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Inbox: Do Red Sox have chance to land Ohtani?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers fans' questions
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

Is there any chance the Red Sox could be in on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes?
-- Julian B., Lynchburg, Va.

There will be a large contingent of teams trying to acquire Ohtani, and I'm all but certain the Red Sox will be one of them. But the obstacle for Boston is this: Its allotted bonus pool for Ohtani is $462,500. The Rangers, Yankees and Twins can both offer him over $3 million, and the Pirates, Marlins and Mariners are all at $1.5 million or higher.

Is there any chance the Red Sox could be in on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes?
-- Julian B., Lynchburg, Va.

There will be a large contingent of teams trying to acquire Ohtani, and I'm all but certain the Red Sox will be one of them. But the obstacle for Boston is this: Its allotted bonus pool for Ohtani is $462,500. The Rangers, Yankees and Twins can both offer him over $3 million, and the Pirates, Marlins and Mariners are all at $1.5 million or higher.

What the Red Sox do have is a history of making Japanese players feel comfortable. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara all spoke highly of the way the organization went above and beyond to help players bridge the culture gap. I'm sure Ohtani will do his due diligence and reach out to some of these Japanese players who had positive experiences with Boston.

The Red Sox would also have to make a persuasive pitch to Ohtani about his potential role with the club, and I'm guessing he would want assurances that he'd be able to hit and pitch.

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There are a lot of rumors surrounding Jackie Bradley Jr. being traded in the offseason. Assuming he doesn't get packaged in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton, could you see him being traded if the Red Sox receive J.D. Martinez via free agency?
-- Steve H., Mount Airy, Md.

If Boston acquires Martinez or Stanton, it would suddenly have four accomplished outfielders for just three positions. You'd have to think that would lead to a trade. Bradley is an elite defender in center, so the Red Sox definitely don't want to trade him. But there are only nine spots in the starting lineup. If Bradley is traded, it could be for a middle infielder to help fill the void while Dustin Pedroia is out, or the Red Sox could add some pitching. Don't rule out trading for a prospect or two to help supplement the farm system, either.

Will the Red Sox have to pay most of Stanton's contract if they obtain him in a trade?
-- Chris B., Provincetown, Mass.

Yes. Boston doesn't have the premium prospects to offer in a Stanton trade that some other clubs do, so it would likely have to make up for that by taking most of the financial commitment off of Miami's hands.

Why don't the Red Sox want to re-sign Mitch Moreland?
-- Ludwig, Puerto Rico

There's still a chance Moreland could be back. He was a good fit on the team last year, and he had a couple of prolonged hot streaks when the Red Sox needed it. Right now, Boston is keeping its options open at first base. This could be the position where president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski makes his big move on offense. And Hanley Ramirez could wind up being the first baseman if the Red Sox go out and get a designated hitter. But depending on how the offseason evolves, Moreland could also wind up coming back on another short-term deal. He enjoyed playing in Boston.

Don't you feel that last year's 168-homer total was a fluke? Even if the Red Sox don't add a big bat, this team could still hit 225-250 homers. My pick for a surprise power surge is Christian Vazquez.
-- Ski, Hertford, N.C.

I agree that the Red Sox have more power in-house than they showed last year. Xander Bogaerts went from 21 homers in 2016 to 10 in '17. Ramirez dropped to 23 after hitting 30 the year before. Bradley belted 26 homers in '16 before slipping to 17 this past season. Mookie Betts went from 31 to 24. Rafael Devers, with a full season under his belt in '18, could hit 30 home runs or more.

With the exception of Ramirez, these are all young players still in their prime years, which means their best production could still be ahead of them. I wouldn't count on Vazquez's power. He is invaluable for what he does behind the plate. But he could certainly hit 10-15 homers if he gets more playing time going forward. That said, of course Dombrowski is going to explore avenues outside the organization to get more power. Better to have too much than not enough, right?

Why do you never hear of the Red Sox pursuing Joey Votto?
-- Colin L., New Brunswick, Canada

Votto nearly won the National League Most Valuable Player Award this past season, so I'm not sure the Reds are in much of a rush to get rid of him. He also has a full no-trade clause -- which would complicate matters further -- and he has always enjoyed playing in Cincinnati.

Does Bryce Brentz have a future as an outfielder with the Red Sox?
-- Mark V, Syracuse, N.Y.

Brentz is likely to get a chance to be the fourth outfielder and start against just about all left-handed pitchers this season. If he can excel in that role, perhaps the role will expand in time. This will be the first time Brentz will get an extended chance to prove he belongs at this level, so he will have to take advantage of the opportunity. He has always had good raw power, and it showed at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2017.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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