Red Sox prepare for Tuesday's arbitration deadline


Red Sox prepare for Tuesday's arbitration deadline

By Sean McAdam

Even before the Red Sox make any free-agent signings, or, for that matter, potentially lose any of their own free agents to other teams, they have some decisions to make by Tuesday midnight.

One decision was made for them Tuesday, when one of their free agents -- catcher Victor Martinez -- agreed to a four-year contract with the Tigers. Now they have until midnight to decide whether or not to offer salary arbitration to the other three: third baseman Adrian Beltre; catcher Jason Varitek; and infielder Felipe Lopez.

There are three different scenarios in play:

If the Sox offer arbitration to a player, and the player accepts -- the deadline for that is Nov. 28 -- that player is bound to the Red Sox for at least the 2011 season.

If the Sox offer arbitration to a player, and the player declines, the Red Sox will get draft picks as compenstion if the player signs elsewhere.

Finally, if the Red Sox don't offer arbitration to a player, they stand to receive no compensation if the player signs elsewhere.

For one, the answer is obvious: the Sox will offer arbitration to Beltre, assuring themselves of two draft picks -- a team's first or second round pick, depending on other variables, along with a sandwich pick. They've already received that from Detroit for Martinez.

There's little risk for the Red Sox in offering arbitration to Beltre, who is in high demand on the free agent market and almost certainly will not accept the offer of arbitration.

In the incredibly unlikely choice that he did, the Sox would gladly retain him -- either on a one-year deal, or through a negotiated long-term deal.

Otherwise, the Sox will reap a harvest of additional draft picks next June, which features one of the deepest talent pools in several years.

Using the same measuring stick, it's hard to see the Sox offering arbitration to Varitek, who, at 37, no longer is viewed as a No. 1 catcher by most teams.

Though the Sox have had internal discussions about bringing back Varitek as a backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- an option that became more attractive now that Martinez is gone -- offering him arbitration would bind them to a more costly process.

Varitek made 5 million in 2010 as part of a two-year deal negotiated by the catcher and the club after the 2008 season and that base salary would be a factor in determining Varitek's 2011 salary through arbitration.

On the other hand, if the Sox don't offer arbitration, they could still negotiate a one-year deal without being bound by the arbitration guidelines. That way, the Sox could bring Varitek back at, say 1.5-2 million rather than a far higher figure determined by an arbitrator.

Quite simply, the reward of a sandwich pick -- Varitek and Lopez are Class B free agents -- is too high when measured against the risk of having to pay Varitek 3 million or more in an arbitration process.

Finally, there's Lopez, who joined the Red Sox in the final week of the season in a strangely-timed acquisition. When Lopez joined the Sox, the supposition was that the Sox were obtaining for the express purpose of getting compensation for him over the winter.

That, of course, would require the Sox to offer his arbitration first. Lopez made 1 million with St. Louis last year and had a poor year, losing his regular spot in the lineup.

The guess here is that the Sox will end up offering Lopez arbitration. In a worst-case scenario, even if he accept the offer and they lose an arbitration hearing, or arrive at a settled salary figure, the Sox could always release him in spring training and owe him only a portion of his salary.

Should the Sox offer arbitration and Lopez signs elsewhere, the Sox will gain a sandwich-round pick as compensation.

Beyond their own free agents, the Sox will be interested to see which other free agents are offered arbitration by other teams. Outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, both of whom interest the Sox, are guaranteed to be offered arbitration by their present teams for the same reason the Sox are sure to offer arbitration to Beltre and Martinez -- the risk is almost negligible and the payoff considerable in the form of draft picks.

The Red Sox will also be especially interested to see if some of the set-up relievers are offered arbitration, since that could impact their degree of interest in signing one or more.

It seems certain, for example, that Toronto will offer arbitration to Scott Downs, one of the better relievers on the market. Last July, when the Red Sox -- and a handful of other teams -- were interested in dealing for Downs, the Blue Jays set the asking price high: two top prospects.

They did so knowing that, if Downs reached free agency and didn't re-sign with the Jays, as a Type A free agent, he would fetch them both a first-round and sandwich pick.

If some set-up relievers cost compensation and others don't, the Sox might be more willing to go with those who don't require forfeiting a pick.

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

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.