Red Sox complete deal for Gonzalez


Red Sox complete deal for Gonzalez

By SeanMcAdam

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In a weekend as bizarre as any in recent franchise history, the Red Sox Sunday decided to go through with their blockbuster deal for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, despite failing to get him signed to a contract extension by the prescribed deadline.

The trade will be formally announced Monday at 11 a.m. at Fenway Park, with Gonzalez present -- and the rest of the baseball world already gathered here for the start of the annual winter meetings.

General manager Theo Epstein and Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, worked through Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning before adjourning at 2 p.m. without an agreement.

Indications were, however, that the sides made enough progress in their talks to form the framework of a deal. Gonzalez can become a free agent after 2011 unless signed to an extension.

There had been speculation that the trade, completed Friday, would be voided in the absence of a contract. But in the end, the Sox elected to send Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later in exchange for Gonzalez, a 28-year-old slugger whom the Sox havepursued for some time.

Epstein and Boggs reportedly differed on their expectations for a new long-term deal, with the former looking for a deal of shorter duration, while Boggs sought a deal of at least six years with an average annual value (AAV) of 25 million.

The 25 million AAV would equal the contract given to Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (five years, 125 million) last spring.

While there's risk involved for the Red Sox in trading three prospects for a player who is currently under their control for just one season, there are also some benefits to waiting to get a deal done.

For one thing, the team can more closely evaluate Gonzalez's health following October surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Gonzalez will not be cleared to resume full baseball activities until at least February. He passed a physical Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital, but the shoulder has not completely healed from the procedure.

For another, should the Sox reach agreement on a deal with Gonzalez after the start of the season, there would be a significant accounting benefit. Under baseball's rules, contracts signed after Opening Day are not counted toward that year's luxury tax threshold.

If the Sox were to sign Gonzalez to a deal before the start of the season, the AAV of that new deal would count toward the 2011 threshold.

That's a critical difference for the Sox, since, if Gonzalez were to be unsigned past 2011 when the season begins, his relatively modest 6.25 million salary would be the number counted toward the luxury tax. If, on the other hand, Gonzalez signed a mega-deal before Opening Day, he would have a luxury tax number in excess of 20 million -- or the average annual value of the new contract.

Keeping Gonzalez off the books past Opening Day would also give the club some flexibility in pursuing other free agents this week and throughout the rest of the offseason.

One name the Sox can now cross of their list is outfielder Jayson Werth, who shocked the baseball world by agreeing to a stunning seven-year, 126 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

Werth had been one of two free-agent outfielders the Sox courted last week prior to the acquisition of Gonzalez. Epstein and manager Terry Francona visited Werth Wednesday in Chicago and Carl Crawford Tuesday night in Houston.

Crawford remains unsigned, but the number of teams interested in him (Texas, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Red Sox), coupled with Werth's contract, is sure to send Crawford's demands to at least eight years, and perhaps ashigh at 160 million or more.

Crawford is more than two years younger than Werth and regarded by most as a more skilled player than Werth.

Under John Henry's ownership, the Red Sox have not given out a contract longer than six years (Daisuke Matsuzaka), or one richer than 82.5 million (John Lackey).

Given the difficulty the Sox had in trying to reach an agreement with Gonzalez, it's hard to believe they would be willing to spend at least that much -- or more -- on Crawford, especially with other teams in on the bidding.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic


Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic


Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.