Red Sox

From the meetings: Relief may not be around the corner for Red Sox

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From the meetings: Relief may not be around the corner for Red Sox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There could be some team groupthink going on with a relatively slow-moving market. And it just may work to teams’ advantage, and to the players’ chagrin.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday that the Giancarlo Stanton trade and Shohei Ohtani’s decision to go to the Angels had opened up the landscape “tremendously.” A lot more calls were coming in.

But when it comes to the Red Sox' pursuit of a relief pitcher, for example, Dombrowski alluded to the possibility it could take a while to land someone.

“There are a lot of guys out there still. There's not as many left-handed relievers,” Dombrowski said. “There are more right-handed relievers. You see movement when it takes place. But I would not say getting a right-handed reliever today is our driving force, and there are not that many left-handed relievers out there. I would not be surprised if that lasted a while, too.”

One agent Tuesday surmised the teams might well win if they just wait out players more than they have in the past -- and that's what people anticipate will happen.

Guys will start to get nervous, start to crumble. Not everyone, but some. This is one reason the union might want to fight to shorten free agency.

One trickle-down effect? Minor-league free agency has been a crawl as well.

There is risk involved for teams too, though. If most everyone waits, demand doesn’t simply disappear.

NO RIGHTY?

On the matter of that righty reliever Dombrowski referred to, the Sox run the risk of overestimating their right-handed relief corps. 

Craig Kimbrel is a given. Carson Smith, if healthy, is a great asset, but there should be a little sense of discomfort given the Sox haven’t seen him really healthy in their uniform.

But Addison Reed is gone, and even if a strong lefty setup man is brought in -- think Jake McGee or Tony Watson among free agents -- the Red Sox might be tricking themselves into thinking they have enough depth.

The Red Sox were approached by Pat Neshek’s camp before the reliever signed a two-year deal worth about $16 million with the Phillies, and declined to get involved, a baseball source with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Why? 

Depth is the key word here, and reliable depth. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly all have upside and were significant contributors to the 2017 Red Sox. But what about creating a fearsome bullpen for the postseason? Injuries do happen, as the Red Sox know as well as anyone when it comes to setup men. 

You can argue too that the Sox need some different looks now with the Yankees carrying Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Barnes, Hembree and Kelly are all primarily fastball pitchers.

"Well, Carson Smith's not like that,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a main guy. He's not like that. He's a different motion, a lot of sliders, sinkers. So we do have somebody that is like that too that's really effective versus right-handed hitters.”

Okay. That’s one. What if he's hurt? What if he's not pitching well?

Compared to other free agents, relievers are still relatively inexpensive. Better to sign an “extra” piece now than make a trade midseason. They should do everything possible to hold on to their prospects. Some remarks at this year’s winter meetings about the state of the Sox farm system, the talent that remains, have not been kind.

DISCIPLINED DAVE

There is an element of discipline at play when the Red Sox don’t go all in for a guy like Stanton and his mega contract. Even if you thought Stanton was totally worth it, you have to appreciate that Dealer Dave and the Sox are showing discipline. Eventually, they were going to need it. And they'll continue to need it to make up for past contracts (including those given by the previous administration).

PRICE ON PACE

David Price is on a regular offseason throwing program, and has no restrictions thus far. 

Price hurt his elbow in spring training last year.

“His offseason program was good, his throwing program was good, he just got hurt when he was throwing,” Dombrowski said. “The doctors haven't asked us to change anything about that, about his preparation, our training people have not.”

The Sox don’t yet have a sense of how they’ll handle Price’s workload going forward. 

Also, Eduardo Rodriguez is doing well in his recovery from knee surgery and the Red Sox are optimistic he can return in April. 

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Betts hits league-leading 17th homer, Red Sox beat Braves, 6-2

Betts hits league-leading 17th homer, Red Sox beat Braves, 6-2

BOSTON - Mookie Betts hit his major-league leading 17th home run, J.D. Martinez slugged his 16th homer and the Boston Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Friday night hours after a surprising roster shakeup.

Boston got its fifth win in six games shortly after announcing it had designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. The move freed up a roster spot for Dustin Pedroia to be activated from the DL, and also created the chance for regular playing time at first base for Mitch Moreland, who had a solo homer in the eighth.

The Red Sox fared fine without Ramirez, the struggling slugger they signed to an $88 million, four-year deal before the 2015 season. Xander Bogaerts also had a solo homer as Boston converted big time on its seven hits.

Eduardo Rodriguez struggled early but managed to hold Atlanta to just a pair of runs on six hits with three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Rodriguez (5-1) struck out seven despite his early control issues and walked three.

Nick Markakis hit a two-run double for the Braves, who have lost three of four. Julio Teheran (4-2) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on four hits, walking three and striking out four.

Martinez pulled Boston within 2-1 with a leadoff homer in fourth on a line drive that clipped the top of the Green Monster. Bogaerts tied it two batters later on a solo shot that left the ballpark entirely.

Boston took its first lead in the fifth when Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled to center with one out and scored on Andrew Benintendi's sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez appeared headed for a short night when he allowed two or more baserunners in each of the first three innings. Atlanta scored twice in the third when Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman started the inning with back-to-back singles and Markakis drove in both with a double to left.

Betts' and Moreland's homers came off of reliever Matt Wisler.

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Dombrowski: Cora recommended Hanley DFA move

Dombrowski: Cora recommended Hanley DFA move

Dave Dombrowski said the Red Sox were prepared to make another move - and not designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment - before manager Alex Cora recommended parting ways with Ramirez.

Dombrowski, the Sox president of baseball operations, said Cora wanted to give first baseman Mitch Moreland more playing time and Ramirez wouldn't be able to handle coming off the bench. 

Dombrowski spoke to reporters at Fenway Park Friday afternoon after the Sox DFA’d Ramirez earlier in the day to make room for the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list. 

More on the Ramirez move here and from NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich.


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