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Dombrowski undeterred after Stanton trade

Red Sox shopping for impact bat at 1B/DH as Winter Meetings open
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Finding out on Saturday morning that Giancarlo Stanton was headed to the Yankees wasn't the way Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would have picked to start his weekend.

"It didn't make my day that he went to the Yankees by any means," Dombrowski said. "He's a heck of a player. I don't think it can change what we do because we're already trying to be the best club we possibly can."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Finding out on Saturday morning that Giancarlo Stanton was headed to the Yankees wasn't the way Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would have picked to start his weekend.

"It didn't make my day that he went to the Yankees by any means," Dombrowski said. "He's a heck of a player. I don't think it can change what we do because we're already trying to be the best club we possibly can."

Stanton joining Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez with the Bronx Bombers has only strengthened Dombrowski's resolve to land a big bat of his own, which he has been trying to do this Hot Stove season. Dombrowski will keep shopping until he finds one.

Will it happen at the Winter Meetings, which started Monday and wrap up on Thursday?

"I've generally been active at the Winter Meetings," Dombrowski said. "It's happened. And it could. But I don't feel like a drive that I have to do anything at the Winter Meetings. Even though it's picked up, there's a lot of players [available] and a lot of things that will take place. It's hard for me to imagine all that's going to happen in four days."

Red Sox fans might not want to wait, but Dombrowski knows that he needs to balance persistence with patience, and his goal is to build the best team for Opening Day on March 29, not Dec. 11.

"Well, I have seen clubs try to get things done in an expeditious fashion that they later regret," Dombrowski said. "I have seen that numerous times in my career."

Dombrowski did check in with Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill late last week to see if anything could be worked out with Stanton, but was told that a deal with the Yankees was in the works.

Dombrowski also spoke with the Marlins in November, and in the end, the Red Sox weren't one of the four teams on Stanton's wish list. As the Giants and Cardinals found out last week, it wasn't exactly a productive exercise coming to an agreement on a deal for a player who wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.

The Red Sox have been more focused on finding a bat for first base or designated hitter so they can build around their strong, young outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Dombrowski disputed a couple of reports on Monday that said he was making it known to clubs that the Red Sox would trade Bradley to find the power bat they need.

"I don't know where those rumors started, but they're not accurate," Dombrowski said. "I can say we have interest [from teams] in our players and people have asked about our players, often. But I would say we're very happy with our outfield. Could we do anything? I can't say we can't do anything with any of our players. But we like our outfield."

Video: Cora discusses his first Winter Meetings experience

In his pursuit to supplement a lineup that finished last in the American League in home runs last season, Dombrowski is staying equally focused on the free-agent and trade markets. He said he is focused on adding one impact bat rather than multiple.

Free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is more of a pure hitter than a slugger, but he plays a position the Red Sox need to fill, and his leadership could be beneficial for a clubhouse with a lot of young position players.

"We take makeup and leadership [seriously], and all that is very important on a club," Dombrowski said. "What you end up paying for that compared to what you would pay for others, it's part of the equation. So sure, that's important for us."

J.D. Martinez is the most prolific power hitter on the free-agent market (45 homers in 432 at-bats in '17), but he'd likely have to become a DH if he signed with Boston.

Dombrowski is confident that a newly acquired bat, a reliever (preferably a lefty) and the return to form by some talented hitters who regressed last year will have the Red Sox well-positioned to match up with the best teams in the AL.

"It's a great challenge," Dombrowski said. "That's what it's all about. We like our club. If we can get better, we're going to do that. But it's really not based on the Stanton move. We're not changing based upon that. It was already our plan to get better. We not only have to beat the Yankees, we have to beat the Astros, the world champs, because our goal is to not only win our division but to be the world champs. So you have to beat the Astros, you have to beat the Cleveland Indians, you have to beat anyone else involved that's a postseason club."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox make 3 items available in WM auction

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If you ever wanted to ask Red Sox outfielders Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts about their exploits on the field, not to mention the methods behind their creative "Win Dance," now is your chance.

A meet and greet with Boston's exciting outfield trio before a 2018 home game highlights the items available to Red Sox fans in the sixth-annual Winter Meetings auction, which is now live.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If you ever wanted to ask Red Sox outfielders Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts about their exploits on the field, not to mention the methods behind their creative "Win Dance," now is your chance.

A meet and greet with Boston's exciting outfield trio before a 2018 home game highlights the items available to Red Sox fans in the sixth-annual Winter Meetings auction, which is now live.

The purpose of the auction is to support a cause close to the game, and this year's proceeds will support the Katharine Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is in memory of the late pioneering baseball executive whose career spanned 40 years.

• Team-by-team look at auction items

The winning bidder for the meet and greet with Boston's starting outfield will also receive four infield grandstand tickets to a mutually-agreed-upon game and the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field.

Another intriguing item will bring you behind the scenes at Fenway Park with the chance to shadow the Red Sox's media-relations department for a game day. That experience, which is available to high school students between the ages of 14-18, also includes four box seats to the game that day.

If you'd like to throw out a first pitch prior to a Red Sox game at Fenway, start getting your arm ready. That opportunity is just part of the third item the Red Sox have made available for the Winter Meetings auction. You might call this a monster opportunity, because it also includes four Green Monster seats to the game.

This year's auction is now live at MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction until Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Sox look to connect with power bat at Meetings

Martinez, Hosmer, Santana among sluggers who could be on shopping list
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Winter Meetings, which start Monday, are happening at a perfect time for the Red Sox.

With Giancarlo Stanton headed to the Yankees in a trade with the Marlins that will send ripples through the industry, everyone will be looking to see what kind of counter move Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will make.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Winter Meetings, which start Monday, are happening at a perfect time for the Red Sox.

With Giancarlo Stanton headed to the Yankees in a trade with the Marlins that will send ripples through the industry, everyone will be looking to see what kind of counter move Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will make.

The rivals are always intertwined, and Boston will try to strike fast to acquire a big bat (or two). This would ease the angst of a rabid fan base that has spent countless hours for the past few weeks speculating how the Red Sox will supplement a roster that has won the American League East Division the last two seasons with 93 wins, but has also lost in the Division Series both years.

• Sox seek big bat at Winter Meetings

Fortunately for Boston, there are still some impact bats on the market. J.D. Martinez, who smashed 45 homers in just 432 at-bats in 2017, is a free agent. And Dombrowski has history with him. Remember, it was Dombrowski who signed Martinez after the Astros released him in '14.

Video: J.D. Martinez a top free agent on the market

The complexity with a Martinez signing is that it would create a log-jam in the outfield for the Red Sox, who currently have a strong trio of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Adding production at first base or DH would be a cleaner fit for the Red Sox. Mitch Moreland is a free agent, creating an opening at first. And if a DH is acquired, Hanley Ramirez could move back to first.

• Hot Stove Tracker

Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda are among the free-agent bats the Sox could be eyeing.

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

In addition to searching for ways to upgrade the offense, Dombrowski is also looking for a lefty reliever and perhaps some depth for the starting rotation. He will also explore ways to acquire a bat on the trade market.

"We have a good club. We have a good team. We won 93 games. We won the AL East two years in a row with those number of wins, so we have a really good foundation of players that we like and really can be a foundation for years to come," Dombrowski said earlier this offseason. "I've also been open-minded to anything that takes place. We're not looking to overhaul our team. We're looking to fine-tune our team."

Video: Red Sox look to respond after Stanton heads to Bronx

MLB.com and redsox.com is on the scene for wire-to-wire coverage at the Meetings, keeping you up to date on all the latest news and rumors. The coverage will be on all platforms -- print, video and social media -- from the start of the Meetings until they conclude on Thursday.

New manager Alex Cora will meet with the media -- national and local -- on Tuesday afternoon. MLB.com will have a full story on all of Cora's thoughts on the Hot Stove season and how his club shapes up for 2018.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Tiant's HOF bid falls short on committee's ballot

Morris, Trammell only two among 10 candidates to get call
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In the 1970s, the man the Red Sox wanted on the mound in a big game was Luis Tiant.

The charismatic righty with a unique windup, in which his back would be contorted as he fired the ball to home plate, put up similar numbers to Hall of Famers such as Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In the 1970s, the man the Red Sox wanted on the mound in a big game was Luis Tiant.

The charismatic righty with a unique windup, in which his back would be contorted as he fired the ball to home plate, put up similar numbers to Hall of Famers such as Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale.

Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Once again, however, Tiant's impressive body of work was not enough to land him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of 10 candidates on the Modern Era Committee's ballot, and it was announced Sunday night that right-hander Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell are the only two members on the ballot to join the Class of 2018.

Tiant fell short, along with Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and executive Marvin Miller.

Tweet from @RedSox: Unfortunately Luis Tiant was not selected to the HOF in today���s Modern Baseball Era Committee vote.He is forever a part of the #RedSox Hall of Fame and #RedSoxNation.We love you, @realElTiante! pic.twitter.com/lyNWeBHOap

There are 16 voting members on the Hall of Fame board-appointed electorate for the Modern Era ballot, and each voter could pick up to four nominees. A finalist needed at least 75 percent of the votes to receive entry into the Hall.

This year's ballot featured players whose most significant impact happened from 1970-87.

Tiant was on the BBWAA ballot from 1988-2002, but never topped the 30.9 percent mark he got in his first year of eligibility.

The 77-year-old Tiant has been on the Veterans Committee's ballot several times, and he holds out hope that he'll one day be around to enjoy his induction to Cooperstown.

"I've waited 28 years and still haven't been in there," Tiant said in an interview with MLB.com earlier this year. "Why would you be in there after you die? That's not fair. That's what happened to Ron Santo. You want to enjoy it with your family."

In his 19-year career, Tiant went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and had 2,416 strikeouts.

Though Tiant is best remembered for his eight years (1971-78) with the Red Sox, his most magnificent season was in 1968 for the Cleveland Indians, when he went 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA.

Tiant burst on the national stage while pitching in the epic 1975 World Series for the Red Sox. After twirling a shutout to win Game 1, Tiant again was victorious with a 165-pitch performance against the loaded Cincinnati Reds, who went on to win the series in seven games.

"In my time, that's what we did, we finished games," Tiant said. "My father used to tell me, 'What you start, you finish.' That's how you learned, and you grew up that way. Now it's different. They are protected more. I guess you have to because there's a lot of money involved. A lot of guys want to keep pitching, but they come out."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Sox closed Manny courtship at 2000 Meetings

Boston reshaped future of franchise with historic signing
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

During baseball's wild Winter Meetings of 2000, when Twitter didn't exist and technology wasn't close to being what it is now, agent Jeff Moorad and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette felt like pioneers as they worked out the details of the mega free-agent deal over e-mail that would send Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox.

Blockbuster transactions in countless industries take place electronically all the time now, especially in baseball, where nearly every big deal is first reported on social media.

During baseball's wild Winter Meetings of 2000, when Twitter didn't exist and technology wasn't close to being what it is now, agent Jeff Moorad and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette felt like pioneers as they worked out the details of the mega free-agent deal over e-mail that would send Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox.

Blockbuster transactions in countless industries take place electronically all the time now, especially in baseball, where nearly every big deal is first reported on social media.

But 17 years ago, things were much different.

"Moorad said that it was the first deal that was ever made over the computer," said Red Sox historian Gordon Edes, who covered the 2000 Winter Meetings as a reporter for The Boston Globe. "He had e-mailed the details going back and forth with Duquette, including all the details of the contract. It kind of shocked me to hear that and be reminded of that recently because it just kind of feels like it has been there forever."

For many reasons beyond technology, the signing of Ramirez probably marks the most memorable Winter Meetings moment in the Red Sox history, though last year's blockbuster trade for ace Chris Sale is right up there also.

• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: Big bat in Red Sox's sights

Ramirez's contract was for eight years at $160 million, and it was consummated less than 24 hours after Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers had agreed on a history-making 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers.

Before the Rodriguez and Ramirez signings, baseball had never had a $20 million per year player. Suddenly, there were two.

It serves as a reminder heading into next week's Winter Meetings in Orlando that you never know what might happen.

Back in 2000, there was a certifiable buzz in the air when word filtered through the hotel lobby at the Winter Meetings in Dallas that Ramirez had chosen the Red Sox over the team he had spent his entire career with up to that point -- the Indians. The final offer from Cleveland was for eight years at $136 million.

Heading into that 2000-01 offseason, the Red Sox decided to put the team up for sale, and John Harrington, who ran the team for the Yawkey Trust, instructed Duquette that the team needed to sign a marquee player to increase the value of the team to a potential new owner.

"It was important for us to get a player like that, and for us to have really good, identifiable players from a competitive basis," said Duquette, who is currently executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles. "We thought that Manny would be a long-time fixture and fit in with the tradition of great Red Sox sluggers in left field."

Video: ALDS Gm5: Ramirez crushes go-ahead three-run blast

After striking out in his pursuit of Mike Mussina, who went to the Yankees, Duquette went all in on Manny, flying to Miami to visit the slugger, then going to Moorad's offices in Southern California and racing to the Winter Meetings in Dallas. He was in three different time zones in the span of a few days, determined to get his Manny.

Duquette also set up recruiting calls to Ramirez from Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra, Boston's two superstars at the time.

Duquette was so focused on landing his prize that the normally reserved executive didn't even object to Moorad allowing ESPN unprecedented access to during the negotiations.

After Ramirez officially signed, ESPN aired an "Outside the Lines" special that had phone calls between Moorad and several of Ramirez's pursuing teams, and virtually every detail that transpired during the courtship. The program included the phone call of Duquette welcoming Ramirez to the Red Sox, finishing the conversation by saying, "Good news, you don't have to hit against Pedro anymore."

And it was in that special that the most humorous nugget of all became known to the public.

Ramirez had told the Red Sox that he would only sign with them if they would hire Indians clubhouse attendant Frank Mancini.

"He was a clubhouse guy, he was 37 years old at the time," said Edes. "I ended up writing a big story about it. Mancini was like a confidant for Manny. He'd throw soft toss to him and get him his sushi and he took care of him. ... [Ramirez] actually talked to Mancini on the day of his decision and Frank told him he didn't want to go for family reasons."

Ramirez ultimately said goodbye to Mancini and came to the Red Sox. Incidentally, Mancini must have been some sort of whisperer for mercurial sluggers. Albert Belle had once offered him a $300,000 deal over five years to leave Cleveland and join him after he signed with the White Sox.

Clearly something that was not incidental was the impact Ramirez made with the Red Sox. Though he would seem to have a dramatic period of time each season when he would lose interest or say he would want to be traded, the right-handed hitter raked in Boston (.999 OPS, 274 homers, .312 average), and helped the team to World Series championships in 2004 and '07. In fact, Ramirez was the MVP of that '04 World Series, when the Red Sox won it all for the first time since 1918.

Duquette only got to enjoy one of Ramirez's eight seasons in Boston. He was let go after the transfer of ownership in 2002. But he enjoyed seeing the way the memorable signing panned out.

"Mr. Harrington was able to sell the club. Mr. Henry was able to leverage the performance of Manny Ramirez, so it worked out well for both the owners and the player," Duquette said. "[Ramirez] had a nice career there. He was a very entertaining player. He was captivating and always interesting."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Stallard, gave up No. 61 to Maris with Sox, dies

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Tracy Stallard, known as the pitcher who gave up Roger Maris' record-setting 61st home run in 1961, died on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.

Stallard was a 24-year-old rookie finishing his first full season with the Red Sox when he took the mound to start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961, the final day of the regular season. He retired Maris on a flyout in the first inning, but Maris went deep his next time up, in the fourth, for home run No. 61, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs set in 1927.

Tracy Stallard, known as the pitcher who gave up Roger Maris' record-setting 61st home run in 1961, died on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.

Stallard was a 24-year-old rookie finishing his first full season with the Red Sox when he took the mound to start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961, the final day of the regular season. He retired Maris on a flyout in the first inning, but Maris went deep his next time up, in the fourth, for home run No. 61, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs set in 1927.

The home run held up as the Yankees won the game, 1-0.

"I'm glad he did it off me," Stallard later said of Maris' homer. "Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again. That was about all I did, and I've had a good time with it."

Stallard, signed by Boston in 1956, pitched in parts of seven seasons for the Red Sox, Mets and Cardinals from 1960-66, finishing with a 30-57 record and 4.17 ERA, including 20 losses -- to go with 10 wins -- for the 1964 Mets, a team that lost 109 games.

A funeral was held for Stallard on Sunday at the Sturgill Funeral Home in Coeburn, Va.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, New York Yankees

Sox lose Owens on waivers to D-backs

Former top prospect had 5.19 ERA in 16 career starts with Boston
MLB.com @mlbbowman

Once considered one of baseball's top pitching prospects, Henry Owens has bid adieu to the Red Sox organization and will attempt to take advantage of the change of scenery the D-backs have provided.

The D-backs announced Friday afternoon they claimed Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, who had outrighted the 25-year-old southpaw earlier this week to create an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Once considered one of baseball's top pitching prospects, Henry Owens has bid adieu to the Red Sox organization and will attempt to take advantage of the change of scenery the D-backs have provided.

The D-backs announced Friday afternoon they claimed Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, who had outrighted the 25-year-old southpaw earlier this week to create an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Owens will now be reunited with Mike Hazen, who left Boston's front office last year to be become Arizona's general manager. Hazen's familiarity with Owens dates back to 2011,when the Red Sox used one of their four first-round selections to take the southpaw with the 36th overall pick in the Draft.

Owens entered the 2015 season ranked by MLBPipeline as baseball's 19th-best prospect and the top prospect within Boston's system. He made his Major League debut during the latter part of '15 and made 11 starts that season.

Consistent command has eluded Owens, who pitched to a 5.19 ERA and issued 4.7 walks per nine innings in 16 career starts for Boston. His bid to return to the Majors this past season faded, as he struggled with Triple-A Pawtucket and then produced a 4.58 ERA over 12 starts after he was demoted to Double-A Portland.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Henry Owens

Red Sox release statement on pitcher Wright

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox issued the following statement regarding right-hander Steven Wright, who was arrested on charges of domestic violence at his Tennessee home on Friday:

"We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this, and for that reason, the club won't have any further comment at this time."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox issued the following statement regarding right-hander Steven Wright, who was arrested on charges of domestic violence at his Tennessee home on Friday:

"We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this, and for that reason, the club won't have any further comment at this time."

The 33-year-old Wright, a knuckleballer, was limited to five starts last year before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left knee.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Steven Wright

Inbox: Which big bat will Red Sox reel in?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers fans' questions
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

Who is the power hitter or bat the Red Sox are going to get?
-- @ty_walkks via Twitter

I've been pretty consistent on this one from the beginning in thinking J.D. Martinez will be the big bat who signs with Boston. The fact that Shohei Ohtani declined to speak with the Red Sox and that Giancarlo Stanton is headed elsewhere only strengthens my belief that Martinez will be a high priority. Because of the way the Red Sox are constructed as an organization at this time, a clean cash transaction would be the best way for them to acquire a power bat. Signing Martinez would not require a compensatory Draft pick because he wasn't eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the D-backs.

Who is the power hitter or bat the Red Sox are going to get?
-- @ty_walkks via Twitter

I've been pretty consistent on this one from the beginning in thinking J.D. Martinez will be the big bat who signs with Boston. The fact that Shohei Ohtani declined to speak with the Red Sox and that Giancarlo Stanton is headed elsewhere only strengthens my belief that Martinez will be a high priority. Because of the way the Red Sox are constructed as an organization at this time, a clean cash transaction would be the best way for them to acquire a power bat. Signing Martinez would not require a compensatory Draft pick because he wasn't eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the D-backs.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has good history with Martinez, signing the right-handed hitter with Detroit after his release from Houston in 2014. Given the emergence of Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, two strong left-handed hitters, I think another right-handed bat is a bigger need right now for the Red Sox.

:: Submit a question to the Red Sox Inbox ::

I'm guessing Martinez's market will heat up big time now that Stanton has been traded. The toughest competition for the Red Sox will be the team that finishes second in the Stanton trade sweepstakes.

Hot Stove Tracker

Are the Sox going to stick it out with Hanley Ramirez at DH for the final year of his contract, or will they consider trading him? Would there be any takers?
-- @therealRJJoyce via Twitter

As presently constituted, the Red Sox need Hanley's bat in the lineup. Over the years, Hanley has often come back and had a big year when people start to count him out. He had left shoulder surgery, so that could free him up to swing the bat more like he did in 2016. Currently, the Sox are keeping their options open on whether Hanley plays first or serves as the DH.

Video: BOS@TOR: Hanley swats his 20th home run to center

Do you see a guy like Freddie Freeman or Joey Votto being a potential trade candidate, or are the Sox only interested in free agents? Both of those two would be amazing fits.
-- @dakernal16 via Twitter

I really don't, for the same reason I've never felt the Red Sox were strong candidates to land Stanton. Boston dealt several top prospects to land Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale over the last couple of years, so it could be hard for the Red Sox to dig deeper into the pipeline to make a blockbuster trade. Also, Votto has a no-trade clause and there are no indications he wants to leave the Reds.

With all the talk of signing a first baseman, where does that leave Sam Travis?
-- @C_B_M_ via Twitter

It all depends on how the rest of the offseason shakes out. If Boston winds up acquiring a big bat who plays a position besides first, Travis could get a shot to be part of the solution at first base. The Red Sox like Travis a lot from a mental standpoint, and he has a sound hitting approach. But it's unknown how productive he will be at a position typically associated with strong numbers.

Video: OAK@BOS: Travis leaps up for the run-saving catch

What's the word on Eduardo Nunez? I haven't read anything on him.
-- @ChrisThehood420 via Twitter

As I'm sure you're aware, the market has been very slow so far this offseason on elite players, which has put players in the second tier like Nunez in even more of a holding pattern than usual. He could still be a fit for the Red Sox if the price is right, but the team has decent organizational depth to fill the void while Dustin Pedroia is out in Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin. I think Nunez gave the team a nice spark at the top of the order when he arrived in July, and he's a high-energy player. Stay tuned.

How do you see the Red Sox's bullpen situation playing out next year? They say they want to add another reliever, but I don't think they have room for it.
-- @J_SAB34 via Twitter

If they land the reliever they're looking for, they can make room. One thing Dombrowski has mentioned is that he'd like a solid lefty reliever to balance out all the righties. If there is a roster crunch, the Red Sox could potentially trade one of their righties to make room. That is one area on the team where they have a little duplication.

Any pitching prospects we could see contributing in the next two or three years?
-- @FatiguedWriter via Twitter

The team's top pitching prospect -- in fact, the top prospect in the entire system according to MLBPipeline.com -- is Jay Groome. But Groome was drafted out of high school in 2016, and he could take a few more years to complete his development. The Red Sox don't want to rush him. It will be interesting to see how quickly some of the recent college Draft picks can develop. Tanner Houck, the 24th overall pick this past year, is No. 4 in the team's prospect rankings. Mike Shawaryn (No. 6), the former University of Maryland ace, was really solid in his first pro season, so he will be someone to watch closely in '18.

What are the Sox going to do about Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith next season?
-- @Peterm2915 via Twitter

Smith should be a full go after making a nice recovery from Tommy John surgery and pitching well late in the season. Things are less clear with Thornburg. It's all a matter of how healthy he will be when he shows up for Spring Training. The righty had a shoulder impingement and a subsequent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome that wiped away his 2017 season. My hunch is that the Red Sox will be conservative with him so he can be fully healthy when he does get back. That approach worked well with Smith.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Benintendi vital to Red Sox's 2018 plans

Left fielder, poised to break out into elite hitter, is central to Boston's lineup
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- For all the talk about which bat the Red Sox should acquire via trade or free agency, there's a strong chance that the team's best overall offensive player in 2018 will be Andrew Benintendi.

When you watch Benintendi spray the ball from gap to gap or fly around the bases, it's easy to forget his career is just getting started. At 23 years old and coming off a second-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year Award balloting, Benintendi should keep getting better.

BOSTON -- For all the talk about which bat the Red Sox should acquire via trade or free agency, there's a strong chance that the team's best overall offensive player in 2018 will be Andrew Benintendi.

When you watch Benintendi spray the ball from gap to gap or fly around the bases, it's easy to forget his career is just getting started. At 23 years old and coming off a second-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year Award balloting, Benintendi should keep getting better.

The athleticism and the sweet left-handed swing are already there. But now that Benintendi has a full season under his belt, the experience alone should make him go into 2018 with a stronger base of confidence. If Benintendi takes another significant step forward, it could translate into a deep playoff run for Boston.

Benintendi will be a vital cog in new manager Alex Cora's lineup, capable of hitting anywhere between second and fifth. The solid numbers Benintendi put together in 2017 (20 homers, 90 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, .776 OPS) would have been even better if not for two prolonged slumps, first in May and then in July.

Video: OAK@BOS: Benintendi notches three hits, three RBIs

Benintendi now has a full year's worth of experience seeing how other teams made adjustments to try to stop him, and he's confident he can reduce the lengths of his slumps in the upcoming year.

Last season, Benintendi scored 84 runs and had 26 doubles in 573 at-bats. It's easy to envision the left-handed hitter emerging into the type of player who scores 100 runs and belts 40 or so doubles, particularly if the Red Sox became a more potent offensive unit.

"I know that being with the Dodgers last year, people around Major League Baseball look at this team as one with a lot of young talent and an exciting group of guys, and I know Andrew has played a big part of a lot of it," said new Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers. "He should be right in the middle of it."

Video: BOS@NYY: Benintendi belts a pair of three-run homers

In Benintendi's final college season for Arkansas, many regarded him as the best hitter in the nation. The Red Sox took him seventh overall in the 2015 Draft, and they have never regretted the decision.

These are exciting times to watch a young Red Sox outfield that includes Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. alongside Benintendi. Betts and Bradley are elite defenders at their positions in right and center, and Benintendi has swiftly become a solid left fielder after playing center his whole life.

"It definitely pushes me, watching those guys," said Benintendi. "Defense, growing up, was really kind of secondary behind hitting. Up here it's not. Defense can win games and it did last season, and it's probably going to win us some more down the road."

Video: Must C Catches: Betts, Benintendi make great catches

Whether it's with the bat, the glove, the legs or his arm, look for Benintendi to help lead the Red Sox to many wins going forward.

"He is a really good player already and looks like he could be a good player for a long time," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi

Skip on the radar: Cora has learned from best

New Boston manager will pull from experience with Francona, Hinch and more
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox open their 2018 season on March 29 at Tropicana Field against the Rays, the clock will officially start on Alex Cora's experience as a manager in the Major Leagues.

While Cora will certainly carve out his own style as he goes, he will also take pieces from the managers he played for and the one he worked for in Houston in its just-completed, World Series championship season.

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox open their 2018 season on March 29 at Tropicana Field against the Rays, the clock will officially start on Alex Cora's experience as a manager in the Major Leagues.

While Cora will certainly carve out his own style as he goes, he will also take pieces from the managers he played for and the one he worked for in Houston in its just-completed, World Series championship season.

From Davey Johnson to Jim Tracy to Terry Francona to A.J. Hinch, Cora feels fortunate to have learned from some of the best. And not just in the way they managed, but also in the culture they created for their teams.

Video: Justice on Cora's experience as he joins the Red Sox

"One thing about all these guys, their coaching staffs were all very good, very solid," said Cora. "The manager trusted their guys and they were an extension of those guys. There were no mixed messages. From Trace to Davey to Tito, everyone was on the same page, and you could see that. When you see that, it's a good vibe for the players.

"It seems like everybody that I played for, they respected me and were very honest. There were certain situations, and I've seen it, when managers aren't honest with players. But everybody I played for, in that sense, they were very good with me."

Video: Romero on confidence in new manager Cora

Full circle with Davey

After a 29-game stint with the Dodgers in 1998 and 11 games as a September callup in '99, Cora got his chance to establish himself in the Major Leagues with Los Angeles in 2000. His manager was Johnson. In a surreal twist, Cora would also finish his playing career with Johnson, who was his manager for the '11 Nationals.

The circumstances couldn't have been any different for Cora the two times he played for Johnson, who is best known as the manager who led the 1986 Mets to World Series glory.

"He was the one that gave me a shot and pushed me out of the game," said Cora, who laughed as he finished the sentence.

Video: WS2017 Gm1: Roberts on Cora being named Sox manager

In truth, Cora respected Johnson's ability to deliver good and bad news.

"It went full circle with Davey," said Cora. "I was a young player and he played me, and he kept playing me regardless of the struggles."

But things were very different with the 2011 Nationals, when Jim Riggleman resigned at midseason and Johnson took over as manager. Cora had been getting regular playing time under Riggleman, but that stopped when Johnson took over and committed to the young double-play tandem of Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond.

"I think it got to the point I didn't play for like 20 games in a row. I sat down with him, he explained to me the whole situation and I accepted it," said Cora. "It was interesting. At that moment, I was like, 'This is weird, he gave me a shot to play all those years ago and now I'm not playing.' But I learned about the process and what it was all about, and I'm glad that it happened.

"We talked about it, and he was honest when I was a young kid and he was honest in that situation later on. I appreciated it. It worked out for the team. Danny and Ian, they played great, the team made the playoffs the next year."

Tracy's tactics served Cora well

Johnson didn't last long with the Dodgers. When his two-year stint ended following the 2000 season, Cora played for Tracy from '01-04.

"He was another manager who gave me a shot. With him, I always go back to '03, '04," said Cora. "Cesar Izturis and myself up the middle, we were kind of like good glove, no bat, but he kept playing us in '03, and we were alive until the last weekend of the season.

Video: Throwback Thursday: Cora homers on 18th pitch

"Then in '04, with all those at-bats he gave us the previous years, it was kind of like everything worked. Cesar had a great season offensively. I hit 10 home runs in the eight-hole and had about 50 RBIs. That was also the first time I was actually introduced to the platoon system. And if you see the numbers between Jose Hernandez and myself, it was a very productive tandem. Together, we were a really good second baseman.

"We won the division and lost to a really good St. Louis team in the Division Series. But with Trace, I saw him use patience and tactics, and saw how he used numbers to take advantage of situations."

Time with Tito

Cora was traded from the Indians to the Red Sox just before the All-Star break in 2005. The season before, Boston had won the World Series and snapped an 86-year championship drought. Cora figured everything would be harmonious in his new baseball home. But when he arrived, there was dissension in the clubhouse over Francona not picking respected veteran reliever Mike Timlin for the All-Star team. Meanwhile, first baseman Kevin Millar was upset because his playing time had been reduced following the acquisition of John Olerud.

"They won the year before and this is going on here?" Cora remembers thinking at the time. "But Tito, he found a way to deal with the clubhouse and deal with the media."

Francona steadied the ship and the 2005 Red Sox went on to win 95 games and get back to the postseason. Two years later, with Cora as a utility infielder, Francona and Boston again won the World Series.

Cora, meanwhile, learned where he stood with Francona from the day he arrived.

"I remember the first time when we met, [pitching coach Dave Wallace] was there also," said Cora. "I had Wally in L.A., and they called me into the office and Tito was like, 'You're here, we know you're good, but you're not going to play that much.' But you know what? It was cool, because they told me right away. He was very honest, very transparent. He makes it fun. That's what I like about Tito."

Video: Boston clinches a 2008 AL playoff berth

Cora will soon learn what it is like to deal with the aggressive Boston media on a daily basis. In that regard, he will take inspiration from Francona.

"He was the master with the media. He's the best I've seen. Even now, you see Tito in the press conference and he's in control," Cora said. "There's tough questions and tough situations, but he doesn't get rattled. As a player, you listen to it. You go home with the MLB Network now, and it's 24/7, baseball, you see it. When he talks, he's controlling the platform."

A.J.'s influence

If Cora was going to be a bench coach for just one year before becoming a manager, he couldn't have picked a better experience than sitting alongside Hinch for a thrilling championship ride with Houston.

Along the way, Cora came away with respect for Hinch's ability to multitask.

Video: Cora to take the next step as manager of the Red Sox

"It's a different ballgame and a different organization with Houston," said Cora. "He has a lot on his plate, not only on the field but from the front office. He does an outstanding job filtering that information that comes from upstairs and uses what's necessary. He has a good connection with the players.

"The guy is really smart, very genuine and the guys really like him. He's able to connect with them. I saw it this year. You saw the reaction and the quotes from the players about him, and how they feel about him, and it's true. I saw it firsthand."

Tapping into Tony

Cora will have the added benefit in his first season as a manager of being able to tap into the mind of a Hall of Fame manager in Tony La Russa, who was recently hired by Boston as a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski. La Russa is expected to be around during Spring Training and for a lot of Red Sox home games during the regular season.

Video: La Russa optimistic about new Boston skipper Cora

"He's a very bright young man that's going to be an outstanding manager. I'm going to be very sensitive to his position is the best way to put it," said La Russa. "Being down there, he's the one who has to establish his leadership position with the Major League team and his staff. I'll be available. When he asks, I'll give him the best answer. But I'm not getting in his way or try to influence him, because I know he knows the direction he wants to go. I'll just be a resource."

It is a resource Cora is eager to tap into.

"People might see it like I should be intimidated because I have Tony La Russa, and if something happens, he's the next guy. I don't see it like that, because I'm comfortable in my own skin," said Cora. "I'm very comfortable. I've been saying, 'When you surround yourself with people that care and are good, you're going to be better.' Man, he's a Hall of Famer. He's a winner."

Ready to go

Professionally speaking, this has been the most hectic and exciting year of Cora's life. His year started by managing his winter ball team, Criollos de Caguas, to the championship of the Caribbean Series. Then, he served as the general manager for Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic entry, which advanced to the final before losing to Team USA. It continued with the thrilling ride with the Astros. And now he is in his dream job, getting ready to manage the same team he once won a championship with.

"I think in between now and Spring Training, I'm going to find time to sit down and just think about the whole year and everything that happened," said Cora. "I'll think about how fortunate I am to have this job with the Red Sox, and after that, just enjoy it. I keep saying, 'We're going to have fun.'"

In a little over two months, Camp Cora will begin under the sun of Fort Myers, Fla.

"This is a great opportunity," said Cora. "I know the expectations, I know how people feel, but we have to enjoy it. Starting on Feb. 14, we have to go to work."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Thornburg, Sox agree to one-year contract

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The Red Sox agreed on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg for 2018 on Monday, avoiding salary arbitration. His salary will be $2.05 million, according to a source.

Thornburg was acquired from the Brewers a year ago in hopes of being Boston's top setup man, but he missed the entire 2017 season with a right shoulder impingement and underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in that same shoulder.

BOSTON -- The Red Sox agreed on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg for 2018 on Monday, avoiding salary arbitration. His salary will be $2.05 million, according to a source.

Thornburg was acquired from the Brewers a year ago in hopes of being Boston's top setup man, but he missed the entire 2017 season with a right shoulder impingement and underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in that same shoulder.

The 29-year-old was one of the best setup men in the National League in 2016, posting a 2.15 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP while striking out 90 batters over 67 innings.

If Thornburg can regain his health, he could get a chance to earn some high-leverage innings in the bullpen. Addison Reed, Boston's top setup man the final couple of months in 2017, is a free agent.

After the signing of Thornburg, the Red Sox have 12 remaining unsigned players who are eligible for salary arbitration: Infielder Brock Holt, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, catchers Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez, outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and pitchers Joe Kelly, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman and Steven Wright.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Tyler Thornburg

Rejuvenated Hanley optimistic about 2018

Shoulder surgery has Red Sox confident about rebound for slugger
LasMayores.com

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- During the 10th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, held this weekend in the Dominican Republic, Hanley Ramirez told his host, friend and former teammate that he feels rejuvenated after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, as though the ailing joint had been replaced by a new one.

That should be heartening news for the Red Sox, as a healthy Ramirez would be a boon to an offense hampered last season by a lack of power.

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- During the 10th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, held this weekend in the Dominican Republic, Hanley Ramirez told his host, friend and former teammate that he feels rejuvenated after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, as though the ailing joint had been replaced by a new one.

That should be heartening news for the Red Sox, as a healthy Ramirez would be a boon to an offense hampered last season by a lack of power.

Despite winning the American League East in 2017, Boston finished last in the Junior Circuit with 168 home runs, just a year after ranking eighth in that category. No one embodied that regression more than Ramirez, who had a .242 average with 23 homers and 62 RBIs, after a strong 2016, when he finished with a .286 average, hit 30 home runs and drove in 111 runs.

After serving as Boston's starting first baseman for 133 games in 2016, his first season at that position, Ramirez only made 18 appearances (17 starts) at first in 2017, playing instead as the team's primary designated hitter as he battled shoulder woes that led to his Oct. 17 surgery.

"Everything went well, thank God, just like we expected," said Ramirez of the procedure. "It had been a while since I felt like I do now."

Though president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has said he believes Ramirez should be healthy enough to play a full season of defense in 2018, the Red Sox are nonetheless exploring the possibility of acquiring a power-hitting first baseman. There are options available through free agency (Eric Hosmer is the most coveted option on the market) and trades (Boston is one of several teams that have had conversations with the White Sox about slugger Jose Abreu, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman).

Tweet from @MLB: The @davidortiz Celebrity Golf Classic = #SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/U7qJyA7iYu

A productive Ramirez at first would give Dombrowski the flexibility to pursue a power hitter at a different position, however. Among those who trust in Ramirez's ability to bounce back is Ortiz, who retired after the 2016 season and in September agreed to rejoin the Red Sox in a front-office role that includes mentoring, recruiting and advising.

"With the type of hitter Hanley is, I don't think hitting is going to be a problem for him next year, because he'll be healthier," Ortiz said. "My understanding is that the organization is looking for a first baseman because Hanley is coming off surgery and there's more of a tendency to get hurt out there playing defense than as a designated hitter."

Ramirez signed with the Red Sox for four years and $88 million prior to the 2015 season. His contract includes an option for 2019 that will vest if he compiles at least 1,050 plate appearances between the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.

Regarding his future at first base, the veteran gave a diplomatic answer.

"I don't control that," said Ramirez. "That's [the team's] decision. I'll be ready for whatever. I am an employee of the organization. I'm happy to be there. I think that's the beautiful thing about playing for the Boston Red Sox; they're always thinking about improving the team."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez