Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington indicated the team will likely add a player or two before spring training. Cherington, speaking at the Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable at Fenway Tuesday night, also indicated he’ll find out like everyone else which team will land prized Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka later this week.
While acknowledging the Red Sox did engage in discussions with Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, there seems to be an expectation, according to team sources, that the team won’t be among the finalists.
“We’ve had discussion with him and I think, out of respect to him and his representatives and the process they’re going through, I just don’t think it’s right for me to say much more than that,’’ said Cherington. “We respect him as a pitcher. We certainly respect the process he’s going through trying to make a decision.’’
Tanaka is likely to go to the Dodgers, Yankees, or Cubs. The winning team will have to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Unlike in previous postings, such as the one involving Daisuke Matsuzaka, the player now can negotiate with each of the bidders.
The Red Sox would be surprised if their bid will be accepted. With all of Boston’s top young pitching talent, the Red Sox didn’t seem to be all-in with Tanaka, but stranger things have happened.
Cherington indicated he could still add a bullpen arm or two, an outfielder, or an infielder to the mix.
He also said dialogue with shortstop Stephen Drew has continued, but the sides appear no closer to coming to an agreement. Cherington reiterated he is happy with the team as constituted with Xander Bogaerts the starting shortstop and Jackie Bradley in center.
“I think it’s likely we’ll add to the roster, whether it be in the form of a major league deal or a minor league deal, remains to be seen,” he said. “But we’re confident that we’ll add some players before spring training. We’re actively working on that now. There’s still some areas we’d like to beef up a little bit and add some depth to.’’
Cherington spoke about the trials and tribulations of trying to repeat and said he and his staff studied teams that have done so, like the Yankees 1998-2000) and Blue Jays (1992-1993).
“I guess the common denominator seems to be if you have a really, really good youngish core that you bring back and you have a chance to be good again,’’ he said. “But as far as managing it, yeah, we’ve talked about ways that we can manage workloads in spring training, early in the season, and things like that to try to help guys that played more through October than maybe they’d be accustomed to.
“I’m sure John [manager John Farrell] and the staff will have some ideas on how to manage that in spring training. But, as I said, I think aside from talent, we’re really just trying to focus on what we felt allowed us to be successful last year and that’s trying to make disciplined decisions and preparing the best way that we can, and sticking to a process, and a set of principles that we believe in.
“You try to execute everything within that. You can’t always do it perfectly. But that’s what we’re trying to do.’’
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Cherington said Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino, who both had offseason thumb surgeries, are coming along fine and should be ready for spring training.
Otherwise, Cherington indicated that all other players are healthy.
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Cherington was part of a baseball panel moderated by Peter Gammons on behalf of the Foundation to be Named Later, which was founded by Theo and Paul Epstein. Also on the panel were Farrell, assistant GM Mike Hazen, farm director Ben Crockett, pitcher Craig Breslow, and Globe columnist Bob Ryan. Theo Epstein was back in Chicago, in the middle of the Tanaka negotiations.
It was entertaining discussion with Cherington telling stories about a young Pedroia when he was the farm director and Farrell saying how Pedroia sets the tone for the entire team. The discussion centered around building teams and organizations.