source: Rangers, Braves, Dodgers in hunt for Beckett

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are willing to listen when it comes to dealing pitcher Josh Beckett, a baseball source said, but they're not aggressively seeking to move him before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver deadline.

In addition to the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers -- who continue to talk about a deal with the Chicago Cubs for starter Ryan Dempster -- have called to inquire about Beckett.

The source said the Sox are not aggressively shopping Beckett and won't take back much of the approximately 37 million remaining on his contract. But in a thin pitching market, if a team is willing to make it worth the Red Sox' while, the Sox are not opposed to listening to what teams have to offer.

Another source, while not ruling out the possibility of a deal, put the odds of the Sox moving Beckett at less than 50-50.

Beckett, of course, has 10-5 rights -- 10 years in the big leagues, the last five with the same team -- and as such, has the right to veto any deal.

The Sox haven't been anywhere close to the point where they've approached Beckett about getting his permission for a deal. The Red Sox would have to most of the parameters of a deal in place before going to Beckett, who is scheduled to pitch Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers.

The Rangers' invovlement is noteworthy because, only last week, some officials expressed open concern about his impact on the Texas clubhouse.

"Obviously,'' said a baseball executive with one club, "his reputation from a national standpoint isn't very good right now (following the chicken-and-beer scandal last fall and Beckett's involvement in a golf outing in May after he was scratched from his next start).''

But in recent days, after a number of available starting pitchers were dealt elsewhere -- including Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, and especially Zach Greinke -- the Rangers are said to have softened their chance, especially since Greinke was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rangers' biggest threat in the A.L. West.

The Dodgers, suddenly flush with cash from new ownership, have been aggressive on the trade front, obtaining shortstop Hanley Ramirez -- ironically, the top prospect in the deal that brought Beckett to Boston in December of 2005 -- from the Miami Marlins last week, while agreeing to absorb all of his remaining 38 million in salary obligations.

The Braves, who no longer spend as they once did, would seem to the least likely of the three interested teams to take on most of Beckett's money. But they have shortage of young pitching prospects to make a deal if the money could be worked out.

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.