NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Among the more curious sights from Monday’s first full session of baseball’s winter meetings: Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell hustling to an exit of the sprawling Gaylord Opryland Resort & Conference Center shortly before lunchtime and not returning for nearly 2-1/2 hours.
A clandestine meeting with a free agent, perhaps?
Reasons for their sojourn remain unclear. Regardless, the Sox have been active, even after agreeing in principle to a three-year contract, reportedly worth $39 million, with slugger Mike Napoli, their top free agent target. They still must fill vacancies in right field and in the starting rotation, and they’re exploring several free-agent and trade options to satisfy those needs.
Free agents Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino (AP photo, right), Cody Ross and, yes, even Josh Hamilton are potential solutions in right field, and as we wrote in today’s Herald, each brings their unique attributes and drawbacks to the table. Hamilton, in particular, will be fascinating to track over the next few weeks, as the market for the talented but troubled slugger continues to take shape at a glacial pace.
Meanwhile, with Napoli headed to Boston tomorrow to fulfill the formality of taking a physical exam, John Tomase asked several opposing managers for their scouting report on the 31-year-old first baseman/catcher. And a few days after left fielder Jonny Gomes finalized his two-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox, one of his former managers likened him to Kevin Millar — in a good way, of course.
And the Red Sox could shop the free agent market for pitching, but within this notebook, we explore how they also may use their surplus of catchers to help land a starter in a trade.
Day 2 of the winter meetings is about to start. Keep it here for updates throughout the day, and don’t forget to follow Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) and John Tomase (@jtomase) on Twitter.
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