The final batch of predictions are below, dealing with how first/third base will shake out and how the bullpen will be handled…
Assuming no Adrian Beltre or Victor Martinez, how is first and/or third going to work out?
Evan: If the Red Sox are faced with no Beltre or Martinez, I think you’re going to see the Sox take the plunge and move Kevin Youkilis back to third. That frees up first for someone on a two- to three-year deal, and Paul Konerko makes sense there. Is he a great option? No, but in the game of free-agent first baseman, he’s the ideal outcome. Boston would certainly explore trade alternatives, but with a poorhand, may have to go to Konerko. He could move to the DH spot in 2012 if he needed to, shifting Youkilis back to first.
Tom: If the Red Sox do not resign Martinez and Beltre, then Jed Lowrie will get the majority of the plate appearances at a corner spot. They will sign Ty Wigginton as insurance.
Charlie: If the Sox fail to bring back both Beltre and V-Mart, they’ll have to get creative. I’ve suggested that Juan Uribe might be a cheap alternative at third base. Attempting to trade for Mike Napoli would make a ton of sense — he has fallen completely out of favor with Mike Scioscia — and the Angels are looking to boost their outfield speed. The Sox have the players/prospects to make a deal happen.
How’s the bullpen going to work out?
Evan: There’s no question a left-handed reliever will be imported. Scott Downs is the major catch, but it’s hard to see Theo giving up a first-round pick given he is a Type A. If they sign Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, losing the first-rounder, they may be comfortable losing a second-rounder for Downs. Pedro Feliciano is a dark horse. On the right-handed pitcher side, there are many options as Tom outlines below — it’ll be like playing at the slots. Bank on one of these names being signed, plus possibly Matt Guerrier. I would stand up and cheer if Koji Uehara gets inked.
Tom: I would like the Sox to go big and sign Rafael Soriano but that is probably not realistic. They are likely to sign any reliever to a one or two year deal that is not a Type A. My favorites with the aforementioned conditions are Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, and J.J. Putz — A.L. strikeout pitchers with good control.
Charlie: Make a serious run at some Type-B free agents. Joaquin Benoit, J.J. Putz and Koji Uehara should be at the top of the list. Mix the free agent signings with a gamble on some cheap alternatives.