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Red Sox Hot Stove Report 
Tampa Bay Trades, January 23, 2011

Although the Tampa Bay Rays have traded their ace Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett, lost Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Dan Wheeler and Rafael Soriano to free-agency, and have appeared to have given up any hope of competing money-wise with the golden-gooses of the AL East, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Devil Rays fans can at least take a small bit of comfort in recent free-agent signings the team has made. The Rays have recently signed former Sox and Yankee Johnny Damon to a one-year incentive-laden contract worth about $5.5 million dollars. They also went out and signed former two-time world series championship, he of 500+ homers and with questionable dreadlocks, Manny Ramirez.

Nobody can say that these deals will not at least make the games against the Rays bearable for Red Sox fans down in Tropicana Field in St. Pete, where the Red Sox have struggled in recent years. There was once a time where a road trip to Florida almost guaranteed a sweep for the Red Sox.

The New York Yankees signed Soriano to a multi-year contract, after he had pitched an amazing season in relief for the Rays, which is probably a bigger loss to the bullpen than Dan Wheeler was. The Yankees now have someone else who can be effective in the bullpen besides Mariano Rivera, after the Yankees let Kerry Wood, a one-time ace for the Cubs, and now star relief pitcher, go to free-agency.

Rumors out of the winter GM meetings showed the Red Sox were trying to unload embattled closer Jonathan Papelbon, in a trade to the Oakland Athletics, or the Chicago White Sox, but both those teams signed other relievers. This may be the final year Papelbon pitches for the Red Hose, as he struggled with 8 blown saves and a 3.90 ERA in 2010. Daniel Bard, may be looking to take over the closer position in his absence, or newly signed fire-baller Bobby Jenks. Even so, Papelbon was signed to a $12 million dollar one-year deal. Next year he will be looking for even more, as he becomes a free agent in 2012.

A pitchers and catchers report will be published in under a month, as spring will soon be in the air. With the current winter storms in the Boston area, spring training can's come soon enough.

— Roman Llimar

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