4:21pm: MLB.com's Ian Browne has more from Epstein and Bay. Epstein noted that discussions to date have been "under the radar screen and underreported even after the fact," and he hopes to keep them that way. Bay continued to speak highly of the Red Sox while adding the caveat that he'll test the market.
3:30pm: Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe was one of many reporters at today's press conference with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona. Let's take a look at a few hot stove highlights:
- The Red Sox are penciling in Clay Buchholz for the 2010 rotation. We can assume Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will take three more spots. Epstein is including Tim Wakefield in planning for next year, which implies the Sox will again exercise the knuckleballer's $4MM option. My opinion – it won't be surprising to see the Red Sox sign an additional starter of the bargain variety.
- Victor Martinez is the team's starting catcher, so look for his $7.7MM club option to be picked up soon. WEEI's Mike Petraglia relays a comment from Epstein about locking up Martinez past 2010: "We'll see. We'd love to see him here long term."
- Epstein finds it unusual that the Red Sox and Jason Bay both want a new contract but nothing is in place yet. On a related note, check out this recent post from U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron about the risk of signing Bay.
- Epstein spoke about 2010 possibly being the last chance for several of the team's core players to make a run at another title. David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and Josh Beckett can be free agents after next season. Petraglia quotes Epstein on Ortiz: "We need him to be a force."
- Petraglia says the Red Sox are open to picking up Alex Gonzalez's $6MM club option for 2010. Seems steep for a guy who missed all of '08 with a knee injury.