SAN DIEGO — Baseball's Winter Meetings are underway at the Manchester Grand Hyatt overlooking scenic San Diego Bay, and don't be surprised if the Red Sox kick into gear this week.
Most of the front office and media flew out Sunday afternoon on JetBlue, where malfunctioning TVs kept the 150-odd passengers from watching the Patriots and Chiefs. That just meant CEO Sam Kennedy, GM Brian O'Halloran, and a host of others could work without distraction.
There is decidedly little buzz around the Red Sox at the moment, with most attention focused on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes. The Yankees and Dodgers have emerged as frontrunners for the former Astros co-ace, with New York reportedly planning to offer him a record $245 million contract that would trump David Price's for the largest ever given to a pitcher.
Some early market developments are working against the suddenly cost-conscious Red Sox, particularly the four-year, $64 million contract infielder Mike Moustakas signed with the Reds that is more than triple what he had been projected to receive by MLB Trade Rumors. While the Reds signed Moustakas to play second, it still makes you wonder why there was no market for J.D. Martinez, who almost certainly would've opted out of his contract had he felt motivated suitors existed.
As a means of comparison, the Moustakas contract is expected to drive up the price on free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, a solid hitter entering his prime at age 27 who's coming off a 58-double season between the Tigers and Cubs. Castellanos is a nice offensive player, but he's nowhere near as impactful as Martinez, and while he's technically a corner outfielder, he's not a particularly good one.
It just reinforces the notion that between David Ortiz and Martinez, the Red Sox have consistently owned the biggest edge in the league at DH, where many clubs still refuse to spend real money.
The other Red Sox question, which we'll put to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom later on Monday, is if the Red Sox can expect to act aggressively or reactively this week. Will they need to let some higher-end pieces fall into place before picking through what's left? Or can they start knocking over some dominoes a little farther down the line?
An offseason thus far marked by uncertainty should start to form some clarity this week, even if it's around the margins. The big stuff — pondering trades for Mookie Betts and/or David Price — won't happen in the next few days unless there's a marked change in baseball's approach to the offseason, which has unfolded at a glacial pace in recent years.
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