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.”