INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The answers weren't going to be forthcoming during the two days of General Managers meetings this week. But that doesn't mean significant steps toward finding solutions weren't being taken at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort Wednesday.
For the Red Sox, one of the most pressing riddles revolves around what their 2013 outfield might look like.
When asked if it would appear the team might need to add two additional outfielders this offseason, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said, "Probably. Maybe it’s through trade. Maybe it’s through free agency, but it’s definitely something we need to add."
What adds intrigue to the Red Sox' quest to fill out their outfield is how many different avenues can be taken, as was evidenced by the names being tossed about on the first day of the meetings.
For instance, there's free agent outfielder Torii Hunter. As WEEI.com reported earlier in the week, the Red Sox have expressed interest in the veteran. The 37-year-old's agent, Larry Reynolds, was present at the Hyatt, beginning to gauge the level of industry-wide interest in his clien via meetings with various general managers.
Cherington wouldn't specifically acknowledge the Red Sox' interest in Hunter when asked, only explaining, "I would say if there’s an area of the free agent class that’s a little bit deeper, it’s probably in the outfield. We’ve talked to a lot of those guys, or at least the agents of a lot of those guys. It’s probably still a little bit of a feeling out period for both the players and the teams. We’ll see how it moves forward, but we’ve been in contact with a number of outfielders."
But it was two outfielders with whom the Red Sox haven't been in contact who perhaps piqued the most interest for those trying to piece together the puzzle: Justin Upton and Jason Bay.
For the second time in three years, Upton is the talk of the GM meetings, with Arizona dangling the 25-year-old as a potential trade chip, and teams like the Red Sox showing at least some interest. On the surface, it would seem like the kind of move the Sox should be exploring, with the outfielder still under contractual control for the next three seasons. (He makes $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in '14 and $14.5 million in '15.)
But the Diamondbacks appear to be looking for a high-end shortstop in any package for Upton (not a fit at this time for the Red Sox, with prospect Xander Bogaerts a non-starter), and, according to USA Today, the Arizona outfielder has also included the Red Sox on his newly submitted no-trade list.
"He will not be an easy guy for us to move," Diamondbacks general manger Kevin Towers told USA Today. "I think we've said it's probably unlikely we end up doing something with him, but if somebody is willing to step up and we think it's a deal that's going to make the Diamondbacks better next year and going forward, we'll talk about trading him."
The newspaper also reported that Arizona is looking for one of Texas' two young shortstops -- Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar -- in a deal for Upton. With thoughts of a possible three-way trade in mind, it should be noted that according to a baseball source there is no traction for the rumored deal of Red Sox' outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for Andrus. Texas did have some interest in Ellsbury at the non-waiver trade deadline.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the high-priced Upton is an option like Bay.
The 34-year-old former Red Sox outfielder reached a deal with the Mets to void the last season of his four-year deal, making Bay a free agent. As of late Wednesday afternoon, Bay's representatives hadn't engaged in serious talks with any interested teams, with the Mets arrangement coming about in a fairly quick manner.
A source with knowledge of the situation, however, did say that Bay had interest in potentially rejoining the Red Sox despite his controversial departure from the organization after the '09 season. (The Red Sox backed out of an agreed-upon four-year, $60 million deal during the '09 season, asking Bay to undergo knee surgery at season's end.) The source suggests the Washington native's preference would be to play on the West Coast, but the familiarity of Boston would be a drawing card.
Bay is apparently healthy, having recovered fully from a concussion that sidelined him in '12. The outfielder struggled mightily during his tenure with the Mets, hitting just .234 with a .687 OPS along with 26 home runs in 288 games. Yet one talent evaluator said regarding Bay, "I think no player needs a fresh start more than him. I actually don't think he is done. His problems [in New York] were more mental than physical."
The prospect of Bay using a short-term deal with the Red Sox as a way to revitalize his career might be attractive to both parties, although Cherington said his team hasn't started that thought process as of yet.
"Certainly surprised it didn’t go better for him in New York," the Red Sox GM said. "He’s a terrific guy, and he’s been a great player for a long time so I expected him to do well. I don’t know the particulars of why it didn’t work out, but I have a lot or respect for him and hopefully he will find a better situation. … We haven’t talked about it yet. We can’t rule anything out."
The Red Sox are kicking tires all over the place when it comes to outfielders, even calling on Grady Sizemore. The 30-year-old sat out the entire '12 season after failing to recover properly from knee surgery. "He's got to show he's healthy," said one baseball executive of Sizemore, who played 106 games in '09, 33 games in '10 and 71 games in '11.
There is also the continued contact the Red Sox are keeping with Cody Ross, who is looking for a three-year deal but may have to get it from another organization. Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and the Mets all have expressed interest in the 31-year-old.
All of it represents a work in progress for the Red Sox -- work that won't be close to complete by the time these meetings end.
"We’ve had more talks," Cherington said. "I wouldn’t say we’ve furthered anything, but we’ve talked more. It’s still probably a little bit early on in the trade stuff to really do that, but we’ll continue discussions. … Nothing surprised me."