Grading Boston Red Sox on the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings

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Grading Boston Red Sox on the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has remained quiet at the winter meetings.

Major League Baseball's winter meetings used to be a time when the Boston Red Sox were most active during the offseason.

Look no further than the previous two seasons as an example.

In 2013, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had a much different approach.  Unlike previous years, which saw the Red Sox very active during the meetings, Cherington was relatively quiet.

There are plenty of reasons behind this.

While this year's winter meetings—held December 9 through 12 in Orlando, Fla.—were very active, the Red Sox were among a number of teams that made few splashes.

Simply put, Boston did not need to be very active.

Entering the meetings, the Red Sox did have a few legitimate questions to answer.  They saw outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia depart via free agency to the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins respectively.

Elsa/Getty Images
Re-signing Mike Napoli was at the heart of Boston's offseason priorities.

The team was also concerned about first baseman Mike Napoli and shortstop Stephen Drew also following suit.

Boston answered one of those primary questions by re-signing Napoli to a two-year, $32 million contract which keeps his services in the Red Sox's lineup through 2015.

In addition, Cherington has kept in contact with Drew's agent, Scott Boras, per Peter Abraham of Boston.com.

Abraham points out that the Red Sox can be diligent when it comes to deciding whether or not they want to bring Drew back.  The development of Xander Bogaerts has given the flexibility for Boston's front office in deciding this.

If Drew leaves, Bogaerts can shift to shortstop and Will Middlebrooks can handle third base.

The Red Sox also solved their catching dilemma by signing veteran A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8.25 million contract.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox solved their catching needs by signing A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal.

There remains the question of what to do about Boston's outfield situation.

With Ellsbury gone, the door is open for Jackie Bradley Jr. to take over the starting role.  Bradley, who saw limited playing time in 2013, may receive the job by default unless the Red Sox opt to make another addition in the outfield.

That is something Boston has considered.

The Red Sox were rumored to be in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes, per Sports Illustrated.  They were also rumored to be involved with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a potential trade for Matt Kemp.

Now Beltran is with the Yankees and it appears as if discussions over Kemp have come to a halt, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

Sings point to Cherington being content with the current Red Sox roster heading into 2014.  The reason behind Boston's relative inaction during the winter meetings? There was little need to be active.

Cherington described his approach via Ian Browne of MLB.com:

It kind of looks like it's similar to what we thought it was last winter—maybe not in the exact same order, but competitive, flat and a bunch of teams with a chance to win.  Who knows how it plays out, but that's how we thought it was last winter, and it kind of looks that's the way it will be again.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Cherington did not see the need to be as active at the 2013 winter meetings.

Last winter, Boston was active.  This winter, they were not as much.

What Cherington has done is good so far.  The team re-signed Napoli, which was a major priority.  They also solved their catching situation at least for another year. 

They also brought in veteran reliever Edward Mujica to bolster the bullpen.

There still remain unanswered questions in the outfield.  It is plausible that Boston explores options to add another outfielder, and perhaps they approach another Kemp deal later in the offseason.

That is speculation at best.

Furthermore, the Red Sox have an overstock of starting pitching—six starters on their roster per Baseball-Reference.com.

Perhaps one, or more, of those starters gets moved in a deal that is yet to transpire.

In the meantime, how should we evaluate Cherington's actions during the winter meetings?

It is obvious that the Red Sox were unable to negotiate any significant deals like they were able to in previous years.  In all likelihood, the nature of these deals was not to Cherington's liking and it is hard to fault him for being prudent.

Thus, staying quiet can be viewed as an bonus.

In short, the Red Sox appear confident in the team's abilities to carry over a championship-caliber club into 2014.  They are content with their roster and, more importantly, content with their options and how the market shapes up in coming months.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Cherington will hope the 2014 Red Sox will be able to back up their 2013 championship.

That should also be viewed as a bonus.

As a result, Cherington and the Red Sox front office receive a B-grade for its efforts at the winter meetings.

Could they have made a deal to improve this team for 2014?  Absolutely.  Would it have been the right deal?  That is much more difficult to evaluate.

In this case, Cherington took action via inaction.  The team solved its most pressing needs and that should be commended.

While the Red Sox could still make moves this offseason—as suggested by Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com—the team has to be content with what it already has.

Should the Red Sox have made a big move at the winter meetings?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Let us hope that is good enough to back up their 2013 championship.

 

Contractual information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

 

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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