The Boston Red Sox have begun working their way down the checklist.
The Red Sox made their first significant move of the offseason Thursday by re-signing Koji Uehara to a two-year contract reportedly worth $18 million. The deal ensures Boston will enter 2015 with a viable closer, but it only was a small step — albeit an important one — toward building a roster capable of contending.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington spoke with reporters Thursday during a conference call shortly after Uehara’s new deal was announced. He touched on several topics, including the decision to bring back Uehara for two more years, and acknowledged there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Let’s go over some Red Sox-related notes.
— Uehara’s late-season struggles, age (he’ll turn 40 before Opening Day) and recent workload weren’t enough to deter the Red Sox from making the right-hander a top priority.
“You’re really looking at a guy who’s been one of the elite relievers in baseball over several years and, again, based on our evaluation at the end of the year and the work we did, we did not see any reason why that can’t continue,” Cherington said.
— The Red Sox started having discussions with Uehara shortly after the regular season ended. The sides continued to have dialogue throughout October.
“We wanted to re-sign him, period,” Cherington said. “It didn’t matter as much when it happened. But I think one of the things we expressed to Koji was that, look, if there is interest, if there is mutual interest — which it seemed there was — let’s take a shot at getting something done now because when we get into free agency, there will be a lot of other stuff to do.
— The Red Sox still will look to add to their bullpen this offseason, though Cherington didn’t offer any specifics as to what kind of reliever(s) Boston is seeking.
— Could Andrew Miller be a possibility?
“There’s a number free agents that we will talk to,” Cherington said. “It’s probably safe to say he’s one of them, but he’s one of a number of free agents that we will talk to now in the quiet period of free agency — these five days where you can start to have conversations.”
According to Cherington, the Red Sox are in the process of communicating with agents and other teams in advance of the GM meetings, which are scheduled to take place Nov. 10-13 in Phoenix.
— Catcher David Ross and reliever Burke Badenhop have elected free agency.
— The Red Sox have not yet decided whether to pick up reliever Craig Breslow’s $4 million club option, according to Cherington.
It seems unlikely Boston will spring for the option, however, as Breslow was underwhelming in 2014. The 34-year-old left-hander posted a 5.96 ERA in 54 1/3 innings over 60 appearances.
— Outfielder Rusney Castillo will sit out the remainder of the Arizona Fall League with a right thumb contusion.
“It’s an injury that will respond well to rest and continued treatment,” Cherington said. “It’s not a concern moving forward, but we’ll let it calm down so that there’s no complications or he’s not compensating his swing or anything like that. Given the time of year where we are in the offseason, we just want to be cautious with it.”
Castillo was jammed a few times during his AFL stint. He will be reevaluated in the coming days. It’s unclear whether he’ll play winter ball in Puerto Rico as originally planned.
— There’s nothing new to report regarding a potential reunion with Jon Lester.
“We’re going to try to build the best team we can, and we know that one of the areas we need to add to is the rotation,” Cherington said. “He’s a free agent and obviously we know him well and we hope we get a chance to talk to him. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to talk others, and I’m sure he’ll talk to others. I think we just have to get into the offseason and see what comes of it.
“But I feel like the relationship is in place that will allow for a conversation, and then from there we’ll have to see. He’ll have other options obviously, and we will, too. But we look forward to having a constructive conversation at some point.”
Photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images