DALLAS -- As the Red Sox determine the market for both starting pitchers and closers, they may have an answer to one of those needs already on their roster.
Daniel Bard, who's pitched in a set-up capacity the last two seasons, could be moved from the role to the rotation or to the closer's spot in the ninth inning.
Or, the Sox could leave Bard where he is and where he's flourished -- except for a miserable September.
"We're still talking about it," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Bobby (Valentine) wants to have a conversation with Daniel. There's always the chance that it isn't determined now, but later on, or in spring training. We certainly want to give Daniel a chance to prepare for spring training in the right way, so we'll figure that out."
"It's a factor weighing against different opportunities that out there, (as it relates to) acquiring this pitcher or that pitcher. I don't think (the decision) has to be made now. I think we have to talk about how to prepare for spring training, and that's something we'll need to do pretty soon. But I don't think we need to have his role completely defined.''
Cherington allowed that Bard's role "relates some to decisions we make this off-season. If someone's in one role, it leads to pursuing something else. Or more likely, depending on what we think is available at a better value, then that could influence what we ask (Bard) to do.''
The Sox have had internal discussions about how they view Bard and have had conversations with him, "listening to him, what he believes and his level of conviction on what he can do.''
Cherington has added that Bard has expressed his choice for his role in 2012, though the general manager added: "I'm not going to be the one to say that right now. But he expressed a desire.''
Bobby Valentine told NESN that he thought Bard expressed a desire to start over close, but Bard cleared up those comments: "I really didn't give an actual preference," Bard said via text message to ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald. "I did make it very clear to them that I have no reservations about moving to the rotation. I told them I'd take any role they choose to give me and run with it, whether that's starting or closing. I guess by making it clear that I would be willing to start may have made it seem like a preference, but I just want to make it clear that I felt like I could thrive in either role."
One issue remains: if the Sox move Bard into the rotation or into the closer's job, there's no one on the current roster who has proven as adept as Bard in the so-called high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings.
That means that the Sox could well fill one need on the staff -- and create another.