Sunrise at Fenway Park
Despite missing out on Mark Teixeira, life is good in Boston. The astute John Smoltz and ridiculously cheap Rocco Baldelli signings only make the two-time World Series champions of this decade all that much stronger.
Smoltz is coming off major surgery on his right shoulder and won't be fully recovered until June. When healthy, he will join an already potent starting rotation featuring Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny, not to mention Clay Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter in his second major league start just 16 months ago and was considered one of the brightest prospects in the game.
Think of Smoltz as the new Curt Schilling. A veteran with one of the best postseason records in baseball who can throw strikes and still miss bats. The short-term commitments to Smoltzie and Penny will cost the Red Sox just over $10 million and any additional outlays will be gladly paid if one or both can meet their performance bonuses.
Baldelli will earn a base salary of $500,000 with incentives that could double his compensation if he were to reach 350 plate appearances. Should Boston get that much playing time out of Rocco for just a million dollars, this contract will be the steal of the offseason. Sure, the "hometown" boy has had some health issues of late, but he is only 27, can play all three outfield positions, runs well, and can hit for both average and power.
Now, if the Red Sox can just sign or trade for a starting catcher...
Update: The smart just keep getting smarter. Red Sox sign free-agent Saito.
The Red Sox, taking another low-risk, high-reward gamble, have signed free-agent reliever Takashi Saito to a one-year contract with a club option for 2010, according to major-league sources.
The deal was completed after Saito passed his physical on Friday. It includes a guarantee between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, the sources said, and Saito will have the chance to earn more than $7 million if he reaches all of his incentives.
The club's overall pitching depth may allow it to swing a deal with Texas for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden. Both are young catchers. Salty, 23, was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and was one of the keys to the Mark Teixeira deal with Atlanta in 2007. Teagarden, 25, has hit .267/.390/.509 in his minor league career and slugged six home runs in 53 plate appearances in his major league debut for the Rangers last season.