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ON BASEBALL

World awaits Craig Breslow’s first move in Sox big chair, but suggestions are he’s willing to deal

Craig Breslow, shown at last month's general manager meetings, declared Monday that the Red Sox are "going to be as aggressive as we can possibly be to fill the rotation."Matt York/Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Craig Breslow has been chief baseball officer of the Red Sox for nearly six weeks. It’s a blank page so far.

Sure, he’s been busy evaluating players and setting expectations for his staff, but the roster is largely the same bunch that lost 84 games last season.

As Breslow readily admitted on Monday afternoon when he met with reporters at the Winter Meetings, he’s yet to make any significant acquisitions.

Whether it’s by trade or free agency, the Red Sox have two spots to fill in their rotation. It’s that or another season of hoping Chris Sale can stay healthy and relying on pitchers better suited for the bullpen.

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Breslow wouldn’t put a number on it, saying the Sox could add more than two or decide one was enough. He described the team as being “actively engaged” on the trade and free-agent markets.

“We’re going to be as aggressive as we can possibly be to fill the rotation,” Breslow said.

Craig Breslow said the Red Sox are going to be aggressive in filling out the pitching rotation this offseason.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Aggression is important. With only a few exceptions, every team in baseball with postseason aspirations wants to improve its rotation this winter.

There won’t be enough pitchers available to fill all those spots. Monday was a quiet day in terms of transactions, but teams are expecting the pitching market to move soon. Then, it becomes a game of musical chairs.

Do you wait for the pitcher at the top of your list, or take your second or third choice? Wait too long and you’re down to the fourth or fifth choice. Wait even longer and you’re scrambling.

How Breslow reacts to the market in the coming days and weeks will help define who he is as an executive.

“It could be a single domino that needs to fall, or it could be a number of those,” he said. “We’re obviously engaged in multiple fronts. For us, we’re trying to run our own race. Identify the guys that we think can provide value and help us in ‘24 and beyond, and stick with that.”

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Under Chaim Bloom, the Sox worked around the edges when it came to the rotation, signing affordable free agents — Corey Kluber, James Paxton, Martín Pérez, and Garrett Richards, for instance. We saw where that led.

Searching for bargains is important. But whether it’s Shota Imanaga, Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, or somebody via trade, the Sox need a starter they can build their rotation around and, preferably, a second-level acquisition who can add stability.

Breslow believes Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, and Garrett Whitlock still have upside, and they do. But the Sox can’t stroll into the season counting on that upside to materialize. There are too many risks. Two or three of those guys are likely relievers for a contending team.

The Red Sox have several pitchers with upside like Tanner Houck, but they also need immediate high-end starters.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

In his short time in charge, Breslow has been careful to answer questions without actually saying too much, but there is sense that the Sox are prepared to dip into their reservoir of prospects to make a deal that improves the major league roster.

Breslow characterized the Sox as not feeling a need to wait for the perfect situation to make a move.

When Dave Dombrowski became president of baseball operations in 2015, he evaluated the farm system and made a series of successful deals that helped produce the 2018 championship. Now, it’s Breslow’s turn.

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“The player development and scouting groups have done a great job in amassing position-player depth,” he said. “I think for the right deal, the answer is yes, we need to be willing to give up position-player capital in order to get starting pitching.”

Other teams backed that up, saying Monday the Sox are more willing to move prospects than in previous seasons.

Whether that actually happens or not, it was refreshing to hear Breslow is willing to take some chances. That’s a big step to getting the team back in contention.


Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him @PeteAbe.