Red Sox make formal offers to several relievers

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Red Sox make formal offers to several relievers

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Intent on improving a bullpen that was a season-long weakness last year, the Red Sox have made formal contract offers to "a number'' of free-agent relievers -- both left-handed and right-handed -- and some could result in deals soon, Theo Epstein said Tuesday night.

"We've had offers out on a few guys for a while now,'' said Epstein, "even before we got down here to the winter meetings. Those haven't gone anywhere, but we've made a few other offers to other pitchers here, as well.

"In some cases, we're getting close to a deal -- if we wanted it to be. Others, we're still far apart.''

Epstein wouldn't specify whether any the offers were of the multi-year variety.

"I'd rather not say,'' he said.

Thanks to the precedent-setting deal signed by Joaqin Benoit (three-years, 16.5 million by Detroit) a number of free-agent relievers have been demanding three-year contracts. It would seem highly unlikely that the Sox would go beyond two years to any set-up reliever.

Since becoming general manager, Epstein has only given one contact longer than two years to a reliever. That was to Keith Foulke, who was signed to a four-year deal after the 2003 season.

FoxSports.com reported that one of the offers has been made to Kevin Gregg, who pitched for Toronto last season and has closed for both the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins.

Gregg throws hard, averaging more than a strikeout per inning over most of his career.

According to a source familiar with the club's thinking, there's some division of thought on Scott Downs. The left-handed Downs is a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration by the Blue Jays, meaning that signing him would require the Red Sox to surrender a first-round pick.

The Sox have gained an extra-first round pick in losing catcher Victor Martinez, and could stand to pick up another if Adrian Beltre signs with a team which had a winning record last year.

Additionally, the Sox gained a sandwich round pick for Martinez and could do the same with Beltre, giving them as many as 5 picks in the first 50 or so selections next draft.

It's known the Sox have also been interested in ageless lefty Arthur Rhodes, who last year became an All-Star for the first time at the age of 40 while pitching for the Cincinnati Reds.

Despite his age and high mileage -- Rhodes has pitched 19 years in the big leagues -- he comes without the price tag of compensation since the Reds did not offer him salary arbitration.

Last year, Rhodes compiled a 1.01 WIP. Over his last three seasons, all in the National League, Rhodes had a 2.39 ERA while allowing just 86 hits over 121 23 innings with 112 strikeouts.

The Sox are also known to have an interest in Matt Guerrier and Brian Fuentes, two of four members of the 2010 Minnesota Twins bullpen currently on the free agent market.

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

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

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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

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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.