NASHVILLE -- The Red Sox have added and outfielder and a first baseman so far at these winter meetings, but have yet to upgrade their rotation.
They made what was described as a competitive bid for Dan Haren, who signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Washington Nationals, but would not match the Nats' dollars, their reservations guided by the drop in Haren's velocity last season that created a lack of separation between his fastball and splitter.
They will not engage in the high-stakes bidding for the top pitching prizes on the market, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse, all of whom will command years and dollars well beyond what John W. Henry is willing to part with. They had an exploratory conversation with the Mets about knuckleballer R.A. Dickey but quickly backed off at New York's asking price.
One way the Red Sox might be able to acquire a pitcher is trading Jacoby Ellsbury. A Sox source acknowledged on Tuesday that they would consider trading their center fielder due to be a free agent after this coming season, though he called it a "long shot." For a brief time, a Cliff Lee-for-Ellsbury rumor flickered to life, but just as quickly it was extinguished. "Not a prayer," one source said with finality.
But follow these falling dominoes. Let's say the Rangers sign Greinke and let outfielder Josh Hamilton walk. The Rangers, built to win now, could look to Ellsbury as a replacement for Hamilton, and with Greinke on board could offer a pitcher in return.
Or, if the Dodgers sign Greinke, a realistic scenario, they would have a pitcher to spare.
A Sox source, by the way, insisted that even after signing Shane Victorino, the Sox shouldn't be counted out of the running for Hamilton. They'd have to trade Ellsbury, and even then they might prefer to re-sign Cody Ross to play right and move Victorino to center if Hamilton demands more years than Henry would be willing to give.