Dave Dombrowski

Does 'due diligence' mean Red Sox are in on Giancarlo Stanton?

Does 'due diligence' mean Red Sox are in on Giancarlo Stanton?

Dave Dombrowski told the Boston Herald he can't talk about specific players, of course, but responded to reports of the Red Sox being in on Giancarlo Stanton trade talks by saying they "try to do our due diligence in every regard.” 

This comes after a Saturday report where a source told the Miami Herald of the Red Sox, “They’re definitely in play,” on Stanton, 28, the right-handed slugger who hit 59 homers for the Miami Marlins last season but carries with him a contract due to pay him $295 over the next 10 seasons, with an opt-out after the 2020 season.

There's also the matter of what young players the Red Sox would part with to make a deal and beat out the other suitors. Mookie Betts? Rafael Devers? Andrew Benintendi? Xander Bogaerts? Other prospects?  

An earlier report from MLB.com Friday said the Red Sox had been in on "preliminary talks" on Stanton, along with the Cardinals, Phillies and Giants. 

Red Sox owner John Henry said after new manager Alex Cora's introductory press conference last week that the team was prepared to add payroll even if it meant exceeding the luxury tax threshold. Dombrowski also has made no secret of the Sox' need for a power bat. The Marlins, with ex-Yankees legend Derek Jeter among their new owners, are looking to shed payroll. Dombrowski, the former Marlins and Tigers executive, dealt with his old team before with a blockbuster trade that sent Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit in 2007. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox notes: Staying under luxury tax not a goal for 2018

red_sox_dave_dombrowski_072516.jpg

Red Sox notes: Staying under luxury tax not a goal for 2018

BOSTON — Whether or not Red Sox ownership is excited to open up its wallet, the team is in a renewed position to spend after finishing 2017 under the luxury tax threshold, and there’s a clear need to improve the offense.

“We’re having our meetings right now so I don’t want to jump to it,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. “We need to score more runs. Some of that has to come internally. When you start looking at some of our guys, some of them didn’t have as good, I don’t think, of offensive years as they’re capable of having. So some of that increased production comes internally. But we do have probably the open spot of first base/DH, and so that’s a place we’ll try to create some offense there.”

The Red Sox and all 30 clubs will meet for the general managers’ meetings next week in Orlando. 

THE RED SOX HIRE ALEX CORA

Dombrowski said Hanley Ramirez, who went for left shoulder surgery at the beginning of the offseason, is expected to be healthy enough to play first base if the Sox want. Dombrowski said he had no preference as to whether Ramirez is a first baseman or DH going forward. But logically, whichever position Ramirez does not play may be manned by a new addition.

Will they be pricy and shiny?

In separate scrums with reporters Monday afternoon, Dombrowski and Red Sox owner John Henry both were asked whether the Red Sox would want to stay under the luxury tax threshold for a second straight season.

Dombrowski was asked the question first. Does he think staying under is a goal for 2018.

“No, I do not,” Dombrowski said.

Henry, apparently, was in ear shot at the time Dombrowski was asked, and didn’t want to elaborate when he did his scrum immediately after Dombrowski.

"Well, [Dombrowski] answered the question,” Henry said when he was asked about it. “He said he could go over.”

Now if this isn’t enthusiasm to spend, what is?

A few other notes:

  • As Dombrowski said when the Sox announced Dustin Pedroia was going for surgery, the Sox feel they can get by at second base internally until Pedroia returns a couple months into the season. However, they may still well add a piece.
     

“We think Pedey is going to be back in May at some point right now if you listen to what the doctor has to say,” Dombrowski said. “But we like, we had Brock Holt who at the end of the year, felt good. We really like Marco Hernandez a lot, he’s healthy, he’ll be ready to go. He’s a real possibility, and then we have [Tzu-Wei] Lin who’s a utility guy. Deven Marrero can play over there. So do I think we can fill internally, yes. Will we? I’m not sure. We’ll wait and see what happens.”

  • Several surgery options were discussed for Pedroia.
     

"This is very complicated,” Dombrowski said. “He saw the top specialists. There were different alternatives that were kicked around by the doctors. But ultimately, it really is Pedey's decision on what he thought was best for him. We gave our support. There were some alternatives that weren't quite maybe as extensive or some other surgery that could have been done. There could even have been a more extensive surgery. 

“But this was decided this was the best thing to do by the experts. … He went back and forth in his own mind and finally came up with the conclusion that this was best for him. Doctors feel with this one that after he heals, he should be in a position like he has been as far as health. There will be no holes in his cartilage anymore at that point. I'm not going to say he's going to play like he was when he was 25, but that he'll be able to continue to play and play healthy.”

  • Dombrowski said the Sox liked Eduardo Nunez but didn’t elaborate on potential interest in a reunion. Dombrowski attributed his lack of elaboration to the fact that Nunez is now a free agent.
     
  • The Red Sox issued no qualifying offers to their free agents, Nunez or otherwise. They were not expected to make any.
     
  • The hope is a pitching coach is in place by the time the GM meetings begin.
     

“We have a lot of names we’ve discussed,” Dombrowski said. “I can’t tell you we’re close to anybody. We’ve had interest in a couple guys that have gone other places, for various reasons. But I’d have to say we’re going to have more conversations, if it’s not today then tomorrow, because Alex is here until Thursday. We’ve got organizational meetings until Thursday, so I’m sure that’ll be a topic of conversation.”

  • Dombrowski said there were no planned changes to the front office or the team’s medical staff.
     
  • The Sox are planning to hire what Dombrowski termed a “quality assurance” coach.
     

“That’s something Alex [Cora] believes in a great deal,” Dombrowski said. “It’ll be somebody that takes the analytics we have and combines it with the video we use in advance scouting reports and helps combine the report. They used that in Houston, and he feels very strongly about that so that’s a position we’re going to add. We don’t have that person at this time. There was a person we had in mind but he went to another job, but that’ll be something we use and rely on for our advance work. He’ll be involved, that person, with all of our conversations on a daily basis when we sit down and break down a club, he’ll be involved with the pitching coach, the catcher, the pitcher and sit in there.”

Cora should seize chance to set tone in introductory press conference

Cora should seize chance to set tone in introductory press conference

BOSTON — Alex Cora’s introductory press conference at noon Monday must pack a lot into a little time, a reflection of the beginning of his Red Sox tenure on a whole. The learning curve on the job will be steep as a first-year manager taking over a 93-win team that has not only won consecutive division titles, but is also staring at a shrinking competitive window

Some of the talk at Fenway Park will revisit Cora’s previous time in Boston, as a player from 2005-08. He’ll have a remembrance of the World Series run in 2007, and what brought a 14-year big leaguer to his first career job in the big chair. Maybe we’ll get a sense of just how close he and Dustin Pedroia remain.

Managerial introductions are always celebratory. But Cora’s inauguration will stand out because he represents a landmark for the Red Sox and for the people of Puerto Rico: he’s the first Hispanic manager in club history. The Herald’s Michael Silverman discussed the broader context of Cora’s hiring at length in a piece that ran Sunday. 

Beyond the getting-to-know-you talk, Cora should face some questions about the Red Sox’ future — questions that deserve something at least resembling legitimate answers.

MORE:

Some things will be chalked up to, “We’ll see,” and “Time will tell.” But after the Sox said virtually nothing about why John Farrell was fired, they’d do well to talk about the vision moving forward.

By the end of the presser, Cora will have done well to establish some concrete platforms: clear beliefs and some planned approaches.

We can’t get carried away with expectations for Day 1, though. Who knows how many Sox players Cora has been able to reach, if any, at this point, and for what length of time.

On Friday, Cora was riding down the Houston streets, celebrating a seven-game World Series win over the Dodgers for his Astros. He served as the bench coach in Houston, a one-year stint that makes him nowhere close to a seasoned vet when it comes to running the show. 

This is a breakneck transition all around. Cora can’t provide bullet points of planned private conversations with the likes of David Price and Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. But the Price topic, and how he would have handled the pitcher’s encounter with Dennis Eckersley, is one that Cora can’t entirely sidestep either. 

Cora can address broadly what his expectations are for his players, about the identity he wants to establish with a Red Sox team that struggled to find one following David Ortiz’s departure. 

The manager sets the tone, and Monday is Cora’s first chance to do just that.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE