Thirteen players were tendered qualifying offers in 2014 and they are as follows:
Brian McCann (signed with the NYY)
Carlos Beltran, RF/DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Shin-Soo Choo, CF
Nelson Cruz, RF
Stephen Drew, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
Hiroki Kuroda, SP
Kendrys Morales, 1B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Ervin Santana, SP
If the Red Sox want to maximize draft picks, they can have 4 of the top 40 picks (and the extra $$ that go along with those draft slots). In order for this to happen, Ells, Drew and Naps will have to sign elsewhere. Keeping Salty as a FA for the time being, our lineup looks like this:
1B - Carp/Nava/Middlebrooks
2B - Pedroia/Holt
SS - Bogaerts/Holt
3B - Middlebrooks/Bogaerts
RF: - Victorino/Nava
CF: - Bradley, Jr./Victorino
LF: - Nava/Gomes
C: - Ross/Lavarnway
Let's take a look at the free agent options for the positions:
C: With McCann and Ruiz off the table, it is either Salty, Pierzynski, Navarro or Buck. I think that the Sox should offer Salty 2 X 20-24 and then pass if he wants 3+ years. In hindsight, the QO might have been the best option for Salty. If he requires more than 2 years, go for a stop gap (like Buck) or make a trade (Ryan Hanigan)
With Vazquez (1-2 years) / Butler (1-2 years) / Denney (3-4 years) coming up from the farm, I don't think that they should go more than 2 years on any deal for a catcher.
1B: Assuming the Sox pass on Napoli, Morales, then I am fine with the Carp/Nava/Middy combo with a one year or a make good offer for Corey Hart (8-10 MM with incentives).
2B: Nothing happening here.
SS: If Drew is off the table, I would add a defense first, no-hit guy and possibly resign John McDonald. I would give the position to Bogey in ST and let him figure it out. He is the future and the future begins now.
3B: I would be fine with Middy. If they don't sign Hart and slide Middy to 1B, maybe sign a buy low candidate like Michael Young or Mark Reynolds. Cecchini is 1-2 years away if Middy can't handle the job or gets moved to 1B.
LF: Nava and Gomes with a possible (really) dark horse Ryan Kalish or 'guns blazing' Bryce Brentz
CF: We need to add someone here, maybe a Rajai Davis? Bring some competition to JBJ and see if he takes the job.
RF: Victorino should stay put (and not move to center) and Nava can spell him for the few weeks that he will miss because of the blatant disregard he has for his body.
Sooo, I would spend the offseason money as follows:
1) Sign Corey Hart to a 1 one year 8-10 MM deal with incentives.
2) Sign Buck at 1 year, cheap dollars (4-6 MM) or make a trade (Hanigan) - assuming that Salty gets a better deal elsewhere.
2) Re-sign John McDonald or another defensive minded SS (Bogey should play 150+ games at SS)
4) Sign Rajai Davis to a 1 year, 4 MM deal
If we sign Hart, Buck, McDonald and Davis, it would only add less than 22 million in payroll and our lineup might look like this:
1) Daniel Nava, LF
2) Shane Victorino, RF
3) David Ortiz, DH
4) Dustin Pedroia, 2B
5) Corey Hart, 1B
6) Xander Bogaerts, SS
7) Will Middlebrooks, 3B
8) David Ross, C
9) Jackie Bradley, Jr - CF
1) John Buck, C (or trade - Hanigan) or Ryan Lavarnway, C
2) John McDonald, IF (or trade ??)
3) Mike Carp, 1B
4) Rajai Davis, OF
5) Johnny Gomes, OF
If something isn't working out (like Middy at 3B) or someone is injured (Hart/Victorino), then the Sox would have the $$ and prospects to make a move. They would also be adding 4 top tier prospects to their abundant farm system if they pass on the QO guys.
The Sox would also be building their coveted depth throughout the roster.