Red Sox have a two-year deal with Jonny Gomes

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UPDATE: Lauber is now reporting that the deal is in place.

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Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox are “closing in on” a two-year deal with free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes, which might signal the end of their attempt to re-sign Cody Ross.

Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com wrote this morning that the Red Sox had narrowed their outfielder pursuit down to Ross and Gomes, and nearing an agreement with Gomes suggests Ross is drawing significant interest elsewhere and Boston perhaps decided he wasn’t worth paying a premium to retain.

Both players offer good right-handed power, but Ross is superior defensively and less of a liability versus right-handed pitching. Gomes played last season on a one-year, $1 million deal with the A’s and hit .262 with 18 homers and an .868 OPS in 99 games.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.