Dave Dombrowski

David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

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David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Red Sox Winter Weekend began Friday night with most current players lining up on a stage at Foxwoods, ahead of a town hall discussion with fans.

Something was obviously missing: a marquis addition, or any addition at all, really, aside from new manager Alex Cora.

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Before the town hall began, chairman Tom Werner offered the media something that sounded like assurance the assembly of players Friday will be supplemented come Opening Day.

“We’re going to make some more moves this offseason,” Werner said. “So, again, I’m not worried so much about where we are on January 17 as where we are on April 1.”

Werner even dangled a carrot of specificity.

“We are in active negotiations with J.D. Martinez,” Werner said. “People know about that. It takes two to make a deal. I can only speak for the Red Sox, we’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had and you know other teams have to make their own decisions but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Asked if there was momentum with Martinez, Werner went no further.

“I don’t want to get too into the free-agent discussions,” Werner said. “We’re hopeful to make a deal, but as I’ve said, it takes two people to make that deal.”

Later, it took only a couple questions from fans for Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to be asked where the 2018 Sox would get their power from. Other fans had similar questions about the pace of the offseason and the competition’s improvements.

“The players want more money than the clubs have been willing to offer,” Dombrowski said. “If you want to play, it’s going to change, and I think it’s going to change very quickly.”

As Dombrowski said at a different point in the night: “the ice is going to melt, and it is going to move very fast.”

David Ortiz, speaking to the media alongside Pedro Martinez, has been a busy man in retirement. But he’s noticed the crawl of free agency.

"I'm just wondering, who the hell is going to play this season?” Ortiz said. “Because nobody has signed yet. I'm wondering, what's going on? It's pretty much everybody. I have tons of guys, a friend of mine [who I asked], did you sign yet? Nope. It's almost spring training, bro. What's the deal?' That’s a question you guys should ask the owners.”

Gathered media indeed asked Werner about the pace of free agency.

“I can only speak for the Red Sox,” Werner said. “We’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had, and you know other teams have to make their own decisions, but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Martinez and Ortiz stopped short of saying the Sox had to add a bat, but they were naturally supportive of an addition like Martinez.

“You always need a bat like that,” Ortiz said. “A bat like that is never a waste.”

Martinez suggested Ortiz would need to come back if Martinez. 

“I was just talking to David, if we don't happen to get one of those big bats, I'm going to get you some lighter bats,” Martinez said. “And I don't know who's going to make those shoes [to keep you healthy], but we've got to make those shoes.”

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

In the end, I believe the Red Sox will sign J.D. Martinez. It’s the overwhelmingly obvious move. It’s painfully obvious.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that the Sox offer is roughly $125 million over five years.

Until that signing — or until that prediction proves wrong — 93 wins is not the hill to die on. 

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We’re not exactly in Dan Duquette more-days-in-first-place territory, but Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is trying to sell something that I’d be surprised to hear anyone is really buying.

“We won 93 games here with basically the team we have coming back, and some guys coming back healthy,” Dombrowski said Thursday. “I think some guys will have stronger years. I’ve learned the predictive nature of the game is not something I partake in very much.

“I’ve been with clubs who’ve been the favorites by far and haven’t done quite as well, and [with clubs that are] not the favorites and have done quite well. So, you let those things take care of themselves. But for our situation, we’ll keep working at it. But I do think we have a good club no matter what.”

Sure. A good club. Everyone knows about the faults of prediction in baseball, how random the game is.

But let’s cut to the chase. Do the Sox have a championship-caliber club? A team built as well as the Astros and Yankees? One that’s kept up with those teams this offseason?

The Sox have brought back Mitch Moreland. Addison Reed is gone. The Astros, meanwhile, added Gerrit Cole, and the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton.

Ah, now one may understand why Dombrowski prefers not to partake in the predictive nature of the game. 

Dombrowski mentioned 93 wins earlier this week on MLB Network Radio as well, noting he thinks that figure may have slipped a few minds.

“I think people forget that because of course we got eliminated in the postseason, the first round,” Dombrowski said. “But we did win 93 games.” 

That’s nice, Dan — err, Dave.

The protocols of posturing have long been in place in baseball, the code of what executives and agents and any of the rest of them can and cannot say long understood.

Dombrowski is stretching them. 

He’s digging in now on the idea that the Red Sox are good to go if the season starts tomorrow.

“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,” Dombrowski said. “I think that we can stay with anybody.”

Because staying with other teams has always been the goal — not being outright better than them?

Dombrowski said that he hasn’t really looked at the Astros' and Yankees' rosters because the winter isn't over and that internal rebounds can make up the 40 home run dropoff from 2016 to 2017: “I think quite a bit can be made up.”

Who really believes this? Who really believes the Red Sox could proceed into the season comfortably without some external improvement? You’re in a market competing with the Patriots, a division with the Yankees, and a league with the Astros, and this is what you’re bringing to the table?

And no, Dombrowski's stance isn’t necessary to keep down the cost of adding Martinez.

We can suppose that if Dombrowski were to look into the camera, tear up and plead with Martinez to join the Red Sox, an abnormal amount of leverage might shift to Martinez and agent Scott Boras. 

Even then, reality wouldn’t change. No one is confused by reality here. Dombrowski prefers not to publicly acknowledge it — at least, not anymore.

“You know, it's easy to say, we need to score more runs,” Dombrowski said on Oct. 11, the day of John Farrell’s dismissal. “I didn't supply the players that would give us enough runs. I think we do need that. That's part of our offseason goal.”

We assume negotiations to be ongoing. Dombrowski declined to characterize the frequency of conversation he is having with any players/agents (a bizarre thing to decline to discuss, considering how general a subject it is) although he said there are standing offers out there.

The Red Sox' position has long been clear, long been obvious. Dombrowski pretending everything is good to go because the team won 93 games last season misses the mark, even within the accepted constraints of posturing and hooey.

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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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