The Boston Red Sox may not have a roster that's close to contending at the moment, but the team still could be a contender in 2013 with the right moves over the offseason, as Ben Buchanan of Over the Monster writes. GM Ben Cherington has stripped the team of numerous star players this year, but there's still a strong core in place:
Yes, the roster is barebones right now, and will be even moreso after free agency begins, but there is a core there with serious potential. Lester and Buchholz in the rotation, Ellsbury in the outfield, Middlebrooks and Pedroia in the infield, and an already-impressive bullpen lined up.
Buchanan notes that the Red Sox will likely have some serious cash to play around with this offseason, possibly around $70 million in payroll. That should allow the team to re-tool far more quickly than most teams that shed the kind of talent that Boston has recently.
Obviously the Red Sox could go in a bunch of different directions with their freed up payroll, but Buchanan specifically mentions White Sox starter Jake Peavy and Rangers catcher Mike Napoli as two names that could ultimately fit quite well.
With a solid core, massive payroll flexibility and the second wild card easing the path to the postseason, Cherington likely believes that the Red Sox can still contend very soon. Even after trading the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis, few teams are in a position as good as Boston's.
For more on the Red Sox, check out Over the Monster.