Cherington added the caveat that the club, having addressed its most obvious needs -- signing free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, adding bullpen pieces in Mujica and Burke Badenhop, and retaining first baseman Mike Napoli in a deal that the club has not yet announced -- will be in "opportunistic" mode, sifting through a variety of scenarios that could bear fruit in Orlando.
Asked if that could include a significant roster move -- there have been, for example, at least some exploratory talks between the Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers regarding a potential deal for outfielder Matt Kemp -- Cherington, who was not asked about Kemp specifically, said:
Including Napoli, who came to terms on a two-year, $32 million deal Friday night, the Sox have 15 players under contract for a guaranteed $149 million, a figure slightly higher ($151 million) when used to calculate payroll for luxury tax purposes. An additional five players are eligible for salary arbitration: Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales, Mike Carp, Andrew Miller and Badenhop.
That means the Sox, as presently constituted, don't have a great deal of room under the tax threshold ($189 million), when you factor in the arbitration-eligible salaries (figure around $10 million-plus) and medical benefits costs, usually calculated about another $10 million. However, the Sox could gain room to maneuver by trading one of their big league pitchers. They have received varying degrees of interest on all three veteran starters they might be willing to move: Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy and John Lackey.
Lackey has drawn the most attention, especially since his salary drops to the major league minimum in 2015 because he missed the 2012 season with Tommy John surgery. That was a provision of the five-year, $82.5 million deal he signed with the club as a hedge against future elbow issues.
One major league source said that Boston's preference, in order, would be to deal one of these three: Dempster, Peavy and then Lackey. With the scarcity in starting pitching and the deals that have been given to free-agent starters, it should be a sellers' market, although the Sox would likely have to eat salary in the case of Dempster, who is owed $13.25 million in 2014.
The Sox have six veteran starters in Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Lackey, Dempster and Peavy, and a host of young arms who are big league ready or very close to being so. Brandon Workman, according to one team source, would be the first in line to claim a starting spot should one open, given his strong showing last season. But the Sox also have Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo in the wings, with prized prospect Henry Owens rapidly climbing up the ladder as well.
The Sox thus have the pieces to make a deal for prospects (one of the veteran pitchers) or package some young talent in a bigger deal, with position prospects like third baseman Garin Cecchini, second baseman Mookie Betts and catcher Blake Swihart also looked upon favorably by other clubs.
"I think we go into the winter meetings in a position of strength," Cherington said. "A very strong roster. We'd feel good about going into the season if not much changes."
Cherington said he would still like to add an infielder on the left side of the infield, but has yet to decide if that player will be more of a "prominent player or complementary player." With Napoli re-signed, that ends any talk of moving Will Middlebrooks to first base, and lessens the chance that the Sox will make a strong push to bring back shortstop Stephen Drew, especially if he has multiyear offers on the table.
Cherington seemed to suggest as much when he described talks with Drew's agent as "off-and-on ... nothing too recent."
"The way the team stacks up right now, we've gotten some stuff done," he said. "We think that if Opening Day was tomorrow, we'd be in pretty good shape. But again, like I've said before, it's not. So we'll keep working. There are things we could do, things that we'd like to do, and there's still flexibility and means to do that. But certainly, the team is much more filled out than it was at the beginning of the offseason."
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees made it official Saturday, announcing the completion of a seven-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and a one-year contract for returning starter Hiroki Kuroda.
The busy Bronx Bombers have been undergoing a pricey roster overhaul after missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years.
Ellsbury, fresh off winning the World Series with Boston, agreed to a $153 million deal with New York on Tuesday. The contract includes a $21 million team option for the 2021 season, with a $5 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the deal would be worth $169 million over eight years.
The Yankees will hold an introductory news conference for Ellsbury at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
Ellsbury, who turned 30 in September, led the majors with 52 stolen bases despite being hobbled late in the season by a broken right foot. The lefty-hitting leadoff man batted .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs, and the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium should boost his power numbers.
He joins a crowded outfield that will include Carlos Beltran, who agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract, according to two people familiar with the deal, on Friday. Beltran's agreement came hours after All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano decided to leave for Seattle.
The deal is worth $9.5 million over the two years, a baseball source told ESPNBoston.com on Thursday, when the agreement was first reported.
The 29-year-old Mujica was the closer for a time with the St. Louis Cardinals this past season but lost the job in September and was not a factor in the postseason, making just two appearances.
Over his eight-year career, which has spanned four teams, Mujica has struck out 350 and has walked just 68 in 381 innings.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.
Ortiz, speaking in an interview with WEEI Radio in Boston, said the Yankees lost "the face" of the team when they failed to re-sign the free agent second baseman, who has reportedly agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle.
"This guy hurt us," Ortiz said. "He is the guy that, you're never going to forget about him because he puts up some monster numbers. He puts up some monster numbers. Now let's see how everything goes with him on the West Coast."
Ortiz said he wasn't surprised by the length or amount of the deal. It was the fact the Yankees didn't retain Cano that caught Ortiz off guard, he said.
"That's what the players are getting -- young, talented players with the skills that he has, that's what they're getting," Ortiz told WEEI Radio. "I couldn't believe the Yankees let that walk away. He's the face, as long as he played for the Yankees, he was the face of that ballclub. He was backing up everybody."
According to ESPN sources, Cano, 31, will return to Seattle on Sunday before undergoing a physical Monday to complete what would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, tied with the one Albert Pujols signed with Los Angeles Angels three years ago.
Boston Red Sox
What do they need? They filled their biggest hole at first base when they re-signed Mike Napoli on Friday night. The Red Sox also have to decide if they want to hand center field over to Jackie Bradley Jr., a plus defender with a good eye at the plate but who is still working on developing his hit tool. They could slide Shane Victorino over to center field and sign another outfielder, but Victorino was so good defensively in right that he provided excellent value with his glove there.
What will they do at the winter meetings? They could end up being pretty quiet. They've signed Edward Mujica but could be looking for more bullpen help.
Will they trade a starting pitcher? The current five-man rotation wouldn't include Ryan Dempster or Brandon Workman, but you need more than five starters to get through a season and Dempster's contract makes him difficult to trade unless the Red Sox picked up a chunk of his $13.25 million salary.
Tampa Bay Rays
What do they need? The right return for Price. Andrew Friedman will probably talk with 25 other general managers at some point (sorry, he's not going to an AL East rival) to see what he can get for the former Cy Young winner. The Rays will want a major-league ready prospect like they got last year in Wil Myers. That may have been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal, however, so the Rays may have to weigh taking lower-level prospects -- but more of them -- this time around.
What about first base? James Loney gave them a good one-year return last year, so now they need to find the next Loney. Trouble is, the first-base market isn't good other than Loney. They could move Matt Joyce there or look to acquire somebody like Ike Davis from the Mets. A Joyce-Davis trade seems like a perfect match of needs.
Who's in the rotation if they trade Price? Without Price, it shapes up as Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson and Jake Odorizzi. That's why any trade involving Price may require a starting pitcher as part of the bounty (say, Taijuan Walker from the Mariners).
What do they need? The Orioles were 12th in the AL in rotation ERA, so that's an obvious place to upgrade. The top five on paper isn't horrible -- Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris and Kevin Gausman -- but that's mostly a group of No. 3s. They need an ace, but good luck getting one.
What about left field and DH? Nate McLouth just signed with the Nationals, so they need to do something there. A big hole was DH, where the Orioles hit .234 with a .289 OBP. Orioles second basemen weren't great either, hitting .236 with a .300 OBP, but they'll likely let Jemile Weeks and Ryan Flaherty battle it out. Nelson Cruz is a free-agent possibility for left field or DH, but the Orioles may not want to lose their draft pick to sign a guy with a mediocre OBP and durability issues. A gamble and somebody like Franklin Gutierrez may make sense.
Do they go after a closer? Possibly. Trading Jim Johnson leaves a void in the ninth -- although not a big void considering Johnson blew nine saves in 2013. They have options in Tommy Hunter and Darren O'Day, but both have sizable platoon splits. They're both best in setup roles where Buck Showalter can get matchups, so don't be surprised if the O's sign Fernando Rodney or Joaquin Benoit (they also signed Ryan Webb on Friday).
New York Yankees
What do they need? How about an MVP-caliber second baseman who hit .300 with power and never misses a game? Anybody like that available? OK, the Yankees have to move on from Robinson Cano and they did that by signing Carlos Beltran and re-signing Hiroki Kuroda. They may still have a little money left over to go after one more veteran starter like Bronson Arroyo or, better yet, Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (if he gets posted).
What about third base? At some point, they'll need a backup plan if Alex Rodriguez's suspension is upheld. Stone-gloved Eduardo Nunez is not the answer, but the free-agent market is weak. Juan Uribe? Maybe. Michael Young is a defensive liability. They tried the Kevin Youkilis experiment last year. You have to think the Yankees will be discussing third-base options with other teams. They could possibly shop Brett Gardner or Ichiro Suzuki, although Ichiro wouldn't bring a quality starter in return.
Who replaces Mariano Rivera? The Yankees could slide David Robertson into the role. He's been a dominant eighth-inning guy with a 1.91 ERA over the past three seasons. But that just opens up another hole. Free agent Grant Balfour has been rumored.
Toronto Blue Jays
What do they need? Starting pitching and more starting pitching. The Blue Jays entered last season as World Series favorites, expecting to have two aces in R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson. But Dickey couldn't repeat his Cy Young season, Johnson imploded, Brandon Morrow got hurt, and Ricky Romero spent most of the season in the minors. The Jays ended up with a 4.81 rotation ERA, worse even than the Astros.
Who could they go after? The Jays' estimated 2014 payroll is already above what it was in 2013, so there doesn't appear to be room to do much here. So it looks quantity over quality, with the likes of Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and J.A. Happ battling for spots behind Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Morrow.
Could they trade Jose Bautista? Sure, they could trade Bautista, signed for two more years at the now-bargain rate of $14 million, and use that money to sign a pitcher. Do they trust Anthony Gose or Moses Sierra to deliver on an everyday basis?
BOSTON -- Mike Napoli came to terms with the Red Sox on a two-year, $32 million deal, agent Brian Grieper said Friday night, allowing the team to breathe a collective sigh of relief after the power-hitting first baseman left money on the table in order to return to Boston.
"Mike's really pumped," Grieper said Friday night. "He loves Boston."
Napoli tweeted the news himself, in a fashion that left little doubt about his affection for the city and a team for which he played an integral part in a World Series title.
— Mike Napoli (@MikeNapoli25) December 7, 2013
But he plans to be in Orlando, Fla., next week. Why? Because Stewart represents Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, he has heard all the trade talk swirling around his celebrated client, some of that speculation involving the Boston Red Sox, and he has a "strong feeling something could happen" at the meetings.
The Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders in newcomer Yasiel Puig, former Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Kemp, who led the National League in home runs with 39 in 2011, falling one homer short of being a 40-40 man (he had 40 stolen bases), and was second in the MVP voting to the later-discredited Ryan Braun. They also have an up-and-coming center fielder in 21-year-old Joc Pederson.
Kemp would undoubtedly be untouchable if he had stayed healthy and replicated that performance, but the past two seasons have been cut short by injuries, with Kemp having surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder after each of the last two seasons, and also undergoing surgery on his left ankle in October, 13 days after his second shoulder surgery.
Stewart said that Kemp just recently began weight-bearing exercises on the ankle, will start hitting in January, and expects to be ready for the start of spring training.
"There have been a lot of questions about his health, but he'll be ready to play," Stewart said. "He's worked hard to get in shape and get over these offseason surgeries."
Boston's incumbent center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, just came to terms with the New York Yankees on a seven-year, $153 million deal. The Sox say they would be comfortable with rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. taking over in center, and that may indeed be the case. The Sox could just wind up adding a journeyman outfielder, as insurance for Bradley in case he falters and as another backup for Shane Victorino, who was limited in 2013 by hamstring and back issues to 122 games, the fewest he's played since becoming an everyday player in 2006. Or they could aim higher.
One hypothetical trade scenario to consider: If the Dodgers were to chip in $32 million of the $128 million owed to Kemp, he would cost the Red Sox $16 million per season, seemingly well within range of what they were willing to pay Ellsbury.
Multiple sources have indicated that the Sox have at the minimum made inquiries of the Dodgers regarding Kemp. Stewart said he has taken the speculation regarding the Red Sox seriously enough to talk to Kemp about Boston, and what it would be like to play there.
"Boston is a good place," said Stewart, a message 180 degrees removed from what Kemp's teammate, Crawford, said repeatedly after being traded by the Sox in 2012. "It's a good city to play in, especially when they're winning championships.
"I'm 56 years old, and people are still buying me dinner there, and I played for the other team. I told Matt about the city. The key to playing in the city is to perform. Compete, play good-quality baseball, don't dog it. If you don't perform, nobody's going to like it."
Stewart said he believes Kemp would have no reservations about playing for the Red Sox. "And the opportunity to play with Big Papi, he'd love to play with him, learn from him."
That decision is not in Kemp's hands, of course.
"Our destiny is controlled by the Dodgers," Stewart said. "You never know what's going to happen. But one thing we know about Boston is they're going to do whatever it needs to do to maintain the excellence it has had for years. We'll see what happens."
Welcome to the winter meetings edition of the mailbag, which has gathered a good deal of dust since we last broke it open. Thanks for all the questions.
Here we go:
Q. Last offseason, the Red Sox offered Mike Napoli a three-year deal before they found out about his hip condition. It is fair to say that he proved that he can play with the condition. So do you not think the Sox would offer him a two-year contract worth the same money as the original contract minus the one year? -- Sean, Missoula, Mont.
That blew up when Bailey went down with an injury and Bard lost his way, but Cherington took another crack at it last winter, when he traded for another power closer in Joel Hanrahan and signed free agent Koji Uehara, even though Bailey was back. Uehara proved a season-saver when Bailey and Hanrahan both sustained season-ending injuries, turning in what statistically ranks as one of the most dominant seasons ever as a closer.
Like Uehara, Mujica is a fastball-splitter pitcher with impeccable control -- implausibly enough, even better than Uehara last season, when Mujica walked just five batters in 64 2/3 innings, a major-league best (for relievers) 0.70 walks per nine innings. Uehara was third, with 1.09 walks per nine, while Junichi Tazawa (1.58) was eighth, giving the Sox three of the top strike-throwers in big league bullpens.
Mujica doesn't strike out batters at the same rate as Koji -- his K-per-nine rate dropped to 6.4 this season -- but like Uehara, he was pressed into service as St. Louis closer when incumbent Jason Motte had Tommy John surgery and Mitchell Boggs fared poorly in the role.
By now, we suspect, you're wondering, where was Mujica in the World Series? Answer: He didn't pitch. Mujica came into September with 35 saves and a 1.72 ERA in 50 appearances, walking just two. The season's last month was a nightmare, however, as he gave up 9 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings, allowed an opponents' batting average of .514, and struck out just 3 of the last 38 batters he faced.
He lost his closer's job to rookie phenom Trevor Rosenthal, and the confidence of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who used him just twice in the postseason -- an inning against the Pirates in the NLDS, an inning against the Dodgers in the NLCS in which he gave up a home run to L.A. catcher A.J. Ellis. He never got out of the bullpen against the Red Sox.
Even in that regard, a parallel to Uehara can be seen. The Japanese reliever was shelled in the 2011 AL playoffs while pitching for the Rangers, and was left off the Series roster.
Make no mistake: No one is suggesting Mujica is the second coming of Uehara, but according to a Red Sox source, Boston attributed his late-season drop-off to fatigue issues, and they are highly confident he will bounce back. The right-hander from Venezuela is no stranger to John Farrell, who was the Indians' farm director when Mujica, originally signed by Cleveland, made his way up the Indians' system.
Mujica becomes the second reliever acquired so far this winter by Cherington, who also traded for Brewers' sinker-baller Burke Badenhop, another strike thrower (12 walks in 62 1/3 innings pitched). And with so many relievers still on the market, it's possible Cherington isn't done, even though the Sox appear well set in the pen with their current corps, which includes the return of power lefty Andrew Miller to team with Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow from the left side, and Tazawa, along with a host of aspirants, including Alex Wilson and Brayan Villarreal, who came from Detroit in July's three-way deal that netted Boston Jake Peavy.
But Uehara threw 74 1/3 innings in the regular season, eighth most among AL relievers, and an additional 13 2/3 innings in the playoffs, the total of 88 innings by far his heaviest workload since he came to the U.S. in 2009. Uehara turns 39 on April 3, and it remains to be seen how much he has left. Mujica, in addition to joining the setup mix, gives Farrell another closer alternative, and invites speculation about whether the Sox would even contemplate returning Uehara to the role for which he was initially acquired -- pitching in high-leverage situations, regardless of the inning.
Given Uehara's spectacular success as closer, that would seem extremely unlikely. But the Sox pen has taken some unexpected turns already during Cherington's tenure, so it can't be ruled out.
DiSarcina, a native of Billerica, Mass., managed the PawSox for just one season and led them to the International League North division title with an 80-63 record. Throughout the regular season, DiSarcina juggled 64 different players -- with 23 promoted to Boston during the course of the year.
DiSarcina will be the Angels' third-base coach. The All-Star shortstop played his entire 12-year major league career with the Angels organization (1989-2000).
Personally, I think the one-to-one ratio of Hall of Famer per team sounds about right. It's fewer than the overrepresented 1920s and 1930s, about what we have for the '50s and '60s but fewer than what we have for the '70s and '80s.
So, who is missing from the '70s and '80s? Here are 10 guys I would put in. WAR totals and rankings from Baseball-Reference.com.
Tim Raines (69.1 WAR, 105th all time)
Ballot history: After starting out with just 24 percent of the vote in 2008 he's started climbing in recent years and was up to 52 percent last year.
This will be Raines' seventh year on the ballot, and while he'll probably stagnate in the next couple years with some big names on the ballot, he looks like he'll eventually get in before his 15 years is up.
Alan Trammell (70.4 WAR, 94th)
Ballot history: After 12 years on the ballot, he was at 33 percent last year. He won't get elected via the BBWAA.
I've never understood why Trammell was never able to build a case. His career numbers are very similar to Barry Larkin's, minus a few steals, and Larkin made it in on his third year. Even if you think Larkin was a little better, if Larkin's case is 100 percent then Trammell's should be about 98 percent. Two differences: Larkin won an MVP and Trammell finished second when he should have won; Larkin didn't have Cal Ripken in his league.
Lou Whitaker (74.8, 77th)
Ballot history: Got 3 percent his first year and fell off.
Whitaker's career numbers are pretty similar to Roberto Alomar's: .276/.363/.426 with a 117 OPS+ versus .300/.371/.443 with a 116 OPS+. Alomar had more steals and the better defensive reputation although Whitaker was very good and won three Gold Gloves. It's not necessarily that Whitaker was as good as Alomar but that he compares very favorably. The case against him is that his peak wasn't as high -- his five best seasons were worth 28.9 WAR compared to Alomar's five best at 33.0 -- but he was very good even up to his final season. You know what hurt him? He hit the ballot in 2001, when even middle infielders were putting up huge offensive numbers. Whitaker's good seasons looked less impressive at the time.
Dwight Evans (66.7, 125th)
Ballot history: First came on in 1997, lasted three years before getting booted.
Evans had received 10 percent his second year, which while not great at least gave him some momentum from his first year. Maybe his case would have exploded like Bert Blyleven's. But the 1999 ballot added Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount and everybody else suffered as a result. Evans, of course, is a sabermetric darling. He did things well that Jim Rice, his Hall of Fame teammate on the Red Sox, didn't: draw walks, play superb defense. The walks meant that Evans posted a higher on-base percentage even though Rice had the higher average. You'd think a guy who won eight Gold Gloves, hit 385 home runs in the pre-steroid era, drove in 1384 runs and scored 1470 would have been more appreciated. Part of his problem was that he was better in his 30s than his 20s. He wasn't a Hall of Famer for the first half his career so not enough people thought of him as one.
Bobby Grich (71.0, 90th)
Ballot history: One and done.
Yes, another sabermetric favorite. He had good power for a second baseman for his era, drew a ton of walks and won four Gold Gloves. An enormously valuable player in his time -- Baseball-Reference ranks him as one of the top seven position players in the AL in seven different seasons, including first in 1973.
Orel Hershiser (56.8, 209th)
Ballot history: Received 11 percent his first year and then fell off in his second. Odd.
Hershiser won "only" 204 games and thus his early exit from the ballot. I'm not saying he's a lock candidate, but why has Jack Morris' case taken off while Hershiser was dumped so quickly? At his peak, Hershiser was more dominant and his 1988 postseason heroics certainly are the equal of Morris' Game 7. OK, Morris won more games. Maybe a better comparison is another former Dodgers pitcher, Don Drysdale, who made it in with 209 career wins. Hershiser's career ERA isn't as good but he also had to pitch in the high-scoring late '90s during the decline phase of his career. Like Drysdale, he was famous during his peak (not mention Hershiser broke Drysdale's scoreless-inning record). Postseason career: 8-3, 2.59 ERA in 22 games (18 starts).
Keith Hernandez (60.1, 177th)
Ballot history: Stayed on for nine years, peaking at 11 percent.
As a first baseman, you make the Hall of Fame for your bat, thus Hernandez never drew much support. Still, he was a .296 career hitter, drew walks, played on two World Series champs and is regarded as maybe the best defensive first baseman ever. His career WAR is Hall of Fame borderline but Hernandez was also one of the most iconic players of the '80s, if you want to put stock into that. (And, yes, Hernandez over Don Mattingly, who simply had too short of a peak.)
Luis Tiant (66.7, 125th)
Ballot history: Stayed on for 15 years.
Here's what's interesting about Tiant: He received 30 percent of the vote his first year on the ballot, 1988. People have been elected with worse starting positions -- Rice, Blyleven, Bruce Sutter. Drysdale received just 21 percent his first year. So initially there was a strong belief in Tiant as a possible Hall of Famer, with his 229 career wins and popular personality. He to fell 11 percent his second year. What happened? Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins entered the ballot in 1989. Then Jim Palmer. Then Tom Seaver in 1992, Phil Niekro in 1993, Steve Carlton in 1994. He wasn't as good as those guys so everyone forgot about him.
Ted Simmons (50.2, 289th)
Ballot history: One and done. He's on the Veterans Committee ballot this year.
I'm on the fence with Simmons, but he does rank 10th all time in catcher WAR and I'd argue that the top 10 at each position are strong Hall of Fame candidates. He wasn't Johnny Bench, but who was? From 1971 to 1980 he hit .301 and averaged 90 RBIs per season.
Pete Rose (79.4, 64th)
Ballot history: Actually received 9.5 percent of the vote in 1992.
OK, maybe including Rose is cheating a bit.
* * * *
So that's 10 players. Others you could argue for: Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Willie Randolph; Graig Nettles isn't that dissimilar from Brooks Robinson; Rick Reuschel's career WAR is higher than Palmer, Drysdale, Sutton or Juan Marichal; Lee Smith has done pretty well in the BBWAA voting and is still on the ballot. Tommy John, Dave Concepcion, Dave Parker, Steve Garvey and Dan Quisenberry are on the Veterans Committee ballot this year, which makes them all candidates, although I think only John has a strong case. (Quisenberry is no different from Sutter, however, so there's that.) Dave Stieb was dominant in the '80s; with a little more luck he could have won three Cy Young Awards and been a stronger choice.
Part of the problem voters face is that as the quality of talent improves over time it becomes harder for the great players to separate themselves. So Stieb looks like Hershiser who looks like Bret Saberhagen who looks like Dwight Gooden and none of them were Tom Seaver so nobody gets in.
I know many (most?) of you believe electing guys like those above would weaken the Hall of Fame. That's sort of my ultimate point; if your Hall of Fame is Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Cal Ripken, then your bar is way above the established level of actual Hall of Famers. Let's just give guys from recent decades their fair due.
The deal is pending a physical.
The 29-year-old was the closer for a time with the St. Louis Cardinals this past season but lost the job in September and was not a factor in the postseason, making just two appearances.
For the season, Mujica put up impressive numbers -- a 2.78 ERA, 37 saves, 46 strikeouts and just five walks in 64 2/3 innings -- but lost the team's confidence down the stretch and was replaced by Trevor Rosenthal as closer after blowing his fourth save Sept. 19.
Mujica, who was scored upon in six of his final 10 regular-season appearances and had an 11.05 ERA in September, had a groin injury and shoulder soreness that might have contributed to his decline down the stretch.
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Ellsbury hit .298 in 2013 and is a career .297 hitter. He hit .300 on the road, .296 in Fenway in 2013, and is career .288 on the road, .308 at home.
One thing that could come into play is the number of left-handed starters the Yankees see. Ellsbury hit .246 against lefties in 2013. The Yankees struggled against left-handed pitching in 2013 and teams don't like to start righties at Yankee Stadium, but the Yankees actually only faced one more lefty starter than the Red Sox (55 versus 54). The over/under seems about right. I'll go with the under, however.
In the four full seasons that Ellsbury has played he's hit 9, 8, 32 and 9 home runs. The question isn't really whether he'll reach 30 home runs again -- that seems like a clear aberration -- but how much moving to Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch will help his power game.
Here's an overlay of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Ellsbury did pull all nine of his home runs in 2013; but he didn't really pull the ball that often. Most of his fly balls went to left field and center field and looking at his hit chart I see maybe four fly balls that may have cleared the fences at Yankee Stadium. So unless he alters his approach a bit, which is possible, I'd probably take the under.
Ellsbury had one of the great stolen base seasons in history percentage-wise in 2013, becoming just the fifth player to steal at least 50 bases while getting caught five or fewer times.
He stole 52 bases while playing 134 games and has swiped as many as 70, although that came in 2009. Where he hits in the order could factor into how often he steals. I would assume he'd hit leadoff with Derek Jeter batting second, although you could argue that, at least against right-handers, Joe Girardi should hit Brett Gardner and Ellsbury 1-2 with Jeter sliding down.
Still, I'll take the over.
Even when he was relatively healthy last season, Ellsbury played in just 134 games. He played in 74 in 2012 and missed nearly all of 2010.
This is the big wild card, of course. The Yankees are betting on good health. I will, too, at least in the first season. I'll take the over.