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January 15, 2014

Can Red Sox GM Cherington's approach work again this year?

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington will be presented the Executive of the Year award, voted on by the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at its annual dinner Jan. 23 at The Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.

I wrote a column on Cherington for the dinner program. In it, three GMs — Pittsburgh Pirates’ Neal Huntington, Colorado Rockies’ Dan O’Dowd and San Diego Padres’ Josh Byrnes — broke down Cherington’s performance while leading the Red Sox from last place in the AL East in 2012 to World Series champions in 2013.

All three GMs worked with Cherington in the Cleveland Indians organization in 1998. Byrnes also spent time with Cherington in Boston working under former-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

One question I posed to each GM that ended up not being explored in the story: Do you think other GMs, in the future, will use a similar team-building formula to what Cherington used last offseason or is it risky?

I think this question/topic is relevant to explore right now because Cherington has taken basically the same approach so far this offseason that he did last offseason. So will it work again?

Thus far, Cherington has forgone signing any big-name free agents to longterm deals. He has added depth to the bullpen. He re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli and continues to place top value on building a roster with high character players who all want to play in Boston.

Cherington, furthermore, restrained from overspending on center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (who left to sign with the New York Yankees). He has done the same in negotiations with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew and he appears he will continue to do the same even if it means Drew eventually signing elsewhere.

He also plans to rely on the young depth the Red Sox have in their minor league system.

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