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Red Sox determined to land big bat

Martinez, Hosmer could fill the bill for Dombrowski
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Leaving no stone unturned, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swung for the fences and tried to land Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.

But the outfielder will instead go to the Cardinals. As for Dombrowski, he will stay on the grind of trying to find that big bat, which has been elusive so far this offseason.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Leaving no stone unturned, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swung for the fences and tried to land Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.

But the outfielder will instead go to the Cardinals. As for Dombrowski, he will stay on the grind of trying to find that big bat, which has been elusive so far this offseason.

"We asked about [Ozuna] and [the Marlins] called me back beforehand, just to let me know that they were making [the trade], as a courtesy. So we were in the mix enough for them to do that," said Dombrowski.

The attempt to get Ozuna shed some light into Boston's thinking. Though the team has a solid starting outfield in Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, it is willing to add another impact outfielder with the idea of using the DH slot on a rotating basis.

Video: Dombrowski on Winter Meetings, possible future deals

"Because we have the DH spot open, we felt we could kind of slide guys around in that regard," Dombrowski said. "Ozuna is a good enough bat that we would've been willing to talk about something like that. We thought with the guys we had, we'd get them off their feet enough, but I will say I thought it was a long shot we were going to get [Ozuna], because of what they were asking for from our organization and knowing what the interest level was in him elsewhere, it was going to be hard for us to give them more than that. But I did want to at least inquire."

In other words, the fact that free agent J.D. Martinez is an outfielder won't preclude the Red Sox from making every effort to acquire him.

Though Dombrowski has yet to mention one of his targets by name, Boston's interest in Martinez is high for obvious reasons. The 30-year-old smashed 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season, and had an eye-popping .690 slugging percentage.

With that type of production, agent Scott Boras will let the market play out rather than rushing into something. Boras did not rule out his client serving as a DH if it was for the right team. That could bode well for the Red Sox.

"Certainly, National League teams covet him and welcome him, and as far as American League teams, I think it provides a choice because obviously you have a DH position," said Boras. "To be really good at it, you're going to have to have those slugging numbers and, frankly, few provide that at that position. I think he's comfortable in looking at the team and evaluating it. He's never said to me that he wasn't for doing what's best for a team that he's with."

Assuming Martinez is Plan A for the Red Sox, how long can they remain in pursuit of him if it means allowing Plan B (say, Eric Hosmer) or Plan C to sign somewhere else?

"That's a great question and I don't know the answer, frankly, because it's something that we talk about all the time," Dombrowski said. "And I think it's based upon feel and pulse and where you think the market is and when you need to make a decision rather than when you might have to make a decision. And it does factor in."

If the Red Sox don't get Martinez, finding a 40-homer slugger might not be possible. Would the club be comfortable shifting the focus to more of a pure hitter?

"Sure," said Dombrowski. "I mean, I know that a power hitter in the middle of the lineup looks really good, but you can also score a lot of runs with a lot of pure hitters, too. Maybe you don't decide to wait on a power hitter. I know the game's got a lot of home runs and all that, but a couple years ago, Kansas City won in 2015 with the opposite philosophy."

Those Royals in 2015 -- and in many other seasons -- were led by Hosmer, who could fit well at first base in Boston, not to mention the clubhouse, which could use another veteran leader. Hosmer, 28, is also represented by Boras.

Video: Hosmer enters free agency at top of first base crop

"This type of person is rare," said Boras. "And it's extremely rare to have him at a young age. And certainly that's why the interest level in Hosmer is so great. He fits every club. He's Playoffville Federal Express."

Dombrowski will keep plugging along with the confidence it will pay off before the Hot Stove season is over.

"I think we'll get something. I'll be surprised if we don't get something done at some point," Dombrowski said. "But I don't know what it will be at this time, and I know that the timing is the great question that we talk about it every day. Every time we have a meeting we talk about it. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon. And some players that we have interest in, we'll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in."

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

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