Bradford: This is Dave Dombrowski vs. Scott Boras

Rob Bradford
December 14, 2017 - 8:13 am

USA Today Sports

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There doesn't seem to be any hard feelings. Not like the old days, anyway.

Times were different when Dave Dombrowski was running the Tigers and the perception was that Scott Boras would attempt to expedite deals for his clients by going over the general manager's head and straight to then-Detroit owner Mike Ilitch. The dynamic this time around is different. "That's not happening here," said one Red Sox official.

The duo have seemingly made some sort of peace in the past few years. They have come to grips with the reality of one another. Boras is still going to do his thing, while Dombrowski possesses the ultimate hammer when it comes to the path the Red Sox choose to take throughout the offseason.

But that all doesn't mean the two aren't butting heads.

In fact, this might be one of the best Dombrowski vs. Boras showdowns of them all, if for no other reason than the two are so strongly linked when it comes to the perceived success of their Hot Stove season. Boras is the agent for the two top priorities for the Red Sox, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, and is steering the ship accordingly.

It is an uneasiness that the Red Sox president of baseball operations admitted to when talking with Wednesday.

"It is a difficult situation because you are weighing acting now and the future of what may take place. The difference is that there is one representative that controls a lot of players that we have interest, and generally takes a long time to make decisions," Dombrowski said. "You have to decide as an organization, not just us but other people, how you weigh waiting versus acting more quickly. We have a lot of conversations in those type of things. We go back and forth, gathering as much information as we can so we can make the best decisions possible and hopefully make the right one."

Dombrowski and the Red Sox are trying to push things along. They met with Boras and Martinez Wednesday night with hope of jump-starting the outfielder's decision. But even with the perceived lack of landing spots for the free agent, Dombrowski's patience is still going to be tested like perhaps never before.

Look at it this way: Martinez moved on from his previous agent, Bob Garber, just before hitting free agency, choosing to go with Boras. And why do you think that was? The guess is that Boras successfully sold the slugger with the idea that he was going to make an outrageous payday. The same goes for Hosmer. This is the first baseman's big chance.

Those working with Dombrowski have been impressed with his patience. You know he wants to move. You know the Red Sox aren't thrilled that, right now, they are heading into Christmas at Fenway with nothing more than a beer partnership. But the president also understands this has become a battle of wills.

Dombrowski's challenge is to find other options nearly as appetizing as Martinez, most likely in the trade market. (The only other free agent avenue would be Carlos Santana, and that signing can't be viewed in the same light as what Martinez or even Hosmer would deliver. Todd Frazier would also be somewhere down on the list.) The Red Sox asked on Marcell Ozuna before he was dealt to the Cardinals, and there has been interest in Manny Machado. But the Sox' boss also knows he is not dealing from a position of strength, both because of the lack of free agent options and lack of high-end prospects to trade.

Boras, on the other hand, will continue to put this all back on the Red Sox. According to the agent, they are the ones who are holding things up. Just sign the right check, and all will be solved, right?

Wednesday morning, the agent articulated his side of things (in only the way that he can):

"When you're in the bus you don't go anywhere without a road and I don't make those roads. I certainly try and find them and get on the path to playoffville with all of our clients. But those decisions are largely in the pathway of when teams are ready to move. You don't call a team and direct them. They control the labor force. They control the offers. And they really decide when they want to make their best business maneuver. I've been in markets like this many, many times where there have been industries that have created another road, one we can't travel. That is the road that if New York Tiffany wants to call Miami Pawn, I can't interrupt the process. When you're doing that you're talking about a number of teams being involved in that process. That means they are not involved in the process of pursuing the players who are free agents. I get calls at 1:30 in the morning, we're meeting at 2:15 and I've had three or four meetings that have lasted to 4 o'clock here. We're doing things now that we normally are doing a lot earlier because of the influence of external factors."

"They can't look at a landscape and say that you wait for one market, because these markets are too unpredictable and there are too many factors. So you really have to put your oars in the water in advance of, at the time of and in the future of to really create a window of choice for you. You go back and look at history and clubs that have built those periods of success they've moved early, now and late. So they have not waited for one event."

Dombrowski has been sinking his oars in the water all week. The problem is that he's still going up against the tide.

Perhaps the showdown will be resolved sooner than later. But we do know that, for the time being, Boras vs. Dombrowski continues to be the only show in town.

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