Bradford: Why I still think a big Red Sox move is coming

Rob Bradford
November 15, 2017 - 1:24 am

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports

ORLANDO -- Dave Dombrowski tried to change some minds Tuesday.

When meeting with the local media during the GM meetings, the Red Sox president of baseball operations was asked about the Big 3 power bats that most everyone in baseball believe Dombrowski and Co. are targeting -- Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. What he did was throw everyone off the scent.

"I think you have to be careful, because I do read those names I think you’re referring to, while I’m not sure 100 percent," Dombrowski said. "I think you have to be a little carried away that that’s not for sure the direction that you’re going. In today’s world, you not only make decisions on a player’s ability but you also talk about contracts. So you do have to weigh all those things in. I do think there are quite a few players that are capable of helping us for what we need to do. Maybe they’re not quite as high-profile as some of the names, but I think we still have to remember that we still won 93 games, so we are in that position. We’re not looking to just revamp our ballclub. We’re looking to make that addition, and I think there’s quite a few guys out there that could help us. Now, could we acquire that talent? We’ll have to wait and see. But I don’t think there’s just -- when you say three, I’ll take your word on the three that are written all the time – that there’s just three players.."

OK. So, if you're going to follow Dombrowski's lead (which many did as the day unfolded) the likes of Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison would scratch where the Red Sox were itching. That narrative -- one which suggested far less of a financial commitment than the Big 3 needed -- was only pushed further when the president was asked about leveraging his payroll for a run at some of next offseason's free agents.

Now, it was about saving money for the players on the team, not using the cash for those who aren't.

"You always look to the future, so you’re never just looking at this year," Dombrowski said. "You always do that. But I think what gets lost too is that we have some young players that we want to retain in our own organization. So, how many big, big dollar guys can one club have? So, I think that there are still limitations on every organization in baseball in that regard. So, you look at all those things together. In some ways, you prioritize your own players, too, and keeping them for the long term. If you do that, does that restrict you from doing something else? But yet, if you don’t keep them or they don’t want to be with you, then you have other availabilities that are out there, potentially. So, there’s a lot that goes into those decisions."

All fair. But I don't buy that one of the Big 3 won't be coming the Red Sox' way.

Of course such signings are going to put the Red Sox' payroll over the luxury tax threshold. Well over. And they also actually might make extensions for Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and maybe Craig Kimbrel a bit more difficult to squeeze in. I don't think that will stop Dombrowski. He needs that big bat because that is what ails this team the most, and will continue to if action isn't taken.

To me, the problem isn't going to be the money. It's going to be the timeline.

The pace of this offseason hasn't been to Dombrowski's liking. As we've learned, the president of baseball operations likes to act quickly and decisively. That doesn't really seem to be an option this time around. Martinez and Hosmer are Scott Boras guys. Scott Boras typically likes to let things play out a bit. We're talking possibly through the winter meetings a month from now.

In fact, it would be a good bet that a Stanton trade will be the first shoe to drop. But judging by the current asking price of the Marlins, and the mission embarked on by Miami president Michael Hill to fully understand the lay of the land, this isn't going to unfurl in the next few days. For a blueprint, remember how things shook out with the Chris Sale deal a year ago. When White Sox GM Rick Hahn left the meetings in Scottsdale he was heading home not believing the Red Sox would emerge as a favorite for the pitcher. That reality would come more than three weeks later.

While such a timeline was fine for the Sale acquisition, this is a bit different. If the Red Sox missed out on the ace, life would go on. Despite his suggestion that there are plenty of back-up plans, barring an unforseen trade, the drop-off after the Big 3 will be significant.

"I think you weigh all those things is what it comes down to and I don’t really have an answer because if you wait for something does the other option disappear on you so those are the things you’re weighing," said Dombrowski when asked about the methodical pace of this offseason. "Now if he has waited and generally gotten contracts for his guys, but sometimes they’re not until real late, so I just think, the only part of being cognizant is what other options do you have if you wait too long."

As one agent said Tuesday night, there hasn't been a November like this in some time, one which is moving at a snail's pace. Dombrowski said he has done take-it-or-leave-it offers before, and maybe those will be broken out again.

But no matter how Dombrowski gets there, it's still a safe bet he lands at the same spot he has the past two years -- with one of the offseason's biggest moves. Don't let Tuesday's words fool you.