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What the Red Sox bullpen might look like

12.23.14 at 10:34 am ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Today we wrote about how the Red Sox priority has to be finishing off the construction of the bullpen. With some uncertainty involving the starting rotation, it would seem to make sense to have as good a read on the relievers heading into the season as possible.

(To read the entire column, click here.)

So far, this is what we know …

— Koji Uehara will come in as closer.

— Edward Mujica (he had a 1.78 ERA in his 79 post-All-Star break appearances) will join Junichi Tazawa as the primary set-up men.

— If Craig Breslow‘s 2014 is, indeed, an aberration he also enters into that group.

— Brandon Workman should get every opportunity to become the factor he was at the end of 2013.

— Newly-acquired Anthony Varvaro almost certainly will be in the equation as a viable ground ball-inducer, heading to camp out of options.

That’s six. There would seem to be room for one more.

Last Opening Day, the only differences in the group was the presence of Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller. (Breslow started the year on the disabled list)

While Varvaro might be viewed as a cheaper replacement for Badenhop (although the jack-of-all-trades free agent would seemingly still be valuable fit if re-signed), the Sox would seemingly be down one lefty. There are still free agent options (Phil Coke, Neal Cotts, Joe Beimel among them).

But this might be a spot the Sox look to fix with an internal option. For this very reason, the Drake Britton vs. Tommy Layne camp competition will be something to watch. If Britton impresses to the level which he did until the very end of spring training last year, he would certainly have the upper-hand considering the 25 year old is out of options.

(As a quick aside, here are the players who are — or will be — on the 40-man roster and out of options: Varvaro, Britton, Breslow, Mujica and Daniel Nava.)

That would still seemingly leave one spot to find an impact arm, via promotion, trade or free agency. Matt Barnes might be an interesting option, although it is unclear if the Red Sox plan on continuing him down the road of a starter for the 2015 season. With options, the likes of Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and newly-acquired Zeke Spruill would have to separate themselves dramatically in camp to have a shot at opening with the big club.

Of the free agents, Badenhop might be the best option/fit, but one of an intriguing group just might slip through the cracks and add an unexpected element to this group…

Which free agent reliever do you want the Red Sox to make a run at?

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Read More: Craig Breslow, Edward Mujica, Koji Uehara,

Live chat: Talking Red Sox, Hot Stove with Rob Bradford, noon

12.23.14 at 9:48 am ET
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Join Rob Bradford of WEEI.com for a live chat Tuesday, starting at noon. Ask Bradford any and all questions about the Red Sox, the Hot Stove season, or anything else. Get your questions in now …

Live Blog Red Sox live chat, Bradford
 

Red Sox officially send Will Middlebrooks to Padres for Ryan Hanigan

12.19.14 at 10:53 pm ET
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The Red Sox officially announced Friday night that they are sending Will Middlebrooks to San Diego in exchange for Ryan Hanigan.

Completion of the deal was contingent on Middlebrooks passing his physical with the Padres. The 26-year-old recently said that he is still recovering from a wrist injury, although he didn’€™t view the ailment as an issue heading into 2015.

‘€œ€œI want to stay in Boston; I want to play in Boston,’€€ Middlebooks said a few weeks ago at David Ortiz‘€˜s charity golf event. ‘€œI came up here, and I know it’€™€™s pretty rare for someone to stay in one place their whole career. I understand that. But I’€™€™m still going to try. I don’€™€™t really fit the mix right now. It doesn’€™€™t seem that there’€™€™s a place for me now. But it’€™€™s a long time until April and a lot of things can happen.’€

After the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval, there wasn’€™t a full-time spot on the roster for the third baseman. Battling injuries the past two seasons Middlebrooks has batted .213 with 19 homers, 168 strikeouts and a .265 on-base percentage since the start of 2013.

‘€œIt’€™€™s not enjoyable to be replaced,’€€ he added. ‘€œBut like I said, I understand. I’€™€™m trying to look at the big picture for the organization, but selfishly I say, ‘€˜€˜What about me? What’€™€™s going to happen with me?’€™€™ I’€™€™m curious to see what’€™€™s going to happen.’€

The Red Sox have previously expressed interested in Hanigan (an Andover native), targeting the 34-year-old right-handed hitter to back up Christian Vazquez. Hanigan, who played with Tampa Bay last season after spending his previous seven big league seasons with the Reds, was traded to San Diego earlier this week.

Hanigan played in 84 games with the Rays, hitting .218 with five home runs. His career-high in games played came in ‘€™12, totaling 112 appearances. He carries a career .256 batting average and .694 OPS.

Source: Red Sox agree to bring back left-hander Craig Breslow to one-year, $2 million deal

12.19.14 at 9:22 pm ET
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According to an industry source, the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Craig Breslow to bring back the left-hander on a one-year, $2 million deal. The team had declined its one-year, $4 million option on Breslow following the 2014 season, in which Breslow struggled to a 2-4 record with a 5.96 ERA in 60 appearances. That struggle represented a career-worst year for a pitcher who had been one of the most consistent left-handed relievers in baseball for several years prior to that, forging a 2.82 ERA in an average of 65 games a year from 2008-13.

‘€œI’€™ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,’€ Breslow said on the final day of the season. ‘€œThere were a lot of firsts this year. I’€™ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I’€™ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it’€™s done. ‘€¦

‘€œI’€™m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’€™t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,’€ he added. ‘€œI think it’€™s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’€™ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.’€

Breslow attended the Major League Baseball winter meetings to meet with potentially interested teams. On Friday, he narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox and Cubs before making the decision to return to the team that acquired him in a trade with the Diamondbacks at the July 31 deadline in 2012.

Sources: David Ross agrees to 2-year deal with Cubs; Craig Breslow deciding between Red Sox, Cubs

12.19.14 at 6:15 pm ET
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According to a major league source, David Ross has agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cubs.

The 37-year-old had narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs prior to Friday. The Red Sox, however, appear to be on the verge of acquiring Ryan Hanigan from San Diego for third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

With the choice coming down to the Padres and Cubs, Ross made the move to join his former teammate Jon Lester in Chicago.

Ross battled various injuries during his two-year stint with the Red Sox, including concussions. He played in a combined 86 regular-season games with the Sox, thriving during the team’s 2013 postseason run when the backstop took over starting duties for the final two rounds.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was first to report the agreement.

The Cubs and Red Sox seemingly have at least one more free agent showdown, with another major league source suggesting reliever Craig Breslow has narrowed his decision down to the two teams. The Red Sox declined their $4 million option on the lefty earlier this offseason.

Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ross,

Wade Miley on Hot Stove show: ‘You can’t tell me Babe Ruth ever stopped eating gluten’

12.19.14 at 11:24 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

New Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley checked in with Rob Bradford, Alex Speier and Mike Mutnansky on Thursday’s Hot Stove show, and the left-hander clarified his view of the gluten controversy with his former team, the Diamondbacks. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.

Miley said his initial comments about the Diamondbacks pushing him to eliminate gluten from his diet were overblown.

“I said something a little sarcastic and I guess it got taken a little further than it needed to be taken,” Miley said. “They did not require you to be gluten free. They would like you to be a little healthier than I would think, than I would expect, but no, they definitely don’t require you to be gluten free. They just really worry about your health a lot.”

Added Miley: “I’m a big fan of old-school guys. You can’t tell me Babe Ruth ever stopped eating gluten.”

Asked what food he was most hesitant to give up, Miley responded, “Fried chicken.”

The 6-foot-0, 220-pound Miley is known for his durability, as he’s pitched 200 innings each of the past two seasons, after going 194 innings in 2012. While his ERA climbed from 3.33 in 2013 to 4.34 last year, Miley said he was surprised that the Diamondbacks were ready to move him.

“I had heard about some of the rumors, but I really didn’t think much of them,” he said. “Those things happen. I guess Arizona’s in the rebuilding stage and whatever they’re trying to do. I was looking forward to going back to Arizona and trying to win there, and then bam, just like that, things just got a little heavy. And I really didn’t know what team it would be, but I talked to a few people and they said looks like I’m going to get traded. And then Boston hops in the picture and then it happened.

“It was kind of nuts, those three days. It was a little drawn out more than I thought it would be. I’ve never been traded, so I didn’t really know the process it would be. It was kind of stressful a little bit, but it all worked out for the best.”

Read More: wade miley,

Source: Red Sox close to deal sending Will Middlebrooks to Padres for Ryan Hanigan

12.19.14 at 11:24 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox are on the verge of sending third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the Padres in exchange for catcher Ryan Hanigan.

The deal appears to be contingent on Middlebrooks passing a physical with San Diego. The 26-year-old recently said that he is still recovering from a wrist injury, although he didn’t view the ailment as an issue heading into 2015.

“€œI want to stay in Boston; I want to play in Boston,”€ Middlebooks said a few weeks ago at David Ortiz‘s charity golf event. “I came up here, and I know it’€™s pretty rare for someone to stay in one place their whole career. I understand that. But I’€™m still going to try. I don’€™t really fit the mix right now. It doesn’€™t seem that there’€™s a place for me now. But it’€™s a long time until April and a lot of things can happen.”

After the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval, there wasn’t a full-time spot on the roster for the third baseman. Battling injuries the past two seasons Middlebrooks has batted .213 with 19 homers, 168 strikeouts and a .265 on-base percentage since the start of 2013.

“It’€™s not enjoyable to be replaced,”€ he added. “But like I said, I understand. I’€™m trying to look at the big picture for the organization, but selfishly I say, ‘€˜What about me? What’€™s going to happen with me?’€™ I’€™m curious to see what’€™s going to happen.”

The Red Sox have previously expressed interested in Hanigan (an Andover native), targeting the 34-year-old right-handed hitter to back up Christian Vazquez. Hanigan, who played with Tampa Bay last season after spending his previous seven big league seasons with the Reds, was traded to San Diego earlier this week.

Hanigan played in 84 games with the Rays, hitting .218 with five home runs. His career-high in games played came in ’12, totaling 112 appearances. He carries a career .256 batting average and .694 OPS.

Read More: Ryan Hanigan, Will Middlebrooks,

Jon Lester would have said ‘probably yes’ to 5-year, $120 million offer last spring from Red Sox

12.18.14 at 8:46 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher and current Cubs pitcher Jon Lester joined the Hot Stove show Thursday night with Mike Mutnansky, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier to discuss what the free agent process was like, what the negotiations last spring training were like with the Red Sox, and also what it was like the hours and days following officially signing with the Cubs.

Lester signed with the Cubs for six years and $155 million, with a vesting option for a seventh year.

Everyone keeps coming back to the reported four-year, $70 million offer the Red Sox gave to Lester during spring training last season. What if the Red Sox came in with a higher offer — such as the Cliff Lee, five-year, $120 million deal — would Lester have accepted?

“That is one of those deals where hindsight is 20/20. You go back in time and you look at it and you go, ‘probably yes,’ ” said Lester. “I mean you don’t know. I mean it is one of those deals where when it is sitting in front of you that is a lot of money to turn down. That would have made it very difficult to turn it down.”

Following spring training, Lester and his camp were under the impression the two sides would not discuss a contract during the season because that was what was agreed between them and the Red Sox, and they didn’t want any distractions for he and his teammates during the year.

“As far as I understood, and that is not coming from my agent, that is from what I understood coming out of everyone’s mouth was that once the season started, I think we had all agreed upon that and it wasn’t just one side saying we don’t negotiate during the season,” Lester said. “I think it was more a group discussion and a group decision that if we weren’t able to come to a conclusion with the contract negotiations before the season started we thought it was in the best interest of everybody to table it ’till the offseason and wait until the season is over and all the distractions of playing, the ups and downs of the season and all that to get after it again.

“Like I said the other day, I don’t know if that is a bad quality or a good quality, but I am kind of hard-headed when it comes to that. If we make a decision one way or the other, just like if we would have made the decision to continue talking I would have expected that to continue. I think we all kind of decided at that time with the distractions of everything going on it wasn’t the right time or place to continue the discussions.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Theo Epstein,

Red Sox Hot Stove Live Chat, Thursday at 10 a.m.

12.18.14 at 6:55 am ET
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WEEI.com’s Alex Speier fields your questions in today’s 10 a.m. chat. Line up your questions now . . .

Live Blog Red Sox Hot Stove Live Chat, Thursday at 10am
 

David Ross, Craig Breslow still in mix with Red Sox

12.17.14 at 10:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Cubs evidently aren’t done battling for players this offseason.

According to a major league source, free agent catcher David Ross was choosing between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres as of early Wednesday night. Reliever Craig Breslow is also narrowing his potential landing spots, with his agent having had recent discussions with both the Sox and the Cubs.

Ross, who battled injuries and concussions throughout his two-year tenure with the Red Sox, is valued by Chicago in part due to his relationship with newly-acquired ace Jon Lester. The Sox, however, view the 37-year-old as a good complement to projected starter Christian Vazquez.

The fit with San Diego might have gotten more complicated Wednesday night with the Padres’ acquisition of Ryan Hanigan in their three-way trade that also netted San Diego Wil Myers from Tampa Bay. The Padres also figure to have Tim Federowicz, who comes over from the Dodgers in the swap for Matt Kemp.

Breslow, whose $4 million option wasn’t picked up by the Red Sox following the 2014 season, has seen talks with the Sox intensify over the past few days. The lefty recently attended the winter meetings in an effort to paint the picture of what transpired in a down ’14 campaign.

The odds of the Red Sox signing their other free agent reliever, Burke Badenhop, likely diminished with the team’s trade of former Braves sinkerballer Anthony Varvaro Wednesday.

Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ross,
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