Terry Francona

Terry Francona reaches 1,000 career managerial wins

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Red Sox skipper Terry Francona became one of just 57 managers to reach 1,000 career wins with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of the Mariners.

The 52-year-old began his managerial career in 1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 285-363 over a four-year stretch that saw not a single postseason appearance. But he was hired by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and everything quickly changed.

Francona led the ’04 Red Sox to a 98-64 record and a World Series title, snapping an 86-year franchise drought. The ’05 Red Sox went 95-57, The ’06 Sox went 86-76, The ’07 Red Sox went 96-66 and won another World Series, the ’08 Sox went 95-67, the ’09 team went 95-67 and the 2010 club finished 89-73.

This season, the Red Sox hold the best record in the American League at 61-37.

Francona has been fortunate to manage teams that are loaded with talent, and he would freely admit that, but all the success has some in the media wondering whether Tito might eventually be headed for Cooperstown.

Here’s Rob Bradford of WEEI.com on Francona’s current resume:

What should be noted is that eight managers have won three World Series titles, with seven already residing in the Hall of Fame and one [Joe Torre] scheduled to arrived in just a few years.

Francona’s .532 winning percentage is fourth-best among active managers, with just Davey Johnson, Mike Scioscia and Tony LaRussa besting the mark. He is the eighth active skipper to reach 1,000 wins. But it is only LaRussa who carries what the Red Sox manager possesses — two World Series rings.

If a third title comes his way — which, as we sit here, appears to be a very real possibility — the man who seamlessly guided the Red Sox to their 61st victory Saturday night will be a Hall-of-Famer.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Francona told reporters on Sunday. “I really don’t. It’s really not that big of a deal. I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have because I really caught a break. This is a great organization with a lot of great players. I’m really fortunate. Other than that, I’d like to keep the perspective on the players.”

“If he was a pitcher, it’d be more impressive,” Josh Beckett joked after locking up Sunday’s victory. “It’s nice to win any time, but yeah, it’s nice to pitch in games like that — when they mean something to someone else.”

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.