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MLB Storylines: Lester, Red Sox set deadline for extension

MLB Storylines: Lester, Red Sox set deadline for extension
Jon Lester pitching in a start during the 2012 season. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
March 25, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @AndrewIBI.

Here are the stories from Monday, March 24th.

Top Stories:

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters that he is focused on resolving Jon Lester's contract one way or another this week prior to Opening Day.

Tribe News:

  • Jordan Bastian of reported that Michael Bourn will begin the season on the disabled list and will be first be eligible to return for April 5th game in Cleveland.
  • Nyjer Morgan and Lonnie Chisenhall were informed they have made the Opening Day roster.
  • The Indians granted the release of Aaron Harang, who later signed with the Atlanta Braves on a major-league deal.
  • RHP C.C. Lee and RHP Trevor Bauer were optioned to Columbus.
  • 1B Bryan LaHair, C Luke Carlin, and 1B David Cooper were reassigned to Minor League camp.
  • Jordan Bastian also reported that barring the unexpected, it looks like Francona will have an eight-man bullpen. He mentioned that one scenario he could see happening would have Tomlin in the rotation, Carrasco in the pen, plus one of Atchison/Wood in the bullpen.
  • Bastian also mentioned that it sounded like Atchison is in a great position to win one of the final bullpen jobs, especially with what he called the "Francona Factor."
  • There was also a touching moment during Monday's game when minor league outfielder Nick Hamilton got the nod as the starting DH with his dad, Tom Hamilton, watching from the radio booth.

News and Notes:

  • Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Texas Rangers released righty Armando Galarraga.
  • Chris Cotillo of reported that the Mariners have released Scott Baker upon his request.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Pirates OF Starling Marte recently rejected a six-year extension offer from the Pirates.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Rangers catcher Geovany Soto has torn his lateral meniscus and will miss 10-12 weeks recovering from surgery.
  • The Braves announced they have given righty Freddy Garcia his unconditional release.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Pirates have had trade talks with the Diamondbacks about shortstop Didi Gregorius.
  • The White Sox announced they have locked up lefty Jose Quintana to a five-year deal worth at least $21 million.
  • Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported that the Tigers acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the Orioles for infielder Steve Lombardozzi.

User Comments

March 25, 2014 - 3:48 PM EDT

Don't forget Ervin Santana. Only signed a 1-year deal so he too will be in the mix again.
March 25, 2014 - 2:42 PM EDT
If the Red Sox end contract talks with Lester before Opening Day that would mean the FA class for this off season will be Lester, Masterson, Scherzer and Shields.
March 25, 2014 - 9:15 AM EDT
Francona believes that Carrasco has front of rotation stuff. Carrasco does not believe he has front of rotation stuff. There is the problem. Logically to resolve to see which is true Carlos Carrasco would need to start in the rotation not in the bullpen. Let finally find out which is true. Carrasco will either swim and make the rotation stronger or he will sink into bullpen or become a trade option.
March 25, 2014 - 8:57 AM EDT
I really don't see a benefit of Tomlin in the pen, especially if you're going with an 8-man pen. Don't need a long-man this early in the year. Relievers are still fresh and can throw a guy like Atchison and/or Wood our there for 2+ innings if needed. Keeping Tomlin in AAA gives you a stretched out starter capabile of handling a doubleheader makeup (bound to have one early on) or emergency callup in the event of an injury.

Hell...could argue we'll have a 9 man pen for the first week. Is Salazar just goign to sit on the bench for a week+ til his start on the 8th? Or could he get some work in as a reliever once?

Carrasco pitched well yesterday. I like him in the rotation and Tomlin in AAA as a backup option. If you want to go 8 guys and you want to keep Atchison around you can do that and keep Wood (who has looked good too). Could option Wood to AAA if and put Carrasco in the pen but then what do you do when Giambi and Bourn come off the DL? Do you cut Atchison? Move Carrasco to the rotation the 2nd week of the year and option Tomlin?
Joe Chengery
March 25, 2014 - 3:56 AM EDT
The more we go into this final week, the more I think they want to try to keep everyone possible, though that didn't apply to Harang.

As a result, that's why I think Atchison could make the bullpen and a young guy like Lee gets sent back to Columbus, just like Morgan makes the ballclub (though Francoeur was released). With that philosophy, it now wouldn't surprise if they did put Carrasco in the pen and Tomlin in the rotation, just to maximize the experience and strength of both, though I could still see a strong argument for putting Carrasco in the rotation to maximize his value and sending Tomlin to Columbus to rebuild his arm strength in a less pressurized environment.

Truth be told, I'm not really sure which way Francona will go (after all, I though Francoeur would make the ballclub; I do wonder how much Bourn's injury issues swayed the Indians to keep Morgan because he may be a more direct replacement for Bourn).

I will say that there are two certainties:

1. Carrasco will be on the ballclub in some shape or form.

2. Tomlin will not be in the bullpen- it would be wasting him and not be good for his arm to be used sporadically as the eight guy/long man out of the pen. Beyond that at this point, I'm really not sure. :-)

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