I tried this nine months ago with little support. Let’s see if it flies better now.
Terry Francona lost the Red Sox clubhouse. Bobby Valentine never had it in the first place. What the Red Sox seem to want is one of their own running the team, and who is more one of their own than The Captain, Jason Varitek?
Of course, the arrangement could have complications. For Varitek to go from teammate to boss might prove awkward. However, it’s not like Varitek would step into a situation with a bunch of tough calls to make. He’s not sending Josh Beckett or Jon Lester to the bullpen. The Red Sox already dealt Kevin Youkilis and committed to Will Middlebrooks at third base, and there are no other veterans with real job security concerns except for Mike Aviles at shortstop.
The Red Sox either need to make wholesale personnel changes or find a manager for whom the current team would enjoy playing. Whether it’s a good idea for the inmates to be running the asylum or not, it’d sure be a lot easier to land a player’s manager than it would be to undergo a massive rebuild that would result in the departure of several players from the group of Beckett, Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury.
I don’t know that Varitek is the answer, but he probably knows more about American League pitchers and hitters than anyone else the team could possibly bring in. That alone makes him a viable candidate. If he feels he’s ready — and that’s completely up in the air — and the Red Sox feel that he still has the respect of the clubhouse, then what better option is out there?
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.