The Red Sox relied on a deep cache of starting pitchers to navigate the 2013 regular season. Since they won the World Series, it makes sense for them to make an attempt at duplicating that strength as they defend their title in 2014. Boston didn't necessarily lose a regular starter when Ryan Dempster announced his decision to sit out the season, but their depth did take a hit.
According to CSN New England's Sean McAdam, the loss of Dempster could prompt the team to add another starting pitcher this spring.
Last year, the team's rotational depth helped them soften the blow of Clay Buchholz' shoulder injury that kept him out of the club's pitching sequence from the beginning of June until September. And while Dempster didn't dominate last season, his presence allowed the team to lean on him for 29 starts during the regular season.
Manager John Farrell is comfortable entering the season with a rotation of Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront. However, Farrell did express the team's desire to "prepare for the unknown," so an acquisition is certainly not out of the question.
Eleven different pitchers started games for Boston last year, including a few young arms that could be factors in the rotation again in 2014. Brandon Workman and Allen Webster filled in sparingly, and both could be asked to do so again this year, but Boston could also begin looking for a veteran starter to add to their Triple-A roster as a contingency plan.
There aren't many options left in free agency other than the marquee players that are tethered to draft compensation thanks to the qualifying offer. A move that drastic doesn't seem likely, but Boston could target a bounce back veteran or simply bide their time until the trade deadline to make a more significant acquisition.