Red Sox fill shortstop void with Marco Scutaro

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Marco Scutaro’s contract with the Red Sox is a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2012 and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the monetary details:
Signing bonus: $1 million
2010: $5 million
2011: $5 million
2012: $6 million team option, $3 million player option, or $1.5 million buyout
Technically that means Scutaro is guaranteed at least $12.5 million over two seasons, but he has the ability to extend the deal to a minimum of $14 million over three years and if the Red Sox exercise their 2012 option he’ll end up with $17 million total.
Boston having to give up next season’s first-round pick to sign Scutaro makes the deal significantly different than Philadelphia signing Placido Polanco, but strictly in terms of years and money the Red Sox are assuming quite a bit less risk than the Phillies.
Polanco is guaranteed $18 million over three years and as much as $22.5 million over four years. Scutaro is guaranteed $12.5 million over two years and as much as $17 million over three years. Scutaro was quite a bit more valuable than Polanco this season, but they were both born in 1975 and Polanco has a much better pre-2009 track record. Toss in the fact that Polanco didn’t require giving up a first-round pick to sign and those differences certainly explain some of the higher price tag.
Losing a top-30 pick hurts given how well Boston has drafted recently, but based solely on the contracts I’d rather have Scutaro. He’ll be paid less than Polanco in each of the next two seasons, at which point the Red Sox can choose to cut bait while the Phillies will be paying a 36-year-old Polanco over $6 million in 2012. And while 2009 was a career-year for Scutaro, his combined .270/.354/.382 line during the past four seasons is fairly similar to the .307/.351/.411 mark produced by Polanco over that same span.
Sending a first-round pick to Toronto for the right to pay Scutaro at least $14 million for two seasons is hardly ideal, but given the weak crop of free-agent shortstops and seemingly sparse trade options Boston did pretty well to land him without assuming as much risk as Philadelphia did with Polanco. How well Scutaro will hit going forward is certainly up for debate, but he’ll be an upgrade regardless after Red Sox shortstops hit just .235/.297/.358 this season.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.