With Gonzo done, what now for Red Sox?

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
11:12
AM ET
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While the first order of business for the Red Sox is taking place on Yawkey Way, where a jubilant Theo Epstein is presenting new slugger Adrian Gonzalez at a morning press conference, the punch list doesn't stop there as baseball’s winter meetings get underway.

The Sox will continue to explore adding another bat to the outfield. Jayson Werth would have been a great fit, but the Washington Nationals vaporized that idea when they gave him a seven-year, $126 million contract on Sunday.

The ripple effect of the Werth signing? The other prime outfielder on the free-agent market, Carl Crawford, may now command a price that knocks the Sox from any realistic chance of signing him. Crawford reportedly is seeking an eight-year deal, a term of service the Sox are most likely unwilling to meet, especially at $20 million per.

Expect the Sox to explore trade options for a righthanded hitting left fielder. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com floated a very interesting name: Josh Willingham, whom the Sox have always liked. Willingham, who played the last two seasons for the Washington Nationals after breaking in with the Florida Marlins, is a year away from free agency and because he is arbitration eligible, can expect a substantial raise on the $4.6 million he was paid last season.

Used primarily as a platoon player by Washington, Willingham posted a .264/.384/.446/.830 line against lefties last season. He turns 32 in February. With the Nationals making such a sizable investment in Werth, expect the Red Sox to make some inquiries. It's not impossible they could start the season with the four outfielders they have -- J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish and Mike Cameron -- but it's more likely they'll add to the mix.

The Sox did not exercise Bill Hall's option after the season, though at the time they said they might have interest in bringing him back. The Sox have not engaged his agent, Terry Bross, in further conversations, Bross said Monday, and interest in Hall from other clubs has picked up in the last 48 hours, he said.

And for Sox fans entertaining the fantasy of the team making a stealth strike for free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee, that's exactly what it is, a fantasy.

"We're not going to do that,'' a club source said. "We're pretty set with our [starting] pitching.''

Recasting the bullpen remains the team's other prime order of business.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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