McAdam: Cubs come calling for Epstein

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McAdam: Cubs come calling for Epstein

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
The exodus from Fenway Park could be far from over.

Days after Terry Francona parted ways with the Red Sox, the Sox are at risk of losing their general manager, Theo Epstein, too.

The Chicago Cubs contacted the Red Sox Tuesday to ask for permission to speak with Epstein about their GM vacancy, a baseball source confirmed. Another National League source confirmed Tuesday that Epstein is, indeed, owner Tom Ricketts's top choice to take over the Cubs, over other names thought to be on his initial list, including Billy Beane of the Oakland A's, Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays and Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees.

Industry sources indicate the Red Sox are more likely than not to grant the Cubs permission.

Epstein has a year remaining on his contract. It's unknown whether the Red Sox will seek compensation should Epstein leave the Sox for the Cubs.

The Cubs' request was first reported by the Boston Globe.

Epstein has long told friends he doesn't intend to be general manager of the Red Sox forever and would, in time, welcome a new challenge.

Despite growing up in Brookline, Epstein would be open to moving out of the area and running another franchise.

At the same time, Epstein feels a deep loyalty to Red Sox ownership, and principal owner John Henry in particular, and would have reservations about leaving the team in its current state.

The Sox imploded in September and blew a nine-game lead for the American League wild-card spot to Tampa Bay on the final night of the season.

The team's downward spiral resulted in manager Terry Francona leaving the organization after eight seasons. Francona met with ownership Friday, when it was decided that he wouldn't return for team options for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The Sox have failed to qualify for the postseasons two years running, and those close to Epstein say he feels a certain responsibility to ownership to get the franchise turned around before leaving.

However, the appeal of running the Cubs may be a powerful lure. Chicago hasn't won a World Series since 1908 and hasn't won so much as a pennant since 1945.

Moreover, Henry feels a reciprocal loyalty to Epstein, and though his clear preference would be to have Epstein remain with the Red Sox for a long time, he would not stand in the way if Epstein indicated a willingness to listen to what the Cubs have to say.

A baseball source Tuesday dismissed any suggestion that Epstein could be convinced to stay with a new title or increased responsibilities within the Red Sox organization.

Epstein left the Red Sox for a period of three months after 2005 for, among other reasons, clashes with team president and CEO Larry Lucchino and a feeling that the team's business interests had become more important than putting a winning product on the field.

The relationship between Epstein and Lucchino isn't perfect, a source said, but it's no longer untenable and would not be a factor in Epstein seeking other opportunities outside the organization.

If Epstein were to direct both the Red Sox and Cubs to World Series titles, his place in baseball history would be assured, having ended two of the sport's longest championship droughts.

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

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received significantly more votes this time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

The Red Sox have invited nine non-roster players to spring training, the team announced Wednesday. The team now has a total of 15 non-roster invitees. 

Added Wednesday to the spring training roster were outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd and Ben Taylor.

In addition to 39 players on the 40-man roster, the Sox have the following breakdown of non-roster invitees: 

Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Edgar Olmos, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Marcus Walden
 
Catchers: Dan Butler, Jake DePew, Jordan Procyshen
 
Infielders: Rafael Devers, Matt Dominguez, Sam Travis
 
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, Junior Lake