Josh Beckett gave a really weird interview about his 2012 drama with the Red Sox

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Let’s go back to 2012 in Boston for a moment. The expectations for the Red Sox were high but the season was a disaster. A year after the infamous Chicken and Beer incident, Josh Beckett was once again at the center of controversy. The controversy involved him (a) pitching poorly; (b) claiming he had a bad lat muscle; and (c) then being seen playing golf on his off day.

We’ve had similar stories to this in the past. Indeed, we had this with Yoenis Cespedes just a few weeks ago. Being seen golfing while hurt is gonna anger some people, regardless of whether the injury in question would be harmed by the golfing. Heck, Cespedes showed last year in the playoffs that golfing even when healthy can get you criticized by the media.

Beckett’s thing, though, was a bit more suspect. Partially because, yeah, a lat injury can’t possibly be a good thing to golf with. Partially because, when he was called on it, he lashed out and made the controversy worse. It got pretty ugly pretty fast and, a couple of months later, he was traded to the Dodgers in a blockbuster deal.

Today Beckett sought to set the record straight while appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich radio show in Boston. Today Beckett claimed he was fine — his lat wasn’t injured — but that the Red Sox had him pretend it was so they could make a phantom disabled list move in order to make rom for Aaron Cook, who had an opt-out clause he was due to exercise if he wasn’t called up:

“I wish everybody would have known the whole story,” said Beckett. “I’ll finish with this … Aaron Cook had an opt-out in his contract, I was pitching terrible – which is my fault – so we made up an injury so that [the Red Sox] could call him up, so he didn’t opt out and go to the Yankees. That was a thing, but I don’t think that that’s actually legal to do. I don’t think you can just phantom DL somebody.

Only problem with that: Beckett wasn’t DL’d to make room for Aaron Cook. As Christopher Smith of Masslive notes, via a reconstruction from old transaction news, room for Cook was made on the 40 man roster by moving Carl Crawford from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on May 3 and room was made on the 25-man roster by optioning Jose Iglesias to Triple-A on the same day. The Sox selected Cook’s contract from Pawtucket May 4. Beckett was scratched from his May 2nd start, but he was not placed on the DL. He started again on May 10. That was the day the stuff about the golf blew up. Five days later he pitched a combined shutout, by the way.

Review of HBT’s archives reveals that Beckett was placed on the disabled list on June 16, 2012. The corresponding move to that was recalling Clay Mortensen from Pawtucket. That was for a sore right shoulder. If that was the phantom DL move Beckett remembers, it wasn’t made for any obvious nefarious advantage such as trying to keep a guy from opting out. Maybe it was because Beckett was stinking, but obviously his shoulder would become a serious problem for him for the rest of his career. Indeed, it’s what ended his career, so it probably was barking.

Beckett is probably right about the general ideas he brought up in that interview this morning: when things end for a player, they often end badly, especially in Boston. It also seemed to me at the time, and still seems now, that when Beckett was being attacked by the media over the golf stuff, he was left to fend for himself with no one really coming to his defense. Indeed, manager Bobby Valentine joined in the chorus of people taking shots at Beckett.

But Beckett’s accusation that the Sox wrongfully manipulated the DL to hide him and call up Aaron Cook doesn’t seem to hold water. Maybe they made up his lat injury for that May 2nd scratch, but that’s a bit of a different thing which, whatever else you want to say about it, doesn’t break any rules.

I guess the one thing we can know for sure out of all of this is that even four years later, Josh Beckett is still not too fond of the way things ended for him in Boston.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.