Why didn't the Red Sox extend a qualifying offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia? It would be a real shame to see him leave and get nothing in return, especially if Brian McCann ends up elsewhere.
-- Mark C., West Hartford, Conn.
By not extending a qualifying offer to Saltalamacchia, all it meant was that the Red Sox don't deem it a good investment to pay him $14.1 million for next season. It also means they are willing to not get a Draft pick if he leaves. Take away those two factors, and I think the Sox see a lot of value in Saltalamacchia returning for another year or two. Not only is he a dangerous bat from the left side of the plate, but he has gotten increasingly comfortable handling the pitching staff the past couple of years.
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If Saltalamacchia goes and the Sox don't sign McCann, why couldn't they go into 2014 with a Ryan Lavarnway-David Ross platoon at catcher?
-- Corey, Needham, Mass.
My thought is this: Lavarnway hasn't shown the Red Sox enough at the plate or behind it at this point to make them commit to him. This is a vital position, one the Red Sox aren't willing to gamble at. I agree that they could have some good prospects along the way, but at this point, I'm sure Boston will have another established catcher alongside Ross.
Why doesn't Daniel Nava get any respect? As the Sox look ahead to 2014 without Jacoby Ellsbury, why don't they move Shane Victorino to center and install Nava permanently in right?
-- Ken B., Downers Grove, Ill.
I'm not sure why you think Nava doesn't get respect. I heard him praised by his manager and his teammates all season. Even if his role became diminished in October, there's no question how much Nava meant to the Red Sox in 2013. He put together some of the best at-bats on the team and had several big hits in the late innings. I think the Sox love him in the role he's in -- playing left field against right-handed pitchers and filling in as a right fielder when needed. It can be a big jump for some players to go from 450 at-bats to 600. Also, manager John Farrell has already said that he has Nava penciled in to be his primary left fielder against righties in '14.
What do you think is the most important managerial influence Farrell had on the team this season?
-- Michael T., Asbury Park, N.J.
It's hard to limit it to just one. But if I could only pick one, I'd say communication. Every player on the Red Sox knew exactly what their role was and what was expected of them. That's a credit to Farrell, and it happened instantly.
What are the chances that the Red Sox bring back both Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan? I know that Hanrahan is a free agent and the writing is on the wall that Bailey will be non-tendered based on his injury-plagued time in Boston.
-- Hunter R., Hampton, Va.
I wouldn't rule it out. They are both reclamation projects who will come at a discounted price. However, I'd say it's more likely they'll bring back one rehabbing pitcher than two. If I had to pick one, I'd say Bailey is more likely to return. He seems comfortable in his Boston surroundings and just hasn't had a chance to prove how reliable a pitcher he can be due to injuries.
How many years will the Red Sox be willing to offer Ellsbury? My guess is five, tops, but some other team will land him with perhaps seven. What's the fallback option?
-- Carlos George V., Torreon, Mexico
I'm guessing the Sox will max out at four years with their offer to Ellsbury. They don't want to make the same mistake they eventually corrected with Carl Crawford, offering a seven-year deal to a player in his early 30s who relies heavily on his legs.
I know that agent Scott Boras is known for simply maxing out money, but if Ellsbury wants to stay with his friends and teammates, what would he have to say to Boras?
-- Jay W., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Like any agent, Boras knows full well that he works for the player. It was clear in Jason Varitek's time with the Red Sox that his priority was to always stay in Boston, whatever it took, and Boras got on board with that. It remains to be seen what will drive Ellsbury's train in this case. Will it simply be top dollar? Or could he take less to stay in a place where he's comfortable?
Will Middlebrooks still seems like he's got upside. So why are the Sox in the "start him next year, or trade him away" mode? Stephen Drew or Xander Bogaerts could get hurt, also.
-- Brian M., Elkton, Md.
The Red Sox never said they were in that mode. In fact, general manager Ben Cherington has already stated he'd be happy to have all three of those players in camp come Spring Training. The most underrated aspect of the Red Sox last season was their depth. The club is trying to build the very best team it can from 1-25, and 1-40. As team president/CEO Larry Lucchino likes to say, the Sox prefer to have deep depth.