Inbox: Where does Red Sox's farm system rank?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from fans

December 26th, 2016

Before the start of the offseason, the Red Sox had one of the best farm systems. Is this still the case or did they give up too much this offseason?

-- Kieran H., Melbourne, Australia

According to gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the Red Sox have gone from one of the top-rated farm systems in the game to the middle of the pack. Considering that they landed one of the premier pitchers in the game in , it's hard for me to think they gave up too much. To get a player like Sale, you're going to give up premium Major League talent or an exorbitant salary or top prospects. The Red Sox chose the latter.

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Now that the Sale trade has taken away some of the better prospects in the game, should we be nervous about the Sox in maybe 10 years?

-- Jack C., Sudbury, Mass.

Ten years is a long time to project in anything. To tell you the truth, that's plenty of time for the Red Sox to replenish their system. Every executive is different. Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington preferred to keep their prospects and eventually build around them. Dave Dombrowski tends to use them more as chips to trade for star players. Both ways have proven to work. At this point, I don't think you have to worry too much about 10 years down the line.

Who is in line to get the start on Opening Day among Sale, and ?

-- Tylor B., Amarillo, Texas

Manager John Farrell could literally pick out of a hat among the three of them and wouldn't be wrong. I actually think Sale, as the newcomer, would feel uncomfortable about unseating Porcello or Price on Opening Day. I think Porcello will get the first game as a reward for the American League Cy Young Award he won last season.

Now that was traded, who do you think will be the next player to be traded from the Major or Minor Leagues?

-- Matt B., Framingham, Mass.

I think the time is coming when the Red Sox are going to have to pick which catcher will lead them into the future between and . I'm guessing one of these two could be traded during 2017, with remaining as the other catcher.

Does work better in the bullpen this year with the loaded rotation? He has been there for most of his career, right?

-- Matt F., Louisville

It depends on how healthy is and what kind of level is pitching at. Pomeranz is probably the most useful reliever of the three, so that could be where he winds up. But there's also a chance someone gets hurt in camp or early in the season, then he's needed in the rotation.

How does the prospect acquired in the Buchholz trade -- Josh Tobias -- fit into the Red Sox's plans?

-- Terry A., Nashville

The hope is that Tobias develops into a useful piece, even if it as a reserve. The Red Sox really like his bat. He hasn't played above Class A yet, so it's too early to tell what he will become.

With entering his first year of arbitration, what is the likelihood a long-term extension is worked out before April?

-- Scott J., Scarborough, Maine

I wouldn't say that it is likely, but I do think the Red Sox will talk to Bogaerts, and this offseason about long-term extensions just to see how close the sides might be.