Editor's Note: NESN.com Red Sox reporter Tony Lee will examine one hot-button baseball topic each day in December. On Thursday, he wrote that the Red Sox' new infield has a better long-term value than the Yankees' infield.
Before flying home to Boston after a rather productive winter meetings, to put it lightly, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein was asked if he had fulfilled his entire offseason mission in less than a week.
By acquiring two impact bats in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, which was one of his goals, he had. By remaining in search of help for the bullpen and the bench, he had not. It's doubtful anyone would consider that a failure by any stretch of the imagination, but, in the words of Epstein, "we still have some work to do."
With that in mind, what's the next move for the Red Sox?
As Epstein hinted himself, the remainder of the offseason will be spent "tweaking" the roster. That includes a multitude of options for the bullpen, some of which have already been offered contracts. As many as four names were directly linked to Boston during the meetings (Scott Downs, Matt Guerrier, Arthur Rhodes and Pedro Feliciano) and four more who already have Red Sox connections are also in the immediate mix (Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz).
Without saying that anything was official, because it was not, Epstein indicated that the Crawford signing gives the roster more depth, certainty and a chance to have some redundancy. That signals that relievers, or right-handed bats for the bench, could be had with a trade if some of the offers the club made before and during the meetings do not come to fruition. Suddenly, there is an excess that can be shopped around.
It becomes a balancing act. Do the Sox pony up for a reliever on the market that could continue to be player-friendly, perhaps having to give multiple years and millions for an uncertain fix? Should they do so for a guy like Downs, who would cost them their second-round draft pick (the Crawford signing already robs them of their first-rounder)? Would it make sense to trade more prospects for whatever is needed, even after giving away three of their top minor leaguers? Or is sitting on their hands and letting the chips fall into place the best course of action?
For Boston, the great thing about this quandary is the fact that it involves bit players. While the rival Yankees remain in search of their big name, the rival Rays bid adieu to each of theirs, both join the rest of the baseball world in looking up at the Sox, now the most star-studded team in the game.
With the exception of "some work to do," the mission has been accomplished.
What’s the next move for the Red Sox? Leave your thoughts below.
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