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Cherington stays in background at Winter Meetings

Cherington stays in background at Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Unlike in recent years, when the Red Sox have been at the forefront of Winter Meetings activity, general manager Ben Cherington stayed in the background this time, sizing up what opportunities could evolve for him later in the offseason.

After solidifying their roster at catcher, first base and setup relief last week, the Red Sox didn't feel the need to make a splash in Florida.

Instead, Cherington will continue to see if he can find a way to retain shortstop Stephen Drew or acquire someone else who plays on the left side of the infield.

With six established starting pitchers back in the fold for next season, the Red Sox might eventually be able to unload one if it helps clear some payroll and fill another need on the team.

But that market has been slow to evolve thus far, so Cherington will gladly keep his starting depth.

As defending World Series champions, the Red Sox know the key to any Hot Stove season is making sure they have a roster that can compete in the American League East.

"It kind of looks like it's similar to what we thought it was last winter -- maybe not in the exact same order, but competitive, flat and a bunch of teams with a chance to win," Cherington said. "Who knows how it plays out, but that's how we thought it was last winter, and it kind of looks that's the way it will be again."

Here is a look at what the Red Sox have accomplished thus far in the offseason.

Deals done: Perhaps most importantly, Boston re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli, who offers the power that is so critical in providing David Ortiz the type of protection he needs in the batting order. Instead of keeping Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who signed for three years with the Marlins, the Sox signed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski for one year. Edward Mujica, who was dominant for the Cardinals before a late-season slide, gives the bullpen another weapon.

Rule 5 Draft activity: The Red Sox lost third baseman Michael Almanzar to the Orioles in the Major League phase and selected infielder Jonathan Roof from the Phillies in the Triple-A portion.

Goals accomplished: Though he didn't strike any deals at the Meetings, Cherington spoke to enough teams and agents to have a pretty good idea of what the market is for his other needs.

Unfinished business: Drew is still out there, seemingly without many suitors. The Red Sox would love to have him back at shortstop next season, and they are still trying to find common ground with agent Scott Boras to make this happen. This could be something that takes a few weeks. Boras has always been willing to be patient to see what type of opportunities could arise for his clients.

Team's bottom line: "We think if Opening Day was tomorrow, we'd be in pretty good shape. But like I said before, it's not," said Cherington. "We'll keep working. There are things we could do, things we'd like to pursue. And there is still the flexibility and means to do that. But certainly the team is much more filled out than it was in the beginning of the offseason. It could be that we've done most of our heavy lifting for the winter, but certainly we'll still keep working and see what else we can come up with."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

{"event":["hot_stove" ] }
{"event":["hot_stove" ] }