BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who has been running front offices for nearly 30 years, said Tuesday in an interview with MLB Network Radio that he has "never seen a market go this slow, really."But that plodding pace in the industry hasn't deterred Dombrowski's focus:
BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who has been running front offices for nearly 30 years, said Tuesday in an interview with MLB Network Radio that he has "never seen a market go this slow, really."
But that plodding pace in the industry hasn't deterred Dombrowski's focus: He is still looking for a middle-of-the-order bat, and that likely won't change, even if it takes all offseason.
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J.D. Martinez remains the free agent who makes the most sense for Dombrowski. The right-handed-hitting slugger clubbed 45 homers in 432 at-bats last season and represents the true power hitter the Red Sox lack in the middle of their lineup.
The Red Sox and D-backs have both been linked to Martinez. Other than those two, it's unclear which teams are pursuing him.
As has always been his custom, Dombrowski doesn't discuss specific players he is trying to acquire. But from the start, he's been open about his need this winter.
"We had pretty much a focus of trying to get a middle-of-the-order bat, which remains our focus," Dombrowski told hosts Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin. "It can come through trade or through free agency, and we have conversations going on with both."
It only stands to reason that at some point a conversation might turn into an acquisition. But nobody expected it would take this long.
"I'm surprised in the sense that there haven't been more things done because of the lateness [in the offseason]," Dombrowski said. "At some point, it's going to have to change and I'm assuming that guys are going to start signing with clubs. We've seen a couple of moves trade-wise and free-agent signings over the last few days. I would assume that this kind of picks up the tempo and we start moving from there."
Without question, Dombrowski is ready to move. For the Red Sox, this offseason has been completely different than the last two. Two years ago, Dombrowski acquired Craig Kimbrel in November and David Price before the Winter Meetings. Last year, he essentially completed his entire offseason in one day at the Winter Meetings, acquiring Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg via trades and Mitch Moreland as a free agent.
Then, there is this Hot Stove season, in which the only move the Red Sox have made so far is re-signing Moreland.
"It's just been a situation [in the past] where you get to this time period and your club is pretty well set. You get back from the holidays and you're talking about Spring Training and you're talking about doing the PR, the caravan aspect of your organization," Dombrowski said.
"But in this case, ourselves as well as the majority of organizations have moves that they're still discussing, trade-wise, free-agency-wise, so it's such a late-moving year. I'm not really sure why that is. I know there's all kinds of speculation. Every year is somewhat different and this is unique in that regard."
The re-signing of Moreland means that the Red Sox have their entire starting nine back from last season, though Dustin Pedroia could start the season on the disabled list as he recovers from left knee surgery.
Would Dombrowski be comfortable going into 2018 without another addition to the offense?
"We would be content. Would we rather [add a bat]? Yes," said Dombrowski. "But again, you have to be flexible in your thought processes. You never know what's going to take place."
Martinez is one of several remaining free agents who are represented by Scott Boras.
During his time with the Tigers, Dombrowski had multiple occasions in which he reached late-winter agreements with a Boras client. The Tigers signed Pudge Rodriguez in February 2004, and Magglio Ordonez in February a year later. Prince Fielder signed in mid-January of 2012, after Victor Martinez had sustained a major injury during an offseason workout.
"In Scott's case, he hasn't hesitated to take players this late in free agency," Dombrowski said. "He's done it in the past. I don't know if he's ever had this number of players that are out there at this point. The number of unsigned players, good players out there, is probably again, remarkable compared to other years."
"It's a situation where those things happen. Sometimes they don't though, too. That's why it's always a gamble from both perspectives. Scott has had success in signing guys late."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.