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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”