UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com says it’s a two-year, $22 million deal, which is a sneaky/interesting move for the A’s in a market where Ricky Nolasco just got $49 million for four years and guys like Phil Hughes and Jason Vargas got $8 million per season for three and four years.
Recent reports suggested the A’s weren’t feeling good about their chances of re-signing Bartolo Colon and apparently they’ve moved on in a big way: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com they’re “close to signing” left-hander Scott Kazmir.
Kazmir was a dominant young starter with the Rays and then rapidly deteriorated to the point that he posted a 5.34 ERA in independent ball at age 28. He made an incredible comeback with the Indians, racking up strikeouts at the same rate that made him a star in the first place, and finished strong with a 43/4 K/BB ratio in September.
Kazmir is a huge risk, but he’s still just 29 and looked an awful lot like his old self this year. Based purely on upside, he’s one of the best free agent pitchers available this offseason and certainly brings a much different skill set and long-term outlook to the table than the 40-year-old Colon.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.