GM says Boston likely out of Oswalt running

GM says Boston likely out of Oswalt running

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Red Sox are "unlikely" to add another starting pitcher before Spring Training, general manager Ben Cherington said Wednesday night.

Roy Oswalt, perhaps the biggest name left on the free-agent market, met with Rangers brass on Monday. He and Edwin Jackson had been repeatedly tied to the Sox. Jackson agreed to a one-year contract with Washington on Thursday.

Asked specifically about Oswalt, Cherington made the Sox's involvement seem tepid.

"We wouldn't rule out adding a starter, but I think it's unlikely at this point," Cherington said before filming a town-hall event with manager Bobby Valentine. "Keep looking for ways to improve the team, including the pitching staff, but I wouldn't expect any major changes between now and the report date."

Cherington said Boston has had no in-person meeting with Oswalt.

Arbitration issues still loom large for the Red Sox, who are looking at two hearings if Alfredo Aceves' and David Ortiz's contract situations remain unresolved. The hearings began this week in St. Petersburg, Fla., and technically can be held as late as Feb. 21.

Cherington has declined twice this week to specify the hearings' dates - they have indeed been scheduled - but he indicated to the crowd at the town-hall meeting that they weren't scheduled for the last possible minute.

"I am not at liberty to tell you the dates [of the scheduled hearings], although I know dates get out sometimes," Cherington told reporters beforehand. "It's not going to come from me on this one. ... There's a request not to divulge the dates. Nothing this week.

"One way or another, those two will be resolved in the next two weeks," Cherington later told the town-hall crowd. "Certainly before we get to Spring Training."

Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 19. Valentine said he will arrive on Feb. 12, and Cherington said he'll go down some time next week.

Ortiz's agent, Fern Cuza, declined to comment Wednesday.

If the cases reach arbitration, Cherington said he would attend them, but he would not be arguing on the club's behalf.

"I will not be presenting the case, but we're working on it in baseball ops, and with attorneys both inside the Red Sox and outside the Red Sox," Cherington said. "And as we get closer to going to a hearing, we'll let you know who the presenters are."

A panel of three arbitrators rules on cases either in favor of the player or the club. A middle-ground settlement can be reached only independent of a hearing.

The Red Sox have offered a $12.65 million salary to Ortiz, while he has asked for $16.5 million. Aceves has filed for $1.6 million, and the team $900,000.

The Sox have settled their seven other arbitration cases this offseason. Cherington told Wednesday's crowd that the nine cases the Sox had this winter was unusually high.

"It's a lot to get nine cases settled in a short amount of time," he said.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.