December 6, 2012

Major League Notebook: Farrell, Red Sox GM have a chat with free agent Hamilton

The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Boston Red Sox are talking to the highest-profile outfielder remaining on the free-agent market, according to multiple media reports.

Josh Hamilton spoke with Red Sox Manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington on Wednesday at the winter meetings.

With Johnny Gomes lined up to play left field and Shane Victorino capable of playing center field or right field, a Hamilton signing could mean the end of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s stay in Boston. However, Cherington told MLB.com that Ellsbury isn’t on the trading block.

“No, that’s not our intent,” Cherington said. “We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing.”

Victorino landed a three-year, $39 million contract after Gomes received a two-year, $10 million deal.

Hamilton’s price tag would be far higher. He was expected to be seeking six or seven years at $20 million to $25 million per season.

Hamilton hit .285 with 43 homers and 128 RBI in 148 games for the Rangers last season, his fifth with Texas. His offense isn’t the question mark. The main concern is his history of injuries and his previous battles with drug addiction.

MARINERS: Free-agent outfielder Jason Bay reached a one-year contract with Seattle, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

Bay, 34, is hoping to resurrect his career with the Mariners after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the New York Mets.

ANGELS: A person familiar with the negotiations said Los Angeles agreed to a $15 million, two-year contract with right-hander Joe Blanton.

Blanton's deal includes a team option for 2015.

The Angels also agreed with reliever Sean Burnett on an $8 million, two-year deal, pending a physical. The 30-year-old left-hander was 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 70 games this year for the Washington Nationals. 

WHITE SOX: A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press that versatile infielder Jeff Keppinger reached agreement with Chicago on a $12 million, three-year contract.

Keppinger hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBI for Tampa Bay last season. 

CARDINALS: A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that left-handed reliever Randy Choate and St. Louis agreed to a $7.5 million, three-year contract.

Choate had a 3.03 ERA and no record in 80 games this year, tying for the major league lead in pitching appearances. He held left-handed batters to a .158 average (16 for 101) and righties hit .325 against him (13 for 40).

Choate was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Miami Marlins in July along with shortstop Hanley Ramirez as the Marlins started to get rid of payroll. 

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona and infielder Eric Chavez agreed to terms on a $3 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Chavez's new deal is pending a physical. In addition, the Diamondbacks reached agreement on a one-year deal with catcher Wil Nieves, another person said on condition of anonymity because Nieves still needed to complete a physical to make it official.

The 34-year-old Chavez hit .281 with 16 homers in 278 at-bats for the New York Yankees, playing first and third base, and at designated hitter.

Chavez, who lives in the Phoenix area, will likely serve in a reserve role for Arizona, which has Chris Johnson at third base and Paul Goldschmidt at first.

The 35-year-old Nieves, who wasn't tendered a contract by Arizona last week, batted .306 with a home run and three RBI in 16 games for the D-backs in 2012. 

PADRES: Pitcher Andrew Cashner cut a tendon in his right thumb during a hunting accident and probably will start the season on the disabled list. 

ROCKIES: A person familiar with the negotiations said pitcher Jeff Francis is staying with Colorado. 

ORIOLES: A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that free-agent outfielder Nate McLouth rejoined Baltimore with a one-year contract worth $2 million. 

BRAVES: Atlanta exercised its 2014 option on the contract of Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who managed the Portland Sea Dogs in 1997. 

CUBS: Manager Dale Sveum said he's OK after former teammate Robin Yount accidentally shot him in the right ear and back with pellets during a recent quail hunt in Arizona.

Sveum brushed off the bloody mishap at the baseball winter meetings and said he didn't need stitches.

Yount got the bird, plus some razzing from his friend. Sveum said he started calling him "Dick Cheney," a reference to the former vice president who once accidentally shot a friend while hunting. 

TRADE: The Detroit Tigers traded left-hander Andy Oliver to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Ramon Cabrera.

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