That means the Red Sox will likely be out on pitchers such as Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Edward Mujica, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, and others who will be seeking large deals. Koki Uehara will enter 2014 as the team's full-time closer, with Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow setting him up. Andrew Miller will likely work his way back into that rotation as he returns from a foot injury that ended his 2013 campaign, and Andrew Bailey is still under team control for one more season.
Despite that strong group heading the relief corps, Boston wants to improve the depth for a bullpen that ranked in the bottom third in the MLB in ERA. General manager Ben Cherington will likely look at middle relievers on the market to see if there is a fit with a cheaper option -- as Uehara himself reminds, said options do exist for those looking.
The Red Sox have made big moves for relief pitching each of the last two offseasons, trading for Bailey prior to the 2012 season and for Joel Hanrahan last year. Neither move worked out as well as the team hoped. Hanrahan pitched in just nine games for Boston last year, allowing eight earned runs in 7⅓ innings before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. Bailey has a 4.91 ERA as a Red Sox player and has missed a large chunk of playing time with thumb and shoulder surgeries.