Sox still in the market for a closer


Sox still in the market for a closer

DALLAS -- At the start of this week, no fewer than three teams in the American League East were in the market for closers. As of Tuesday morning, that number has been reduced to two.

The Toronto Blue Jays sent pitching prospect Nestor Molina to the Chicago White Sox and obtained Sergio Santos to close games. Santos, a converted position player, struck out 92 in 62 13 innings last year for the White Sox.

That leaves the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in the East still in the market for closers.

Around baseball, the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and another team or two are also in the market.

That's fewer than the number of free agent closers available, a list which includes, among others, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and the three Franciscos - Francisco Cordero, Frank Francisco and Francisco Rodriguez.

The Red Sox are of the belief that prices for free agent closers is absurdly high now, spiked by the huge deals signed by Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell.

Their stance is to wait for some of those salary demands to come down before engaging. Now that the Blue Jays -- who had money to spend, but filled their opening cheaply with Santos -- are out, the options for some free agents are narrowing.

Of course, while they wait, the Red Sox are also continuing to explore trade possibilities, led by Colorado's Huston Street and Oakland's Andrew Bailey.

Bailey would presumably come at a high player cost. The former A.L. Rookie of the Year is just 27 and under control for three more seasons, which should enable A's GM Billy Beane to get several top prospects in exchange.

Whether the Sox would package multiple prospects for Bailey or prefer to sign a veteran closer to a short-term deal and use the prospects elsewhere to address other needs will be a decision worth watching in the next few weeks.

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list


Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers


Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.