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Epstein lists his priorities

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 6, 2010 09:34 PM

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Just back from Theo Epstein's suite, where the beat writers met with him with about half an hour. A few of the highlights:

• Asked to name his priorities at this point after trading for Adrian Gonzalez, he said: "Bullpen, bullpen, maybe integrate a right-handed bat into the mix if we can find the right one. ... I feel like if we brought back the same (outfield) group, we'd be OK."

"I think here is a possibility of us doing something in the outfield, it might be a more complementary-type move. If we don’t find something that makes sense, we are comfortable with the group that we have."

Epstein said he is fine with the lineup as it is and doesn't believe it is too left-handed provided they have right-handed options on the bench. An outfield move, he said, would be "more complementary" at this stage.

That would seem to indicate the Red Sox are not willing to meet the demands of Carl Crawford. Of course that could change at any time.

One possibility would be Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham, a righthanded hitter with some power.

• What did they accomplish at the meetings today?

“The most important stuff we did was kind of prioritizing, figuring out what might be real versus what was unrealistic and setting unrealistic stuff aside so we could maybe narrow our focus a little bit, both in trades and free agency,” Epstein said. “We didn’t get significantly close to anything but at least we have a smaller set of issues to go forward on."

• Epstein said he expected to acquire at least two relievers via trade or free agency. Based on the chatter today, Brian Fuentes, Ron Mahay and Koji Uehara are possible targets.

• Epstein said the Gonzalez trade would give him pause about using more prospects to make a major deal. But it would not preclude a deal. Epstein feels the 2010 draft was strong, they're well-equipped with picks for the 2011 draft and they like their volume in the lower levels of the minors.

• Epstein said the non-tender market had some interesting names. Russell Martin?

• He did not rule out Adrian Beltre, saying anything was possible however unlikely it was. But he said Kevin Youkilis was told to get ready to play third base and there are no plans to play him in left field.

(Beltre last played shortstop for one game in 2004. That is not happening.)

• Youk's rehab is going really well, Epstein said. He's swinging a bat and is comfortable. "he considers himself back," Epstein said.

• Epstein said Ryan Kalish still needs time in AAA as part of his development but if the team's needs are such, he could start the year in the majors. Keep in mind that Kalish was in the majors last season out of desperation because of all the injuries.

• The Sox are still talking with Hideki Okajima's agent. Hopefully it's about him cleaning out his locker.

• Epstein expects there to be a lot of activity this week based on the condensed calendar and the number of players who have already signed or been traded.

• The Sox, he said, offered "a mammoth five-player package" for Gonzalez at the trade deadline in 2009 and thought they had a chance at him.

• Theo said he was comfortable with the Saltalamacchia/Varitek combination behind the plate. The Sox have yet to officially sign Varitek, but Epstein admitted the deal was done.

• Epstein lamented the loss of Casey Kelly but said the deal was never getting done otherwise. He was included 7-10 days ago. Trading Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, he said, was a "gut punch."

• The PTBNL in the Gonzo deal has to be named before Opening Day. Epstein indicated it would not be a significant prospect.

That about wraps it up from Disney tonight. Thanks for reading.

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