The deal is worth $1.5 million guaranteed, with incentives, according to reports. The incentives could push the deal to $3 million, according to a USA Today report.
Non-tendered by the Texas Rangers in December, Ogando, 31, was viewed as one of the market's top low-risk, high-reward arms. An All-Star as a starter in 2011, a myriad injuries in recent seasons derailed the once-promising right-hander. Ogando went 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA last season in 25 innings pitched out of the bullpen.
Used as both a starter and reliever over the course of his five-year major league career, Ogando has found success in both roles. In 48 starts, Ogando is 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA. In 135 games out of the bullpen, Ogando is 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA.
The Red Sox are likely to use Ogando as a reliever given his injury history and use in such a role last season.
To make room for Ogando on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated lefty Drake Britton for assignment.
The right-hander has always viewed himself as a starter. But when the opportunity finally came last season, Workman failed to take advantage of it.
Now on the outside looking in, Workman acknowledged Saturday at the team’s Baseball Winter Weekend that his most likely route to making the team out of spring training will be to return to the bullpen, where he impressed during the team’s 2013 World Series run.
However, that won’t stop him from gunning for a second chance in the rotation.
“I’m going in there looking forward to competing, hopefully winning a spot,” Workman said. “I’d like to be in the rotation. I’m hoping I can win a job in the starting rotation but we’ll see how that goes. I’m doing everything I can right now to prepare for it and get ready to put myself in a good spot to compete for that job.”
Despite the poor results on the field last season, Workman feels he learned a lot from the experience. The right-hander pinpointed several adjustments he needed to make, including increasing his stamina and sharpening the command of his pitches.
“My stuff kind of fell off at the end of last year,” Workman said. “I wasn’t bringing the same stuff to the table that I was at the beginning of the year and that made it tougher on me. But even with that, I feel like if I would have executed better I still would have been able to get the job done.”
Looking back on his season, Workman also said that being suspended for six games for throwing near the head of Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria played a role in the downward spiral his season took. Before the suspension, Workman allowed three runs or less in all five of his starts. After the suspension, he allowed more than three runs in seven of his final 10 starts.
He didn’t use that as an excuse, however, instead opting to view it as a learning experience.
“All I can do if I’m ever in a situation like that again is work a little harder,” Workman said. "Work better .. to stay in rhythm, stay on track, whether it’s suspension or injury or anything like that.”
If Workman is indeed converted into a reliever -- which is likely, given the current state of the team’s roster -- he at least has success to fall back on in that role. He didn’t give up a run in seven games out of the bullpen during the 2013 postseason, including the World Series-clincher. He also initially started last year as a reliever, posting similarly dominant results.
“That’s something I have all the confidence in the world I am able to do that,” Workman said. “If that’s what I’m told my role needs to be then I have all the confidence I can do that and I can fill that role.”
Having not yet been told whether he’ll be used as a starter or reliever next season, Workman is still clinging to the hope that he’ll pitch as the former. He might be on the outside looking in, but that isn’t going to stop him from trying to work his way back into the rotation.
“All I can do right now is work hard and put myself in the best position to not be in a 6-10 and be in a 1-5 spot,” Workman said.
Organization Ranking: 5
I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016
Instead, Vazquez elected to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico, appearing in 33 more games for the San Juan Senators in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, named after that island’s greatest star. Sure, it was extra work, and meant a few more bucks, but mostly it was a labor of love.
“I like to play,” Vazquez said at the recent Red Sox winter convention at Foxwoods Casino. “I like to play in front of my people in Puerto Rico, in front of my dad. He likes to see me play. It’s an honor to play there in my town. I love it. I play for this.”
“He loves baseball like me,” Vazquez said. “He’s a great father, I love him. I’m going to play in Puerto Rico a long time when he’s alive.”
If he hasn’t already, Rafael Vazquez may want to invest in a satellite dish and find a good travel agent. His son enters Red Sox camp as the team’s No. 1 catcher, ahead of new addition Ryan Hanigan, and based on his play last season, it will be hard for anybody to take the job away from him. That includes Blake Swihart, the switch-hitting catcher rated by ESPN.com’s Keith Law as the team’s top prospect, 10th overall in the top 100 rankings released Thursday.
Swihart has earned across-the-board raves for his play as he’s risen through the Sox system, ending last season in Pawtucket, where he figures to open the ’15 season as the PawSox everyday catcher. But so did the 5-foot-9, 200-pound Vazquez, who gave a preview of coming attractions with his powerful arm in camp last spring.
Last season, Vazquez took over the bulk of the team’s catching duties after A.J. Pierzynski was released and set a club record by throwing out 51.7 percent of the runners attempting to steal against him (15 of 29). That was the highest caught-stealing rate ever by a Sox catcher who played 15 or more games in a season, and a record for a big-league rookie appearing in 50 or more games.
The island that has produced catchers the way the Dominican Republic has spawned shortstops -- Puerto Rico can claim Benito Santiago, Sandy Alomar, Ivan Rodriguez, the three Molina brothers (Jose, Bengie and Yadier), Jorge Posada, Javy Lopez, Ozzie Virgil and Ellie Rodriguez, among others -- appears to have a worthy inheritor of that tradition in the Bayamon-born Vazquez.
Yadier Molina ranks as the gold standard defensively among this generation’s big-league catchers. He has won Gold Gloves in each of the last seven seasons and has a career caught-stealing rate of 45 percent. It is a testament to Vazquez’s skill set that major league evaluators -- and Yadier’s former teammate in St. Louis, Joe Kelly -- are unafraid to compare him to Molina.
“Mini Yadi,” Kelly said last weekend. “That’s his nickname. I call him that. He literally works with the Molina brothers in the offseason. They’re [all] from Puerto Rico and growing up, he idolized those guys. He called me this offseason and said, ‘Man, I just got done working with Yadi.’ He works with him every offseason. He works with Jose. He works with Bengie. He works with all of them. His behind-the-plate skills are awesome. Definitely a mini Yadi.
“They catch, they set up, they -- I wouldn’t say they think the same, but he’s getting there about reading hitters and stuff. He definitely has similar tendencies. And he’s just the right mix of cockiness and confidence behind the plate that he’s perfect for catching. He prides himself on defense and he almost tries to tempt runners to go. He likes to back pick like Yadi, one knee, call a fastball inside, miss inside, back pick -- stuff that Yadi does all the time.”
A “back pick” is when a catcher throws behind a runner attempting to pick him off base. Vazquez picked off four runners last season, most by a Sox catcher since Rich Gedman picked off five in 1985.
“He was probably the first catcher that I’ve ever thrown to that was excited to catch me,” said Wright, alluding to the typical aversion a catcher has for a knuckleballer. “I remember the first time, I threw a bullpen in 2013 spring training. One time, that was it.
“The first game I threw to Christian [last spring], he was on the left-field line before I was out there because he was so excited about catching. He did a great job. I love throwing to Christian because I don’t like to shake off. For me, he calls the slow ones, he calls the hard ones, he calls fastballs. He does stuff where I’m standing on the mound and he’s thinking like, ‘What would I not look for right now.’
“We’re throwing fastballs inside that I’ve never done. The fact that he’s able to think out of the box, because catching a knuckleballer and calling a game for a knuckleballer is completely different than any other person ... just gives me more confidence to where all I have to do is concentrate on executing the pitch.
“He’s definitely advanced beyond his years. It’s just exciting to see that he’s still got a lot of room to grow as far as calling the game. The grind of a catcher is tough and that’s why a lot of guys can’t do it for a long period of time. But I feel like he has a really good opportunity of being that guy.”
The only real question about Vazquez concerns his bat. He batted .240 with a .617 OPS last season, with a drastic home-road split (.286 at Fenway, .210 on the road). But he plays a position where the major-league batting average was .245, the OPS .687, and where teams place a greater premium on defense than offense. It is at the plate that the 22-year-old Swihart is given the biggest edge over Vazquez, and Swihart’s defense is given a plus grade as well.
Vazquez is not looking over his shoulder, at least not yet. He projects a self-assurance that suggests he expects to be playing for the Sox -- and father Rafael -- for years to come. He already is thinking in terms of becoming of a leader.
“Of course, that’s important,” he said. “Get the trust of your pitchers. That’s the main thing. Like [Jason] Varitek was the captain of the team. It’s important to be a leader on the field.”
The deal is for $1.85 million, according to multiple reports.
Nava, 31, served as the team’s Opening Day leadoff hitter last season before struggling at the plate and eventually being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Upon his return to the majors, the switch-hitter posted much-improved numbers, raising his .130 average at the time of his demotion up to .270 by season’s end. He also hit four homers and drove in 37 runs.
With Thursday’s agreement, left-handed pitcher Wade Miley is the only unsigned Red Sox player eligible for arbitration. According to reports, Miley is asking for a raise from $523,500 to $4.3 million, and the team offered $3.4 million. It’s Miley’s first time being eligible for arbitration.
In addition, the Red Sox announced the signing of five players to minor league deals with major league invites to spring training for the 2015 season.
The players signed are outfielder Quintin Berry, left-hander Dana Eveland, first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair, right-hander Felipe Paulino and catcher Humberto Quintero.
All five have major league experience. Berry was a member of the 2013 World Series Red Sox team and was used in the postseason as a pinch runner on several occasions, stealing a base each time. Also of note, LaHair, a native of Worcester, was an All-Star for the Chicago Cubs in 2012.
ESPN’s Keith Law released his annual Top 100 prospects (Insider required) on Thursday, and five Red Sox made the list. Top-ranked catcher Blake Swihart leads the pack at No. 10, while left-hander Henry Owens (20), left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (29), third baseman Rafael Devers (55) and outfielder Manuel Margot (70) also made the cut.
Here’s a closer look at Boston’s five representatives:
2014 Stats: .293/.341/.469, 13 home runs, 64 RBI between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket
Law’s take: “A supreme athlete who is nearly as good a defender as Vazquez but with All-Star upside with the bat.”
2014 Stats: 17-5, 2.94 ERA, 170 strikeouts in 159 innings pitched between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.
Law’s take: “He'll probably pitch with an average fastball or just slightly better, but a 70 change and a 55 curveball [on 20-80 grading scale] with good command and an advanced feel for setting up hitters adds up to a well above-average major league starter.”
2014 Stats: 6-8, 3.60 ERA, 108 strikeouts in 120 innings pitched between Double-A Bowie (Baltimore Orioles’ affiliate) and Double-A Portland.
Law’s take: “Has the elements to be a No. 1 starter with a few developmental hurdles ahead of him.”
2014 Stats: .322/.404/.506, seven home runs, 57 RBI between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League Red Sox
Law’s take: “He has All-Star upside, with the bat speed and strength to hit 30 homers and still post high batting averages while staying at third base.”
2014 Stats: .293/.356/.462, 12 home runs, 59 RBI, 42 stolen bases between Single-A Greenville and Advanced-A Salem.
Law’s take: “Strong leadoff profile with the chance for high OBPs and 30-odd steals a year along with grade-60 defense, as long as he continues to work on his patience and can maintain his conditioning to stay in center.
In addition to his Top 100 rankings, Law released his farm rankings for all 30 teams on Wednesday, with the Red Sox landing at fifth on the list for the second straight year.
Through all the ups and downs -- the hot start at the plate, the massive slump from June to August that coincided with a shift from shortstop to third base, the strong finish to the season after once again settling in at short -- the team never suggested it was considering the idea of sending Bogaerts back to the minors.
Now, Bogaerts is looking to reward the team’s faith with a breakout 2015 season. After spending time working out at the EXOS performance institute in Arizona this offseason, the 22-year-old feels that he’s pushed his body more than ever before. And the results are showing.
Formerly known as Athletes’ Performance, EXOS was put on the radar in Boston largely due to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s workouts at the institute each offseason. This year, Bogaerts followed in Pedroia’s footsteps, appreciating the experience so much that he said he intends to return for a few more weeks before he reports to Fort Myers for spring training.
“I kind of never challenged my body to lift heavier weights because I’ve always tried to kind of maintain the same,” Bogaerts said. “Getting the knowledge from those kind of guys and just trusting the whole system that they have over there and just pushing your body, it’s really a difference than any years I’ve had in the past.
“It was mostly gym and conditioning and speed and stuff like that, power and speed. It was definitely something that I really enjoyed.”
Bogaerts said that toward the end of last season he felt as if his body were giving up on him. Before leaving Boston, he met with infield coach Brian Butterfield to lay out an offseason plan that would help him properly prepare for next season. One of the areas Butterfield told Bogaerts to prioritize was his first-step quickness defensively at short, a goal he confidently feels he was able to accomplish.
“The balls that just miss the glove, I definitely will get them now,” he said.
That’s good news, as Bogaerts’ defense at shortstop figures to play a large role given the Red Sox’s tendency toward ground-ball pitchers in their starting rotation. Upon heading back to Arizona in the coming weeks, Bogaerts intends to meet up with Pedroia, who lives in the state during the offseason, so that the double play duo can take ground balls together and work on their timing.
After all that came with the shift to third last season, Bogaerts reiterated his pleasure in being able to focus on playing shortstop, the position he feels most comfortable at. All the other uncertainty is in the past.
“I’m just coming in there prepared every day to help the team win,” Bogaerts said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”
The Red Sox likely will be expecting big things out of Bogaerts this season. And after all the work he’s done to get ready, he’ll be expecting big things out of himself.
“I feel exactly where I want to be and I’m looking forward to this season,” he said.
BOSTON -- It was the year after Pedro Martinez walked away as a free agent. Curt Schilling was hurt. Boston's big free-agent signings that winter were Matt Clement, who had had some middling success with the Padres and Cubs, and 42-year-old left-hander David Wells. The rotation was rounded out by Bronson Arroyo, in his second full season as a big-league starter, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and Wade Miller, who had never gotten over the shoulder problems that had derailed his career in Houston.
There wasn't an ace in sight, except on the disabled list, where Schilling spent most of the season, then tried to come back as a closer.
That team won 95 games, carried by an offense that averaged nearly six runs per game (5.62) and was the only one in the majors that scored at least 900 runs (912).
Ranaudo, 25, made his major league debut with the Red Sox last season, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in seven starts.
Considered one of several high-ceiling pitching prospects in the Boston organization, Ranaudo was named the International League's most valuable pitcher in 2014, leading the IL in wins (14) and ERA (2.61).
Ross, 25, started 12 games for the Rangers last season, struggling as a member of the rotation (1-6, 5.70 ERA) before being switched to the bullpen, where he enjoyed success in 2012 and '13 (2.62 ERA in 123 games combined). He went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA overall in 27 games in 2014.
The 6-foot-7 Ranaudo is headed to the team he failed to sign with after being drafted out of a New Jersey high school in the 11th round of the 2007 draft.
Ranaudo then went to LSU and was taken by Boston as a supplemental first-round pick in the 2010 draft.
"He is a guy we like, we've liked for a long time," Texas general manager Jon Daniels told The Associated Press in a call from the Dominican Republic. "When this trade came down, we liked the value."
Ranaudo, described by Daniels as having a quality four-pitch mix and a strike-thrower, will go to spring training in competition to be the No. 5 starter for Texas. If not in the Rangers' rotation, Ranaudo most likely will go to Triple-A Round Rock.
Ross was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock in June, where he eventually returned to the rotation and posted a 4.33 ERA in 12 games (nine starts).
BOSTON -- The first time I wrote about Bill Monbouquette, I was 9.
It was the opening day of school for Mrs. Patch's fifth grade class in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, and the homework assignment she gave was that perennial favorite, How I Spent My Summer Vacation. With the benefit of hindsight, it would be easy to surmise that day marked the launch of a life that would be spent in baseball press boxes. But at the time, the assignment was merely an irresistible invitation to relive the greatest moment of a small-town kid's ordinary existence: The day my father slid behind the wheel of his old Dodge, stuck me in the backseat -- I honestly don't remember if my older brother came with us -- and drove 45 miles to take me to Fenway Park for the first time.
Two things from that day have never left me. One was coming up the grandstand ramp for that first bedazzling glimpse of impossible greenness. The second was that Bill Monbouquette pitched for the Red Sox and won.
The Boston Red Sox announced Monday the passing of team Hall of Famer Bill Monbouquette because of complications from leukemia. Monbouquette, 78, died on Sunday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
A native of Medford, Massachusetts, Monbouquette, who was affectionately referred to as "Monbo," was signed by the Red Sox out of Medford High School and spent the first eight years of his 11-year career with the team. He was a four-time All-Star with Boston, going 96-91 with a 3.69 ERA in his time with the team.
At the end of his playing career, Monbouquette served 38 years as a scout and coach for several teams, retiring from baseball in 2005. In recent years, Monbouquette was a frequent visitor to Fenway Park. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000.
Monbouquette is survived by his wife, Josephine, as well as three children, Marc, Michel, and Merric, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“He’s going to be awesome,” Kelly said. “He carried our team -- the [St. Louis] Cardinals -- for multiple years. He was the best hitter on our team, hands down. We had Matt Hollidays, we had Lance Berkmans. But check out any playoff games, any stats, the guy was our best player, 100 percent.
No doubt a high expectation to live up to. But when Craig got his say hours later, he spoke with confidence about how good he feels now compared with what he was in his stint with the Red Sox after being traded to the team by the Cardinals at the July 31 deadline.
“I can’t reiterate enough that I feel really good physically,” Craig said. “I’ve had time to lift and just get ready physically and work on some things mechanically and this and that. It’s been good.”
The side of Craig that Red Sox fans are unfamiliar with is the one Kelly spoke of. As a full-time starter with the Cardinals, Craig earned National League MVP votes in 2012 and 2013. He was considered among the most dangerous hitters in the game, especially with runners in scoring position, where he hit a robust .454 in 130 at-bats in 2013.
Then came a Lisfranc injury to his left foot in September of 2013 that completely derailed Craig. He returned to face the Red Sox in the World Series, but still dealt with the pain. Opting to let it heal naturally, he struggled at the plate last season, hitting .237 in 97 games with the Cardinals. After the trade to Boston, it only got worse -- a .128 average in 29 games.
“My foot injury definitely impacted my preparation for last year,” Craig said. “My foot felt good obviously for the majority of the season. I think it just impacted some leg strength and this and that. You can talk about it all day but the bottom line is I’ve had time this offseason to feel good and get stronger and actually build toward something for this season.”
One problem: As of now Craig is a man without a starting position on this year’s Red Sox. With Mike Napoli manning first, David Ortiz at designated hitter and an already crowded outfield, where Craig fits in remains to be determined. The team has spoken to him about seeing time at third base -- a position he played in the minors -- but even then Craig falls behind Pablo Sandoval on the team’s depth chart.
Craig isn’t worried about it, however. He feels it will all take care of itself. He took the first month of his offseason off to clear his head, spending time with his wife, Marie, and daughter, Eden. He hasn’t paid attention to any trade rumors that have surrounded him this offseason. And he knows when the Red Sox traded for him, they traded for the everyday player he once was. The player he knows he’s capable of being again.
The player that Kelly speaks so highly about.
“He’s definitely motivated and I can see the drive,” Kelly said. “He’s not nicknamed ‘The Baseball-Whacker Guy’ for nothing. He’s going to go out there and hit some balls hard off that wall.
“It’s going to be fun watching him come out and he’s going to start whacking and people are going to be like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know he could do that.’ Well, he can do it.”