Ortiz the big question as arbitration deadline nears

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Ortiz the big question as arbitration deadline nears

Midnight Wednesday is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents. For the Red Sox, who have eight players eligible for free agency, that should be a pretty routine call.

Of the eight free agents -- David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek, Dan Wheeler, J.D. Drew, Conor Jackson, Trever Miller and Tim Wakefield -- four are ranked free agents under the current system.

Papelbon and Ortiz are Type A free agents; Varitek and Wheeler are Type B free agents.

Papelbon, of course, has already signed a four-year, 50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, so, after-the-fact, the Sox will offer Papelbon arbitration and get a first-round pick and sandwich pick as compensation.

Ortiz represents a more interesting call. If the Sox offer Ortiz arbitration and he accepts -- players must do so by Dec. 7 -- then the Sox run the risk of going to arbitration and having Ortiz awarded a salary somewhere between 13.5-15 million next season.

Still, though that would represent a modest raise from Ortiz's 12.5 million salary for 2011 and force the Sox to a pay huge number for a DH, it would limit the team's commitment to the 36-year-old to one season.

And, as former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was fond of saying: "There's no such thing as a bad, one-year contract."

The cases of Wheeler and Varitek are more problematic.

The Red Sox have already opted not to pick up a 3 million team option on Wheeler. Wheeler made 3 million in 2011, meaning offering him arbitration would virtually guarantee that he would get a raise for 2012.

If the Sox weren't willing to lock him in at 3 million -- though they indicated they were open to re-signing him at a lesser figure -- why would they tie themselves to the arbitration process where Wheeler would almost certainly get more?

With Varitek, who earned 2 million as the backup catcher last year, would seem to represent too great a risk for the Sox to offer aribtration. Even a modest raise to, say, 2.5 million, would be way more than the Sox would want to pay a reserve catcher, especially with the much younger (and infinitely less expensive) Ryan Lavarnway in line for the same role.

In the unlikely event both Wheeler and Varitek were offered salary arbitration by the Sox and then signed elsewhere, the Sox would receive sandwich picks for both.

Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1

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Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1

HARRISON, N.J. - Daniel Royer finished a nice sequence in the 74th minute, Luis Robles made a diving save in the closing minutes and the New York Red Bulls rallied to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday night.

Felipe sent the ball left to Kemar Lawrence alongside the box and he put a cross to Royer on the back post for an easy finish on his fourth goal.

Robles, who only allowed Lee Nguyen's penalty kick in the ninth minute, preserved the win with his fourth save, diving to his left to block Diego Fagundez's shot from outside the box.

Bradley Wright-Phillips tied it for New York (6-6-2), which was winless in its last four matches, when he pounced on a loose ball and backheeled it into the net. New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper had pounced on a cross by Kemar Lawance, but Cropper could hold on and Wright-Phillips was there to clean up for his sixth goal.

Damien Perrinelle fouled Fagundez in the penalty area after a great pass from Kei Kamara, allowing Nguyen to step up for his sixth goal. New England (4-5-4) had won two straight and lost just one of its previous six. It is 0-5-2 on the road.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.