Now comes the tough part.

Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington solidified the lineup with a pair of impact bats last week. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez should help the team return to form after a significant drop-off in offense last season.

The addition of those two players created a surplus of position players. Cherington undoubtedly will have to use that surplus to make trades to bolster the pitching staff. In July, Cherington traded away 80 percent of the starting rotation. Now, he needs to find some arms to fill those vacant spots.

The simplest way to do that is through free agency. Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields would look good on anyone’s team. That’s the problem. While the Big Three are still on the market, the market gets more expensive by the day. Lester is coveted by more than half a dozen teams while Scherzer is sitting on the sideline waiting for the market to be set.

The Red Sox are certainly interested in landing a top-flight free-agent pitcher, and would love to bring the popular Lester back to Fenway. Yet there is a point where it becomes too expensive to do it. After committing nearly $200 million dollars to Sandoval and Ramirez last week, the Sox will have to think long and hard before committing to six or more years for a pitcher in his 30s.

That’s why it will be so important to watch for trades when baseball’s winter meetings take place next week in San Diego. There are plenty of top pitchers reportedly available for the right price, and the Sox have the prospects to pay that price.

Cole Hamels has long been rumored to be a good fit for Boston, but the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly have been asking for too much in return. You can assume that their price will come down as the offseason continues. Hamels is comparable to Lester and is under control for at least four years.

The Cincinnati Reds are another strong candidate to make a deal with the Sox. The core of their starting rotation is approaching free agency. Matt Latos and Mike Leake are arbitration eligible this winter and set to become free agents in 2016. Either would make a fine No. 2 starter for the Sox. Johnny Cueto is under contract for $10 million (club option) next season and is ready for a free-agent payday a year from now. He’d cost more but could be Boston’s opening day starter at age 29.

The Seattle Mariners would listen to offers for Hisashi Iwakuma. Oakland’s Billy Beane is once again wheeling and dealing and might be enticed to trade away Jeff Samardzija. The Washington Nationals are unlikely to deal ace Ryan Zimmerman, but have admitted they will listen to proposals.

A team looking for one of these pitchers would probably have to offer multiple prospects in return. The Sox have players to spare. Mookie Betts and Yoenis Cespedes could help any outfield. Mike Napoli or Allen Craig could play first for someone, while Will Middlebrooks’ untapped potential is a cost-efficient option at third.

And there are young major-league ready arms that could be available. The Sox wouldn’t need Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Anthony Raunado and Allen Webster if they are bringing in pitching help. Three or more of these young pitchers could be available.

Cherington got the hot stove season off to a good start last week with a pair of fascinating moves. Where he goes from here will be even more interesting. He’s got the cards to make a deal – or two. He’ll be looking to shuffle the deck when all 30 big-league general managers gather on the West Coast Sunday night.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.