The first step in rebuilding was on Aug. 25, when Boston dumped Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett on the Los Angeles Dodgers, unloading more than $250 million in future salaries. But opportunities to spend on this year's free agent market are considered thin, with Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Zack Greinke the top targets.
Ortiz is a free agent and coming off a strong but injury-shortened year. Matsuzaka has reached the end of the much-heralded six-year, $103.11 million deal that brought him over from Japan. Ellsbury, a client of Scott Boras, is heading into the final year of team control after playing just 74 games in 2012 because of injuries.
Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Felix Doubront are under contract or under the team's control for next year, and Franklin Morales could be given a chance at a starting spot. The bullpen needs depth and bounce-back years from Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard.
Although Cherington said last year's team was ready to win when Valentine came in, he wasn't willing to concede that this year's isn't.
"It's a little bit of a different point in time from a roster-evolution standpoint," Cherington said. "So now we're very early in the process of doing that and we're going to work our tails off to put the best team we can out there in 2013 and build the next great Red Sox team. We don't know exactly when that will come to fruition."