NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Red Sox sized up a couple of key targets for their lineup and then landed them at what turned out to be a productive Winter Meetings for general manager Ben Cherington.
Mike Napoli gives the Sox the right-handed slugger they need to complement David Ortiz, and he also happens to have a swing built for Fenway Park. Shane Victorino offers defense in right field and speed on the bases, and he is also a switch-hitter who can be dynamic when he is going well.
Meanwhile, Boston remains on the prowl for a solid starting pitcher and also needs a couple more position players for depth purposes.
"We've been trying to add to the team without trying to take away from the team and keeping our core young talent in place, so hopefully we've made some steps toward that," said Cherington. "We still have some more work to do. Clearly we've got to add some more things, and we'll have the rest of the winter to do that. I guess it was productive. We learned a lot and got a couple of things done."
The Red Sox also had a face-to-face meeting with Josh Hamilton, the prized position player on the market. Though the outfielder would prefer to either stay in Texas or land a long-term deal somewhere else, Boston probably has the finances to match or top anyone on a shorter-term deal.
While Hamilton is probably a long shot to land in Boston, it's at least a story worth monitoring.
Deals done: Agreed to three-year, $39 million deals with Napoli and Victorino. The Sox also agreed to a one-year deal Thursday with reliever Koji Uehara, who posted a 1.75 ERA over 36 innings with the Rangers last year. All three transactions are pending physicals.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Red Sox selected second baseman Jeff Kobernus from the Washington Nationals, and then traded him to the Tigers for outfielder Justin Henry. With the first pick in the Draft, the Astros selected Sox Minor League right-hander Josh Fields. The Twins selected Boston righty Ryan Pressly.
Goals accomplished: Upgrading the lineup has been a necessity since Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were dealt to the Dodgers back in August. Pull hitter Napoli could break out in Boston with the Green Monster an inviting 310-foot poke away. Victorino is coming off a down year, but he's the type of defender who can handle the tricky right-field dimensions at Fenway. He is also the type of infectious clubhouse presence the Red Sox need at a time they are trying to change their culture.
Unfinished business: The Red Sox are now pushing ahead to fill their next big need, which is another quality starter for the rotation to supplement Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey. Free agents Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy and Anibal Sanchez remain possibilities. For whatever reason, the pitching market is moving slower than the position player market this winter. The Red Sox also are on the hunt for either a starting shortstop, or someone who can compete with prospect Jose Iglesias for the job in Spring Training.
Team's bottom line: "It seems like when people leave the Winter Meetings, there's a bit of a quiet period; people kind of get out of the frenzy and maybe take a step back and realize something they were talking about wasn't such a good idea. Sometimes things get close and never end up happening. Hopefully we learned a lot and at least have a better idea of how we might deal with things we know we want to do the rest of the offseason." -- Cherington