According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Red Sox will ask 3B Will Middlebrooks to play Winter Ball in the off-season. Olney also reports that the Red Sox are telling other teams that they will not give Middlebrooks away. This confirms the continued belief at Yawkey Way that even the potential of Middlebrooks re-developing his right-handed power stroke is enough to hang on to him. He's still 25 (turns 26 in six days) and a Winter Ball experience could confirm whether he still "has it"—either with the club or as trade bait. All in all, this is a smart plan by Ben Cherignton.