Red Sox make qualifying offers to 3 players

Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Mike Napoli their choices

After a job well done in 2013, John Farrell (left) and Ben Cherington are already thinking about what lies ahead in the 2014 season for the Red Sox.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
After a job well done in 2013, John Farrell (left) and Ben Cherington are already thinking about what lies ahead in the 2014 season for the Red Sox.

The World Series logos are still painted into the grass at Fenway Park and there are deep ruts in foul territory left by the duck boats from Saturday’s parade.

But Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell have started the process of preparing for next season.

“The baseball calendar doesn’t stop just because we played till nearly Halloween,” Farrell said.


The Red Sox took care of some business Monday by making qualifying offers of one year and $14.1 million to shortstop Stephen Drew, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and first baseman Mike Napoli.

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If Drew, Ellsbury, or Napoli signs with another team, the Red Sox will receive a supplemental first-round draft pick. The signing team would forfeit its first-round pick.

The first 10 overall picks are protected. Those teams would lose their second-round pick.

The players have until 5 p.m. next Monday to accept or reject the qualifying offer. Ellsbury and Napoli are almost sure to turn it down, knowing that they can land multiyear deals with the Red Sox or another team.

But Drew will have to at least consider it. The qualifying offer represents a $4.6 million raise from this season and would allow Drew to stay in a comfortable situation.


Drew also could find his value in the open market lowered because of the draft pick now attached to his price.

The compensation rule worked against several free agents last season, particularly Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche and Brewers righthander Kyle Lohse.

Lohse rejected an offer from the Cardinals and did not sign until March 25, accepting a three-year, $33 million deal that included $7 million in deferred payments.

Cherington said the offers were not made solely to ensure compensation. The Sox are comfortable with Drew returning.

“If any of them are accepted, we’d be happy with that outcome,” he said.


Cherington spoke to all of the free agents before they scattered for home and acknowledged that Ellsbury will be difficult to retain. There is speculation that he could receive a deal well beyond $100 million.

“Jacoby is a terrific player as everyone knows,” he said. “Of course we know we’re a better team when he’s on the field than when he’s not. That’s about all there is to say at this point.”

The Red Sox agreed on a three-year, $39 million deal with Napoli last winter. That was knocked down to a one-year deal after Napoli was found to have a degenerative disease in his hips. But the condition was controlled medically and Napoli had a productive season.

“Mike Napoli played a lot this year and was a huge part of our team. We’re making a qualifying offer to him. We obviously have interest in him returning and [are] certainly comfortable with a one-year deal worth $14.1 million,” Cherington said. “He’s one of the free agents we’d certainly have interest in having back.”

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not tendered a qualifying offer. That would have represented nearly a $10 million raise and the Sox were not willing to go that far.

When asked specifically about Saltalamacchia, Cherington spoke generally.

“With all of our free agents there’s interest in every one of them,” he said. “I also think it’s unlikely that every one of them will be back just because the nature of the game, it’s difficult to do that.

“There’s all sorts of permutations and combinations that could work and we’re going to have to, again, keep a conversation going with all of them.”

The Red Sox have faith in backup David Ross, who caught the final three games of the World Series. But Ross, who turns 37 in March, has not started more than 47 games behind the plate since 2007.

If Saltalamacchia were not retained as the primary catcher, the Red Sox would seek a player to use with Ross.

“We’re comfortable in that [being] a tandem position,” Farrell said. “David, from the physical standpoint, would clearly be able to handle his side of the tandem.”

The Red Sox could theoretically fill three of the holes with prospects. Xander Bogaerts (shortstop), Jackie Bradley Jr. (center field), and Ryan Lavarnway (catcher) were in the majors this season and contributed to varying degrees.

Christian Vazquez, a strong defensive catcher, ended the season in Triple A.

“There’s probably a preference on our part not to commit to being young at all four of those spots and maybe there’s a combination somewhere in there,” Cherington said. “We’ll just have to see. But those four, the free agents and then those respective positions, are things we have to work on.”

Farrell said Bradley is ready for the majors defensively. But he hit .189 over 37 games.

“There’s a transition he’s going to go through and along the way comes some bumps in the road and Jackie went through those,” the manager said. “The overall evaluation of him has not changed. We know this kind of a natural progression and feel like he is very capable of being an everyday guy.”

The Sox would prefer not to move Shane Victorino from right field to center.

“We recognize just how good he was in right field this year and how valuable his defense was in right field. We’d have to be compelled to move him,” Cherington said.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.