Tom Werner: Got a lot of money

Calling this season a "nightmare," Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner hinted Thursday that the team would not hesitate to go big in free agency this winter in an effort to get back into contention.

"I wouldn't say that we have limitless money, but we've got a lot of money to spend and we're determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team," Werner said in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI.

"We've got a lot of money to spend and we're determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team."
Tom Werner, Red Sox chairman

Bolstered by the money freed up in the 2013 megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that saved the Red Sox more than $200 million in future payroll and gave them "extreme flexibility," Werner said the team in particular is looking to add "some front-line pitching talent" in the offseason.

"We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve," Werner said. "I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of Rusney Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent."

At the top of their list is free-agent lefty Jon Lester, whom the team traded to the Athletics at the July 31 deadline after failing to come to terms on a long-term deal in spring training and after attempts at restarting talks were rebuffed.

At the time of the trade, the Red Sox reiterated their desire to bring back Lester after this season, but how far will they be willing to go? Owner John Henry has made clear his desire to steer clear of high-priced, long-term deals on players who will be past their prime toward the end of the contracts. Lester will be 31 in January and could command a six- or seven-year deal on the open market.

Beyond Lester, the top starters on the free-agent market will be Max Scherzer (30) and James Shields (32).

What's unquestioned is the need the Red Sox have at the top of their rotation. After trading Lester and John Lackey at the deadline, the team is left with the inconsistent Clay Buchholz as its No. 1 starter and will be looking to add an ace externally.

Also unquestioned is the fact that the defending champion Red Sox want to put this last-place season in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible.

"Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare," Werner said. "It's been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn't a good experience for the players, it wasn't a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being first next year."