Winter Meetings interview with John Farrell

Q. John, are you confident you can sign Lester and do you have a plan B and a plan C?

JOHN FARRELL: I think we're still confident that we can sign Jon. He's obviously going through this free agency process. And as we came into this offseason there were a couple of spots in the rotation that we needed to address and add to. And we're in the midst of that right now.

Q. How many times have you personally spoke to him during the process?

JOHN FARRELL: There's been probably three or four different times, whether that's over the phone directly or through some text messaging.

And as of late I know he's focusing on all the information that's being brought to him. So we respect that process.

Q. Do you have any feelings as to your chances?

JOHN FARRELL: Oh, again, we're still optimistic that he'll be in a Red Sox uniform. There's a lot of history between the Red Sox and Jon. We obviously have a strong desire to bring him back. And yet hopefully this is coming to a little bit of a head here.

Q. Is it somewhat frustrating to have so much ‑‑ you and other teams are waiting to hear about Jon's decision. It seems like a lot of other things are in limbo until you know where he's going. Do you get the sense that there's other things that have to be done that can't be done until you know about Jon?

JOHN FARRELL: No, I think we look at it as ‑‑ Jon's going to go through this process as he needs to. He's earned the right to get to this point in his career. And he's a primary target for a number of teams. And that speaks to his abilities as a player and as a pitcher. And I think we'll address every other need accordingly.

Q. Do you hope money is not the only factor in this decision?

JOHN FARRELL: Oh, there's going to be a number of things, I think that any free agent looks at. And I think a player is going to determine what the right fit is for them. I think where our history with Jon is, I think, a strong factor in off of that.

Q. You have been through so much with him. What's he meant to you personally as a pitcher, as a player, as a person?

JOHN FARRELL: I think anytime you have a rapport or relationship with a guy that you've worked with, you'd love to see them evolve as a person and as a pitcher, in Jon's case, in how they mature and how they get to this point in time to take care of their family from a financial standpoint, and certainly he has done that. Two World Series championships and a lot of positive things that have taken place.

Q. What does it take for a pitcher to be, if not safe, then a reasonable risk, as a six‑year investment?

JOHN FARRELL: I don't know that I can speak to the negotiations or what is being requested or asked of. That's probably directed more toward Ben and the assessment of a given pitcher and what the right investment is in a guy. Best characterize it as we'd love for Jon to be back in a Red Sox uniform.

Q. He's gotten better, he's gotten older?

JOHN FARRELL: He's made necessary adjustments, as any consistent Big Leaguer has to make adjustments as they go through the league multiple times and year after year. And I think that speaks to his work ethic and awareness of who he is as a pitcher and how he can be more effective.

Q. To you is it more important to have a left‑handed presence in the rotation?

JOHN FARRELL: We want the best pitcher possible. And I think that's where Ben and Mike and others are doing such a great job. We have needs but we're looking to put the best guys in uniform. Is there an ideal composition of a rotation? I don't know that you have to say you have to have specific types.

Q. Obviously there's a lot of focus now on the rotation, with Andrew Miller signing with the Yankees, obviously he's not coming back, how do you look at what you have in your bullpen now and maybe some pieces that you need, beyond a lefty that you might like to have to replace Andrew, would you also like another set up option as he had become?

JOHN FARRELL: Well, first, I think having Koji in place to go back to a closer is a key part of the bullpen. He and Junichi's presence back there are guys that have been good performers for us in high‑leverage situations. We still have some needs there. And that is yet to be addressed.

So I'm confident, and I think we're all confident that the resources are here to bring in the best available guys.

Q. How about Burke Badenhop, do you hope to resign Burke?

JOHN FARRELL: He is a guy that we've had conversations about. And yet there's a fairly large number of pitchers that are still available. As Burke is going to have options where he might go. He did a great job for us last year. We're still addressing all those needs, starter and bullpen.

Q. In your mind how many starters do you think the team needs to obtain at this point, before Spring Training?

JOHN FARRELL: We've looked at two spots in the rotation as being the need to fill. How those are filled remains to be seen, but that's the approach right now.

Q. "Two" meaning guys who are not on the roster right now, getting two other guys?

JOHN FARRELL: We would like to ‑‑ yeah, we would like to add a couple of starters.

Q. Do you see one spot being in competition with all the different young guys that you have?

JOHN FARRELL: The one thing we do have is depth of quality with the young guys. If one of those spots in rotation is a spot to be in competition for in Spring Training that's certainly part of the luxury that we have with guys that have started their transition to the Big Leagues, we haven't even gotten into the next group of young starters that are on the way, and that would be Owens and Rodriguez and Escobar, just to name a few guys. We've got some depth from which we can pick from.

Q. Have any of those guys been prepared as pitcher relievers?

JOHN FARRELL: No. Everyone that's in a starting role last year has been in our exit meetings with individual players at the end of the season was to get in shape as a starter. We can always adjust the other way, if needed.

Q. How do you view Buchholz?

JOHN FARRELL: As a very talented right‑handed starter. He's in a good frame of mind. There's been multiple conversations and in‑person visits with him. He goes into the offseason in a more ‑‑ I guess a more normal calendar. Coming off of 2013 and the length of the postseason, combined with the physical rehab that he had to go through, he didn't have a normal offseason in the throwing program. This one he will. And he's looking forward to coming into camp as he did in 2013.

Q. How important is Clay to rebound? How important is it?

JOHN FARRELL: His importance and effectiveness is going to be equal to who else is in that rotation. Kelly, him, guys that we bring in and add to this rotation. I don't want to highlight any one pitcher's contributions any more than the other, because they're all going to be needed to get where we want to go.

Q. Given that you have rotation depth, is it safe to characterize that what you're looking for is two guys that could anchor the top of that rotation?

JOHN FARRELL: That's going to be dependent on who's available and who ultimately agrees to come here and how that player is brought to us.

So like I said, we're trying to put together the best and most talented rotation we can.

Q. In your mind how important is it to have a No. 1 that you can point to and say he's our No. 1 or like the Orioles this year didn't really have that guy, didn't seem to matter during the season for them?

JOHN FARRELL: Again, it's a matter of who the most talented guys that we can bring here. And unfortunately we can't get everyone. But at the same time we're going to target the most talented guys and the best fit for the Red Sox.

Q. Have you had conversation with Cespedes?

JOHN FARRELL: We've talked about the potential position that he could find himself in from a defensive alignment. Center field and right field are both options for him. We know we have a deep and talented group of outfielders. And Ben has been on record and it's been mentioned that the potential exists for one of those guys to be dealt. Who that is we don't know. But we have the luxury of a deep lineup and a deep position player group right now and that includes a number about of outfielders.

Q. Have you ever been part of a recruitment process like you have been with Lester?

JOHN FARRELL: Yes, I will say yes. Now, each one has some different characteristics, and I don't want to say customize, but there's a message that we want to deliver, and in this case there's a lot of history already in place. And we feel like that stands for a lot in this case.

Q. You don't normally see that when a player that's very familiar with an organization, you guys have been actively pursuing him, that's an amount of how much you want him or to let him know?

JOHN FARRELL: I think we've expressed a strong desire in what we think of him and the desire to bring him back to Boston.

And at the same time we're not taking anything for granted. It's a reflection of how talented he is, and the interest that other teams have in him.

Q. John, a lot of Red Sox talk about the roller coaster of waiting to see what Jon Lester decides. You say you're confident that you can get him. Does that confidence remain high over the last two months?

JOHN FARRELL: I think it's remained high. And I say that because we have the utmost trust in Ben and the resources that John, Tom and Larry provide. We feel like we've got a tremendous amount to offer to him. And that's not just in terms of finances. That's the ability to win and compete every year, and to play in a great place and in front of great fans in Boston. There's a lot here that give us that optimism with Jon.

Q. How is Pedroia?

JOHN FARRELL: He's doing great. He really is. He's able to swing the bat a little bit off the tea. Physically the strength and the range of motion continues to improve. And I think one of the more exciting things as we go into and begin to get closer to Spring Training is getting Pedroia back to 100 percent health and strength.

Q. Victorino, is there any clarity on how ready he's going to be, when he reports, and whether he's going to have limitations as you begin Spring Training?

JOHN FARRELL: The volume is going to be our guide on how he responds to that. Everything points to him being on the field and in full baseball activity whether camp starts up. There's been frequent conversation with Vic and some video he will send himself and the workouts he's going through. He's in a good place physically and mentally right now.

Q. What's he mean to you?

JOHN FARRELL: When we look back to 2014, the first year that he was here, he did such a great job for us, he impacted the game in a number of ways each day he's on the field. He's a vocal leader, he leads by example. And we missed him when he was out of lineup.

Q. (INAUDIBLE)

JOHN FARRELL: He's progressing well. He went through ‑‑ I think we know a pretty substantial procedure. I've seen him at the ballpark regularly as he's starting to increase his physical work and physical activity. And again, we expect him to be on the field once camp opens up as well.

Q. Talk about Mookie and what are the Red Sox' plans for Mookie?

JOHN FARRELL: Positionally we still see him as an outfielder. We've talked about a deep outfield group. But the one thing that's been impressive of Mookie, when we look back in the three different times he came up, there was tangible improvements and adjustments he made with each return trip to the Big Leagues.

For a young player he's got such a unique combination of on‑base ability and strike zone awareness. He's a good‑looking player. And you kind of marvel at the aptitude he shows at an early age. And that's an exciting thing.

Q. Is anybody untouchable?

JOHN FARRELL: I don't know if you want to say untouchable. We value all our players. And again, when you get into trades and speculation, that's probably something that's better directed for Ben.

Q. As you guys discuss your outfield alignment, what degree does having a leadoff hitter establish part of that?

JOHN FARRELL: I think as we get through the remainder of this offseason we'll have a clearer picture of that. And certainly once we assemble in Ft. Myers, those things will be worked through as we get there. But the work that Mookie did last year and how he profiles, there's a strong candidate to be in the top part of the order.

Q. After what you went through last year with the lineup, do you feel like you have to have a leadoff hitter every day?

JOHN FARRELL: Ideally. I think we always strive to have continuity in the lineup. Guys that come into the ballpark they know when they're going in the lineup each and every day, they have a general idea where they're going to be within positions in the lineup. And I think that sits well with guys, just that common thought and understanding.

Q. Do you have anybody you're sort of looking at for that leadoff spot or still dependent on the way the roster shakes out?

JOHN FARRELL: I think we've got all our in‑house candidates that are there. Mookie being the strongest at this point. But that's not to anoint him the opening day leadoff gu.

Q. How is Resnick doing?

JOHN FARRELL: Well, he's getting the at‑bats that we designed and we're hopeful to get in this calendar year, and continues to play in Puerto Rico, he's gotten past the thumb injury and is back on the field routinely and regularly.

Q. You talked about the history with Jon Lester and the Red Sox, do you think when you traded him it changed things that he played for another team and he's experienced something else?

JOHN FARRELL: It's probably a better question directed to Jon. I do know this, when players make a change for the first time, one, it's a new experience, in some ways, in some cases, does it have the potential to be unsettling, maybe. But as we went through this past year and the attempts to sign Jon, it felt like at the trading deadline it was best for all involved to make that move. Looking to sign him in the offseason, this is where we are today.

Q. Do you have the feeling in your conversations that the trade changed how he felt about the Sox?

JOHN FARRELL: No, nothing that he expressed to me.

Q. This point last year you had a fairly settled roster. How different is it with all of these uncertainties at this point in the offseason?

JOHN FARRELL: You know, I think the biggest thing we look at, yes, are there needs, certainly there are. But the overall roster and the strength that is here today and the quality of the players that we have, this is still an exciting group. And it's not a complete one. But we feel like we're in a pretty good position in terms of the players that we have here right now and still the depth from which to potentially deal from and the resources available to fill out our roster.

Q. Have you guys talked about Allen Craig not having a good offseason, have you checked on that?

JOHN FARRELL: Like every other player, there's routine checkups, whether that's as Pat or others will travel out to witness their workouts and check in with them by phone. He's having what would be considered a normal offseason, and that's getting past the foot injury he went into. And we fully expect him to be back to full capacity.

Q. You can't tell much about a guy swinging in the cage. Do you have any sense that ‑‑

JOHN FARRELL: No. Early on it's been mostly focused on his overall core strengthening, and just getting a foundation built to get him back to the offensive performer that he's been.

Q. Is it difficult to foresee how Allen fits into things at this point? Obviously you've got Napoli at first. You've got recuperating Victorino, third base is occupied. Is it hard to imagine how you're going to fit him in?

JOHN FARRELL: One, he'd be in the same role that he was in when he came over to us last year. The one thing that we've talked more in depth, Ben, I and others, is how do we build in more regular days of rest and just trying to balance out the overall workload. And that's where the depth and strength of the roster really has a chance to play itself out or shine through. And certainly Allen is part of that.

Q. Do you have to talk to guys during the offseason, maybe some veteran guys, about maybe playing in a different role if it came to that point, how comfortable they might be in that?

JOHN FARRELL: There's been some conversation on that. And there will be certainly plenty more opportunity for that as we get into camp. I think guys are aware. They look around, see the strength of the team, particularly player position‑wise as it stands today, and know that we have the ability to rotate a guy like Brock Holt through many different positions to give guys a breather.

Q. When you factor what you're looking for in a backup catcher, how big ‑‑

JOHN FARRELL: One, you've got to look at the pool of all the guys. And we've got some familiarity and history with some. And I think we'll look at the best overall fit. As opposed to one carrying.

Q. INAUDIBLE

JOHN FARRELL: Met with him yesterday in Phoenix. He's at API and will be there until about the 20th of the month. He's in a great place physically. And I think he is realizing the benefits of being in that program.

Q. How do you feel about him going next season?

JOHN FARRELL: Upbeat, confident. The one thing that I found myself having to do, and talking with Torey and all those guys on the staff, this guy is 21 years of age, and sometimes we might lose sight of the stage in life that they're in. He came to us after a very strong postseason with some pretty lofty expectations.

But as far as the player and the person, completely confident he's going to be a very, very good player for us for a long time.

Q. Did you drop in on Dusty, too?

JOHN FARRELL: We had a chance to talk a few times yesterday. He never comes in unannounced.

Q. Brock Holt being your primary utility infielder, will there be another, and he kind of is in that mix?

JOHN FARRELL: You know, probably the best way to answer that is we probably have to get a better sense of what the roster looks like, or what the bench looks like. But to have a guy, a super utility capability, he's a luxury to have, particularly with David as our regular DH. We can't rotate players through that spot. We look back on 2014 and one of the real strong stories of last year was Brock's emergence, his versatility.

Q. Would it be hard to have him playing both outfield and infield?

JOHN FARRELL: No, because he showed he could do it last year. If that gives us some freedom and flexibility to have a different type of player on the bench or on the roster, that remains to be seen.

Q. Can you see carrying two young catchers?

JOHN FARRELL: Remains to be seen. But we'll see how that plays out. We don't have anything concrete in the backup slot yet.

Q. Talk about Jackie Bradley, Jr., and what do you see his role on this team and do you think the Red Sox can get him to hit a little better?

JOHN FARRELL: Well, he's had I think a fairly long track record in the minor leagues where he's been a very good offensive performer, not uncommon that a young guy comes to the Big Leagues and has to make adjustment. We're talking about one of the premium defenders in all of Major League Baseball. He's a talented kid. He continues to work at it. He's going to come in and compete for a spot.

Q. I know that early reports, is Holt satisfied that the concussive symptoms are a thing of the past or are there tests?

JOHN FARRELL: No, no further tests that are planned. He went to see Dr. Collins in Pittsburgh, that was back in I believe October 9th was the date which he traveled there. And he was given a clean bill of health at that time. We don't anticipate any lingering effects from the concussion.

Q. Any concerns about Hanley's transition?

JOHN FARRELL: No, I don't. But there's work to be done to transition to that position. And I say that with confidence because of Hanley's attitude. He came to us more than willing to change positions. And having the ability to sit down and talk with him at length the day of his press conference, he's excited to be back here. He's excited to take on the challenge of left field. He's going to get down to Ft. Myers before camp opens up a little bit to get some extra work and begin to transition there. I think the biggest thing is his attitude and his willingness to embrace the position change.

Q. Is Xander going to go back to Arizona after the holidays?

JOHN FARRELL: That's the tentative plan, yes. And we've talked about the importance of carrying the gains that he's made in this six‑week period into Spring Training. And I think more than anything he's in a really good place as far as being able to work with Nava, Gomes, other guys that are working out with him day‑in and day‑out there, and getting in that environment in the offseason workouts.

Q. He'd go from Arizona to Ft. Myers?

JOHN FARRELL: I don't have his exact travel itinerary.

Q. Roughly like that?

JOHN FARRELL: That's I think an anticipated travel.

Q. When you guys sent him in the offseason, was it more speed related, strength related, endurance related?

JOHN FARRELL: The one thing that Butter continues to work on is that first step quickness. And that's not to say it's lacking. It's to say we can continue to improve it. And I think any player is going to benefit from overall core strengthening, he's going through.

Q. That's something those guys can work with him?

JOHN FARRELL: Yeah.

Q. How was Japan?

JOHN FARRELL: Great.

Q. Did you get something out of it beyond managing there? Was it educational?

JOHN FARRELL: It's a great experience. It's a fascinating country, fascinating culture. We all got a taste of it in '08 when we opened up with Oakland. To travel and experience the culture and to witness a team of very talented players, it was a great trip.

Q. Are any of your guys there at the time or was Koji still back in Baltimore?

JOHN FARRELL: Koji was in Baltimore. Actually received some gifts and a card from Junichi, he was working out in his hometown. But Sammy Saito made a presence, and it was good to catch up with him.

Q. Kevin Cash being the manager of the Rays, is that scary?

JOHN FARRELL: No, not scary, it's great ‑‑ it's been a quick assent, but a talented guy. He's going to do a great job. He's a special guy and ecstatic that he's gotten an opportunity to manage down in Tampa.