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GM Ben Cherington on the state of the Red Sox roster, Cody Ross, coaching staff and the search for pitching

11.05.12 at 6:06 pm ET
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The Red Sox, said GM Ben Cherington, have now addressed their most pressing concerns of the offseason. The team now has a new manager in place in John Farrell, and the re-signing of David Ortiz was central to what the general manager described as the “mosaic” of the offseason.

Still, plenty of needs remain as Cherington and his front office colleagues prepare to leave on Tuesday for Palm Springs, Calif., for the GM meetings, where teams will meet with virtually every other club as well as dozens of agents to set a course for the rest of the offseason in terms of building the roster. And there is, as Cherington acknowledged, a lot of work remaining.

Ortiz will be the DH, Dustin Pedroia will be the second baseman and Will Middlebrooks will be at third. Beyond that, Jacoby Ellsbury seems likely to return while the tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway is likely to split time behind the plate. The bullpen doesn’t have glaring holes, and there is a working front four (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey) for the rotation. Still, that leaves a lot. The team must decide what to do at:

  • First base, where the only roster options are Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands;
  • Shortstop, where the team has Jose Iglesias, whose 2012 year-end cameo in the big leagues suggested that he’s not yet ready for prime time as a hitter;
  • Both corner outfield spots, where Sands and Ryan Kalish (as well as Ryan Sweeney) may or may not factor into the equation at the start of 2013;
  • Catcher and center field, where the team must choose a course with Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia, both of whom are eligible for free agency after 2013;
  • The fifth starter spot, where Cherington has said the team plans to go outside the organization, whether via free agency or trade for a short-term or long-term solution;
  • On the coaching side, the team still has to hire a hitting and pitching coach, as well as a bullpen coach and a first-base coach.

So, all of that suggests that plenty faces Cherington and the Red Sox front office from this point forward. They’ve made the first two moves of the offseason according to their blueprint in bringing Farrell aboard and re-signing Ortiz for two more years, but the 2013 team is still taking shape. Still, Cherington sounded an optimistic note about what could be accomplished this winter.

“We’ll be aggressive in trying to build the best team that we can,” he said. “Absolutely, it’s realistic to be competitive and a contender next year and that’s what we plan to be.”

Some of the details of what Cherington had to say:

– Cherington said that with Cody Ross now on the open market and in position to field offers from all teams, it becomes more difficult for the Sox to re-sign him, even though the team remains open to bringing back a player who showed an ability to perform well in Boston.

‘€œWe’€™ve had a number of conversations. Obviously we’€™re into free agency now. We didn’€™t sign him before that started. The door will remain open, and we’€™ll continue to talk, but once we’€™re in free agency, he’€™s got opportunities to talk to other teams, and we fully expect him to do that,” said Cherington. “Going back to last fall when I first talked to Cody about coming here, the goal obviously was to do well as a team, but part of the goal was to put him in a better position. I felt it could put him in a better position by coming here and performing in this ballpark. The good news is that it did. That’€™s to his credit. He’€™s in a good position now. It makes it tougher to sign him. We’€™ll keep the door open. We’€™ll keep talking. At the same time, we’€™ve got to consider alternatives, too.”

– The Sox hope to name a pitching coach sometime this week. The four candidates in the mix remain former A’s, Mets and Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, former Nationals and current Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire, current White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves and former Marlins and Royals bullpen coach and current special assistant to the GM with the Royals Steve Foster.

– The Sox are also hoping to start interviewing potential hitting coach candidates as soon as this week.

– Cherington suggested it was possible that the team would bring back someone from the team’s 2012 coaching staff, though declined to get into the specifics of which remaining members of the staff (former pitching coach Randy Niemann, who is not being considered for that role in 2013; bullpen coach Gary Tuck; first-base coach Alex Ochoa; former third-base coach Jerry Royster; former bench coach Tim Bogar) might be candidates to join John Farrell‘s staff. He did note that the team faced a decision on Tuck’s option soon.

– Cherington said that teams were “a tick less aggressive” than the Sox anticipated in terms of making qualifying offers to their free agents. Though the team’s first-round pick is protected since it falls inside the top 10 in the draft at No. 7 overall, Cherington suggested that the decision about whether or not to pursue a player who received a qualifying offer and potentially give up a second-round pick would be made on a case-by-case basis.

– Cherington said that the team never considered itself close to making any trades last week, when the Angels dealt starter Ervin Santana to the Royals and made Dan Haren available before parting ways with him via free agency.

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