Part One: Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

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Part One: Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

1) Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

Since midseason, these two names have been inexorably linked to the Red Sox. Crawford offers speed, defense and athleticism while Werth would provide the Sox, increasingly lefthanded, with some righthanded sock.

But the Sox will have no shortage of competition for both. After two seasons in which spending has been down across the board, the expectation is that teams are ready to splurge again.

"When it's all said and done,'' said one baseball executive, "I think people are going to be shocked at how much both (Werth and Crawford) get. It's going to be insane.''

Another executive estimated that while Crawford (right) should get a six-year deal, he'll likely end up with a seven-year pact. As for Werth, the same executive said a four-year deal would make the most sense, but thanks to the sheer number of teams interested, he'll likely land a five-year deal.

Crawford has been linked to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. Werth is expected to receive interest from his current team, the Philadelphia Phillies as well as others.

If Crawford is going to get a seven-year, 120 million deal, as some expect, will the Red Sox consider that illogical? Ditto for Werth (left), for whom a Jason Bay deal (four-years, 66 million) once seemed likely, but now might be able to command a five-year, 80 million or more.

It's worth noting that since becoming general manager, Epstein has only given one deal longer than four years to a position player -- J.D. Drew's, five-year, 70 million contract after the 2006 season.

(It's also worth noting that that contract came after the last time the Sox failed to make the playoffs -- as they did this season).

The Sox have plenty of money to spend. With about 120 million in contractual obligations, they're some 45 million shy of last year's payroll figure. But it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Sox sat on most of that money and instead budgeted it for in-season acquisitions (see 2009 -- Victor Martinez, Billy Wagner, Alex Gonzalez) or held onto the money with an eye toward next winter when a number of franchise sluggers (Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols) hit the free-agent market.

Next: See what sort of interest exists for Daisuke Matsuzaka

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.