Sox will look for big bats, bullpen help in free agency

Club prepared to build a lineup without Papi for first time since 2002

Sox will look for big bats, bullpen help in free agency

BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is ready to tackle his busy offseason.

With the free-agency window open, Dombrowski and his staff can start getting a handle on the market and finding out how much it will cost to try to fill the gaping hole left by the retirement of David Ortiz. The bullpen is also an area of focus.

With executives from all 30 teams in one place at this week's General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Red Sox will also get a better gauge on trying to fill some of their holes via the trade market.

Keep in mind that last year at the GM Meetings, Dombrowski planted the seeds for the trade that ultimately brought Craig Kimbrel to Boston.

Free agents: RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Brad Ziegler, 3B Aaron Hill.

Arbitration-eligible: LHP Drew Pomeranz, LHP Fernando Abad, LHP Robbie Ross Jr., RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Brandon Workman, C Bryan Holaday, C Sandy Leon, INF Josh Rutledge, INF/OF Brock Holt, SS Xander Bogaerts, OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Biggest potential free-agent loss: Uehara has been a crucial member of manager John Farrell's bullpen for the past four seasons. The righty, who turns 42 just before Opening Day in 2017, could seek a closing opportunity that he won't get in Boston. The Red Sox would love to have Uehara back.

Uehara strikes out side for save

Potential free-agent targets: Two of the most enticing free agents are players the Red Sox are plenty familiar with. Toronto's right-handed power duo of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista will both explore the market. Either one could play a big role in putting some dents in the Green Monster and replacing some of Ortiz's production. The only thing that would make them fit better is if they were left-handed hitters.

The Red Sox will also stay in contact with just about every capable reliever on the market.

Dombrowski on Red Sox rotation

Wild card scenario: With six starting pitchers under contract for next season, Dombrowski could trade one of them to free up money to acquire another stud reliever. Though Kimbrel is back in the fold as the closer, clubs are becoming more apt to use their best reliever in high-leverage situations before the 9th inning, much like Cleveland's Terry Francona did with Andrew Miller in the postseason.

There are some stud relievers on the market, including Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.