LAS VEGAS — The Red Sox were way more active on the rumor mill than in reality at this week’s Winter Meetings. The result? A slower week than some expected for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and his staff.
Entering the week, the expectation was that the Red Sox would be aggressive in their search for bullpen help, even potentially making a move or two before departing Las Vegas. As the meetings wore on, the focus shifted to Boston potentially shipping out veterans to cut payroll, with Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr. mentioned as candidates to be traded. Once that was downplayed, it became evident that anything the Red Sox do get done before spring training will likely be less significant than the $68 million deal they struck with Nathan Eovaldi before departing for Vegas.
Dombrowski says he views his club as being close to a finished product, meaning he won’t characteristically push the envelope with a patent aggressive move. Instead, he’ll keep his ears open with the possibility of making a strike once prices come down in January.
“I think at this time of year, if you’re going to sign somebody, you’re going to be aggressive and try to make it happen, probably with big dollars,” said Dombrowski. “We’re not at that point right now.”
There are still areas of the roster to tweak, with the addition of at least one free-agent reliever and a trade involving one of the three major-league catchers still likely. But a big move like a reunion with Craig Kimbrel (who is likely seeking more than the Sox can give him) or a payroll-shedding move involving Porcello or Bradley Jr. (which club officials downplayed both publicly and privately throughout the week) probably isn’t in the cards as things currently stand.
The relief market is just starting to move, with Jeurys Familia (Mets) and Sox postseaon hero Joe Kelly (Dodgers) agreeing to three-year deals. But the supply appears much higher than demand, with dozens of relievers still available and bargains likely to surface after the first of the year.
There’s a chance Dombrowski’s comments throughout the week at Mandalay Bay were an attempt at posturing and that a big move is still to come. But until he does make a strike, it looks like a slow Winter Meetings could set the tone for a slow two months until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers.
“We didn’t make any additions to our club, but we don’t have a lot of additions to make to our club at this point,” Dombrowski said. “We did Eovaldi beforehand, we did Pearce before we came here. We didn’t anticipate we’d make a lot of moves.”