For the last few weeks, all eyes have been on Alex Cora.
But now that the new Red Sox manager has been officially introduced, it’s time to turn our attention towards president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
This isn’t me telling you Dombrowski is to blame for back-to-back first-round exits in the postseason. If anything, I believe Dombrowski deserves heavy praise for acquiring players like Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel — to name a few — who’ve helped the Red Sox get back into postseason contention.
But that doesn’t mean his work should be done.
As we enter the Hot Stove, Dombrowski has to find a way to improve a Red Sox team that’s been good enough to win two straight AL East titles. At the same time, we shouldn’t be calling for a major overhaul this winter. Changing the manager was a smart move. But between now and spring training, Dombrowski needs to focus on additions, without any subtractions.
I’m sure the “go get Giancarlo Stanton” crowd doesn’t want to hear that. But I like to live in reality. And in my real-life world of baseball transactions, I think it makes more sense for the Red Sox to call the Washington Nationals and check-in on 25-year-old Bryce Harper this winter, than it does to give up young already-proven Major League talent to the Miami Marlins for the 28-year-old Stanton.
Harper is entering the final year of his deal, and if the Nationals think he’s going to walk next winter — which he will — then they’d be foolish not to entertain trading him right now for some top prospects.
Stanton is signed to a monster contract for the next 10 years, and even though the Marlins want to rid themselves of that contract, I have a tough time believing Derek Jeter’s first major move will be trading Stanton to Boston at a discounted rate.
I hope I’m wrong, of course. But while most of the spotlight is on Stanton this winter, the Red Sox should be checking in on Harper.
Anyways, back to all that “additions without subtractions” talk. The obvious move, right away, would be to sign 28-year-old first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Mitch Moreland was only on a one-year deal at short money, but he’s 32 years old and it’s time for the Red Sox to upgrade that position. As a four-time Gold Glove winner and World Series champion, Hosmer would be just that.
Hosmer is a career .284 hitter who finished last season with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and a .318 batting average. He’ll be looking for a big contract, for sure, but he won’t generate the same type of yearly salary as a 40 home-run guy like J.D. Martinez will.
Plus, Martinez is an outfielder. In order to bring him in, Dombrowski would have to either trade one of his current starting outfielders, or convince Hanley Ramirez to play first base all season so that Martinez can be the DH.
The smart decision would be to pay Hosmer less than Martinez, keep Ramirez as your DH, and move on to the next priority, which, once again, is an addition without a subtraction.
Sign Eduardo Nunez.
Knowing that 34-year-old Dustin Pedroia will miss at least the first two months of the season while recovering from knee surgery, Dombrowski needs to bring Nunez back to begin the year as the starting second baseman. This just seems like a no-brainer.
All the while, the Red Sox must make sure David Price is healthy and gets back to the mindset of being a starter. Combine all of that with the continued development of the team’s young stars, and the Red Sox will be better suited to make a postseason run in 2018.
Now, it’s Dombrowski’s job to make it happen.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” at dannypicard.com. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard.