The Boston Red Sox began to play catch-up by getting All-Star catcher Mike Napoli, Tampa Bay took a chance on James Loney and the New York Yankees prepared for more time minus Alex Rodriguez during a brisk Monday at baseball’s winter meetings.
Coming off a last-place finish, Boston tried to resolve its catching situation by signing Napoli to a $39 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press.
The Red Sox are aiming at another prize, too, exploring trade possibilities to pry Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Boston GM Ben Cherington didn’t mention the knuckleballer by name, simply saying the price for pitching was “definitely pretty steep for the better guys.”
The World Series champion San Francisco Giants kept center fielder Angel Pagan while the Texas Rangers brought back catcher Geovany Soto and neared a deal with injured closer Joakim Soria.
Top free agent Josh Hamilton remained in play after hitting 43 home runs with 128 RBIs for the Rangers last season.
The Yankees know Rodriguez won’t be in the lineup on opening day. The 37-year-old third baseman, looking nothing like the slugger who ranks fifth on the career list with 647 homers, will have surgery on his left hip and could be out until the All-Star break.
Loney found a new home in Tampa Bay. The 28-year-old first baseman hit a combined .249 with six homers and 41 RBIs for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston.
Left-hander Zach Duke agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Washington Nationals.
Safety was also a subject at the meetings.
There were talks that pitchers could experiment with protective hat liners next season, hoping they can absorb the shock of batted balls such as the ones that struck Brandon McCarthy and Doug Fister in the head.
The liners, weighing perhaps five ounces or less, would go under a pitcher’s cap and help protect against line drives that often travel over 100 mph.
Ruppert, O’Day, White elected to baseball Hall
Jacob Ruppert brought Babe Ruth to New York, built Yankee Stadium and transformed the pinstripers into baseball’s most dominant power. He did so much, many people just figured the owner called the Colonel was already enshrined at the Hall of Fame.
Ruppert, longtime umpire Hank O’Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White were elected for their excellence through the first half of the 20th century.
O’Day umpired in 10 World Series, including the first one in 1903. He worked 35 years and made one of the most famous calls in the game’s history, ruling Fred Merkle out in a 1908 play. He was the 10th umpire to go into the Hall.
White played from 1871-1890, starting out as a catcher without a glove and later moving to third base. He was a three-time RBIs leader, once topping the league with 49 RBIs.
Dykstra sentenced in bankruptcy fraud case
Former All-Star outfielder Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to 6 1/2 months in prison for hiding baseball gloves and other heirlooms from his playing days that were supposed to be part of his bankruptcy filing, capping a tumultuous year of legal woes.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson also ordered Dykstra to pay $200,000 in restitution and perform 500 hours of community service. He pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and money laundering charges.
Clearing the bases
John Kruk will be Terry Francona’s replacement in the booth for Sunday night telecasts next season. … The Arizona Diamondbacks have sold right-hander Brad Bergesen to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. … The U.S. plays its first World Baseball Classic game March 8 against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix.