Red Sox willing to give up picks for the right reliever


Red Sox willing to give up picks for the right reliever

By Sean McAdam

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even after obtaining two All-Stars in the prime of their careers, the Red Sox aren't done yet with their off-season.

They still would like to add at least two relievers to a bullpen which needs work, and are still in the bidding -- along with the New York Yankees -- for catcher Russell Martin.

The Red Sox have made Martin an official offer and they are reportedly the front runners for acquiring his services, according to ESPN.

Even with a Martin deal potentially imminent, Theo Epstein insists that improving the Red Sox pitching staff is his first concern.

"The bullpen remains a priority,'' Epstein said. "That market seemed like it was on the verge of really moving for the past two or three days. I think we thought it would break at the meetings but it hasn't quite yet, so we're still involved on a number of relievers -- through free agency and a couple through trade -- and it remains a priority.''

The Sox have been involved with Scott Downs, Kerry Wood, Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier and others, including lefty reliever Rich Hill, according to a report by the Providence Journal.

Signing Downs would cost the Red Sox a first-round pick as compensation as he is a Type A free agent. Carl Crawford will cost them their own pick, but they picked up another in losing Victor Martinez.

There are some circumstances under which the Sox would have to give up a second-round pick, too. Either way, Epstein said, the club wouldn't be deterred.

"If a club were to lose its first rounder,'' said Epstein, "then going forward, you might say they don't want to sign another compensation free agent because they would also its second-rounder. But you can make the argument that the second-rounder isn't as valuable as a first-rounder, so it allows a club to be more aggressive. It doesn't rule anything like that out or in.''

The arrival of Crawford, meanwhile, may allow the Sox to trade from surpluses on the roster.

"I think we could be,'' said Epstein. "If this time next week, we have more talent on the roster, more depth, maybe a little bit of redundancy, more certainty about what our club's going to look like. Those things can be important ingredients in allowing you to explore trades.

"But I don't feel we're necessarily where we have to make a trade (for payroll reasons).''

An obvious trade candidate is Mike Cameron, who is now an expensive fourth outfielder at 7.5 million for 2011.

Without referring to Cameron in particular, Epstein said: "It doesn't have to (lead to a trade). If things come together, it could create opportunities, but not requirements to move anyone from our position player group.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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