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No free agent splash seen

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 10, 2011

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If you were expecting the Red Sox to dive into the deep waters of free agency this winter, Ben Cherington has some space in the kiddie pool waiting.

“This offseason is going to be more about fixing what’s under the hood than it is about buying a new car,’’ the general manager said at Fenway Park last night. “We’re going to make moves and we’re going to build pitching depth and we’re going to be active.’’

But after spending lavishly on free agents in the last two years - handing huge deals to John Lackey and Carl Crawford - the Sox are unlikely to chase players such as C.J. Wilson with much fervor.

But there remains interest in keeping their free agents, particularly David Ortiz.

“With David, continued dialogue with his agent,’’ Cherington said. “I’ve actually traded messages with David but I’ve spoken with his agent a couple times.

“I think with David, it’s in some ways a little bit more clear in terms of what his market could be. It’s a little easier to have the conversations earlier in the offseason and start to get into what we might be able to, so we’re starting to do that. I still don’t know when there will be a resolution.’’

As for Jonathan Papelbon, the picture is not as clear.

“Obviously you get more options in terms of the National League, more unknown about what’s out there,’’ Cherington said. “So less dialogue with him, but keep the door open certainly and we’ll talk again I’m sure next week.

“We’ll talk again several times, probably. But when you get into free agency, there’s that sort of bilateral risk. The risk for the player is that the team goes in a different direction. The risk for the team is that the player goes in another direction. Those things can happen fast sometimes.’’

No Epstein deal

The Red Sox and Cubs have yet to resolve the compensation for Theo Epstein, a process that has gone on for nearly a month.

“We’ve traded some ideas and don’t have anything to report yet, but at least there’s been a couple more conversations,’’ Cherington said. “The commissioner’s office is giving us some leeway on it if we feel like there’s progress being made.’’

Cherington and Epstein will negotiate face to face in Milwaukee next week at the general managers meetings.

New addition

Former Royals pitching coach Bob McClure has been hired as a professional scout and minor league instructor. He was with Kansas City for six seasons before being fired after the season. Cherington said a series of promotions within the baseball operations staff would be announced soon . . . Cherington said he was disappointed not to get a chance to interview Mike Maddux for the managerial opening but understood his reasons. Maddux, who interviewed with the Cubs yesterday, said the distance between Boston and his home in Texas was too great.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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