With next week’s winter meetings in Orlando on the horizon and the rumor mill working overtime, general manager Theo Epstein spoke to the media about all things Red Sox this afternoon.
Epstein refused to confirm any rumors about a potential Manny Ramirez trade or a possible J.D. Drew signing.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment at this time,” said Epstein, when asked about the possibility of moving Ramirez out of Boston. “Manny is obviously a big part of the team. No further comment unless or until there is something to announce.”
Regarding J.D. Drew, Epstein said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about potential free-agent signings. Certainly there’s a time and a place to talk about players. It’s just our policy not to talk about potential acquisitions until it’s done or not done.”
However, Epstein did say that the team is continuing to negotiate with a couple of free agents.
“We may have something done with one free agent before the winter meetings and we plan to be talking to another free agent at the winter meetings,” said Epstein.
The Sox GM said he expects the meetings to be fast paced, active, and he anticipates that there will be a spike in trade activity.
“There’s still a lot of needs out there, a lot of available players,” added Epstein. “It will be fun to see how all the parts settle. They’ll be trade talks; they’ll be a lot of free agent discussion. It’s always a great place to get stuff done because everyone is under the same roof.”
When asked for an update on the ongoing negotiations with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Epstein said, “Larry [Lucchino] was in Japan and was at a point where he was meeting the Japanese media and he acknowledged that we had made an offer. That certainly is the case. We had made an offer. I don’t want to go too much more into it because I think it is important to maintain some.. a quiet and calm, confidential environment, if possible, during the negotiation for the benefits of both parties.”
As to the team’s search for a closer, Epstein said the bullpen would be the team’s top priority at the upcoming winter meetings, “We’ve had a lot of talks with teams about trades in which we’d get a closer back,” said Epstein. “We’ve dabbled in free agency but obviously haven’t gotten anything done yet. And the search continues. Our bullpen is not yet a finished product. It will look a lot different on Opening Day than it looks right now.”
More of Theo’s thoughts:
“My personal philosophy is spending a lot of money on middle relief is always something to be avoided if possible,” said Epstein. “There’s a tremendous amount of volatility in year to year performance of non-closing relievers. So it’s important, if possible, not to fall into the trap of buying high when there’s so much volatility. It’s much better to buy low or to have less at risk in an investment whether it’s a one year deal rather than a two or three year deal. Whether it’s a solution from your own minor league system or someone who is looking to bounce back from injury or poor performance. It’s much better that way than getting locked into significant commitment with someone who might not maintain that level of performance… it may not the best use of our particular resources… The bullpen has been a sticking point for us in recent years. We haven’t been able to successfully follow through a plan of converting lower risk investments into actual performance. That’s something that we’ve taken a lot of steps this winter, with respect to our infrastructure, trying to correct.”
“He’s a terrific infield instructor, very knowledgeable about base running. He’s really developed himself as a staff member during his three years managing in our system,” said Epstein. “It’s very important to the organization that we were able to promote from within. It’s a real morale booster for our player development staff and he’s an ideal fit for what we were looking for in a first base and infield coach.”