Evan Drellich

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If the lineup looks the same on Opening Day, set off on a tantrum. For now, just keep your anger primed in the queue. Maybe even prepare for an eventuality of relief and excitement.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving with discipline. Even if some of his process this winter has been questionable, he’s still taking a measured approach rather than setting a match to an already shriveling farm system and payroll. 

Discipline requires waiting, and the lull invites frustration for those who want everything now.


“Even though some things are starting to happen, there’s a lot to still be done over the winter time,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.

He’s right.

As a Sox fan, you can’t have it both ways. Either you want Dombrowski to act responsibly with the sustainability of the franchise in mind, or you want all the big names now, now, now — and are keen on an inevitably disastrous roster. 

The Sox have had a lot of big splashes in recent years. They have to move cautiously in waters this deep. As one executive put it recently: “Only horrible organizations keep spending and spending and spending.”

Here’s betting fans will be rewarded this winter with an upgraded lineup to feel good about, even if the Sox haven’t crossed the finish line yet. 

“Every time we have a meeting we talk about [timing]. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon,” Dombrowski said. “And some players that we have interest in, we’ll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in.”

One thing is for sure — and it appears to be getting lost even with big names like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer still out there — just because the Red Sox haven’t completed a deal, they are doing a ton of work behind the scenes.

"I think we're closer to getting answers on some things,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “There have been a couple of things, calls we've made and heard from people that have eliminated us and some have kept us in there. But I can't say that I'm any closer to getting things done other than gathering continued information — because I don't know what happens with other clubs. I don't know where they stand with their conversations with other teams. There’s still a lot, so many conversations going on, and a lot of different possibilities, a lot of different trade things happening so I'm not really sure. 

“I think we've got a pulse of what's happening and I don't think anything's happened that's surprised us so far, but there haven't been that many things that have happened either. A lot of relievers have signed, that's been the biggest thing and that hasn't been our biggest thing that we're pursuing.”

(Whether they should be pursuing it with a little more aggressiveness is worth a thought, however.) 

- The Sox were keeping tabs on Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins outfielder who was traded to the Cardinals.

“We asked about him and they called me back beforehand, just to let me know,” Dombrowski said of the Marlins. “So we were in the mix enough to do that.”

Ozuna could have done some DH’ing and also played outfield. Dombrowski noted the Marlins got upper-level pitching in the trade. He didn’t specifically note that the Red Sox don’t have as much upper-level pitching to offer, but that is the case.

- The Sox have talked “generalities” with free agents when it comes to contract terms, Dombrowski said. 

- Dombrowski said bringing back free agent Eduardo Nunez is on his radar.

- Super agent Scott Boras on Wednesday defended J.D. Martinez’s defense, which isn’t generally well regarded. Boras also talked about the "prestige value" of Eric Hosmer, another client.

- Boras said the Red Sox have not told him it’s their intention to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.

Dombrowski out of touch on Ohtani recruitment process


Dombrowski out of touch on Ohtani recruitment process

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When it comes to the Shohei Ohtani pursuit, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski sounds out of touch.

Dombrowski said at the winter meetings Tuesday he was surprised that the Red Sox did not become a finalist to meet with Ohtani, after all 30 teams had an opportunity to submit a presentation to convince Ohtani to then have a face to face meeting. The Sox were not granted a face to face meeting, and he signed with the Angels.

“It was something the organization worked on for a long time and a couple of people that really focused on it for years,” Dombrowski said. “Our presentation, we made a very thorough presentation, a very strong presentation, one that I looked at, I didn’t do the work myself, but people showed me. I thought the presentation was outstanding. So we were very invested.”

He didn't do the work himself? Delegation is one thing (and a good thing). But Dombrowski misread the field here.


No East Coast team was a finalist. There likely was nothing the Red Sox could have done to convince Ohtani to gain a meeting. That's an important point here.

But as a matter of principle, as a vehicle for understanding Dombrowski's savvy and how it compares to his peers, it may be telling that Dombrowski thought he didn't have time to put together the Ohtani presentation — and that he thought all other GMs felt the same way.

“Well, I don't think that the time consumption of putting together that presentation, I mean, we had those guys spend over a couple weeks on that,” Dombrowski said. “I wouldn't think that any general manager would've put that together. In fact, I don't think anyone could. It was just way, way too much time spent on only that situation. Now, if we were making a presentation personally, I would've been there. 

"But to send a presentation — that's what they wanted; they wanted the presentation sent to them. Now, I was aware of what was in there and was shown there, but it would be way too much work for, I think, any general manager. In fact, I know there's not a general manager in the game that put that presentation together.”

Dombrowski is incorrect. 

One finalist team's GM told NBC Sports Boston they worked personally on their presentation and essay and felt the quality of the presentation, which was collaborative, helped land them the meeting, separating them from the pack. Another finalist team had their GM directly help put it together as well, and all of them may have.

But it wasn't just finalist teams that had GMs involved.

"We'd be emailing the presentation and they'd send it to me at 10 o'clock at night. I'd work on it for a couple hours and I'd send them comments at midnight," Reds general manager Dick Williams said, via MLB.com. "As it got closer and we knew we were going to have to send something, we really ramped it up.”

The people Dombrowski delegated the work to are highly respected and diligent. Among them, Allard Baird is a former general manager, Jared Banner is a future general manager. They followed Ohtani incredibly closely, devoting great time and effort well before any presentation was created. 

But why wouldn’t Dombrowski want to add to the man power of that great team, to prioritize this project himself once it came time to send the presentation? Leadership is about delegation, and it's also about knowing the right time to push full steam ahead with all available resources.

The Reds, of course, were not a finalist either, meeting the same fate as the Red Sox.

"We tried a few things. Didn't work," Williams said. "Those of us close to it that worked on it convinced ourselves that we had a very good case. We really wanted him to hear it and feel the same way we did."

But it was worth it.

The pursuit of Ohtani was an effort to convince a pitcher who could have been worth $200 million on the open market to sign with a club for roughly one tenth of that. Ohtani is an incredible bargain and rare talent that deserved every bit of focus and energy from the top of the organization.

As one GM put it recently regarding Ohtani, “It starts at the top.”

"We're not going to leave a stone unturned in the efforts to do it again if the opportunity arises,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in his podcast in late November. "We'll be responsible in how we do it, but we understand this is a one-time buying opportunity and you have to be prepared.

"To me, the worst thing we can be is sitting on the sideline being too conservative, sitting on our hands when an opportunity to change the history of the organization comes along. Because this is what this might be.”

What GM would have time for that?


Red Sox want JD Martinez to be big bat addition

Red Sox want JD Martinez to be big bat addition

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox need a big bat. Dave Dombrowski is the president of baseball operations.

Naturally, they’re going to focus on the best and likely most expensive hitter in free agency.

The Red Sox are 90-10 in their pursuit of J.D. Martinez compared to other(s), a baseball source said Tuesday. That doesn’t mean a deal is 90 percent done, or that a deal is 90 percent likely to happen — it's a matter of whom they're pursuing.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Tuesday that the Red Sox were set to meet with Martinez face to face at the winter meetings. Dombrowski declined comment when asked whether Sox would meet with Martinez.


Dombrowski said generally Tuesday that he knows who he wants at this point.

“Sure we know,” Dombrowski said. “I mean, there’s at least a pool of players that we want. I mean, I have the list in my pocket.”

“And there’s a variety of guys that would fit that description. But yeah, we know who we want. But you’re in touch with two things, the trade market and also the free agency market. You don’t control those by yourself. … There’s a lot of conversations that are taking place right now around the industry.”

The Sox boss also said he’s in a situation where the team wants to move faster than the (non-specific) player and agent.

“For sure. I mean, I’d rather be done right now,” Dombrowski said. “I’d be sitting here making a couple of announcements or an announcement or whatever it may be, and you know that you don’t unilaterally control that. And it’s not the first time nor will it be the last time in my career that that ends up taking place. Would much rather get things done quicker. But sometimes doesn’t happen.”

Martinez is represented by Scott Boras, who can wait out top-dollar deals with the best of them.

Overall, the market was slowed by Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton.

“I'm not sure [deals are] going to be closed as much here because I think some clubs are still weighing a lot of different options on what they're doing,” Dombrowski said. “Maybe they'll speed it up, because they know we're all together here for another day and a half. So maybe that will change. But right now there's a lot of exploration.”

Martinez, an outfielder, could theoretically move to DH. Dombrowski said he has “not really” gotten the sense that potential pursuits are opposed to going to DH.

One scenario if the Red Sox signed Martinez: play Martinez in left field, trade Jackie Bradley Jr., and put Rafael Devers at first base. That opens up third base for Michael Chavis down the line. 

Dombrowski said any trade where the Sox subtract from the major league roster likely would not be done for the benefit of only the farm system.

“I don't think we would, but I wouldn't rule it out,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not planning on doing that because we're trying to win."

There’s added value in pursuing Martinez because he was traded midseason in 2017. That means it was impossible for his last team, the Diamondbacks, to give him a qualifying offer, so the Sox wouldn’t have to forfeit a draft pick to sign him.

It’s important to note that although Martinez will be expensive where ever he goes, there’s no way he gets a deal as large as Giancarlo Stanton’s.