Notes: Sox sign Albers, minor leaguers; trade Patterson

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Notes: Sox sign Albers, minor leaguers; trade Patterson

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Bobby Jenks wasn't the only transaction for the Red Sox Thursday -- just the biggest name for the biggest money.

The team also announced the signing of one other major-league reliever, completed a deal from earlier this month, and agreed to terms with six minor-league free agents.

Boston signed Matt Albers to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for 875,000. Albers pitched for Baltimore the last three seasons, appearing in 62 games while compiling a 4.52 ERA. He also pitched for the Orioles in 2008 and 2009, having come over from Houston as part of the trade for Miguel Tejada.

Albers will compete for one of two remaining bullpen spots. Albers is a sinker-slider type who gets lots of ground balls.

The Sox added six minor-league free agents, including four lefties: Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Randy Williams and Lenny DiNardo.

All but Williams have some previous history with the Sox.

Hill pitched part of last season at Pawtucket, then was promoted to the big-league team in September. Hill actually had a deal in place weeks ago with the Sox, but it wasn't formally announced because the Sox would have had to expose him to the Rule V draft, held last week at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Orlando.

Miller was obtained in a trade with Florida last month, but when the two sides couldn't reach agreement on a deal, was non-tendered earlier this month. By signing a minor-league deal, the Sox could potentially have Miller start the season at Pawtucket to work through some of the mechanical and command issues he's battled without exposing him to waivers.

DiNardo pitched for the Red Sox for parts of three seasons from 2004 through 2006.

Williams pitched in 27 games for the Chicago White Sox last season and has pitched for Seattle, San Diego and Colorado in his career.

The Sox also signed Clevelan Santeliz, who spent the last six seasons in the White Sox' minor-league system.

Hill, Miller, Williams and Santeliz were given invitations to spring training.

Finally, the Red Sox signed former outfielder Ryan Harvey to a minor-league deal with the intention of converting him to the mound. Harvey was the No. 6 overall pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2003, but never got above Double A while the Cubs, and more recently, the Colorado Rockies.

The Sox officially closed out the Adrian Gonzalez trade when they sent utilityman Eric Patterson as the player to be named later, joining prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes.

Patterson hit .226 with two homers and seven RBI in 45 games with the Red Sox last season. He was obtained from Oakland on the final weekend of June when the Sox were struck by a rash of injuries.

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.