Aviles to make outfield debut Saturday

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Aviles to make outfield debut Saturday

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Everyone should finally get a glimpse into why the Red Sox dealt for utility infielder Mike Aviles prior to the July 31 trade deadline when he makes his Red Sox debut in right field on Saturday afternoon.

Aviles was brought into the Sox fold from Kansas City for his versatility and the .316.349.945 numbers against left-handed pitching this season, and the Sox will test both by having him play right field and bat sixth against Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia. Aviles hasnt played in the outfield regularly at any baseball level since playing for Division Concordia College, and actually hasnt played the outfield at all in the minor leagues or major leagues before heading into a nationally televised SoxYankees tilt.

Sox manager Terry Francona said that the main concern is not embarrassing Aviles by tossing him into the outfield after hes played primarily shortstop, second base and third base in the big leagues and the emergency left field play of Kevin Youkilis against the Yankees last season is what hes hoping to avoid.

Aviles put Franconas mind at ease with some braggadocio, and the former Royals utility guy now finds himself in the middle of the Boston lineup during a meaningful Red SoxYankees series. Something tells me he would have played anywhere that Francona asked him to.

"Aviles gave me a good answer when I asked him how he felt about it, said Francona. "He looked at me and he said, The one thing you need to know about me is I'm arrogant and confident. I said, So does that mean you'll go to the outfield? and he said, Yeah, which I thought was a good answer."

If Aviles can pull off the infieldoutfield thing, it gives the Sox manager the same kind of flexibility with offensive pop that Billy Hall provided last season before moving on to greener free agent pastures.

If he can go out there, it's almost like when we had Drew Sutton; it almost gives you a guy where you can go short and it doesn't hurt you. We'd like to get him out there in the outfield at some point. One thing you never want to do is embarrass anybody. Then a guy makes an error and I feel like I messed up. If he's comfortable enough, we'll probably get him out there at some point.''

It looks like both Aviles and Francona are comfy judging by todays lineup against C.C. Sabathia with the Yankees amidst an eight game winning streak.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''