free agent

Lester Moves On to Chicago and Delivers Retort

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All along the thought here was that Jon Lester would return to the Boston Red Sox, the team he played for eight-plus seasons until a 2014 deadline deal to the Oakland A’s. But the free agent lefty instead opted for a reported six-year, $155MM deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The deal, which was agreed upon late Tuesday night, includes a vesting option for a seventh season that would bring the total worth of the deal to $170MM. According to ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Estes, the Red Sox top offer was six years for $135MM with no vesting option included.

Lester, who doesn’t turn 31 until January, was 16-11, 2.46 in 32 starts (21 with Boston) between the Red Sox and A’s last season. The pending free agent was dealt with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the A’s on July 31 for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a draft slot. Cespedes has been the subject of trade rumors, which now may pick up with the increased need for a front of the rotation starting pitcher.

The Red Sox reportedly made a one-year offer to bring back another former pitcher, Justin Masterson, but the righty struggled last year with Cleveland and St. Louis. You can expect renewed talks with the Philadelphia Phillies for Cole Hamels.

New Cubs manager Joe Maddon was more than happy to have an old AL East nemesis on his team.

“It’s not often you get to win the lottery,” he said. “We won the baseball lottery so far this year, but now it’s up to us to put it into effect. It’s all theory right now. We’ve got to make it real, but you need pieces like this to make it real.”

“He’s been [to the World Series] before. He understands what it feels like. I want to believe that he could foresee the same thing happening here,” Maddon said.

“Yeah. It definitely sends that message about how [Cubs president Theo Epstein] and the group feels about this particular group, but understand we have a lot of young players that have to grow up, and we have to do a good job of nurturing that and making it happen,” Maddon said. “It’s possible, but having Jon there definitely adds to the flavor and the believability.”1

Baseball free agency…expect the unexpected.

UPDATE

What’s not unexpected is the reaction by some Red Sox fans to Lester’s departure. Lester took to Twitter to thank the fans and then delivered a witty response to one cranky New Englander.

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1 – espn.com

Free Agent: Victor Martinez Staying Home For Big Money

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According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, Victor Martinez will be the first big winner in the 2014-2015 free agent sweepstakes. And the man called “V-Mart” doesn’t even have to leave town.

Detroit Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski said last week that signing V-Mart was a “priority”. It appears he meant it. Rosenthall reported that the two sides are close to a new four-year agreement. Rumors have the deal set for as much as $80MM. Martinez will reportedly average $17MM over the life of the contract ($68MM in total).

Martinez first signed a four-year deal with the Tigers in 2010. After injuries derailed his 2012 season and affected the start of the 2013 season, the Tigers’ DH had a monster 2014 campaign. The switch-hitter posted career highs in batting average (.335), home runs (32), hits (188), on-base percentage (.409), sluggung percentage (.565) and OPS (974). The latter two numbers were tops in the American League and Martinez also drove in 103 runs.

The former full-time catcher spent the first seven-plus seasons with the Cleveland Indians before he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox during the 2009 season. He spent the following season with Boston before departing for the Tigers prior to the 2011 season.

Martinez was the Tigers primary DH, and spelled Miguel Cabrera at first base for 35 games.

Brodeur and NJ, End of An Era?

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Martin Brodeur may have played his last game with the NJ Devils Sunday afternoon.
(photo courtesy of USA Today)

by Drew Sarver

Martin Brodeur pulled the red and black home uniform of the New Jersey Devils over his shoulder pads Sunday afternoon, for what could be the last time. The sure-fire NHL Hall of Fame member-to-be goalie is said to want to play one more year, but it’s not likely to happen with the team he has spent his entire 23-year career with.

The Devils acquired goalie Corey Schneider from Vancouver last off-season to be their goalie of the future, but Schneider became the goalie of now when Brodeur struggled. The Devils #1 goalie for so many years, Brodeur argued that his poor play can be attributed to a lack of playing time. But which came first, the chicken or the egg?

With the Devils moving forward, Brodeur is destined to sign a free agent contract elsewhere for the 2014-2015 season. The only way he would remain in NJ is if he can accept being the #2 goalie and is guaranteed, in some way, more consistent playing time. (He appeared in 39 games this season.) Another factor in Brodeur’s decision, is the possibility of returning to the post-season. The Devils have missed the playoffs the last two years, the first time that has occurred since the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

During this season’s trade deadline, Brodeur was thought to possibly be on the move, but stayed put. Had he pressed the issue, he likely could have landed with another team, but also as a backup. The dilemma for Brodeur is whether to sign elsewhere and be unsure of playing time, or take a chance and finish his career in New Jersey. The latter could lead to another trade deadline decision in 2015.

The future of coach Pete De Boer could also play a factor in Brodeur’s future.  De Boer took the team to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year as coach in 2011-2012, but the team finished 19-19-10 in last season’s strike-shortened season and managed just 88 points this season. Brodeur started the last two Devils games this season, including an emotional season-ending game at “The Rock”, NJ’s home arena in Newark, NJ.

For Brodeur, it’s all about one more run at the Cup. He hoisted Lord Stanley’s trophy in 1995, 2000, and 2003, but until two years ago, the team hadn’t gotten past the conference semi-finals since their last Cup win.

Brodeur added to his NHL record when he got the win in the Devils 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins Sunday. Here is a look at where Brodeur stands among his peers for single season and career records.

Single Season

13 times led the league in games played by a goalie, 12 times with 70+ games played

78 games played in 2006-2007 regular season, second highest to Grant Fuhr’s 79

48 wins in 2006-2007, all-time record

14 times led the league in wins

10 times led the league in shutouts

Career

2 goals, 45 assists

688 wins – 1st

2.239 Goals Against Average – 9th

124 shutouts – 1st

1,258 games played – 1st

Playoffs

3 Stanley Cup rings

24 shutouts – 1st

Statistics courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com

 

Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.

Nelson Cruz: How The Mighty Have Fallen

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Once you get the taint of performance enhancing drug (PED) user on your resume it can be very difficult to wipe it off. Nelson Cruz found that out the hard way when he had to settle for a reported one year, $8MM deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

The agreement, reported by ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas, is dependent on a physical and contains incentives worth $750K. The 33-year old has been often injured, primarily hamstring and leg issues over parts of eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, and topped 128 games just once (2012). Over the last five seasons Cruz has averaged 27 home runs, 81 RBI, and an .831 OPS. He was near his average in home runs and RBI after just 109 games last season before he was named in the Biogenesis scandal and was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games.

After initially considering fighting the penalty, Cruz decided to sit out the 50 games. He played his last regular season game on August 4, but returned for the one game playoff between wild card winners Texas and Tampa Bay. Cruz went 0-4 in the Rays 5-2 victory.