Red Sox

Dave Dombrowski's worst moves since Red Sox won 2018 World Series

Dave Dombrowski's worst moves since Red Sox won 2018 World Series

The ax was expected to fall on Dave Dombrowski at some point, but after midnight, less than an hour after the Patriots opened their season with a win over the Steelers? Now that's a surprise.

But the writing was on the wall for the embattled president of baseball operations of the Red Sox, who saw almost nothing go right for the team after it rolled to a World Series title in 2018.

And though he claimed to be "surprised" he might be on the hot seat as recently as a couple of weeks ago, when you look at his myriad questionable-at-best moves over the last year, it's easy to see why the team is parting ways with Dombrowski. Here are some of his biggest missteps from the past 12 months: 

Going without a closer entering 2019: Not forking over big money for Craig Kimbrel in the offseason? That actually turned out to be a smart decision. The former Sox closer signed a three-year, $43M deal with the Cubs in June and has managed to rack up a 5.68 ERA in 21 games -- and oh yeah, he's on the injured list right now. But after Kimbrel and Joe Kelly both left in free agency, Dombrowski basically did nothing with the Boston bullpen.

He struck out with Adam Ottavino and others in free agency, then hoped Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier and company would be able to get the job done. There's no point even mentioning Tyler Thornburg, who's one of Dombrowski's biggest misses in Boston. The Red Sox have 28 saves and 27 blown saves this season, a big reason why they could be eliminated from AL East contention as soon as Monday.

Re-signing Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce: Eovaldi and Pearce were among the feel-good stories of the 2018 postseason, but that didn't carry over into the new year. Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68M contract in December -- a big deal for a pitcher with a lengthy injury history -- and he lasted just four starts this season before needing yet another surgery. He's back now, but he also owns a 5.77 ERA in 19 games.

Pearce has fared even worse. Instead of going after more bullpen help, Dombrowski signed the World Series MVP to a one-year, $6.5M deal in mid-November, and Pearce has delivered a grand total of one home run and a .180 average in 29 games.

Extending Chris Sale: Chris Sale still had a year left on his contract when the Sox signed him to a five-year, $145M extension in spring training. The lefty got off to a bad start after the Sox brought him along slowly during spring training, and his season ended prematurely when his injury issues cropped up again. And while Tommy John surgery has been ruled out for now, Sale's health issues are a gigantic question mark for the team's presumed ace.

No backup plan for Dustin Pedroia: What was the Red Sox plan at second base this season? 120 games from Dustin Pedroia? Eduardo Nunez as a backup? Pedroia played six games -- potentially the last games of his major league career -- and Nunez was released in midseason.

Trading for Andrew Cashner: With the Sox scuffling and in desperate need for pitching help, Dombrowski went out and picked up... Andrew Cashner. The righty had a 3.83 ERA for the lowly Orioles, but he's been a disaster in Boston, with a 6.28 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 15 games.

To be fair, those moves aren't the only reasons that the defending champs find themselves eight games out of the second wild card spot with 19 games to play (we're looking at you, Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello). And Dombrowski has also made many good moves over his tenure in Boston.

But when a team goes from 108 wins and a World Series to out of the playoffs despite one of the best offenses in baseball and the game's biggest payroll ($228M), a change has to be made. And in the dead of night Sunday, that change was Dombrowski.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

David Wright empathizes with Dustin Pedroia: 'I'm rooting for him to come back'

David Wright empathizes with Dustin Pedroia: 'I'm rooting for him to come back'

If anyone can relate to what Dustin Pedroia is going through, it's David Wright.

The former New York Mets third baseman enjoyed a stellar 14-year career before it was derailed by chronic injuries, including one to his spine. Wright worked tirelessly to return to form, but his comeback attempt ended in 2018 with one final appearance to bid farewell to Mets fans.

Pedroia is heading down a similar path. On Tuesday, it was revealed the veteran Boston Red Sox second baseman suffered a significant setback with the same knee that has kept him out of commission for most of the last two-and-a-half seasons.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Wright, knowing the kind of competitor Pedroia is, empathizes with the 2008 American League MVP.

“I completely understand what he’s going through," Wright told Tara Sullivan of The Boston Globe. "I think as a competitor — and I’ve talked to Dustin about this particular subject because ultimately it’s got to be his decision — but I think everyone that’s competed, especially for us at the highest level of the game, everyone’s endgame and everyone’s goal is to go out on our own terms. We want to go out when we want to go out, and for me at least, that was the difficult part, where it was my body telling me I can’t do it anymore."

Pedroia has shown he won't go down without a fight, and that likely won't change even after his latest setback.

But if he does indeed decide to finally call it a career, Wright hopes he'll at least hang 'em up knowing he did everything he could to return to the field.

“I’m rooting for him to come back, and certainly if it doesn’t happen, I’m hoping he has peace of mind," Wright told Sullivan.

“I can’t speak on Dustin’s behalf, but for me, what happened with the injuries allowed me to know 1,000 percent that I just physically couldn’t do it, because if I had given up earlier, if I hadn’t exhausted the possibilities and those avenues I went down, I would sit here today and say, ‘Oh man, what if.’ ”

Pedroia's setback means his status for spring training is in doubt. Although the 36-year-old stated in November he isn't contemplating retirement, he may have to begrudgingly re-evaluate his situation if his nagging injury forces him to miss the 2020 campaign.

MLB rumors: Red Sox interested in this Padres prospect in Mookie Betts trade talks

MLB rumors: Red Sox interested in this Padres prospect in Mookie Betts trade talks

The San Diego Padres have one of Major League Baseball's best farm systems, which makes them an ideal trade partner for the Boston Red Sox in any potential deal involving All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox and Padres have discussed a Betts trade, The Athletic's Dennis Lin reported Thursday. Lin wrote "recent talks between the teams have focused on sending a significant amount of prospect talent and outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to sources."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Padres have six players on Baseball America's latest ranking of MLB's top 100 prospects, and that's tied for the third-most of any team. One of those top 100 prospects the Red Sox have interest in acquiring from the Padres is catcher Luis Campusano, per Lin.

The Red Sox don't have a long-term solution at catcher, so it makes sense to covet a player of Campusano's caliber.

Campusano, 21, was a second-round draft pick by the Padres in 2017. He batted a California League-leading .325, along with 15 home runs and 81 RBI in 110 games during the 2019 season. Campusano also was ranked No. 4 on MLB.com's top 10 catching prospects list entering the 2020 season.

It's difficult to get equal value in return for a superstar like Betts, especially when he's able to become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. He's one of the five-best position players in the sport and already has a World Series title and an AL MVP on his résumé. The Red Sox absolutely should ask for elite prospects in return, and Campusano is a great option when it comes to the Padres. He would help replenish a Boston farm system that ranks among the weakest in baseball.

Tomase: Pros and cons of a Mookie Betts trade with Padres