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Ask Nick Red Sox Mailbag

What decisions are left for Red Sox this spring?

The Red Sox open the regular season on Monday in Baltimore.

AP

The Red Sox open the regular season on Monday in Baltimore.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – There are still a few decisions to be made in the final few days of spring training. Among them:

Final bullpen spot: It would seem likely that Craig Breslow starts the season on the disabled list, a move the team can back-date. Who would take his spot for a short period of time? There’s some sentiment for Brandon Workman. Manager John Farrell is still torn about whether it’s better for Workman to be a middle reliever or pitch every fifth day in Pawtucket. Is this spot better suited temporarily for Drake Britton or Francisco Cordero/Tommy Layne (which would have to create a roster spot)?

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Grady Sizemore vs. Jackie Bradley Jr. for center field job: If Sizemore passes the test of three games in a row, he’s in and Bradley likely heads to Pawtucket. Bradley was playing right field in today’s game against the Rays.

Jon Lester: Contract talks may continue this week, but unless there’s a big rush at the end, Lester may go into the season without a deal.

Felix Doubront: Been shaky lately. Always wondered whether the team would consider moving him to the bullpen and starting Workman, but they don’t appear to be there yet.

Chris Capuano: We hear there are teams out there starting to get curious about whether the Red Sox would deal him to a place he could be used as an end-of-rotation starter. Teams like the contract ($4.25 million).

Here’s the mailbag:

Does the Max Scherzer situation in Detroit affect John Lester’s situation at all? Doesn’t it ensure Lester won’t be better than the second-best pitcher on the market, making a deal with the Red Sox a little more attractive?

Mark, Needham

All of these deals or non-deals are comparatives for Lester. I’ve said all along I think something will get done because Lester’s agents - the Levinson Brothers - usually broker discounted deals for their players. Dustin Pedroia is a prime example. I don’t think Lester was ever going to get Scherzer money. The hangup is going to be years. The Red Sox won’t go more than five. We know the money has to be north of $20 million per year. If they do it for less than that, it would be amazing coup. There’s great risk for a pitcher to go through his free-agency year without a deal. Not sure Lester wants to do that.

I’m a little confused by the Red Sox extending Ortiz through 2015 at $16 million. If age finally catches up to him this year, that’ll be a big hit on the payroll next season. Wouldn’t it have been wiser (and cheaper) to simply extend him a qualifying offer next offseason if he performed well this season? I find it unlikely that another team would give up a draft pick to sign Ortiz at this point in his career.

Yoav, Toronto

The Red Sox didn’t want a disgruntled player on their team all year. He’s also been a great ambassador for the team. Extending him at that rate is a no-brainer. Until he shows he’s not one of the best hitters in baseball, you have to take that risk. And I disagree that no team would sign him. If he’s hitting 30 homers and driving in 100 runs with a .950 OPS, the New York Yankees for one would have been all ears.

I always hear of organizations “coveting” a certain player. For example I’ve heard that Theo Epstein really “wanted” Adrian Gonzalez for a long time before being able to acquire him. Given that the Red Sox will have unparalleled salary flexibility in 2015 as well as the ability/willingness to spend in the top three of all baseball, do you know of any player/s that the organization is drooling over whose last name is not Stanton?

Tyler, Warrenton, Va.

Sure, who wouldn’t drool over Mike Trout? But that’s never going to happen unless he has a contract dispute down the road with the Angels. Jose Fernandez of the Marlins would be another. But unless there’s some unusual circumstances these elite young players aren’t going anywhere. With Stanton, there will come a point, and probably this offseason, where they either tie him up long term or they will realize they can’t sign him and get a haul for him.

Any reason for the Sox to consider trading Will Middlebrooks to the Indians for Justin Masterson? I like the thought of a rotation of Lester, Masterson and Buchholz for the foreseeable future, not to mention the potential of Doubront and Brandon Workman.

David, Aurora, Ohio

I think if the Red Sox had a void at starting pitcher, Masterson would be attractive to them, but if they believe in Owens, Barnes, Ranaudo, Workman, then I don’t see it. They would have to tie Masterson up with a long-term deal and already they’re trying to do that with Lester. Good thought. Certainly a good player for the Indians, but I’d be very surprised.

I like the idea of restocking the minors with quality prospects. Apparently the Pirates have a need at first base and catcher. What do you think the Red Sox could get in return for a package of Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Carp? Maybe this player to be named could be added to package of players to acquire Stanton?

Phil, Prospect, Conn.

Prospects would certainly be their target, but at this stage as Lavarnway tries to rekindle his career, he’s not worth much in a deal. No team is going to give you a lot for Carp, either, which is why they haven’t traded him. He’s been a platoon player. So my answer is, you’re not going to get much of a top tier prospect for either guy.

There have been quite a lot of comments about Clay Buchholz throwing to first without any apparent reason, even with the runner standing on the bag. I am wondering if this might have to do with either having poor peripheral vision or perhaps being gun shy about turning his neck toward first as a result of his injury from last year.

Mike, Portland, Maine

Sometimes pitchers just do it to send the “I know you’re there” message. And I’m sure that’s what it is. I don’t think it has anything to do with a neck injury.

What’s Daniel Nava’s contract situation? Any chance he gets an extension? He’s one of the most productive outfielders in the league, and one of the biggest bargains in baseball.

Paul, Sacramento, Calif.

Daniel is on a one-year deal for $1.14 million and he’s not eligible for free agency until 2018. I would never say they wouldn’t do a longer deal, but there’s no need to on the team’s part if they have that type of control over him.

After a fleeting moment last week when he seemed destined to sign with Detroit, Stephen Drew appears likely to begin the 2014 season without a job. How will his well-publicized unemployment affect Scott Boras’s reputation within baseball? Do you think players will hesitate to partner with him after watching his always-test-the-market approach fail so spectacularly for Drew?

Daniel, Providence, RI

Some will and some have left him for other agencies, but players generally think the world of Boras. He’s one of the smartest people in the game of baseball. Is he pig-headed? Sure. But think about it. If you’re Stephen Drew, why wouldn’t you think you can get a multi-year deal after you’re coming off a World Series where everybody on your team credits you as one of the top reasons why? Sure, $14.1 million is a lot of money to turn down for you and I. Well, I’ll speak for myself. But for a professional athlete with a track record, why would he not think he can get multiple years? And it doesn’t have to be at $14 million-plus. Players love security beyond one year. They want to know they’ll be in a place for a certain length of time.

With all the talk of a new Fenway Park, which I am in favor of at some point, just not yet, the question is where would it go? Seaport District would seem cool. And with that being said can they then turn Fenway into a museum? Would this not appease both sides of the matter to old faithful fans and new. You could have exhibitions there. And with all the talk of outside hockey, I always thought it would be a great place to have the Beanpot every year.

Chris, Boston

I don’t think there’s any talk of a new Fenway. John Henry said there won’t be one during his stewardship.

I will jump in on the Wade Boggs retired number issue. In my mind, once you sign with the Yankees, you are no longer a Red Sox. I don’t care if you sign with anybody else, but when you join the team that spent much of the last 100 years tormenting the Red Sox and gloating over it, you’re gone in my book. I know this is not a majority opinion, but I’m not the only one with this opinion.

Rick, Princeton, NJ

You’re entitled to it. But it’s childish. And I think deep down you know that.

If Grady Sizemore is on the opening day roster who do you think goes? JBJ back to Triple A? A trade of Nava, Gomes or Carp?

Dennis, Rouses Point, NY

That’s interesting. The easiest thing to do would be to send JBJ back to Pawtucket and that way you protect everyone on the roster. Who knows? Maybe they have a deal in mind that creates a different scenario.

When a team makes a qualifying offer to a free agent (like the Sox’ $14.1 offer for Stephen Drew), when does it expire? Could Drew decide to accept the offer still? Later?

Andy, Boston

They must react seven days after its made. That ship has sailed.

With regard to Miller being a potential closer, why don’t we see more lefthanded closers in the game? Is it because of the ratio of righthanded batters to lefthanded batters? Just think of how imposing Randy Johnson would have been as a closer ... not that he wasn’t a great starter.

Thomas, Timmins, Ontario, Canada

Sure, there has to be that perfect storm. Have to be able to get righties and lefties out. Miller has shown he can do that. Now he needs the opportunity. The only thing you still worry about is command.

To ask Nick Cafardo a question for the next edition of Ask Nick, tweet one at him at @nickcafardo.
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