Red Sox Mailbag: Compensation for Theo Epstein Could Come Down to Prospects

by NESN Staff

February 2, 2012

Red Sox Mailbag: Compensation for Theo Epstein Could Come Down to ProspectsIt was another quiet week on the Red Sox’s front. The only notable move occurred when the team signed former Mets pitcher John Maine to a minor-league deal with an invitation to minor league camp as a reliever.

That could wind up being up the last pitching acquisition of the offseason. On Wednesday, general manager Ben Cherington said the Red Sox would continue exploring options, but deemed it “unlikely” they would lock another pitcher.

Like always, plans change. As Cherington continues to eye the market, we’ll check in with this week’s mailbag.

What are the chances of getting significant compensation from the Cubs for Theo [Epstein]. There has been some talk of Matt Garza, although not for awhile. What are the chances of that, and what do you think the Red Sox will receive when this is finally resolved?
-Kevin Bosley, Winchester, Ky.

Again, it all depends on commissioner Bud Selig‘s definition of “significant.” He certainly wants to make a statement to ensure front office personnel don’t continue bolting prematurely, but I doubt that pitcher Matt Garza and/or shortstop Starlin Castro would be shipped away.

My interpretation of “significant” would be more of a key prospect or prospects from the Cubs’ Triple-A or Double-A roster. Both teams have reportedly submitted a list of players for Selig to sift through. An answer should be coming relatively soon with Selig involved, so join the line as we all wait for this never-ending saga to come to its conclusion.

Hey Mr. Morais, Two of my favorite players on the Red Sox are [Tim] Wakefield and [Jason Varitek]. Why can’t the Red Sox just sign them to one more year? Or a Paw Sox contract? Or a coach there? I want to know because I go to many PawSox games each year. Or at least a coaching spot in Boston? Hope you reply.
-Ben Clemens, Victor, N.Y.

Ben, at some point, you need to get younger and build toward the future. That’s the new chapter the Red Sox are experiences. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway are developing in the right direction as catchers while Varitek inches into his forties, so it’s a natural to move on.

After posting an ERA over five for the past two seasons, Wakefield isn’t as effective as he once was. Could he still help in an emergency role? Of course. With a new regime in Boston, Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine want to leave their own imprints on the club. Sometimes that involves letting go of old pieces.

 There’s really no chance of signing them to the PawSox. As Cherington has reiterated in the past, the team wants to treat Wakefield and Varitek with respect through this process and that means a contract won’t be offered if there’s no significant role for them in the majors.

 Frankly, both guys wouldn’t take a demotion at this stage of their career and Wakefield reportedly has other major league teams interested in his services. A coaching stint could be in Varitek’s future, but it remains to be seen whether he intends to retire first.

Will the Red Sox have a quality season like they had in 2004 and 2007?
-Matthew Ryan Collins, Franklin, N.H.

 Let’s keep it real, Matthew. I know you wanted to use “championship” as an adjective instead of “quality,” so be blunt with it next time. The Red Sox have had quality seasons in the past that never amounted to World Series titles.

But honestly, it’s way too early to give you an answer on if this will be a championship season. Teams evolve over the course of a season. Injuries occur, too.

At the beginning of last year — with Adam Wainwright sidelined — the Cardinals weren’t favored to win it all. A few pieces later, St. Louis snuck into the playoffs and spearheaded a rally. In 2010, the Giants added Cody Ross late in the season and he catapulted them to the World Series title.

With the Red Sox looking for a starting pitcher, who do you think it will be? I’d like to see a guy like [Aaron] Cook or [Alfredo[ Aceves or [Carlos] Silva running the back end of the rotation, but what’s the possibility we’ll get [Edwin] Jackson? Do you think it’ll be [Roy] Oswalt, Jackson, Gavin Floyd, or someone else? Thanks.
-Alex Yoon, Moscow, Russia
*Question proposed prior to Jackson’s signing with the Nationals

There’s one name you forgot to mention — Vicente Padilla. If he can overcome his legal woes and attend spring training on time, the 34-year-old pitcher, who is two years removed from being an opening day starter, could claim the fifth spot in the rotation.

After Padilla signed, Cherington said that Padilla’s “stuff looked very similar to his time recently in Los Angeles,” which is a promising endorsement. Padilla’s fastball has reportedly returned to the mid-90s, too.

As I mentioned earlier, the odds of locking in another pitcher are slim, and with Edwin Jackson heading to the Nats, Padilla appears to be the best bet.

I find it hard to believe #Redsox would free up $6mil in moving [Marco] Scutaro only to sign [Cody] Ross at $3mil. There must be more coming.
-@ScLury, via Twitter

The Red Sox could be waiting until spring training — in case injuries crop up and change up plans — before spending on other alternatives.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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