One of the toughest challenges of being the general manager of a big market club is balancing the needs of the present without sacrificing the future.
Remember the grief Theo Epstein took when he suggested the Red Sox might be embarking on a "bridge year?''
When you have the resources to compete every year, it's expected that you will. And few fans in Boston want to go through what, say, the Houston Astros went through or what the Atlanta Braves are currently enduring.
Those teams stripped themselves bare before they started to climb back to the top, hoping that a succession of top draft picks could provide the foundation for winning down the road.
In Boston, expectations are different. And they're especially different after two straight last-place finishes and three in the last four seasons. When Dombrowski took the job, he wasn't given a window; he was given a mandate.
Win now. And again later.
Since his hiring, Dombrowski has attempted to put a competitive team on the field without emptying his inventory of well-regarded prospects.
When he traded for closer Craig Kimbrel last November, he gave up four minor leaguers, led by two top prospects. But the two -- shortstop Javier Guerra and outfielder Manuel Margot -- played positions that the Red Sox already had covered.
So Dombrowski felt comfortable dealing from his prospect depth to address a present-day need.
On Thursday night, when obtaining Drew Pomeranz, he took the same approach.
This deal came at a higher cost, as starting pitchers often do. With so little available on the starter's market, Dombrowski had to give up one of his two best starting pitcher prospects: Anderson Espinoza.
But the re-emergence of Michael Kopech -- whose fastball was clocked at 105 mph earlier this week - along with the reported signing of No. 1 pick Jason Groome made Espinoza at least a little bit more expendable.
Dombrowski wouldn't have sacrificed Espinoza for a rental, or someone the Sox can only control for another season. But with Pomeranz under control through 2018, the Sox will get 2 1/3 seasons from the lefty.
By the time Espinoza reaches the big leagues -- let's guess late in 2018 -- the Sox will already have had the benefit of having Pomeranz in their major league rotation for two seasons.
That kind of certainty is important, especially so when the free agent market offered little of interest this coming winter. There's no David Prices or Johnny Cuetos this coming off-season, no quick-fixes to their rotation shortage.
Getting Pomeranz now -- rather than in December -- allows the Red Sox to take a shot a championship this October, in David Ortiz's final season.
Clearly, the Sox didn't want the window to close on Ortiz's final season without making every effort to win a fourth World Series in 13 years.
Remember? Win now. And then again.
If Pomeranz is the pitcher the Red Sox believe him to be, their rotation is effectively set for several seasons, with Price, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez.
That, coupled with a strong everyday lineup featuring a core of players in their mid-20s, should enable the Sox to compete this year and for the next several.
They didn't have to give up Yoan Moncada or Andrew Benintendi or Rafael Devers. They kept their second-best pitching prospect in Kopech and are close to signing another in Groome.
Had they aimed higher -- for Jose Fernandez, for instance -- they would have had to package at least three of those prospects in one deal. Had they been modest in their aspirations, they could possibly have settled for Rich Hill for a couple of good prospects.
But Hill would have been a free agent in November and the hunt would continue this winter for another impact starter, costing still more blue- chippers.
Instead, Dombrowski struck a more nuanced approach, trying to win now, while preserving the capability to win again in 2017 and 2018.
It's what he has to do: Win now. And again later.