Beltran, Cuddyer possible Red Sox RF targets

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Beltran, Cuddyer possible Red Sox RF targets

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHOENIX -- An obvious need for the Red Sox at the trade deadline would be a right-handed-hitting outfielder to provide more production at the position.

J.D. Drew, nominally the regular right fielder, has given the Sox only 10 extra-base hits in the first half of the season with no evidence that his production will improve dramatically in the final 2 12 months of the season.

As such, the Sox could use an upgrade, preferably from the right side. Of the five outfielders on the roster, only Darnell McDonald is right-handed and he's had 10 hits all year.

Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer -- both here as All-Star selections -- are free agents at the end of the season, currently playing for teams in danger of drifting out of contention, as such, potential targets for the Red Sox.

Beltran's Mets are 11 games behind first-place Philadelphia and 7 12 games behind wild-card leading Atlanta.

It's a given that Beltran won't return to the Mets, so it makes sense that he would be shopped by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

His first hope is to remain with the Mets.

"I like where I am," said Beltran. "We're having fun and we just hope to continue to improve."

Beltran has a no-trade agreement which allows him to block potential deals.

"Having a no-trade clause gives me a little bit of control," he said. "Now, basically, I would choose. This is my 12th year in the big leagues, and at this point, all I want is to win and be able to be in the playoffs.

"You work hard in the off-season and spring training to be in situations like those. Hopefully, as a team, we can improve and when David Wright gets back and Johan Santana gets back and when Jose Reyes gets back, we're going to be better than we are right now."

But if the Mets decided to move him if they fall further back, the Red Sox would be a destination which would appeal to him.

"That's a no-brainer,'' Beltran told reporters. "They're in first place."

Beltran is being paid 18 million in the final year of his deal with the Mets, meaning a team trading for him would, in theory, be on the hook for 6 million over the final two months.

Even for a brief rental, that's a steep price tag.

Further complicating matters is that Beltran has another clause in his contract which prohibits him from being offered salary arbitration after the season.

That means that if the Red Sox dealt for him before the end of the month, they would not have the right to offer his arbitration at the end of the year and gain a first-round compensation pick in next June's draft.

Cuddyer's case is a little more straightforward, and the Twin comes with lesser salary obligations. Cuddyer is making 10.5 million this year, which means he would have about 3.5 million remaining for the final two months.

He does not have a no-trade clause.

The Twins sit in fourth place in the A.L. Central, 6 12 games behind, and are 12 12 games back in the wild-card race, meaning Cuddyer has begun to think about the chances of being traded by the end of the month.

"I think it's a real possibility," he said, "and I think it was even more of a possibility about a month ago when we weren't playing very well. Now, we're playing well and we've got ourselves in a position where we can go on a run and we can possibly get into the playoffs.

"But if these next two weeks don't go well, who knows what's going to happen?"

Cuddyer has the additional appeal of being able to play both first base and third base in addition to the outfield.

"Right now, I'm with the Twins and we're playing well," he said. "I don't think a trade is going to come in play, but if it were, whatever team makes a trade for you, you go out there and do the best you can for them.

"I want to win with the Twins. I have no other team in the back of my head that I want I want to play for until that day comes. If it does come, I go out there and fight for that team as well."

Cuddyer is familiar with the Red Sox, if only because the Sox and Twins share Fort Myers as a spring training home and meet a half dozen times each March.

"Spending time in Fort Myers for the last decade or so with those guys," he said, "you have relationships and see them here and there. As far as good friends, David Ortiz is probably the closest to me because he was with us for a few years.

"Obviously, you want to go to a team that's in it and has a chance to win, If that were to happen, Boston is a team that is obviously 100 percent a World Series contender."

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

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.