The Red Sox have made a series of small moves that should improve the team in 2012. In Mark Melancon, Nick Punto and Kelly Shoppach, Ben Cherington obtained three players who should prove helpful.
But the headline move is still out there to make. Let's look at some possibilities.
Now that Yu Darvish has been posted to the Rangers, Cherington should have a better sense of what starting pitchers are available via trade or free agency. Here are some players they could get involved with:
Free agents: Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Roy Oswalt wants to take a one-year deal so he can prove he's healthy and go back in the market next season. That sounds like an ideal scenario for the Red Sox. Oswalt would be a solid No. 4 starter and give the pitching staff a much-needed veteran, professional presence.
Cherington has already meet several times with Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber.
Edwin Jackson would be a good risk for a contender but would almost certainly require more than a one-year deal. The other intriguing starter is Hiroki Kuroda, who the Sox liked at the trade deadline. Paul Maholm? All they need is a No. 4.
Trade: Toronto didn't land Darvish, so it makes sense they would increase their efforts to get Gio Gonzalez from Oakland. They also have the prospects to get it done. The Red Sox have been in contact with Oakland, too. But to get Gonzalez they might have to dig deep into their prospect inventory and dangle somebody like Will Middlebrooks.
Texas now has a surplus of starters (assuming they sign Darvish). They could cure it by moving Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen. If not, somebody like Matt Harrison could go on the market. The Mets are listening on Jon Niese.
In theory, Melancon could close. In practice, that's a heck of a risk given his experience. If the Red Sox are serious about using Daniel Bard as a starter, they still need a closer.
Free agents: The price will be high given the contracts other closers have been handed this season. But only a few teams need closers now, giving the Sox a chance to make a short-term deal with somebody like Ryan Madson or Francisco Cordero.
Trades: Andrew Bailey remains available and the Sox reportedly tried in vain to get talks started regarding Joakim Soria.
Yes, Carlos Beltran would be a good fit. But Cherington has repeatedly said he doesn't see a need to boost the offense and he's right about that.
Think small here. Somebody like Ryan Ludwick or Ryan Spilborghs.