Red Sox

Dombrowski: Red Sox aren't avoiding J.D. Martinez because Harper, Machado loom

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Dombrowski: Red Sox aren't avoiding J.D. Martinez because Harper, Machado loom

BOSTON - The Red Sox have not avoided a major signing this offseason in hopes of making a bigger splash next winter, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Thursday afternoon. 

Forever tied to J.D. Martinez, the Sox are not staying away from him or anyone else because Manny Machado and Bryce Harper loom in next year’s class of free agents. Dombrowski said there are standing offers to current free agents.

"People know that we’re interested in signing them with offers," he said. 

Dombrowski, speaking ahead of the 79th annual Boston baseball writers awards dinner, was asked if he would forego a free agent one offseason to pursue one at a later point. 

“Would I ever? Yeah,” Dombrowski said. “Let’s say that’s discussed. My point is to say, well, how do I know I can sign somebody next year? When people talk about the free agent class of next year, which has got some premium guys, I don’t know who will be a free agent still next year. ‘Cause who gets signed in the meantime? 

“There’s only a few of those that are at that level. So there’s no guarantees in that regard. So that’s not our strategy...at this point. Could it happen, yeah I guess you could, but that’s not our strategy at this point. I would like to strengthen our club this year if we could.”

The offseason has been painfully slow all around baseball. Dombrowski declined to say whether the volume of conversations he is having with free agents is normal. 

“I can’t say confident, but we’ll keep working at it,” he said of a potential addition.

Dombrowski reiterated a feeling he put forth after the re-signing of Mitch Moreland, that he would be comfortable with the Red Sox as is. The Sox are virtually unchanged from last season's 93-win team.

“Well, pretty good, our team is. You know, it’s a situation where a lot of things happen throughout a season,” Dombrowski said. “So when you went into the postseason, a lot of things can happen if you have a good club. So that’s what your goal is. I mean, that’s what your goal is, to first get there, to try to win the division. There’s some good teams in our own division. We’re not done with the winter, as other clubs aren’t...Again, I’ve been with clubs that are by far favored getting into the postseason and they don’t make it. 

“A lot of it’s health related,” Dombrowski continued. “If you told me right now that our starting rotation and our bullpen was going to stay healthy during the season, I’d take our chances right now with our club. I think that we can stay with anybody. And we’ll score enough runs. We were sixth last year, and I think some guys had some down years and I think that they’ll come back. But yeah, I think we can compete with anybody because we’ve got some guys that can shut people down when they come out in big games. And I’m sure other clubs feel the same way.”

The Astros just added Gerrit Cole to their World Series-winning roster, joining Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers in a now packed rotation. Their lineup was already better than the Red Sox’. The Yankees lineup was better than Boston's as well, and they added Giancarlo Stanton. 

Dombrowski indicated he’s not thinking much about the Yanks and Astros.

“I don’t know at this point,” Dombrowski said. “We really haven’t given that one my highest thoughts right yet, cause we still got things to do...the winter time’s not finished.”

Dombrowski is unsure why the market is crawling.

“It's only speculation, and I've speculated on it numerous times,” Dombrowski said. “I ask myself that question and we ask ourselves that same question all the time around the office. It's not just been us. It's been slow overall. There have been some things over the last little time period that have started to break with a couple of trades. 

“I get a sense that there's some smaller things starting to take place. Today, even as I left the office with some phone calls getting closer — not necessarily bigger things, but smaller things taking place. I don't really know the answer. 

"It's very unusual. It's been one where it's just such a change from the past. You might have one guy out here this time of year that’s a big name trying to find a job. This year there's numerous ones. I'm not sure.”

Dombrowski clarified that those smaller things were happening with other teams. He feels the drastic wait could produce some bargains. 

"They could," he said. "If you look at the studies, and I try to read as much as I possibly can and we do our own study, there have been a lot of bargains that have been later in January into February. However, one difference this year is with the number of quality players, that doesn't happen too often. So I'm not sure, I don't know where everybody is going to find a job, if there's 125 free agents that need major-league jobs. Sometimes there might be some bargains, but I don't mean by any means all bargains. I think some substantial contracts [will be signed].”

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Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

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via Twitter (@RedSox)

Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

The Red Sox started off spring training with a doubleheader on Thursday, beating both Northeastern and Boston College.

Boston beat Northeastern 15-2 in the opener, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Highlights included a grand slam from minor league outfielder Kyri Washington, an RBI triple from Blake Swihart, and RBI doubles from Brock Holt and minor league catcher Austin Rei.

In game two, the Red Sox beat Boston College by a score of 4-2. Sam Travis contributed with an RBI double.

Boston takes on the Minnesota Twins on Friday at JetBlue Park.

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Blake Swihart would be better off in another organization. The best time to trade him could be now, as well.

He might have a lowered chance of a World Series ring in the immediate future if he's sent away. But for Swihart's personal development, the Red Sox are not his ideal base. 

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Naturally, the Sox have to prioritize their needs. To do that with Swihart, they need to examine the future.

A switch-hitter staring at a bench role with the Sox, Swihart's value remains high because other teams see his potential as a catcher. He turns 26 years old on April 3. A year in a utility role in the majors would not kill him, but it would not help him blossom as a catcher — and therefore, would not help his trade value in the future. He's not old, but he's getting older.

If Christian Vazquez is the Sox’ catcher of the present and the future, Swihart today might well be more valuable to another team than he is to the Sox. It would be up to a potential trade partner to prove as much.

Swihart has said he wants to catch, and has also said he’ll do whatever the team wants. He’s doing catching drills every day in Florida. He also does one of either outfield work or infield work daily, on top of the backstop drills. So far, he hasn't ventured beyond first base on the infield.

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Alex Cora and several members of the coaching staff coordinate on Swihart’s plan. 

“They’re in touch [about] what they have planned for me, so they don’t kill me out there catching a ton of bullpens,” Swihart said Thursday. “I think everyone is kind of involved.”

But the Sox must realize they run the risk of creating a jack of all trades and a master of none. Maybe in the short term, that's what they want. But if so, there is a potential cost in the future: slowed development. Super utility players are nice, but catchers with Swihart's skillset are probably nicer.

Someone, somewhere, is going to carry Swihart on a major league roster this year.

If the Sox have one position-player injury in spring, they can carry all three of Swihart, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero on their opening day roster. Without an injury, the Sox would appear to have three players for just two spots. Swihart and Marrero are both out of minor league options.

“Yeah. I’m not really thinking about that, but yeah,” Swihart said when asked if being out of options is a good thing. “I’ve got to prove myself, still. I’ve got a job to do.”

Swihart’s upside is tantalizing and hard to part with. He tripled and walked twice Thursday in a 15-2, seven-inning win over Northeastern, the Sox’ first game of the spring

Whether it was intentional or not, Holt batted behind Swihart and Marrero directly followed Holt. Swihart’s triple was immediately followed by one of Swihart’s two hits, a double. Marrero, whose value lies in an extraordinary glove, went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts.

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Results are virtually meaningless now, but after injuries held Swihart back the last two years, he seems rejuvenated. 

"Especially when I’m healthy, I love playing," Swihart said Thursday. "If I can go out there and get as many reps as I can, it’s almost like a tryout for me. I want to go out there and treat it like that, just go out there and do everything I know I can do.”

Other teams know what he can do, too — behind the plate particularly.

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