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.”

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.