The parade is long over, the confetti cleared up. No one’s had a beer thrown at them in weeks. The Red Sox have moved on to 2019, starting to look at the moves they need to make before pitchers and catchers take the field for their first workout in Ft. Myers, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

The downside of winning it all, if there could be such a thing, is that the Red Sox must now play catch-up with the rest of baseball. Other teams have been deep into “next year” mode for well over a month. (Some, like the Orioles, have been focusing on next year since beyond the All-Star break.)

The Red Sox are not in the same boat as the Orioles, who are still searching for a manager, a general manager and a route out of the mess that saw them lose 115 games. The Sox were on duck boats, and have the enviable task of looking to make a championship team a contender again in 2019.

Better to start from a position of strength, and the Red Sox were the strongest team from the start of last season. Yet teams often struggle to recapture the magic of a title, which is why it’s been 18 years since anyone repeated as champs.

The biggest issue for the Red Sox is the back end of the bullpen. There is expected to be plenty of interest in both closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly. It’s hard to imagine Boston – with the highest payroll by far in 2018 – will overextend to keep either pitcher in town. That means the president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, will have to find internal and external candidates to shore up the most important relief innings his team will face next season.

In this era, the game has become dominated by power arms coming out of the bullpen. Kimbrel is one of the best in the history of the game, but every time he took the mound in October, New England held its collective breath. Kelly was president of the Fight Club in the first two months of the season, then struggled before regaining his dominance in the postseason.

If both pitchers depart, Manager Alex Cora can turn to Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes as part of his late-season formula in 2019. Both were outstanding in the postseason, and both are hard-throwing righties who exhibit the type of velocity that plays well in the eighth and ninth innings.

Cora will need more help than that if he wants the type of bullpen great teams have in this day and age, and there is help on the free-agent market. Andrew Miller has battled injuries but would be an ideal left-handed compliment to Brasier and Barnes. He also has a history with Dombrowski, who drafted Miller out of North Carolina in 2006.

Miller isn’t the only arm that could help this team. David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria and Derek Holland are all names you will hear as the Red Sox look to prop up the back end of the pen.

With the game evolving into an era of “bullpenning,” we will see less emphasis on traditional roles. So Dombrowski may not look for one closer to replace Kimbrel, but rather on building a group of relievers that Cora can use to mix and match. Brasier and Barnes give him a head start in the construction of that group. As the front office begins its game of catch-up this fall, it will be looking at pitchers who can help them at the end of games next summer.

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

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