By Sean McAdam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Now that the Red Sox have finally taken care of getting the trade done for Adrian Gonzalez and can put off contract discussions without an eye on the clock, they're likely to focus on smaller issues here at the Winter Meetings.
Finding an outfielder, preferrably one who hits right-handed
You can effectively cross the Red Sox off the list of suitors for Carl Crawford. All along, the Sox had a feeling Crawford's market price would be beyond their interest, and the incredible seven-year, 126 million deal signed by Jayson Werth Sunday only rammed that point home.
To wit: If Werth is getting that much, Crawford will surely be asking for at least eight years and perhaps as much as 20 million per season. Given that the Sox are still trying to work out a nine-figure deal with Gonzalez, they aren't about to commit to another one for Crawford.
Any chance of landing Justin Upton is probably gone, too. For one thing, the Sox' inventory of prospects was thinned out for Gonzalez, although Arizona was more interested in young major-leaguers with service time.
In any event, Arizona GM Kevin Towers told reporters Monday afternoon that a deal involving Upton was "highly unlikely."
So where does that leave the Sox in pursuit of an outfielder?
They've always liked Washington's Josh Willingham, dating back to his time with Florida. The Nationals have indicated that they would move Willingham, but their asking price is said to be Felix Doubront, which the Sox find prohibitive.
They would love to re-acquire Matt Murton, who was Theo Epstein's first-round pick in his first year as Red Sox GM before being sent off the following summer as part of the blockbuster, four-team deal which send Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs.
But Murton, who just set a record in Japan for most hits in a season, is under contract with the Hanshin Tigers for 2011 and it would seem difficult, if not impossible, to get Murton out from his deal.
Adding bullpen depth
Thanks to the three-year, 16.5 million deal given to Joaquin Benoit by the Detroit Tigers, a number of veteran set-up relievers on the free-agent market are seeking three-year deals.
The Red Sox don't want to commit that long to set-up types and are also said to be averse to giving up compenation draft picks -- especially a first-rounder for Type A free agents who were offered salary arbitration by their previous teams.
That would seem to take them out on Scott Downs.
More likely targets for the Sox: Brian Fuentes, who was not offered arbitration by the Minnesota Twins. The Sox had discussions with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last July before deeming the asking price too high. Fuentes later went to Minnesota.
Former Red Sox reliever David Aardsma, eligible for arbitration, is said to be available from the Seattle Mariners as his arbitration-determined salary climbs. But the Mariners are looking for young starting pitching in returns and would again balk at giving up Doubront.
Other options include non-tendered relievers from last week, the most intriguing of which is former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks.