Craig Calcaterra

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Report: The Red Sox are likely not going to land Edwin Encarnacion

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WEEI’s Rob Bradford hears that the Red Sox are “probably not” going to be a finalist for free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

Not that that should make you sad if you’re a Sox fan who wants to see Encarnacion in Boston, as these sorts of rumors are often dekes and exercises in misdirection, often aimed at improving or degrading the negotiating position of the parties.

For what it’s worth, Encarnacion is said to be waiting for the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be finalized before agreeing to terms. That could come as early as tomorrow. In the meantime, he has been linked to the Yankees, Astros, Rangers, and Blue Jays, in addition to the Sox.

McGwire, Steinbrenner, Selig among Hall of Fame candidates for new Veterans Committee

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 4: Hitting coach Mark McGwire #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals waves to fans after a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 4, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Paul Nordmann/Getty Images)
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The Baseball Hall of Fame has revamped its Veterans Committee many times in the past several years. Mostly because its committee of veterans has had a bad habit of, you know, not electing anyone, and what’s the point of having one if no one ever makes it in?

And yes, this is a bit of a problem. There are twice as many players in the Hall of Fame who debuted before 1950 as compared to afterward, despite there being nearly double the eligible candidates after 1950 than prior. So, no, this is not a matter of folks wanting to hand out participation trophy versions of a Hall of Fame induction. It’s a matter of electors baselessly raising the standards of induction far too high compared to past precedent, most likely because they misguidedly believe that players from the sepia-toned “Golden Age” of baseball were more worthy than players of a more recent vintage. Which is pure poppycock.

So, last summer, the Hall of Fame’s board of directors tweaked the era-based system the Veterans Committee had been using for several years, adding a couple of separate, era-based dedicated committees. Now there are separate committees for Today’s Game (1988-2016), Modern Baseball (1970-87), Golden Days (1950-69) and Early Baseball (1871-1949). As befitting their underrepresentation, Today’s Game and Modern Baseball will vote twice every five years, Golden Days once every five years and Early Baseball once every 10 years. Committees consist of 16 people, with a vote of at least 75 percent needed for election. Committee members can vote for 10 candidates per ballot.

This year the Today’s Game candidates will be up for consideration. Here are the candidates who will be considered when that committee meets next Monday at the Winter Meetings:

  • Harold Baines
  • Albert Belle
  • Will Clark
  • Orel Hershiser
  • Mark McGwire
  • Davey Johnson
  • Lou Piniella
  • John Schuerholz
  • George Steinbrenner
  • Bud Selig

Yes, some of these guys straddle the Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras. The Hall just makes a choice with ’em, so we’ll let it slide.

Given that it’s likely to be a slow week, news-wise, I’m going to deal with these guys in two ways. First, here, I’ll give a kneejerk vote based on no new research and only the impressions I’ve formed of them over the years. Then, between today and Friday, I’ll look at each of the candidates in greater depth and with a more open mind. On Friday, we’ll talk about who the committee likely will vote in and see how that compares to our assessment of merit.

The short, kneejerk answer for me, doing no new research, would be to vote for McGwire, Schuerholz, Steinbrenner and probably Davey Johnson. Bud Selig, who I once called Baseball’s Greatest Commissioner, is a super complicated case. At the moment I’d lean no for a lot of political reasons, but we’ll deal with him separately.

What say you? And why?

Cespedes is back! Yo signs with the Mets for four years, $110 million

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets reacts after a catch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field on September 18, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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So much for the contingency plan. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Mets have re-signed Yoenis Cespedes. The deal is reported to be worth four years and $110 million. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the deal gives Cespedes a full no-trade clause. Beyond that, Cespedes, who just turned 31, will be under Mets control through his age 34 season.

It is the largest free agent deal ever handed out by the Mets in terms of average annual value. Cespedes’ $27.5 million annual average salary is the highest ever for an outfielder on a multi-year deal. Only Miguel Caberea, who avaerages $31 million a year, has a higher average annual salary than Cespedes will. The only larger contract the Mets have ever given out as a $119 million deal to Carlos Beltran, though that was over seven years. As far as the year-by-year breakdown, Cespedes will earn $22.5 million in 2017 then $29 million in both 2018 and 2019 and $29.5 million in 2020.

Cespedes finished the 2016 regular season with a line of .280/.354/.530, 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances. Earlier this month, Cespedes opted out with two years and $47.5 million remaining on his contract with the Mets in order to become a free agent. While the Mets were generally considered the front runners to retain his services, no shortage of teams were interested. Ultimately, however, it made far too much sense for the parties to reunite given the Mets’ needs and Cespedes’ contractual desires which the Mets were better positioned to afford than most other suitors.

The Mets’ outfield now seems set for 2017, with Jay Bruce in right field, Curtis Granderson in center and Yo in left.