Welp, it’s almost Christmas and Dave Dombrowski has done literally nothing to make the Red Sox any better than they were in 2017. While his pursuit of J.D. Martinez has been well-documented to say the least, all we’ve seen so far is a lot of talk and not a lot of execution. That being said, I want to look ahead and see what the remainder of the offseason could look like for the man at the helm of John Henry’s team.
As far as free agency goes, it’s officially J.D. Martinez or bust. Eric Hosmer is now off the Sox radar after re-inking Mitch Moreland to a 2-year $13 million dollar deal, so this could mean one of four things:
1. Hosmer was asking for too many years and too much money, so Dombrowski decided to walk away. Considering that Hosmer is a Boras client, this is an extremely likely scenario. Hosmer is known to want a 7+ year deal, and if the Sox aren’t 100% sure that this is their guy, then there is no point in wasting their time talking to him.
2. Dave Dombrowski knows that J.D. Martinez is signing with the Red Sox, and it’s just a matter of crossing some T’s and dotting some I’s before he gets revealed at Winter Weekend. Admittedly, this is far less likely. HOWEVER, you can’t say it’s impossible. In December of 2015, the Price signing was kept absolutely silent until the deal was already done and Pete Abraham had written the story. You never know.
3. Dave Dombrowski wants Martinez to know that he’s their guy, and that they will do anything to ensure that he signs with the team. Not only does this show J.D. that they’re not pursuing Hosmer, this could also mean that they’re going to move JBJ to create an outfield spot for him. If J.D. were to sign today, there would be no clear cut role for him. Hanley Ramirez is making $22 million at DH, and the Red Sox have arguably the best defensive outfield in the game. So in order to make room for the free agent slugger, Dombrowski would have to make a trade. Sox fans know very well how undesirable Hanley and his outrageous contract are (Thanks, Ben Cherington), so I can't imagine that any team will feel any differently. Therefore, Dave’s only options are to eat nearly all of Hanley’s salary or move JBJ, and the Moreland signing could be his way of telling the Martinez camp is that he’s willing to make room in the outfield to get this big-time bat in Alex Cora’s lineup.
4. Dave Dombrowski is content with going into 2018 with the same exact roster that they had at the beginning of 2017. This would be the worst case scenario for Sox fans. I’m not saying that players like Mookie, Hanley, and Porcello can’t bounce back, but that still probably doesn’t put you passed the Yankees, Astros, or Indians. It pisses me off every single day that Dombrowski didn’t just sign Encarnacion last offseason, especially after seeing Carlos Santana sign for the same exact contract. Regardless, I can’t see Mookie or Hanley suddenly becoming 40 HR guys, and that’s what it would take for this roster to be a threat to the top teams in the American League.
Outside of signing a big bat and potentially trading JBJ or Hanley in exchange for prospects, there’s not much Dombrowski can do. Assuming that the team is at full strength, a rotation of Sale, Price, Pomeranz, Porcello, and E-Rod should be one of the better rotations in baseball, and a full year of Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg should lighten the load on guys like Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly, hopefully helping them maintain a higher level of performance throughout the season. The only other move that Dombrowski could make is for a player like Eduardo Nunez to fill-in at second base until Dustin Pedroia is healthy, but if that role is left for some combination of Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, and Tzu-Wei Lin to fill, then that’s fine by me.
In an ideal world, the Red Sox will sign J.D. Martinez to a reasonable contract, and his production will continue to be elite. But as I always say, we don’t live in an ideal world. We simply have to hope that whatever course of action Dave Dombrowski takes is the right one, and that the Red Sox stay in contention for a World Series Championship. 2018 is year 2 of the Red Sox 3 year window before their young, talented core begins to dismantle, so there’s no time to waste. It’s World Series or bust time in Boston.
Photo: (FanRag Sports)