Author: Matthew Pouliot

Nick Swisher

Red Sox still in on Nick Swisher, out on Adam LaRoche


Boston’s pursuit of Adam LaRoche ended with the signing of Mike Napoli, but the Red Sox are still talking to Nick Swisher,’s Jon Heyman reports.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark says the Red Sox are also considering Cody Ross and Shane Victorino as they seek to round out their outfield. Signing one player from that group would leave them with Jonny Gomes, Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava battling for time in one spot.

The addition of Swisher would give the Red Sox even more flexibility after adding a catcher-first baseman in Napoli. Napoli will likely play first base most of the time, but when he catches, Swisher could move to first, which is probably his best position. Swisher would presumably start in right field the rest of the time.

Swisher is looking for a five- or six-year deal, but odds are that he’ll have to settle for four, perhaps at the same $13 million per year that Napoli just got from the Red Sox.

As for LaRoche, he can still return to the Nationals with Mike Morse seemingly on the block. The Rangers and Mariners are his other suitors, according to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.

The Tigers insulted Anibal Sanchez with their first offer

Anibal Sanchez

Personally, I’d be just fine with a $48 million contract. But for a major league pitcher a mere three games under .500 over the course of his career, I can see how that’d be terribly offensive.

In Sanchez’s defense, he’s probably just listened to the talk that’s pegged him for at least $70 million over five years. And it’s entirely possible that his agent was more “insulted” by a $48 million offer than Sanchez was.

But there’s nothing really insulting about offering $48 million to a guy who has never once won 15 games. He’s never finished in the top 10 in his league in victories or ERA. He has one top 10 finish in strikeouts (6th in the NL in 2011). The only time he’s ever led a league in anything is when he committed five errors, tied for the the most by an NL pitcher, in 2010.

Red Sox lineup a whole lot deeper with Mike Napoli in the middle

Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli to Boston has long seemed like destiny. That he’s been such a roaring success at Fenway is part of it: Napoli has hit .306/.397/.710 with seven homers in 62 lifetime at-bats in Boston.

The Red Sox initially tried to acquire Napoli in 2010, when the Angels weighed parting with him before the deadline. The Halos kept him then, only to send him to Toronto in the Vernon Wells deal after the season.

Napoli was moved quickly to Texas from there, and he hit 54 homers in his two seasons with the Rangers. Now a free agent for the first time, he’s struck a three-year, $39 million deal to play for the Red Sox. It was an easier price for Boston to pay since the Rangers didn’t make Napoli a $13.3 million qualifying offer, meaning there was no draft pick compensation attached to the signing.

Adding the 31-year-old Napoli presents the Red Sox with possibilities. They now have four catchers in Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway. Napoli, though, wasn’t being viewed as a full-time option behind the plate by Boston or anyone else. He’s always struggled to stay healthy as a catcher, and some feel he might perform even better offensively if his time behind the plate is limited.

As things stand now, Napoli will see the vast majority of his time at first base. If Salty is traded, then perhaps Napoli will catch two or three times per week. If not, then Napoli may do most of his catching in NL parks when the Red Sox put David Ortiz at first base.

With Napoli in the fold, the Red Sox are currently looking at the following lineup:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
LF Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross
RF Ryan Kalish
SS Jose Iglesias/Pedro Ciriaco

It’s a given that they’ll add a starting outfielder, which would likely leave Gomes, Nava and Kalish to battle for time in one spot. They could also sign Stephen Drew for shortstop, but if they don’t get him, they’ll probably give Iglesias a shot rather than turn to an Alex Gonzalez-type free agent.

Napoli may not be the ideal cleanup man, given that he’s likely to hit closer to last year’s .227 mark than his .320 average from 2011. Still, his power numbers should be very impressive if playing first base allows him to get 500 at-bats for the first time. His career average puts him at 32 homers per 500 at-bats.

Update: the Rays and James Loney agree to a one-year deal

James Loney

UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports that the deal is done. The Rays have signed James Loney to a one-year, $2 million deal with incentives which could land him an extra million.

1:25 AM: Those hoping the Rays would land a big bopper at first base this winter appear set to be disappointed. Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports that the team is close to a deal with free agent James Loney.

Loney, 28, was one of the game’s worst players last season, hitting .249/.293/.336 in 434 at-bats for the Dodgers and Red Sox. He hasn’t posted an 800 OPS since hitting .331/.381/.538 in 344 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2007.

The money might not be significant enough to prevent the Rays from acquiring another first baseman to play over Loney. Still, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be their primary starter against right-handers, replacing free agent Carlos Pena. Moves like this do have a way of working out for the Rays, and Loney is perhaps young enough to surprise. He did flash some talent in the second half of 2011, hitting .320/.380/.534 in 206 at-bats.

Rangers re-sign non-tendered catcher Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto
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Geovany Soto was a free agent for right around 48 hours. He re-signed with the Rangers on Sunday night after failing to come to terms on a deal and getting non-tendered on Friday.

It’s a one-year pact with the dollars still unknown.

Soto, who turns 30 in January, hit .199/.284/.347 in 176 at-bats for the Cubs and .196/.253/.338 in 148 at-bats for the Rangers last season. He had his best season in 2006, hitting .285/.364/.504 with 23 homers. He also hit .280/.393/.497 in 2010 before seeing his OPS suffer big drops two years running.

The Rangers will surely be on the looking for another catcher to complement Soto. They haven’t ruled out re-signing Mike Napoli, and they could also consider such players as Chris Snyder, Jesus Flores and Kelly Shoppach.