Sox mailbag: Pitching, SS concerns

Hey all, this is the first installment of back-to-back editions of the Sox mailbag, ESPNBoston.com style. Thanks for all the letters, and check back Wednesday morning for Round 2.

Q. A couple of questions from the 'hindsight is 20/20' file. Will the Blue Jays find that they rejected the best package for Roy Halladay when they turned down the Sox at last summer's trading deadline? Speaking of the Red Sox, should they be kicking themselves for trying to low ball Jason Bay on an extension prior to last season? -- Jim (Clearwater, Fl.)

A. Jim, the Jays may indeed regret not making a deal for Halladay last summer, when they were offered choice packages by both the Red Sox and Phillies and turned them down. Any team trading for him now is getting just one potential postseason instead of two under his current deal, so while new GM Alex Anthopoulos will still entertain some strong bids, they may not be as rewarding as the ones the Jays saw last summer.

Q. Hey Gordon. Read your "Back where I belong" article. Nice, but don't forget you also have your amigos Puertorriqueños (Puerto Rican friends). Although not nearly as big as the yankees (yes, in small letters) fan base here in Puerto Rico, there is a decent Red Sox fan base. In fact, I belong to a group of Red Sox fans (automatically denoted the Puerto Rico Red Sox Nation) which is composed of several artists, newspaper reporters and others. Anyway, just dropping you a line making sure you don't forget us. -- Gustavo (San Juan)

A. Gustavo, thanks for reaching out, and I'd like to hear more about your group. Keep me posted on anything you hear Red Sox-wise on the island this winter. And a shout-out, too, to the Venezolanos, Colombianos, Mexicanos and Cubanos, all of whom have had reasons to connect with the Red Sox over the years.

Q. Great to see you back on the beat! Any feel for how highly Cubans hold El Tiante? Between him and Jose Iglesias, specifically when it comes to Aroldis Chapman, do the Red Sox have a dollars-equal edge over other clubs? -- Anonymous

A. (You're not the artist formerly known as Prince, are you?) I like to think I understand how much affection the Cubans have for Luis Tiant, who recently made a very emotional return to his homeland, and for El Tiante's father, Luis Tiant Sr., who was a great pitcher in his own right. But I don't think that gives the Red Sox any edge with Aroldis Chapman, nor do I think it factored into Jose Iglesias' decision to sign with the Sox. I think the players defecting first and foremost want to play in the major leagues and in most cases will take the best deal offered. The one team that may have a sentimental edge is the Yankees, a name that still resonates globally, but even that can be overstated.

Q. If Josh Johnson is available from the Marlins, would the Sox be interested, and what would he cost? -- Rich (Columbia, Md.)

A. Rich, you can be certain the Red Sox would be interested, but I'm not persuaded the Marlins will make him available -- though it has been their M.O. to trade away good young pieces before they become too expensive. Red Sox owner John W. Henry and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria are good friends and got involved in the Josh Beckett deal, so it wouldn't surprise me if there has been a conversation (or two).

Q. Gordon, glad to see you back on the local beat! Growing up out west I have had to read The Globe and now ESPNBoston for all my Sox info. My question involves pitching. I look at this team and see the ability to dominate with one more starter. Have seen the Lackey talk and he would be a good fit. But a bigger key to me is making sure Josh Beckett is part of the team's long-term plans, too. What do you think? -- Tim (San Francisco)

A. Tim, thanks for the good word, and San Francisco remains among my top three U.S. destinations. You must be pumped that the Red Sox will be playing the Giants there next summer in interleague play.

The Beckett negotiations will be very interesting. Josh Beckett, who has one more year left on his contract, surprised many when he signed an extension a year ahead of free agency, opting for security instead of a potentially much bigger payday. He's not wired like a lot of players, measuring himself by whether he's top dog on the money list. Josh's decision may well be influenced by whether he has any desire to go back to Texas, on how fair he judges the Red Sox offer to be this winter, or on whether the Sox acquire, say, Roy Halladay. This is one of those things I could see getting done by the spring, and if not, Josh might set his jaw and say you had your chance, adios after the season. I can't speak for the man -- I haven't discussed his contract with him -- but I could see the Red Sox and Josh having a different perspective on his value going forward.

Q. With the Sox naming their major league staff, any idea what happens with the minor league staff? And is Brian Daubach considered a candidate for any of the minor league openings? I know we'd love to see him in Lowell! -- Mikey McMahon (Lowell)

A. Mikey, those decisions are being made now. I'm still getting caught up to speed on some of these things, but keep an eye on our site; I'm as curious as you are how some of this stuff will shake out, now that Ron Johnson has been promoted from Pawtucket to the big league staff.

Q. Gordo, it's great to see you with some good exposure. Hope you can keep your good relationship with NESN. Halladay for Buchholz? Remember Casey Fossum? Sox waited almost too long to find out he shouldn't have been untouchable. -- Woody (St. Cloud, Fl.)

A. Woody, the Red Sox were willing to include Clay in any package the Blue Jays wanted to discuss in July. Theo surely will try to exploit the fact that Halladay's price has gone down since he has just one year remaining on his contract and will try to hold onto Buchholz. But will he allow Buchholz to be a deal-breaker? I can't see it.

Q. Being that Manny Delcarmen has struggled as a reliever, do you feel he has the three pitches and command to make him into a starter? Also, your thoughts on Felipe Lopez as a free-agent shortstop for the Red Sox. -- Victor (Sidney, N.Y.)

A. Victor, I haven't heard any discussion of transitioning Delcarmen to starter; I think that ship has sailed, and, yes, command issues would be a big problem. As for Lopez, he's a nice on-base guy who hasn't played any shortstop with regularity since 2007, and ranks just above average as a second baseman. Don't see it.

Q. I think it would be a shame to let Jason Bay get away. While I don't blame Bay for checking out the landscape, do you think he will end up coming back to the Sox for around four years, $60 million? -- Chris (Boston)

A. Chris, your sentiments regarding Bay are shared by a lot of people (but not my neighbor Pete). Unless someone else rides in with a five-year deal, I think it gets done, with the numbers tweaked to an AAV of between $16 million and $17 million.

Q. Welcome back Gordon. I'm wondering if the Sox are positioning themselves to make a run at Joe Mauer? With Tek having a one-year deal, it would leave a vacancy at catcher next year and VMart is better suited as a DH/1B/back-up catcher rather than an everyday catcher. Your thoughts? -- Seth (Plainville, Conn.)

A. Seth, I think the Twins will make every effort to sign Mauer to a long-term extension this winter. If it doesn't happen, they'll look to move him, and what team wouldn't want a crack at the best catcher, if not player, in baseball? Boston's need is obvious, as you outlined.

Q. Nice to see you joining ESPNBoston. The Sox obviously need a shortstop and the current crop of free agents are not elite players. Scutaro is decent, he had one of the highest OPS for a shortstop in the AL last year, but he is not on the level of Jeter, Rollins, Reyes, Ramirez, and others. What are the chances that the Sox would make a trade for an elite or closer to elite shortstop? The following names are interesting and, in my eyes, attainable. Any chance here?

  • Michael Young -- He has a big contract, and Texas has young guys like Davis and Smoak who can play either corner; plus, Andrus pushed him out of shortstop already. An upper-end pitching prospect and getting out of paying that contract could be worth it for the Rangers.

  • Yunel Escobar -- Last year all I heard was that he and [Atlanta Braves manager] Bobby Cox did not get along. Then Cox benched him for a few games. He has the most upside of any shortstop not named Hanley, but what would it cost to get him out of Atlanta?

  • Jose Reyes -- I read reports at the end of last year that the Mets might actually move him and build around David Wright. If they're going to move him, should the Sox get involved? My best guess is that it would cost Buchholz and Ellsbury at a minimum. -- Dan (Dover, N.H.)

A. Dan, some very interesting speculation on your part. Michael Young's price tag, especially given his age, is too high, and while the Braves had their issues with Escobar, I don't think they're moving him. Reyes is a very interesting name, but I still think it's a long shot that the Mets move him, too.

Q. We see a lot of speculation on the pay Matt Holliday might seek. From your experience can you predict what he would end up with? How are Boston's chances? -- Jeff (India)

A. Jeff, I believe in all my years of 'bagging, you are the first to write from India (either that, or my memory is shot). All it takes is one team to drive the price way up, and if I had to guess, Holliday will command around $19 million to $20 million a year, maybe more, for five years. Boston won't go there.

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.