Red Sox make it official, fire Bobby Valentine

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Making official what was reported as a done deal yesterday afternoon, the Red Sox just announced that Bobby Valentine has been fired as manager.

Signed to a two-year, $5 million deal to replace Terry Francona, Valentine spent the year making headlines for all the wrong reasons and seemingly rubbed key players the wrong way almost immediately.

It also didn’t help that the team was terrible on the field, showing Red Sox fans that things could get significantly worse than what was viewed as a pretty miserable situation during Francona’s final season at the helm.

Boston went 69-93 under Valentine for the franchise’s worst winning percentage since 1965. General manager Ben Cherington will now begin his second manager search in one year on the job, the first of which resulted in paying Valentine $5 million for six months of work (of course, who exactly made the final decision to hire Valentine is in question).

In a press release, Cherington noted that “with an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand” and added that “he did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”

Meanwhile, team president Larry Lucchino called it “a season of agony” and promised “more [changes] will come” because “we are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.”

As for Cherington’s status, owner John Henry said: “We have confidence in Ben Cherington and the kind of baseball organization he is determined to build.”

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.