When the Red Sox traded shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies last week, the expectation was that they would use the money saved to improve their thin rotation.
The prime candidate appeared to be free agent righthander Roy Oswalt, a veteran with a track record of success and extensive postseason experience.
But according to major league sources, Oswalt, 34, was not particularly receptive to the idea. The Red Sox made an offer, and a slim possibility remains that a deal could be struck, but Oswalt is more interested in Texas and St. Louis, teams closer to his home in Mississippi.
The Rangers are well-stocked with starters after signing Japanese star Yu Darvish, but they could sign Oswalt as the precursor to a trade. The Cardinals, who beat the Rangers in the World Series last fall, have a need and plenty of money to spend after losing Albert Pujols.
The alternative for the Red Sox could be righthander Edwin Jackson.
Jackson was 12-9 with a 3.79 earned run average for the White Sox and Cardinals last season. He started four playoff games, going 1-0 with a 5.60 ERA.
He has been traded six times in the last six years and played for six teams. He is a free agent for the first time.
Jackson is appealing on several fronts. He is only 28 and has been extremely durable, throwing 806 1/3 innings over the last four seasons with a 4.06 ERA. He also spent parts of six seasons in the American League.
Although an unheralded member of this free agent class, Jackson could prove to be a wise investment given that he is in the prime of his career and has continued to improve.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported that the Red Sox had made an offer to Jackson and preferred him to Oswalt. But Boston general manager Ben Cherington would not comment specifically on Jackson.
“We’re still considering several options, including sitting tight,’’ he said.
The Red Sox have Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester set atop their rotation. As it stands, the final spots will be determined in spring training. Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, and a cast of veterans signed to minor league deals are among the possibilities.
“We’re talking to a few different guys,’’ Cherington said on WEEI. “We’re considering different things. If there’s a way to make our team better, whether it’s the rotation or whether it’s another part of the team, between now and spring training, we’ll do that.’’
In the same interview, Cherington said he was not constrained by baseball’s luxury tax threshold.
“When there’s a compelling reason to go over it, we’ve gone over it,’’ he said. “That could be the case this year. We’re going to look at every deal as it comes.
“We’ll see what happens from here. If there are opportunities to make the team better before we get to spring training, we’ll consider those if we find the right value. If not, we’ll go into spring training or even into the season and know we have a little bit of flexibility.
“At some point, you have to make choices about how to allocate the resources you have.’’
Although it has been a relatively quiet winter for the Red Sox in terms of moves, Cherington didn’t feel many changes were needed. The Red Sox do not view the team’s September collapse as a harbinger for the coming season. They prefer to look at the months of success the 2011 team had.
“We’re going to be a very good team,’’ Cherington said. “We’ll keep working at it. We have the means to do things, whether it’s now, in spring training, or during the season.’’
The Red Sox did get some business done yesterday when they agreed to terms with new closer Andrew Bailey on a one-year deal worth $3.9 million.
Bailey was seeking $4.7 million in arbitration, with the Red Sox offering $3.35 million. Bailey can make an additional $100,000 in incentives.
Two players - Aceves and designed hitter David Ortiz - remain unsigned.
The sides can continue to negotiate up until their hearings next month. Cherington said the likely result with Ortiz would be a one-year deal. Ortiz requested $16.5 million in arbitration, with the Sox countering at $12.65 million.
“When he accepted arbitration, it focused the conversation on a one-year deal,’’ Cherington said.