On a single afternoon last August, the Red Sox traded away three players who among them had been named All-Stars 11 times and won four Gold Gloves, a World Series MVP and an ALCS MVP. Among them, they hit .300 or better eight times, won four stolen-base titles, led the league in triples four times, hit 30 or more home runs four times, and won 20 games in a season.

Those are the kinds of credentials that usually make general managers swoon. Theo Epstein did. And Ben Cherington freely admits he championed Carl Crawford as a great fit for the Red Sox.

But the Red Sox, their season awash in disappointment and unmet expectations, sent a message with last summer’s shedding of Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez: Simply collecting stars, especially at the top-of-market rates they paid for Crawford and Gonzalez, was no longer their idea of a workable business model. Going forward, they intended to surround the core group of stars they had -- Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury -- with players of complementary skills who bought wholly into a team-first concept.