NASHVILLE -- The Boston Red Sox were busy on Day 1 of baseball's winter meetings at the Opryland Hotel.
Here are five takeaways on the progress Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has made:
1. The Red Sox landed one of their primary targets as free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli agreed to a three-year deal worth $39 million. He’ll have his physical on Wednesday and the official announcement is expected to come by the end of the week.
Cherington had help in acquiring Napoli as Red Sox pitcher John Lackey (a teammate of Napoli’s with the Angels), pitcher Jon Lester and second baseman Dustin Pedroia all reached out to Napoli in an attempt to recruit him to Boston. Now that he’s in the fold, along with recently signed outfielder Jonny Gomes, the Red Sox have added some quality players both on and off the field.
2. The Red Sox are in search of another starting pitcher, and Cherington met with Mets GM Sandy Alderson about a possible trade for veteran knuckleballer and Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. The likelihood that the Red Sox would consider a trade is slim, especially since the Mets want top prospects outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., and shortstop Xander Bogerts in return.
Cherington explained that the starting pitching market is decent on the trade front, so the Red Sox will keep looking.
“I think it’s always steep for the better guys. It’s a valuable commodity so if a team is going to move someone, especially if there’s any length of control, they're asking for a lot, as we would if we were talking about someone. It’s steep and I think teams, and I put us in this category, are trying to balance that versus the free-agent options. Free-agent options, some of them may cost a little bit more money but there’s probably less talent so we’re trying to balance those options.”
3. Cherington and Red Sox manager John Farrell left the hotel for more than two and a half hours earlier in the day. It’s not known where they went, but it’s possible the two have met with a potential free agent off campus. If they did, could it have been outfielder Josh Hamilton?
Who knows, but the Red Sox are interested and they’re doing their due diligence on Hamilton. If the Red Sox do pull off a deal for him, it would go against the club’s “disciplined spending” philosophy this offseason. As Cherington routinely says, however, you can never rule anything out. (CLICK HERE for colleague Gordon Edes' take on the Sox pursuit of Hamilton.)
4. The Red Sox are still in need of another corner outfielder and Cody Ross remains in the mix. However, other teams, including the New York Yankees, have shown interest in the veteran. Boston is still interested in Nick Swisher too.
“We’re working on it,” Cherington said of the outfield position. “I’m not sure I can classify the progress but we’re working on it. We’re working on free-agent alternatives, trade alternatives, all different flavors of ice cream and we’d like to add in that area -- no doubt.”
When asked what type of player he’s looking for, Cherington answered, “Dwight Evans.”
5. The Red Sox also made a few minor moves on Monday, signing five minor-league free agents with an invite to big-league camp. They were right-handed pitchers Terry Doyle, Oscar Villarreal and Jose De La Torre, outfielder Mitch Maier and utility man Drew Sutton.