There's a new sheriff in town, and I don't mean John Farrell.
This winter will mark the first time we can truly see what general manager Ben Cherington is made of. Last year's awful record cannot and should not be chalked up to any Cherington related moves or signings.
The payroll was hampered by overpaid and underperforming "stars" that never truly showed up to play.
Having shed some $270 million in future payroll (thanks again Dodgers, we'll be sure to send you a Christmas card), Cherington has wiggle room to make some real impact to this roster.
The catch? Boston does not need to spend anywhere near that much to be competitive in 2013.
Obviously, the first move was impressive, acquiring John Farrell from the Blue Jays in exchange for a disgruntled Mike Aviles.
It's clear that Aviles was never in the future plans at shortstop. He was a serviceable player that filled a role while here, but with players like Jose Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings, it was only a matter of time before Aviles became expendable.
Beyond moves to bring the managerial staff into shape, this team does have several holes that need to be filled.
It is nice to see David Ortiz getting his two-year deal. Check that one off of the shopping list as well. However, the outfield, first base and pitching all need to be addressed.
Here we'll examine five players that would make a lot of baseball sense to sign without breaking the bank.
Mike Napoli represents exactly the type of player the Red Sox need—a seasoned veteran with a positive attitude and solid numbers.
Napoli is a great clubhouse guy and has historically performed well at Fenway Park.
While Texas has apparently passed on bringing him back for 2013, the Red Sox could jump all over this opportunity.
He is a versatile player who has caught, played DH and first base in his career.
Unlike his 2011 season, Nap never really caught fire in 2012.
That isn't really a concern for me. In his lifetime he owns a .305 batting average at Fenway Park. Additionally, he has a .397 OBP, .710 SLG and a 1.107 OPS in Boston. The park was seemingly built for him.
He made just $9.4 million in 2012, or less than half of what the team was paying Adrian Gonzalez while hitting six more home runs than Gonzalez.
Yes, Torii Hunter will be turning 38 in the middle of the 2013 season.
No, that should not keep the Red Sox from signing him.
Hunter, like Napoli, is a positive clubhouse guy. He is a smart veteran who can help to transition the culture of this team.
At 37 years old, Hunter still managed to play in 140 games for Anaheim in 2012. He posted a .313/.365/.451/.817 batting line while collecting 92 RBI.
For those keeping tabs, that batting line is better than every outfielder Boston had last season.
Also like Napoli, Hunter has always played well at Fenway. He owns a .330/.369/.500/.869 in Boston.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first.
Kyle Lohse is a Scott Boras client and the New York Yankees have already supposedly expressed interest in signing him.
The Boston Red Sox will not get into any bidding wars this season for pitching.
Realistically speaking, they have a need for a fourth or fifth starter.
As constituted, the opening day rotation will likely look something similar to: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and fill in the blank.
Lohse, despite winning 30 games over the last two seasons for the Cardinals, does not look to be a top of the rotation starter in the AL East.
The Red Sox would love to see him in the third, fourth or fifth slot if the price was right.
He could be an ideal short-term signing, as he is already 33 years old and won't be able to command a long-term contract on the free-agent market, one would assume.
Above everything else, this should be where the Red Sox focus their attention.
Dan Haren has proven he has ace material and could easily fit into this rotation.
True, he is 32. True, his record was just 12-13 in 2012.
It is also true that the same 12 wins from 2012 would have lead the Red Sox pitching staff (sad, but true).
Haren owns a career 3.66 ERA and 1.181 WHIP. He is the type of pitcher that could solidify this rotation while bringing in another hardworking veteran to help with the transitioning Sox.
In the introduction slide I did already address the fact that the Red Sox have depth at shortstop in Iglesias and Bogaerts.
Why then would Boston want to bring in Stephen Drew?
It's tricky. If the team believes they need to move on from Iglesias and his magical defense, a player like Stephen Drew makes a lot of sense.
After essentially flaming out in Arizona, a revitalized Drew made an impact on the Oakland A's roster after being traded in August.
He's not the best hitting shortstop, but he could serve as a clubhouse guy, keeping the seat warm for Bogaerts.
He is still likely a year or more away from being ready to take over on a regular basis.