Don't expect the Red Sox to sign any big-name free agent such as Shin-Soo Choo during this week's Winter Meetings in Orlando.
With first baseman Mike Napoli signed to a new two-year deal, catcher A.J. Pierzynski on board with a one-year contract and both right-handed pitchers Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica added to strengthen the bullpen, the Red Sox might not add any other significant piece before spring training.
"It could be that we've done most of our heavy lifting for the winter, but certainly still keep working and see what else we can come up with to improve the team," Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise to those who follow the Boston Red Sox that Cherington could be finished with major acquisitions this offseason.
After all, since the Red Sox unloaded Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and declared their main focus to be on developing players (and not overspending on free agents), the organization seemingly has been viewed in the same fashion as we look at small-to-mid market teams.
Last offseason and again this offseason, many of the top free agents have been considered out of the Red Sox' price range. Yet the Red Sox remain a big-market team and so they undoubtedly could sign a top free agent at any minute.
But when will the Red Sox again be willing to offer a six-, seven-, or even eight-year deal to a free agent? Could Choo, the top position player remaining on the market, be a surprise addition to the Red Sox this week?
Realistically, the Red Sox won't sign any free agent to a longterm mega-deal until they identify that player as a perfect fit.
The best teams are the ones who build their core from within and use free agency to patch up the remaining holes — or even sometimes use it to add a big-time player who can put them over the top to win a championship.
In past offseasons, the Red Sox would have been considered very much in the running to sign someone like Choo.
The Red Sox need a leadoff hitter. Choo is a leadoff hitter.
The Red Sox need a center fielder. Choo is a center fielder.
Additionally, Choo's offensive approach fits the Red Sox' grind-it-out philosophy perfectly. The 31-year-old left-handed hitting Choo has speed and some power, and he grinds out at-bats and gets on base. His .423 on-base percentage in 2013 ranked fourth among all major leaguers, behind only Miguel Cabrera (.442), Joey Votto (.435) and Mike Trout (.432).
But the Red Sox are looking longterm. And Choo isn't the perfect fit longterm because he is a below-average defender, he struggles against left-handed pitching and the team already has a 23-year-old center field prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., who is considered an above average defender.
Bradley still needs to improve as a hitter and he might struggle against left-handed pitchers this coming year. There also is a very good chance his offensive totals in 2014 won't come close to Choo's.
But the Red Sox aren't thinking about just 2014. They are thinking long term. And Choo, while he'd fit an immediate need, isn't a necessity in the long term plan.
The Red Sox won't offer a mega deal to any free agent unless that free agent is a perfect fit and matches the immediate and longterm plan.
The Red Sox seem willing and ready to make the center field position Jackie Bradley Jr.'s to lose this spring training.
Center fielders Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees) and Curtis Granderson (Mets) and right fielder Carlos Beltran (Yankees) all are off the market.
The most realistic option in terms of free agency was the Red Sox signing Beltran and moving Shane Victorino to center field. But with option ending this week, Bradley likely will be given every shot in spring training to win the job.
Yes, there still is a chance the Red Sox could make a trade for another outfielder. But they feel comfortable with Bradley in center. And they also feel comfortable with moving Victorino to center if Bradley shows he is unready during spring training.
But Cherington said this past week he wants to keep Victorino in right field.
If the Red Sox are to add any outfielder via free agency or trade, the addition most likely will be a right-handed hitter to complement Bradley, a left-handed hitter who is a better hitting against righties. This platoon outfielder doesn't just have to be a center fielder either. Victorino could shift to center on days when Bradley sits.
Michael Morse, Rajai Davis, Franklin Gutierrez and Delmon Young are four right-handed hitting platoon options on the free agent market.
LOOKING FOR INFIELDER
The Red Sox have had off and on dialogue with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, but nothing recently.
"Obviously we feel pretty good about our alternative at shortstop (Xander Bogaerts) but we'll see what happens the rest of the way," Cherington said.
Cherington hopes to add an infielder to the left-side of some kind.
"Whether it be a more prominent player or more of a complementary player," he said.
The Red Sox' need to add a left-handed infielder likely is a result of not knowing what to except from third baseman Will Middlebrooks. If the Red Sox were to sign a shortstop, they would move Xander Bogaerts to third base for the time being and possibly try to deal Middlebrooks.
Rafael Furcal is no longer an option. He signed with the Marlins.
Third baseman Eric Chavez, who just turned 36, is someone the Red Sox were interested in last year. He batted .281/.332/.478/.810 in 254 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks last season. Michael Young, another third baseman on the market, has reached out to the Red Sox, according to Peter Gammons, but the 37-year-old's power has declined over the past two years.