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Inbox: Will Sox go for J.D. and top-tier starter?

Beat reporter Ian Browne fields questions from fans
December 28, 2017

With the re-signing of Mitch Moreland (I'm a fan), will the Red Sox go for J.D. Martinez and get in the race for Jacob Arrieta and Yu Darvish? A lock down, top-tier starter could bode well for the postseason and then they could go after a marquee free agent in

With the re-signing of Mitch Moreland (I'm a fan), will the Red Sox go for J.D. Martinez and get in the race for Jacob Arrieta and Yu Darvish? A lock down, top-tier starter could bode well for the postseason and then they could go after a marquee free agent in 2018.
-- Stephen, Dublin, Ireland

I could see this being an either/or scenario. My feeling is that the Red Sox are still prioritizing Martinez, and they are hoping they can find common ground with him this offseason on a contract. But if this doesn't come to fruition, perhaps the Red Sox could change their strategy and go all in on pitching. Adding Darvish or Arrieta to a rotation that already includes Chris Sale and David Price would be an intriguing way to counter with the Yankees boosting their offense with Giancarlo Stanton.
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Should the Red Sox wait for Manny Machado instead of signing Martinez?
-- Adriano R., Danbury, Conn.

It is clear the Red Sox have identified a certain value for Martinez in terms of dollars and length of the contract. If not, they would have thrown caution to the wind and signed him already. If they don't feel they can reach what they feel is a fair deal, they might have to have a "bridge" year with the offense and go all in on Machado or Bryce Harper next offseason. There are definitely a lot of different factors at play this offseason.
Why not try to re-sign Eduardo Nunez? He is versatile, has good speed and can hit.
-- Tim R., Red Boiling Springs, Tenn.

The Red Sox definitely like Nunez as a player. But if they are going to sign him, they need to know that they have a roster spot open for him and also some playing time. I think this is all contingent on the negotiations with Martinez. If that falls through, the team will start looking at other ways to bolster the roster, and signing Nunez could be one of those ways.

Has Rusney Castillo turned into a hopeless prospect? Is there any possibility that he could still develop into a Major League team contributor? Certainly his power potential could be very helpful, but he is never mentioned in the Red Sox's depth chart.
-- David, New York

I wouldn't say hopeless. Castillo had a nice year at Triple-A last season. The problem is that the Red Sox's outfield is full. In fact, that area is the biggest strength of the team. By putting Castillo back on the 40-man roster, his salary would once again be part of the team's payroll when it comes to calculating the collective bargaining tax. That's a significant ramification for someone who would, at this stage, be a bench player. I would expect Castillo to get an invitation to Major League camp. At least that way, he will have a chance to showcase his skills to other teams and at least create the possibility of a trade. The reason he hasn't been on the depth chart is because he's not on the 40-man roster.
Do you see any scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. has a long-term future with the Red Sox?
-- Tyler, Needham, Mass.

I wouldn't rule it out. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has always valued defense in center field, and Bradley is one of the very best in that regard. Much of it depends on how long-term negotiations go with some of the other players who have come up through the farm system along with Bradley.

It's doubtful the Red Sox will be able to extend Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Bradley. At some point, they might have to choose according to how negotiations go with each player. Fortunately, Betts and Bradley remain under the contractual control of the team for three more years, and Bogaerts can't become a free agent until after the '19 season.
What are the Sox going to do with Blake Swihart? It seems like we don't have room in the lineup for him to get regular at-bats, and he's out of options. Could he be a part of a trade for Jose Abreu or perhaps a pitcher?
-- Julian B., Lynchburg, Va.

The thinking right now is that Swihart will come to camp and prove what he can do. The Red Sox envision a scenario in which he can be a third catcher while also providing depth in the outfield and first base. If Swihart can rediscover his stroke, he could be a nice switch-hitting bat to have on the bench. As for a trade, his value isn't all that high right now considering the injuries and ineffectiveness he's had the past two years. But sure the Red Sox would consider moving him if another team requested him in a trade.
Looks like we need an eighth-inning setup man. Do you think we could re-sign Addison Reed or bring in someone else? Also, who is going to be the fifth starter since Doug Fister is gone?
-- Joey M., Quincy, Mass.

Other teams are in talks with Reed, including the Rockies. He could get the opportunity to close somewhere else, which would probably make that a more appealing situation for him than Boston. The Red Sox feel confident that Carson Smith, Joe Kelly or Matt Barnes can emerge as the eighth-inning pitcher. Right now, Eduardo Rodriguez slots in as the fifth starter once he returns from right knee surgery. He could only miss the first couple of weeks of the regular season. Steven Wright and Christopher Johnson are also options for that spot.

I keep hearing all of this talk about Bryce Brentz potentially getting the starts in games vs. lefties. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this possibility considering he is unproven in the Majors. A significant amount of playing time would be taken away from Andrew Benintendi, and he has proven himself as an impact player. Thoughts?
-- Kevin L., Cincinnati, Ohio

Last season, in 131 plate appearances against lefties, Benintendi had one homer and a .622 OPS. If Brentz can be a threat against lefties, it's a chance for manager Alex Cora to get either Benintendi or Bradley a rest against lefties. It is a long season, so there's no need to run anyone into the ground. The best teams are the ones that have many players contributing. Brentz will try to prove he can be someone the team can depend on against lefties.