FORT MYERS, Fla. — “Evenness.”

That’s the word Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell uses to describe his team for 2016. It implies this team has no irregularities, no variations or fluctuations that could lead to another bumpy season.

Bumpy is the best word to describe the last two seasons, when the Sox finished last – the first time in 80 years they were cellar dwellers in consecutive seasons.

“We’re a more balanced team,” said Farrell before a recent Grapefruit League game. “Our pitching staff is deeper, our bench is very complementary to our projected starting lineup. There’s an evenness across our roster that hasn’t been there. We’re all in favor of the young blend of durable, athletic players.”

Boston spent a king’s ransom to build that depth. The price of David Price alone ($217 million over seven seasons) is more than just about every payroll in the game for 2016. It’s a stark contrast to the New York Yankees, who didn’t sign a single major league free agent this winter. Not one.

Is this a Bizarro World AL East, where the Red Sox outspend the Yankees trying to buy their way back into the postseason.

Farrell doesn’t think so.

“The days of spending your way to the top of the division are gone,” said Farrell.

The Sox believe the money they spent, an admittedly staggering amount, was necessary to return the team to the top of the division. In Price, they signed the man some call the best starting pitcher in the American League. They gave up four promising minor leaguers to acquire Craig Kimbrel, the closer who has more major league saves since 2011 than anyone. They signed former Yankee Chris Young to give them outfield depth, and even added David Murphy this spring – even though he probably has little or no chance of making the big-league club.

For all of that, the Sox have issues to deal with.

“The transition of Hanley (Ramirez) to first and Pablo’s (Sandoval) comeback are important,” said Farrell, “but (Clay) Buchholz staying healthy and showing us the pitcher he can be is also very important.”

So is getting off to a good start. This should be a tight AL East race, so it’s vitally important not to fall too far behind the pace of the division. The Sox play 16 of their first 26 games against AL East opponents. They can’t have a repeat of last season when they had a losing record against the Yankees, Orioles and Rays.

And Farrell, who was on the sideline undergoing cancer treatment while the Sox went 28-20 under interim manager Torey Lovullo, knows his place at the helm of this team could depend on a strong start. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski brought Farrell (and Lovullo) back for 2016, but there are no guarantees he will stand by his manager if the team is well under .500 by Memorial Day. There is pressure to succeed. Farrell knows it.

“The thing that may end up separating us is how quickly we jell as a unit,” said Farrell.

Of course, winning is the best way for teams to jell. The Sox believe they’ve built a team that will win enough games to return to the playoffs.

We’ll soon find out if it was money well spent.

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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