John Tomase of the Boston Herald has a story this morning about the Red Sox and free-agent-to-be Josh Beckett which deals mostly with how much dough Beckett can expect and whether the team and the pitcher will negotiate during the season. I find this part more interesting, however:
But there could be complications. The Red Sox recently have made a point of including injury protection in their big free agent contracts. Right fielder J.D. Drew and Lackey agreed to clauses that allow the team to opt out (Drew) or add another season at the minimum (Lackey) if pre-existing conditions sidelined either.
[Jason] Bay balked at a similar provision last year, which is what derailed those negotiations in July and caused the Sox to pull their four-year, $60 million offer off the table. It never returned.
As far as I know, the Red Sox are the only ones doing this with free agents, obviously with the intention of limiting the biggest risk a team faces when signing a big name player. Such an approach itself has risks, however, the biggest of which is that players and agents will respond with hostility.
Jason Bay may have been an example of this as it appears that the team’s far more grim view of his health than he and his doctors had resulted in a lower offer and, it would seem, a chilling of relations. The team could counter this sort of thing, of course, by building in bigger upside incentives for players that stay healthy. Either way, the approach injects another variable into free agent negotiations which, while offering a potential advantage in terms of overall player health and financial efficiency, could make life a bit harder for the Red Sox if other teams don’t start to do similar things.
However it ends up cutting, however, it’s an innovation worth watching in the coming years.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.