Boston enters Meetings with big bat in sights

Dombrowski also interested in building rotation, bullpen depth

December 5th, 2017

With the Winter Meetings approaching, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is ready for some action.

After winning 93 games and the American League East title in each of his first full two seasons of running the baseball operations department in Boston, Dombrowski is eager to provide the roster with any upgrade it needs to help carry that regular-season success over into October.

Dombrowski has been open about the fact he is seeking a big bat to help bolster an offense that ranked last in the American League in home runs in 2017. That bat won't be reigning National League MVP Award winner , as the Marlins agreed to a deal with the Yankees on Saturday.

Hot Stove Tracker

But given Dombrowski's track record of being a playmaker this time of year, he will likely get someone significant.

"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," said Dombrowski. "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."

Club needs

First base

This is the most logical place for the Red Sox to get the bat they need, as the position is open now that Mitch Moreland is a free agent. , and are all free agents who could fit in nicely for the Red Sox. Slugger might be available in a trade from the White Sox. However, if the Red Sox sign a big hitter who isn't a first baseman -- for example, J.D. Martinez -- designated hitter could move back to first.

Lefty reliever

The Red Sox have a pretty deep setup crew from the right side, but they could use an experienced lefty. Tony Watson, , Jake McGee and represent some free-agent options.

Rotation depth

will miss at least a couple of weeks to start the season following right knee surgery. Doug Fister signed with the Rangers. This leaves the Red Sox a little thin when it comes to rotation depth, particularly if one of the five projected starters (Chris Sale, , , and ) sustains an injury.

Who they can trade if necessary


Once a top prospect, Swihart has been injury-plagued over the past two seasons and has also lacked consistency at the plate when healthy. He is now out of options, and doesn't seem to have much of a fit on the Red Sox other than as a backup. Perhaps another team would want to take a chance on the talented switch-hitter, who is still young at 25 years old.


The veteran utility man was sidelined with vertigo for most of the first half last season and struggled to regain his groove offensively once he returned. Though the Red Sox still value what Holt can do as a player, they have several younger players who offer similar defensive versatility in the infield, including , and .

Top prospects

According to, Boston's top 10 prospects are left-hander Jay Groome, third baseman Michael Chavis, first baseman , right-hander Tanner Houck, right-hander Alex Scherff, right-hander Mike Shawaryn, shortstop C.J. Chatham, first baseman Josh Ockimey, outfielder Cole Brannen and third baseman Bobby Dalbec. After making prospect-loaded deals to land and Sale over the past two years, Boston's top 10 list doesn't have the same star power it used to. But the Red Sox are very excited about Groome and Chavis, and the club would be hard-pressed to include either one of them in a deal. But with Dombrowski, there are generally no untouchables.

Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox haven't been active in terms of adding players in the Rule 5 Draft in recent years, and that trend will likely continue. The 40-man roster is currently full.

Big contracts they might unload

There are no obvious candidates in this category for the Red Sox going into 2018. One thing that could make that change is if Dombrowski pulled a surprise and made a significant investment in a starting pitcher. If that happened, they'd likely have to move some salary out of the rotation. Porcello is due to make $42 million over the next two seasons, so he could be moved if another significant starter is acquired.

Payroll summary

After staying just below the luxury tax last year, the Red Sox are likely to go over it this season, particularly with Dombrowski on the prowl for a big bat. The Sox have $129 million committed to seven players, including , who was released last season. With 12 players due for salary arbitration, Boston could add another $50 million there.