Why do all of you want to dump Middlebrooks? Quite frankly, I think it's hasty to trade an up-and-coming player due to one bad year.
1) Despite the hoopla about his great fielding on the farm, he has been a net minus in the bigs on defense so far (20th out of 29 3Bmen at -3.1 UZR/150 since 2012).
2) The Sox value OBP and working the count. Middy had just a .320 OBP in AAA and .332 overall on the farm. He may improve on his .294 MLB OBP, but I seriously doubt he ever gets it up over .320 or .330. He'd have to hit 40 HRs and lots of doubles to make up for his low OB skills.
3) We have a glut of young 3Bmen with Bogey and Cecchini and maybe even Betts who is blocked at 2B for a long time.
I would not trade Middy just for the sake of trading him, but I do think some team will give something very useful to get him... something we need more than another 3Bman.
This is what I'd do:
1: Offer Ellsbury 5/75 before free agency opens up, and if someone outoffers that (which they will), continue bidding up to 6/100. If he accepts that, great.
$75/5 might insult Jacoby to the point where he walks to another team who bids the same as out final offer.
I would not go $100/6 for a guy who placed 9th in team OPS this year (7th if you take out nonqualifiers, but just .010 from being 10th behind everyone on the team except Middlebrooks!
If not, take the pick, and either:
A: Attempt a trade for Stanton (this would be rather unlikely, but we may as well give it a shot). If we get him, we put Stanton in right and Victorino in center, where he belongs in the first place.
Shane is pretty fragile, but at least we have JBJ to back him up.
B: Assuming the Stanton thing doesn't happen, we sign Beltran to a two-year deal. We have the capacity to out-bid St. Louis, and the pick we give them for Beltran would be made up for by the pick we get for Ells. Like with Stanton, we put Beltran in right (he is no longer capable of playing center, in my opinion) and Vic in center.
I like Beltran too, as a bridge to who knows who.
2: Give Stephen Drew the minimum qualifying offer (I admit, I don't know what that is). He will walk, but I'm not sure if we'd get a pick for him. Can somebody help me on this?
It should be about $14.1M/1 year. He will almost surely say no and sign a longer term deal for $12-23M per year x 3-5 years. There are only 2 big FA SS out there this winter: Drew & Peralta.
3: Give Napoli 2/26 with an option that extends it to 3/39, and incentives that can knock up the deal to 3/42 total. He'd sign with us unless somebody blew that out of the water (he took a deal from us last year even though his own team, the Rangers, gave him the same offer), and no one will.
I'd give him PA incentives that could bring him to $15M/yr.
4: SIGN SALTY. This might be the most important part of the offseason. Give him 3/33, 3/37 or something like that, but BE SURE TO SIGN HIM. Seriously- if Ells walks, there's Beltran on the free agent market and Stanton on the trade market. If Drew walks (which I hope he does), we put Bogaerts at short and Middlebrooks at third. If Napoli walks, we can keep Drew, put Bogaerts at third and Middlebrooks at first. But if Salty walks, who can we replace him with? All of the hype about Lavarnway has died down. McCann would cost a fortune, and none of the other free agent catchers are any good. No team with a half-decent catcher will trade us their catcher for anything less than a king's ransom. We need Salty, and I'm shocked that they haven't given him a QO yet.
I do think we keep Napoli or Drew, but probably not both, unless we deal Middy.
This would be my ideal 2014 team (backups in parenthases):
C: Salty (Ross)
1B: Napoli (Carp)
2B: Pedroia (Ryan)
3B: Middlebrooks (Bogaerts, Ryan plays short)
SS: Bogaerts (Ryan)
LF: Nava (Gomes, splits platoon)
CF and RF: Best case scenario:
CF: Ellsbury (Nava, Gomes plays left)
RF: Victorino (Nava, Gomes plays left)
CF and RF: Ells walks, case #1:
CF: Victorino (Nava, Gomes plays left)
RF: Stanton (Nava, Gomes plays left)
CF and RF: Ells walks, case #2:
CF: Victorino (Beltran, Nava plays right, Gomes plays left)
RF: Beltran (Nava, Gomes plays left)
DH: Ortiz (Duh!)
I like the idea of our RF'er, not our 1Bman, batting 5th behind Papi. That way, when we play in an NL park, our line-up is still strong. Napoli 6th is very nice.