Boston shifts attention to revamping bullpen

Boston shifts attention to revamping bullpen

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Another Winter Meetings is in the books for Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, but this is one he will never forget.

When the proceedings started on Monday morning, Epstein was in Boston helping to unveil Adrian Gonzalez, the star first baseman who was acquired from the Padres. And by the time Boston's baseball operations crew packed up their bags and left Florida on Thursday, free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford had been secured with a seven-year, $142 million pact that will become official within days.

In other words, Epstein has made his monumental winter moves. Now he can focus on the more subtle areas of need.

Were Gonzalez and Crawford in his ideal master plan all along? Sure they were. But that doesn't mean the plan is finished.

"Plan A involves a well-rounded club with all of our weaknesses shored up and adding some impact talent. We still have some work to do," Epstein said.

Here is a look at where the Red Sox stand now that the Meetings are over.

Deals done: Acquired Gonzalez from San Diego for right-hander Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later; re-signed catcher Jason Varitek for one-year, $2 million, plus incentives; agreed to a seven-year, $142 million contract with Crawford.

Rule 5 activity: The Sox passed on making any selections, but the club lost left-hander Cesar Cabral to the Rays and right-hander Daniel Turpen to the Yankees. Boston is reasonably comfortable both players will be returned by the end of Spring Training.

Goals accomplished: Epstein got two big bats that will anchor his team not only in 2011, but for the next several seasons. Gonzalez will likely sign a seven-year extension before he reaches free agency, and Crawford is under Boston's control through 2017.

Unfinished business: After making several offers to free-agent relief pitchers, the Red Sox still haven't signed any of them. Epstein is confident that will change, perhaps within the next week. Scott Downs, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes and Kevin Gregg are all bullpen arms who could bolster Boston.

"The bullpen remains a priority," Epstein said. "That market has seemed like it was on the verge of really moving for the past two or three days, and I think we all thought it would break at the Meetings. It hasn't quite yet, so we're still involved with a number of relievers through free agency and a couple through trade."

GM's bottom line: "If things come together the way we hope and expect, we'll be really satisfied. I think you go into every winter with a Plan A, and sometimes it's hard to pull that off, and then you move on to Plan B and C. I think adding an impact player was very important for where we were for the short-, medium- and long-term. Adding two [impact players] -- as long as they were the right players, in the right spots, in the right situations -- would be even better." -- Epstein

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.