BOSTON Two years ago, the Red Sox won the winter, acquiring first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford. Talk of 100 wins and a World Series title soon followed. We know how that went.
The Sox have made major splashes in past offseasons with the acquisitions of marquee names such as Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, and Curt Schilling.
What is the likelihood the Sox make a major move this offseason, acquiring another high-profile player? They do, after all, have an extra quarter-billion dollars or so to spend after Augusts blockbuster trade sent Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto and their salaries for 2013 and beyond -- to the Dodgers.
I dont know, said general manager Ben Cherington. I cant handicap it. You cant rule it out. I certainly wouldn't rule it in. I think if theres a deal that we feel really makes us, the organization, stronger short and long term, well pursue it. And some of those might end up being, can fit into that category. But I cant handicap it right now. Were still working on so many things that were trying to get the right things to land for us.
I think our fans want a winning team, and they want a winning team year after year. They want a team they can root for and can get behind and can believe in. They want to see players they can get behind and believe in and root for. And they want to see a direction. They want to see a sort of reason for things, see a team that plays the right way. So there are different ways to get to that. Sometimes bigger deals help you do that. Sometimes smaller deals help you do that. So well explore everything. Couldnt rule it out or rule it in.
Is it a necessity to have high-profile players to be successful in the major leagues?
You're never going to not want to take talented players, said new Sox manager John Farrell. But more important to that is the success of the team has got that team concept and buy-in. And that's not only an area that's not only being talked about with players that have been here, but what we're looking to add to it. So how we work collectively, and how we work together and how we compete together, you can have a group of individuals but if there's no common thread or common purpose, I think that's just going to make the challenge more difficult.
Still, the Sox have several holes to fill a starting pitcher, an outfielder, first baseman, maybe a shortstop. With the winter meetings starting Monday in Nashville, perhaps those pieces will begin to fall into place.
Asked if he is more likely to add players by way of trades or through free agency, Cherington said it may be easier to answer that question as the meetings progress.
Ive always thought its hard to answer that until you get to the winter meetings because a lot of these dominoes start to fall and until they do you dont really know the cost of different things, he said. Up until the winter meetings, it seems a lot of teams and agents are playing this dance of what it might cost, what you might be willing to pay but not really committing. And then teams start to commit or players start to commit and that sort of sets a price and then everything else, sometimes other things fall from that. So I think well have a better idea maybe later this week or into the next week on that question of whether we can more easily fill holes through free agency or trades.
It is unlikely, though, that the Sox will delve back into the realm of long-term contracts. With the stranglehold that was put on the roster, and any financial flexibility, by recent long-term deals -- precipitating the need for the trade with the Dodgers -- Cherington has become cognizant of the length of deals.
I think we have to have a guiding philosophy and preferences, he said. And that is consistent with what youve heard from Sox presidentCEO Larry Lucchino and what Ive said. In baseball you always have to be sort of open to the exception, and if its the right time and the right fit in the organization. But were guided by an interest in keeping deals shorter if we can. We cant always do that. So more than anything were trying to find the best fits for our team and guys that we think fit in the best for the long term.
Its not difficult to find things to spend it on. Its difficult to find the right things to spend it on, and that's what were trying to do.