Theo: Looking for righthanded hitter or OF

December, 6, 2010
BOSTON -- With the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez complete, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he was immediately turning his attention to the winter meetings in Florida with hopes of filling Boston’s other offseason needs.

“We’re going to continue to focus on the bullpen as an area we want to shore up on the club,” said Epstein. “Now that we have Adrian in the fold, we can focus on maybe bolstering the lineup more, adding perhaps a right-handed hitter if we can find one that’s the right fit. Or add an outfielder if we find a right fit, but we’re also confident to play out with the group [of outfielders] we have. I know going down there that, we have less need than we did 24 hours ago, but more opportunities to fill out the rest of squad.”

The addition of Gonzalez, officially acquired from Padres Monday in exchange for a package of prospects, will automatically lead to changes with Kevin Youkilis set to jump back across the infield as the team’s third baseman (meaning that, despite Boston’s need for a right-handed hitter, Adrian Beltre’s time in Boston has likely lapsed).

“Right after the season, I told Youk that he’d be moving to third base unless we had Adrian,” said Epstein. “I didn’t use a last name. I meant Adrian Beltre, but it turned out we got Adrian Gonzalez, so [Youkilis] is moving over to third. Youk came up as a third baseman and played some really good third base through the minor leagues. I think he’s underrated just because most people have seen him in the big leagues, primarily as a first baseman. But we wouldn’t have made this move unless we were really confident Youk could play a good, sound third base. He’s been focusing his offseason plan on being able to move over there.”

Epstein did stress that the Red Sox wanted to finalize the Gonzalez deal before heading to Orlando, partly in fear that others might make a strong push for him.

“We thought the competition would intensify for Adrian and his services,” said Epstein. “And we wanted to focus on building the rest of our roster in Orlando.”

Epstein did gush about how adding Gonzalez gives the Red Sox a solid nucleus of position players that are “pre-prime,” as he dubbed it, or entering the prime of their careers, including Gonzalez, Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.



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