DALLAS -- It seems highly unlikely that the Red Sox will leave Dallas Thursday with a notable pitching acquisition. Any trades or free agent signings will take place later, based on conversations that began here.
But if nothing else, the Red Sox are coming to recognize that they have some internal options with the pitchers already in the organization, giving them flexibility as they consider outside alternatives.
No fewer than four Red Sox pitchers -- Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Alfredo Aceves and Andrew Miller -- could contribute either out of the bullpen or as part of the rotation.
That's a lot of moving pieces and a lot of choices made available to new manager Bobby Valentine.
"It really helps," said GM Ben Cherington of the staff's versatility. "I think that's part of the reason those guys prepare for spring training as starters, to give them every chance to do it and to give us the flexibility this off-season and in spring training to make decisions and kind of read and react to what's going to help the team best."
As it is, every potential trade or signing forces the Red Sox to evaluate how it would impact others. If they're weighing a closer, they must ask: would this pitcher be better in this role than, say, Bard? Likewise, when considering a starter, they have to evaluate whether the pitcher in question represents an upgrade over their internal candidates.
"There are multiple variables," said Cherington. "You're lining up what the acquisition cost is for a hundred different alternatives, all different flavors and then what that would do to your current mix and how to align that.
"It's an assortment of issues that we're balancing, but it's really beneficial to have guys like Bard, Aceves, Miller, Doubront that can do both. It gives us options."