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No shortage of closer options

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 8, 2011
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DALLAS - The Red Sox do not necessarily need to obtain a closer via trade or free agency. Replacing Jonathan Papelbon could be as easy as giving the job to Daniel Bard.

But the wide selection of closers available gives general manager Ben Cherington an opportunity to be creative. Picking one up would allow Bard to be tried as a starter or remain in his role as a versatile set-up man.

Free agents Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and Francisco Rodriguez remain on the market. With only a limited number of teams - the Reds and perhaps one or two others - seeking a closer, the Red Sox could get an experienced closer at a bargain later this month.

“We’ve certainly made progress as far as understanding more what it’s going to take to acquire pitching of all sorts of flavors,’’ Cherington said yesterday. “We felt like that’s what this was really going to be about for us. It would be more information gathered than execution most likely, these days in Dallas.’’

The trade market could prove a better route. The Red Sox are engaged in discussions with Oakland regarding closer Andrew Bailey. The righthander is coming off the worst season of his career (3.24 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), but is only 27 and is healthy after starting last season on the disabled list.

Oakland badly needs outfielders and has interest in Josh Reddick.

Bailey is arbitration-eligible for the first time and is likely to get $3.3 million or so next season.

Bailey is from New Jersey and attended Wagner College in New York. His wife is from Connecticut. Presumably he would welcome a trade to the East Coast.

Progress on coaches

Manager Bobby Valentine said the Red Sox have decided to keep third base coach Tim Bogar and bullpen coach/catching instructor Gary Tuck. Hitting coach Dave Magadan was retained last week.

“They continue their passion, and their commitment is, I believe, at the same level it has always been,’’ Valentine said.

Valentine said Bogar’s role could change depending on other additions, meaning he could end up at first or as the bench coach.

Bench coach DeMarlo Hale went to Baltimore as the third base coach. Valentine said he understood why Hale left, given that his role would have been uncertain on the new staff.

The Sox are going through lists of candidates for bench coach, first base coach, and pitching coach. They also figure to add a staff assistant, a coach who is not in uniform for games.

Valentine said the pitching coach was the most important hire, and they would get it right.

“We’re probably going to take a lot of time to decide,’’ he said. “I don’t mean months because I need that guy yesterday to start talking to, about what we’re going to do.

“But we’re going to try and get the best possible guy and it’s going to take a while to weed through that. Ben has a list; I have a list. We’re making calls and setting up appointments.’’

Reaching out

Valentine is eager to set up a meeting with outfielder Carl Crawford. “I want to meet him if he wants to meet me before spring training,’’ he said. “Just do a little face to face. I think that he deserves my reaching out to him, and I’m trying to do that.’’ . . . Righthanded reliever Dan Wheeler declined arbitration, so the Sox will receive a draft pick if he signs with another team. Wheeler had a 4.38 ERA in 47 appearances last season. After a poor start and a stint on the disabled list, he had a 2.45 ERA over his final 36 games. Cherington said the door was open to his returning but no discussions had been held . . . Lefty Erik Bedard, who was 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA in eight starts last season, signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh. The Red Sox were not interested in bringing him back.

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

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