Regarding the 2014 roster and beyond. If you look at the success of this years team. The players makeup is almost as important as the backs of their baseball cards.
Starting pitching; we're dealing from a position of strength with 6 quality starters returning for the 2014 season and at least two or three down on the farm poised to make an impact at the big league level In 2014 or 2015. In 2014 Lester and Peavy will both be on the last years of their deals and will be FA entering 2015 season. Lackey and Dempster are signed through 2015 and will be FA entering the 2016 season.
Down on the farm: Workman, Ranaundo, Webster, Owens & Barnes are all poised to make the jump in the next two years. Workman showed this year that he's very capable of being a part of a big league rotation.
Short term: how agressive will they be in trying to resign Lester to join Buccholz & Doubront as part of the 3 to 5 year nucleus? Given the depth of our rotation under contract with Workman also showing promise in his spot starts this year. The Sox are positioned to trade pitching to address position player needs for 2014 and beyond.
Bullpen: Always a work in progress, next year and beyond will be no different.
Not sure if we'll have any budget room to add anyone to the pen.
Closer: Uehara is now a lock to be the closer in 2014. The question is do they try to sign him to a longer term deal this offseason.
He's too old for a "longterm" deal, but adding a year could be possible.
Setup: Tazawa, Morales, Breslow, Bailey & Miller are all under the teams control, so too is Thornton but he's likely to be released with the return of Miller...Britton showed flashes of promise and will be in the mix. Beato will serve much the same role and ride the Pawtucket express...
Short term: Righthanded setup to help lighten the load on Tazawa...could be Bailey, but given his fragility...they may give a couple of the big armed kids on the farm a long look or acquire someone through free agency or trades.
The pen will almost certainly be all from what's in the sytem now.
Free agents: Ellsbury, Napoli, Saltalamaccia, Drew and Macdonald. In term of impact all but MacDonald will be tendered qualifying offers. Salty is perhaps the one that falls into the toughest to replace.
Outfield: Victorino, Gomes, Nava and Carp are all under the teams control. Victorino gives us some position flexibility in the he can play both CF and RF...the other three fall into the platoon roles similar to how they were used this past season.
Down on the farm: Bradley Jr and Brentz seem to be the two closest to making the jump. Bradley is the guy but based on his play since being promoted, looks to be slightly overmatched and not sure the Sox are ready to hand him a starting job entering 2014.
The problem is that only Victorino and JBJ can play plus defense in CF and RF, and Shane has injury issues. Nava/Gomes make a great LF platoon, but it's almost impossible to play Carp and Gomes in the OF at the same time.
Short term: It's a fairly simple to do resign Ellsbury or make a play for another FA or use our surplus of arms to acquire a quality bat.
Agreed, but I'm not seeing Ellsbury's projected deal cost as better than the alternative.
Best fits on the market: Ellsbury, Granderson, Davis, Choo or Pence.
I think Ben goes after Pence. I don't think any of these 5 guys fills our 3/4 slot in the line-up very well.
Infiield: Pedrioa is currently the only guy that we can safely assume will man his current position heading into 2014. Middlebrooks is a lock to man one of the corners...Bogearts is a lock to make the club too And play on the left side of the infield. Ross and Lavarnway are both signed but neither is IMHO the answer for the starting catcher role.
Down on the farm: not sure we have many if any prospects not named Boegarts ready to impact next years team. Marrero & Holt could be in the mix for a utility role.
Short term: I think the biggest question aside from starting catcher (can and will resign Salty) is are they better with or without Drew playing SS. Lots of moving pieces and much of it hinges on where they see Middlebrooks and Boegarts playing.
Although moving 2 players (Bogey to 3B and Middy to 1B) sounds radical just to make room for Drew, I think it is a better fielding IF than Bogey at SS, Middy at 3B, and Carp/Nava/Lava/papi at 1B.
Best fits on the market: C Salty, McCann, Pierzinski, 1B Napoli, Morneau, Morales & Loney, 3B Uribe, Polanco, Young.
I think we sign Salty and then 2 of these 4 guys: Drew, Pence, Choo, K Morales, Napoli.
Conclusions: if we keep it simple and all players are amenable to signing. Bringing back Drew, Salty & Ellsbury with Boegarts at 3rd and Middlebrooks at 1st would set up this club to contend for the foreseeable future...
Agreed, but I doubt Jacoby comes back, so maybe Drew, Salty & Pence.