Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Red Sox eyeing relievers after Winter Meetings

Bullpen is major area of need after Kelly's departure
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAS VEGAS -- When the Red Sox re-signed postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract just prior to the Winter Meetings, it likely represented the most significant move that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will make this winter.

There are two reasons for that.

LAS VEGAS -- When the Red Sox re-signed postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract just prior to the Winter Meetings, it likely represented the most significant move that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will make this winter.

There are two reasons for that.

The first is that the Sox, who went 119-57 last year including the playoffs, are loaded with talent. Nearly every player from the 2018 juggernaut is back, and the team feels like it is in good shape to have a very real chance at becoming MLB's first repeat champ since 2000.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

The second reason is payroll. With significant arbitration commitments looming for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., the Sox have a projected payroll well over $200 million. The Sox don't have much interest in exceeding the highest luxury-tax threshold for the second straight season, which means that Dombrowski is likely to be frugal with whatever he does for the rest of the winter.

Video: Dombrowski discusses balancing talent vs. finances

Dombrowski spent the Winter Meetings gathering information rather than making moves, but there's a chance that things will heat up soon.

Now that the Red Sox know that reliever Joe Kelly is going to the Dodgers on a three-year, $25 million deal, they can turn their attention to others on the bullpen market.

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS
1. RP: Kelly, a member of the Red Sox for the last five seasons, will officially be gone once he passes his physical with the Dodgers. Closer Craig Kimbrel, an All-Star in all three seasons with Boston, is likely to be the next player to depart from the world champs. This will leave Dombrowski looking for a reliever or two to fill those voids.

The bullpen market is finally starting to move, as evidenced by Kelly and Jeurys Familia (Mets) finding new teams on Thursday night. The Red Sox will stay engaged with Adam Ottavino and David Robertson, but could be more likely to find pitchers who will be less expensive. Keep an eye on Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Bud Norris and Brad Brach. There are a plethora of relievers available, and Dombrowski knows he has strength in numbers, noting numerous times there is more supply than demand.

"Even though [the bullpen market] has started to move, there's still a long way to go with a lot of people," Dombrowski said. "We have our ears to the ground to see what's going on, but philosophically our approach isn't changing at this time."

Video: Brad Brach to enter free agency this offseason

2. C: The Red Sox need to subtract here. In Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart, Boston has three catchers and none of them have Minor League options. This formula somehow worked in 2018, but the Sox have little to no desire to carry three catchers again. Swihart has the most value on the trade market of the three because of his offensive upside, which is still untapped, given the limited playing time he's had.

3. 2B: This becomes a need only if Dustin Pedroia has a setback with his problematic left knee once he resumes running in mid-January. The Red Sox do feel good about their depth at the position, with Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez capable of stepping in.

RULE 5 DRAFT
The Sox had no activity -- plus or minus -- in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They did select righty Anyelo Gomez from the Yankees in the first round of the Triple-A phase of the Draft and right-hander Andrew Schwaab from the Tigers in the second round of the Triple-A phase while losing outfielder Tyler Hill to the Tigers in the Triple-A phase.

DOMBROWSKI'S BOTTOM LINE
"I mean, yeah, any time when you're together with your baseball people and you're conversing, it's productive. 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."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox