RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Why Dombrowski deserves some credit for Red Sox' current success

RED SOX INSIDER

He built perhaps the greatest Red Sox team ever, a 108-win juggernaut that romped to the 2018 World Series title. And yet because of the way his Red Sox tenure ended, Dave Dombrowski's legacy in Boston is mixed.

He's the guy who sold out for a World Series and delivered, so no complaints there. Ownership, however, recognized that the club could use a new voice for the future, which led to Dombrowski's ouster and the arrival of Chaim Bloom in the fall of 2019. Considering how well the Red Sox have played this season while rebuilding their farm system, there are no complaints on that front, either.

But with the All-Star rosters announced this weekend and a couple of the team's best prospects making news, a re-evaluation seems to be in order, because maybe Dombrowski left the Red Sox in better shape than we thought.

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Just consider the team's five All-Stars. Dombrowski signed the American League's starting shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, to a six-year, $120 million extension that makes him one of the biggest bargains in baseball.

Sticking on the left side of the infield, he refused to send the AL's starting third baseman, Rafael Devers, to the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade, threatening to walk away from a potential Cy Young Award winner.

He signed All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to a six-year, $68 million extension that has been derided as both an overreaction to two good weeks in October and a massive overpay. Except now, $17 million doesn't seem so unreasonable for a pitcher on pace to win 18 games.

 

Dombrowski waited out the 2018 offseason before inking All-Star reserve designated hitter J.D. Martinez to one of the best free-agent contracts in team history, a five-year, $110 million deal that has seen Martinez make three All-Star teams in four years while anchoring the lineup.

And finally there's closer Matt Barnes. During Dombrowski's tenure, per a source, the Red Sox fielded more calls on Barnes than any other reliever, but the former president of baseball operations liked his arm too much to bite. This year, the AL players who named him an All-Star would agree.

That's a nice base of talent that Bloom inherited, and to his credit, he has smartly augmented it while also replenishing the farm.

Speaking of the farm, for all of the heat Dombrowski took over strip-mining the system, his 2018 draft has a chance to be special. With their first pick, the Red Sox selected power-hitting first baseman Triston Casas, who was just selected to Team USA's Olympics roster and is considered the best prospect in the organization.

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Six rounds later, they landed speedy center fielder Jarren Duran, who has blossomed into one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. He was left off Team USA's roster only because the Red Sox likely will promote him sometime in the next month to plug a hole in the outfield and provide a second-half jolt.

Over the last year, Duran has developed legitimate power -- he has 15 bombs in just 41 games at Triple-A Worcester -- and his emergence gives the Red Sox two prospects with All-Star ceilings out of the same draft. The last time that happened was 2011, when Theo Epstein selected Barnes, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

So as the Red Sox roar toward the All-Star break with the best record in the American League, let's not forget the guy who helped make it possible. Bloom deserves every plaudit for building a short-term winner within the framework of his long-term vision, but it turns out he might not have inherited such a hopeless mess from Dombrowski after all.