Reports continue to surface that Boston is stepping up its efforts to sign slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira, who could take aim at the Green Monster from both sides of the plate.
With Kevin Youkilis at first base, Mike Lowell at third and David Ortiz at designated hitter, the Red Sox currently don't have a vacant position for Teixeira. But that's a problem the Red Sox feel they can deal with if they are fortunate enough to land an All-Star hitter and solid glove man who is 28 years old.
SI.com reported that the Red Sox are one of the "most aggressive pursuers" of Teixeira, and the Web site cited several executives who predicted he would wind up in Boston.
Yahoo Sports quoted a decision maker from an unnamed team as saying, "I think he'll sign with the Red Sox. They want him. They have a good relationship with [agent Scott] Boras, and in the end, they have the dollars to make it happen."
The Red Sox make it a policy not to comment on which free agents they court, and Boras has also declined to identify which teams are in the mix for his client.
But Teixeira is precisely the type of hitter the Red Sox always covet -- an on-base machine with elite power to boot.
Do the Red Sox need another slugger, as Ortiz suggested a few weeks ago?
"If we sign one, yeah. If we don't, no," quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona in his media session at the Winter Meetings on Monday.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein doesn't expect to make any moves at the Meetings, which conclude Thursday, but that doesn't mean he won't make a big splash in the days that follow.
"I think a couple of the players that we have some interest in might be close to going somewhere else, but not here [in Vegas] necessarily, and then a couple of players we have some interest in don't seem to be in a rush," Epstein said. "Maybe we're making some progress on a couple of other players, but we're not necessarily close to finishing it."
There's no doubt that Teixeira is in the prime of his career. Splitting the 2008 season between the Braves and Angels, Teixeira hit .308 with 33 homers, 121 RBIs and a 1.081 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
There are several other teams courting Teixeira, including the Angels, Yankees, Orioles and Nationals. Boras is said to be seeking a contract of eight years or more for Teixeira, with the sum expected to be at least $160 million.
Because the Red Sox still have Youkilis under their contractual control for two more years and Ortiz is a franchise icon, Lowell would seem the most likely to be dangled in trade talks if Boston is successful in its pursuit of Teixeira.
Under that scenario, Youkilis could move across the diamond to third base. But Lowell is coming off right hip surgery, so it could be hard to move him until he plays in Spring Training.
The Red Sox had a glowing report of Lowell's progress on Monday.
"Reports are really good," Epstein said. "He's ahead of schedule and really impressing the doctors and rehab guys with where he is. He's going to start throwing pretty soon and should resume baseball activities probably a little bit ahead of schedule, too. He's impressing everybody."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.