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Busier times are ahead

Long way to go, says Cherington

The next order of business for Ben Cherington will be the GM meetings this week. The next order of business for Ben Cherington will be the GM meetings this week. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 13, 2011

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Seth Levinson, one of Jonathan Papelbon’s agents, contacted Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington late Friday night to officially inform him the closer had agreed to terms with the Phillies.

“I’m happy for him; he’s earned it,’’ Cherington said. “Good for him and the Phillies get a good pitcher.’’

But Cherington does not see Papelbon’s departure prohibiting the Red Sox from reaching their goals for 2012.

“It’s really early in the offseason,’’ he said. “The team is far from put together. Nothing has happened to this point that is standing in the way of what we want to do this offseason to improve the team.’’

The search for a new manager has taken up much of Cherington’s time. But that process is winding down. The general manager meetings start Tuesday in Milwaukee and Cherington will arrive prepared to make a deal if something becomes available.

“There’s a chance,’’ he said. “I’ve been talking to agents and GMs a lot the last couple of days during breaks in the interview process. I have a feel for everything that’s out there.

“The majority of the player moves won’t happen until we get closer to the winter meetings. I know there have been some already, maybe a little sooner than usual. But I still think the bulk of the offseason is ahead of us.’’

Waiting on Ortiz

Cherington said that the team’s pursuit of outfield help hinges on whether David Ortiz returns as the DH.

“There are some interesting guys out there who could factor in to our right field mix,’’ Cherington said. “A lot of that depends on David. If David’s here, we’re going to go in a certain direction with the outfield. If he’s not here, it sort of opens it up a little bit.

“There are alternatives, both in free agency and in a trade market for guys that can play right field.’’

The Red Sox have already expressed interest in Carlos Beltran, who has made the transition from center field to right field. But if Ortiz were to return, Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish could compete for the job in spring training with perhaps a low-cost veteran in the mix.

Start him up?

Much of the coming months will be spent in search of starting pitching depth. One solution is likely to be Alfredo Aceves. The righthander is 2-1 with a 4.18 ERA in nine career starts over four seasons with the Yankees and Red Sox. Aceves has been more effective as a reliever in his career but has long wanted the opportunity to be in the rotation on more than an emergency basis. “We believe Alfredo can start and we’ve had some dialogue with him about coming to spring training prepared to be a starter and compete for a starter’s role,’’ Cherington said. “The ultimate role when the season opens is to be determined. But we certainly think he can start if the spot was there to be had.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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