ORLANDO — The signing did not generate much notice because it came during the postseason. But the Red Sox have already added a pitcher they believe can help the team next season.
He’s 27-year-old righthander Dalier Hinojosa, a Cuban defector who was signed to a $4.25 million minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Hinojosa pitched for Guantanamo in the Cuban League from 2005-12 and in a series of international tournaments.
“He’s a starter and he’ll likely come to camp as a starter,” general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday during the second day of the GM meetings. “If he’s not on the [major league] team, he’ll likely be a starter on the minor league level.
“Our scouts liked his stuff. It was an opportunity to acquire someone without a big league contract, a guy that we can control who we think is close to major league ready.
“If he is what our scouts think he is, he’s an affordable pitching option for the next several years.”
Hinojosa has a good fastball and scouts from other teams believed he would eventually end up in the bullpen.
The Red Sox have not yet extended a multiyear offer to first baseman Mike Napoli.
It was widely reported the Sox made Napoli such an offer. But multiple industry sources have now confirmed that the only offer the Red Sox have made to Napoli is the $14.1 million qualifying offer, which he refused.
The Red Sox do want to keep Napoli and Napoli wants to stay, but they’ll have some competition from several teams who could use Napoli as a first baseman and DH. The Orioles, Yankees, Giants, Marlins, Rangers, Blue Jays, White Sox, Rockies, and Mariners are all potential suitors.
The season did not end well for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. After serving as the primary catcher of the Red Sox for most of the year, he was benched for the final three games of the World Series.
A poorly timed throw in Game 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals led to David Ross going into the lineup and staying there. The Red Sox won all three games and Saltalamacchia was a subdued celebrant.
Manager John Farrell said at the time that Saltalamacchia was angry and he expected that emotion. Saltalamacchia also was frustrated that the Red Sox had not approached him about signing a contract extension during the regular season, believing he had proved himself worthy of their faith.
After the season ended, Saltalamacchia complained that the Red Sox hadn’t called immediately to express an interest in bringing him back, something that team officials said was not true.
In the last week, the sides have opened talks and there is mutual interest, according to sources. The question is whether Saltalamacchia can get a more lucrative deal elsewhere. Given the lack of offensively productive catchers, the market for Saltalamacchia should be active.
The Red Sox might prefer a short-term option such as Carlos Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, to work with Ross. The organization believes that 23-year-old prospect Christian Vazquez has great potential but may not be ready for regular duty until 2015.
Cherington said that bench coach Torey Lovullo has agreed to a new contract and is “very happy.”
The Cubs were said to be interested in Lovullo as a managerial candidate but never requested permission to interview him. When Theo Epstein left the Red Sox for the Cubs in 2011, his separation agreement is believed to have included a clause banning Chicago from hiring away Red Sox employees for a span of three years.
“We believe he’s absolutely a strong managerial candidate,” Cherington said. “Probably not for 2014 because all of those positions are filled now. But certainly ones will come open in the future.”
No rule change
Game 3 of the World Series ended when the Red Sox were called for obstruction. Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said there are no plans to change the rule. “I was proud of [the umpires] because they called it correctly,” Torre said. “It just happened to be a play that ended the game.” . . . Dustin Pedroia’s thumb surgery was postponed until Wednesday in Arizona . . . Tim Wakefield will receive the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award from the MLB Players Alumni Association on Sunday in New York . . . Double A first baseman Travis Shaw was named the Arizona Fall League Player of the Week, Shaw was 7 of 13 with two doubles, a home run, two RBIs, and five walks for Surprise. Shaw is hitting .352/.446/.722 in 54 at-bats in the AFL. He has five home runs and 17 RBIs over 15 games. Shaw, 23, is coming off a disappointing season in Portland in which he hit .221 with a .736 OPS. He struck out 117 times in 444 at-bats but did draw 78 walks.