The Red Sox had one of their biggest offseasons in franchise history last year, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres and signing Carl Crawford to a massive contract. But in terms of importance, this offseason could trump it.
The Sox are coming off one of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona have moved on and rumors regarding the team's clubhouse conduct are running rampant.
Reports have indicated that Ben Cherington will take over as the Red Sox' general manager, as Epstein has resigned from his position in order to become the Chicago Cubs' president of baseball operations. If and when Cherington takes over, he'll have a long list of things to do before Opening Day.
First of all, the fallout from the team's September collapse hasn't slowed up. It's still fresh in the minds of the fans, the players and the media. The Red Sox' next GM will be expected to do what's necessary to clean up the mess, most of which stems from that historic collapse.
Only those within the organization know the true state of the team in terms of chemistry, but Francona did indicate that the team didn't come together down the stretch as much as he had hoped. Epstein's successor will be expected to shore up the team's chemistry, while also providing a manager that can maintain it and build upon it.
And there's still questions to be answered in terms of the actual on-field product for next season. David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield are among the players who are free agents. The new GM will have to decide who to bring back and who to pursue on the open-market, where the Red Sox are usually pretty active.
There's also been reports regarding John Lackey's future. He's still under contract for the next three years, but there's been rumors that the San Diego Padres could be interested in his services. The team's new general manager will have to decide whether to eat most of the hurler's contract and move on or hope for a bounce-back campaign from the right-hander.