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.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.