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Cherington added the caveat that the club, having addressed its most obvious needs -- signing free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, adding bullpen pieces in Mujica and Burke Badenhop, and retaining first baseman Mike Napoli in a deal that the club has not yet announced -- will be in "opportunistic" mode, sifting through a variety of scenarios that could bear fruit in Orlando.
Asked if that could include a significant roster move -- there have been, for example, at least some exploratory talks between the Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers regarding a potential deal for outfielder Matt Kemp -- Cherington, who was not asked about Kemp specifically, said:
"I don't rule anything out. Certainly, we're not close to doing anything like that. We're certainly exploring things. We've had -- aside from the moves we've actually made and finished -- had talks about a lot of other stuff. I'm sure we'll follow up on some of that when we get to Orlando and meet with teams, so I wouldn't rule it out. But we're not close to anything."
ESPNBoston | GM: Sox in great shape for winter meetings
Most analysts seem to think the Sox will be quiet during the meetings. When there are expectations for activity, three items consistenly come up:
1. A big move (like the Matt Kemp reference at the top of the page)
2. Moving someone from starting pitching depth
3. Re-signing Stephen Drew (like McAdam talks about in the video above).
None of these ideas really makes a lot of sense.
Matt Kemp doesn't fit the profile of what the Red Sox have become. He's locked into a long-term deal, is injury-prone, and is, for lack of a better term, pretty Hollywood. Why block Jackie Bradley, Jr. with a guy who can't stay on the field? I love Kemp's talent, obviously, but unless the Dodgers eat a considerable amount of salary and don't ask for much in return, I'd pass.
The argument for moving someone from the starting pitching depth is that the market for starters is crazy right now. The Scotts Feldman and Kazmir just signed multi-year deals for eight figures a year, and with the negotiations between the Japanese league and MLB looking like they might prevent Tanaka from being posted, the free agent options are few and far between. This makes the Red Sox' excess -- even a guy like Ryan Dempster -- more valuable.
But that also means that when the Sox lose Clay Buchholz for an extended period (an inevitability), or when Dempster or John Lackey shows his age, or if Jon Lester hits one of his unexplained slumps, the Sox will want that organizational depth. Yes, they're loaded in starters at AAA, but the ones we'd be most interested in seeing (ahem, Matt Barnes) aren't ready yet. Do we want to trust many starts to Brandon Workman and Allen Webster?
Last, while I came around to Stephen Drew (and while it was clearly the right move to offer arbitration to secure a pick for him), he doesn't fit the team going forward. He should cash in on a multi-year deal anyway, but even if he ends up being available for a one-year deal, it's going to be eight figures. I'd rather see Ben Cherington allocate smaller money to the utility infield spot, show some trust in Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts, and hold any excess payroll the Sox have for midseason moves -- or even contract negotiations with Lester.
A darkhorse move I'd like to see: How about talking to Bradley or Bogaerts about one of those Rays-style deals where we lock them up through arbitration right now, and grab a free agent year or two? Fewer and fewer players are getting to free agency these days, so when you have guys that you bring up through your system that look legit, the best strategy is to sign them now. Sure, it's risky to sign someone to seven or eight years when they have such little experience, but the Rays, for instance, have already re-couped their investments in Matt Moore and Evan Longoria (well, on his first deal, not his most recent one). It's also worked for the Sox on Buchholz and Lester, although those deals came a bit later in their careers. For a big market club, a $25-30 million gamble on potential superstars is well worth it. In free agency, that money buys you the likes of Feldman and Kazmir. Let's spend it on our own guys.
ESPNBoston | Who could be moving at winter meetings? | Herald | Sox have options as meetings open | Schilling replaces Hershiser at ESPN | CSNNE | Could be a quiet week for Red Sox...or not | Globe | Winter Meetings an opportunity for Red Sox