BOSTON -- Even when the Red Sox designated John Smoltz for assignment last week, the club was fully open to the veteran right-hander becoming a contributor out of the bullpen down the stretch after a brief stint in the Minor Leagues.

Smoltz thought about it for a few days, then informed the Red Sox that such a scenario did not interest him. The Red Sox will either trade or release the potential Hall of Famer by Sunday's deadline. He has already cleared waivers.

"I know [general manager] Theo [Epstein] has been in touch with him a lot," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I've actually been in touch with him a little bit. It's more Theo, and Smoltzy has indicated that he is not interested in going to the bullpen with us, [or] furthering that venture. The next move would be for the organization to trade or release him."

The 42-year-old Smoltz made eight starts after recovering from right shoulder surgery, going 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. He has 212 wins, 154 saves and 3,044 strikeouts, making him the only pitcher in history to reach all three of those milestones.

If the Red Sox are unable to trade Smoltz -- the Dodgers and Rangers reportedly have expressed interest -- and have to release him, any team picking him up would be responsible only for a pro-rated amount of the Major League minimum. The Red Sox would be on the hook for the remainder of his $5.5 million salary, minus that pro-rated amount.