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Ben Cherington Conservative Again with Off-Season Approach

Ben Cherington (ankagallery.com)

As teams continue to open their wallets and dish out big dollars this off-season, the Boston Red Sox remain conservative in their approach.

In spite of losing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency and potentially losing shortstop Stephen Drew as well, GM Ben Cherington seems to be replicating his off-season game plan from last year where he passed up on acquiring superstar free agents in favor of more low profile options.

The first order of business was finding somebody to play catcher. In terms of talent, their top two options were to pursue Brian McCann or re-sign Jarrod Saltalamachia. However, in terms of value, the Red Sox saw their top option in A.J. Pierzynski and inked the 15-year veteran for a one-year, $8.25 million deal.

At 36 years of age, Pierzynski may be old, but the Sox managed to avoid making a big commitment. Plus, after playing in at least 128 games for the each of the past 12 seasons, they have found a very reliable catcher to platoon with David Ross.

The next issue the Red Sox needed to address was at first base. It was no secret that Mark Trumbo was on the trading block and a lot of teams were very interested in investing in a young talent like him. However, the sox opted to resign Mike Napoli for two years and $32 million. After seeing Napoli thrive in Boston throughout 2013 and play a huge role in the World Series victory, there is no doubt the Boston front office chose the safer bet.

In an effort to bolster the bullpen, the Red Sox made a move that is reminiscent of when they signed the eventual ALCS MVP in Koji Uehara last winter.

This move was the acquisition of Edward Mujica.

After finishing last season with a 2.78 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and 37 saves, it seems as though Boston may have once again gotten an elite late inning talent for the price of a middle relief pitcher (2 years, $9.5 million).

Similar to the way the Uehara move turned out, this move could prove to be Boston’s best signing this winter.

The Red Sox also added more inexpensive depth to their roster when they acquired relief pitcher Burke Badenhop from the Brewers in exchange for minor leaguer Luis Ortega.

In addition to these shrewd signings, Cherington’s conservative off season approach has also featured some disciplined inactivity in the market as well.

After murmurs of a potential trade for five-tool outfielder Matt Kamp and the potential addition of Carlos Beltran, Cherington made it clear that Boston was very comfortable with where they stood and said “it could be that we’ve done most of our heavy lifting this winter.”

Rather than looking outside of the organization for a replacements for Ellsbury and Drew, the Red Sox have been strongly considering their in-house options.

Manager John Farrell feels comfortable with 23-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. opening the season as Boston’s starting center fielder in place of Ellsbury and after seeing the way shortstop Xander Bogaerts played in the World Series, I do not blame them for believing he could replace Drew.

We all know how this approach worked out for Boston last season, and it will be interesting to see if a similar approach this winter can produce another deep post season run.

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