Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Like the subcontractors who replaced 20,000 square feet of infield sod at Fenway Park this winter, Red Sox management was busy making roster upgrades as they try to remain a contender in the American League East. With the Jason Varitek deal seemingly signaling the end of their offseason moves, we look back at the making of the 2009 Red Sox, in chronological order.
Ramon Ramirez, RHP
On Nov. 19, the Sox traded popular outfielder Coco Crisp to Kansas City in exchange for the 27-year-old reliever. Ramirez, who went 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA as the Royals set-up man in 2008, projects to be part of the bridge to Jonathan Papelbon in the Boston bullpen.
Junichi Tazawa, RHP
On Dec. 4, Boston signed the Japanese reliever to a three-year deal worth $3 million. We don't know much about Tazawa, other than the fact he throws in the low-90s and idolizes Daisuke Matsuzaka. He should start his American baseball career in the Sox' system.
Josh Bard, C
The Sox re-acquired the free agent on Jan. 2, signing the former Padres backstop to a one-year deal with an option for 2010. Bard, who hit .278 in seven games with Boston in 2006, is mostly remembered for an inability to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckler. His role on this team is yet to be determined, as he is currently the only catcher with major league experience on the roster.
Rocco Baldelli, OF
A new Fenway favorite was born on Jan. 8, when the Sox signed the Cumberland, R.I. native to a one-year, $5 million deal. Baldelli, 27, was the fifth overall pick in the 2000 draft and played all of his five seasons with the Rays. He will be a backup outfielder in Boston.
Brad Penny, RHP
The following day, the Sox officially inked the former Dodgers ace to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $8 million with bonuses. Penny, 30, was an All-Star in 2006 and '07, but had his worst season last year with the Dodgers thanks of a right shoulder injury. He went 6-9 with a 6.27 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) while striking out 51 and walked 42 over a career-low 94.2 innings. The Sox hope he can anchor the back of the rotation. If he's healthy, he could be a major steal.
Takashi Saito, RHP
On Jan. 10, the former Dodgers closer signed a one-year deal worth between $1.5 and $2.5 million, with a club option for 2010. The deal could pay him more than $7 million in incentives. Saito, who will turn 39 in February, missed much of last year because of elbow trouble. He saved 39 games for Los Angeles in 2007.
Mark Kotsay, OF/1B
Though it isn't yet official, the Sox are bringing back the 33-year-old on a one-year deal, according to the Globe. Kotsay, shown here scoring the tying run in Boston's comeback win in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Rays, batted .226 with 12 RBIs in 22 regular-season games with the Sox after coming over in a trade with the Braves Aug. 27. He'll play the backup first-baseman/outfielder role.
John Smoltz, RHP
On Tuesday, the Red Sox announced the signing of Smoltz, who spent all of his 20-year career with the Atlanta Braves. Smoltz's one-year deal will pay him $5 million, with bonuses that could bring the total up to $10 million. The 41-year-old missed most of last year due to elbow surgery. He is the only pitcher in baseball history to record 200 wins and 150 saves.
The prolonged negotiations between Jason Varitek and the Red Sox were resolved Friday, two weeks before pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to spring training. Varitek agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2010. He will earn $5m in 2009, with the club holding a $5moption for 2010. If the Red Sox do not pick up that option, Varitek has the choice of remaining with the club on a $3m deal. In '10, he can earn another $2m in incentives based on playing time. The incentives apply to the player option only. The catcher agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with a mutual option for 2010 that includes a potential sweetener.