BOSTON (CBS) – With a manager in place, the Red Sox can now focus on rounding out their roster.
General Manager Ben Cherington has his list ready when the winter meetings in Dallas begin on Monday, but is not certain they will get everything they need before they come to a close on Thursday.
“I’m sure we’ll accomplish something; I don’t know what it’s going to be. I can’t guarantee when player moves will happen but we have a pretty good idea of the landscape, and an idea of our needs,” Cherington said Thursday after manager Bobby Valentine was introduced.
“I really do believe that the biggest work we have to do, the biggest job we have to do, is really internally and hiring the manager was a big part of that,” said Cherington. “We’re going to make player moves, but we have a lot of good players. We made some big moves last off season. I think the work we do this offseason is going to be a little bit different in nature.”
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First up on the agenda is the pitching staff. The Red Sox are in need of a starter, or two, as well as bullpen help. That starts with a closer. With Heath Bell signing with the Marlins on Thursday, one more potential target is off Boston’s wish list.
It’s a priority for Boston, but not one they are going to rush in to.
“We’d like to have a closer by opening day; I don’t think we need one by next week,” Cherington told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche.
Bell was the third closer to sign this offseason, after Jonathan Papelbon inked a record deal with the Phillies and Joe Nathan agreed with the Rangers. Jonathan Broxton also signed, going to the Royals as a set-up man. Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are a few of the names out there waiting for offers, and there is always the possibility Boston hands the ninth inning keys over to Daniel Bard.
Cherington also said he has spoken with the agent for designated hitter David Ortiz, and he anticipates more talks when the two sides arrive in Dallas. The Red Sox have already offered Ortiz arbitration, so if he were to sign elsewhere the team would receive a pair of draft picks as compensation.
But re-signing Ortiz would not fill Boston’s biggest need on offense, which is a right handed bat. Cherington would like to even out the lefty-heavy lineup with a right-hander (or switch hitter) in right field.
Having a manager in place will help the new Red Sox GM when talking to free agents.
“There is definitely more work to do. Having Bobby there will help. He’ll have an important voice on these decisions,” said Cherington.
Cherington said Thursday night his new manager will have a strong voice when it comes to current and future players.
“What I’m excited about is Bobby brings so much to the table as far as his intellect, his passion for the game, his opinions,” said Cherington. “He’s going to bring opinions about our players that none of us have thought about; he already has.”
“We have a lot of work still internally, restructuring things in the clubhouse to, we hope, give the players the best chance to succeed. We have to get to spring training and have that all set, have a good spring training and a fresh start so we can hit the ground running in Detroit in early April.”
And also in the back of his mind is the compensation for now-Cubs general manager Theo Epstein. That is one thing Cherington hopes to get done in Dallas, but again, isn’t getting his hopes up.
“I still hope to (get that done), but I’ve said that before,” he said with a smirk.