Sox focused on pitching as winter meetings begin

Sox focused on pitching as winter meetings begin
December 6, 2011, 1:29 am
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DALLAS -- Teams and agents who've been in contact with the Red Sox on the first day of the winter meetings report that, not surprisingly, the Sox seem most intent on talking about pitching -- both the starting and closing variety.

"The market on (free agent) closers is very aggressive right now," said an official from an American League team.

That's likely because some of the landmark deals signed by former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (four years, 50 million) and, more recently, Heath Bell (three years, 27 million).

Those two deals are probably at the high end of the closer's market -- at 12.5 million AAV and 9 million AAV respectively -- though a lot of agents suddenly have the idea that their clients are worth close to that.

But supply-and-demand is at work here. There are now more closers on the market than there are teams seeking them, so a handful of clubs seem contend to sit back and let the market settle before acting in a rash manner and having to over-spend.

Among the remaining free agent closers still available: Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Frank Francisco, Francisco Rodriguez, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.

Madson continues to be linked to the Red Sox, though it's hard to see how that's a good fit. If the Sox wanted to sign a 31-year-old closer to a four-year deal, wouldn't they have just kept Papelbon?

The fact that they didn't so much as make an offer for Papelbon, a known commodity, suggests they aren't going to do so with someone with only one full season of closing experience.

More than likely, the Sox are merely staying in touch with Madson's agent, Scott Boras, in the event the market collapses and Madson has to take a shorted, less expensive deal.