Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Thursday, December 9, 2010
Red Sox's Epstein cautiously optimistic

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even though Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein on Thursday would not officially announce the Carl Crawford agreement due to the player's pending physical -- which will take place Friday in Boston, according to a team source -- he made it clear the Red Sox accomplished exactly what they wanted over the last few days in adding Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford.

"We did this objectively over months and months and months," the Red Sox general manager said Thursday before leaving the winter meetings. "We realized there was a shot if things came together the right way, we could be pretty aggressive on a couple players we really liked."

While not mentioning Crawford's name, Epstein sounded enthusiastic about his new additions.

"When things come together the way we hope and expect, we'll be real satisfied," Epstein said. "You go into every winter with a Plan A, and sometimes it's hard to pull that off, then you move on to Plan B and C.

"Adding an impact player was very important to where we were for the short and long term, and adding to -- as long as they were the right players for the right spots in the right situation -- would be even better."

So does landing Crawford and trading for Gonzalez count as achieving Plan A?

"We'll see," Epstein said. "Plan A involves a well-rounded club with all of our weaknesses shored up, and adding some impact talent, so we still have some work to do."

Though Epstein would not acknowledge the Crawford pact, he spoke generally about finalizing any deals that were struck at the winter meetings, which wound down Thursday. "I can't acknowledge any signings at this time," Epstein said. "I don't want to talk about specifics in negotiations, about any negotiations, until the signing is official.

"Over the next couple of days, if there were agreements that were reached at the winter meetings, we'll be working in the next 48 hours after the winter meetings, trying to cross the T's and dot the I's."

Epstein's offseason to-do list was a big one and he was able to cross off two of the biggest components when he acquired Gonzalez and agreed to terms with Crawford. The Red Sox had to give up prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Raymond Fuentes in the Padres deal, but that was the stepping stone to allow Epstein to lock up Crawford to a seven-year deal worth $142 million, according to a source. "Adrian, on a relatively affordable contract for 2011, put us in position on the right free agent to be aggressive," Epstein said.

While most general managers were leaving immediately following the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning, Epstein & Co. were still in their bunker, trying to close out other offers.

"The bullpen remains a priority," Epstein said. "That market seemed like it was on the verge of really moving for the past two or three days, and I think we all thought it would break at the meetings, but it hasn't quite yet. We're still involved with a number of relievers through free agency and a couple through trade. It remains a priority."

Now that Gonzalez and Crawford are in the mix, it's still a possibility the Red Sox could make a trade sooner rather than later.

"Maybe this time next week if we've got more talent on the roster and more depth and a little bit of redundancy, more certainty what our club is going to look like, those things can be important ingredients in allowing you to explore trades," Epstein said. "But I don't feel like we're in a position where we have to make a trade."

Joe McDonald is a reporter and columnist for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.