The interview room above the home clubhouse at Fenway Park has been dark since Nov. 4, the day Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell met with reporters to discuss the World Series and their plans for the future.
As other teams host news conferences to introduce their new players, the Red Sox have stayed comparatively quiet. They retained free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and added depth to the bullpen with righthanders Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica.
As January approaches, big news is not expected. The Red Sox could enter spring training with the roster they have now and wait until closer to the season to make any adjustments needed.
The most intriguing situation involves free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who remains unsigned with seven weeks left before the start of spring training. Cherington, and particularly Farrell, are on record saying they would welcome Drew back and as each day passes, the odds of that increase.
Agent Scott Boras said on Dec. 11 that there was a lively market for Drew that included multi-year offers. But no team has since emerged as a likely suitor.
The Mets need an established shortstop but have already signed free agents Bartolo Colon, Curtis Granderson, and Chris Young and could stay with Ruben Tejada at short. The Yankees were once interested in Drew but that has faded according to several major league sources. Their focus is on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
The market for Drew has clearly been depressed by his being attached to draft pick compensation. The Red Sox made Drew a qualifying offer (one year at $14.1 million) once he became a free agent. If he signs with another team, the Red Sox will receive a supplemental first-round pick and that team would lose its highest unprotected pick.
Outfielder Michael Bourn, also a Boras client, was in a similar situation last winter. He did not sign with the Cleveland Indians until Feb. 11. Boras could take that long to find a destination for Drew. Or Drew could seek a return to the Red Sox.
Drew was comfortable in Boston last season and successful, hitting .253 with a .777 OPS that put him among the most productive shortstops in the league. He also had a strong season defensively.
But the Red Sox have leverage. In 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts, they have a shortstop ready to play in the majors. Cherington has said the Sox are comfortable with the idea of playing Bogaerts at shortstop and returning Will Middlebrooks to third base.
If the Red Sox take Drew back, it would likely be for what they consider a team-friendly contract. The alternative — obtaining a draft pick — would be a suitable outcome.
The other fluid situation involves the pitching staff. The Red Sox have six established major league starters — Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy — for five spots in the rotation.
The Red Sox also have three young righthanders — Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman — who will be in training camp. Workman started three games last season before pitching out of the bullpen.
A trade would be the most obvious solution to the crunch unless the Red Sox shift Dempster into the bullpen, as they did in the postseason.
Lackey ($15.25 million), Peavy ($14.5 million), and Dempster ($13.25 million) each have a year left on their deals. Any of the three would be good pickups for a contender, particularly a National League team.
The Red Sox hold an option on Lackey for 2015 at the league minimum because he missed the 2012 season with an elbow injury, so he is essentially signed for two years at $15.75 million.
The other alternative would be to bring all six veteran starters to spring training to guard against injury.
The Sox have no particular need to fill via trade unless they seek an upgrade on center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.