Jennings: ‘Dealer Dave’ Dombrowski wields big bat when it comes to offseason acq…


ORLANDO, Fla. — While all around him buzzes with talk of Giancarlo Stanton’s trade market and J.D. Martinez’ contract demands, Dave Dombrowski has other things on his mind.

He needs a big bat, of course, but the Red Sox president of baseball operations also needs to lock his best player into a long-term contract, and he must consider the rich possibilities of next year’s free agent class.

“You look at all those things together,” Dombrowski said yesterday at the second session of the general managers meetings. “In some ways, you prioritize your own players, too, and keeping them for the long term. If you do that, does that restrict you from doing something else? But yet, if you don’t keep them or they don’t want to be with you, then you have other availabilities that are out there, potentially. So, there’s a lot that goes into those decisions.”

A lot of big-picture possibilities to consider, all of which should lead Dombrowski right back to the big bats available here and now.

This market fits the Red Sox’ current needs, and those current needs aren’t blocking any of their long-term goals. The Sox can give a bat like Martinez a massive contract, sign a talent like Mookie Betts to an extension and still have wiggle room to pluck one of the big names out of the 2018 free agent class.

A team like the Red Sox has to do everything at once, and this winter is one of those all-at-once moments.

Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are among 13 Red Sox eligible for arbitration this winter. Most will sign one-year deals with a meaningful raise, but some will be worth long-term commitments.

Betts is one of those. Perhaps Bogaerts as well.

But neither Betts nor Bogaerts is a first baseman or provides the kind of middle-of-the-order pop that can be found this offseason. The Red Sox still need a guy to bat fourth in the lineup next year and beyond; they still need someone to play first base beyond Hanley Ramirez.

On the free agent market, Martinez is one of those true cleanup hitters, and both Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana are strong defensive first basemen who have some offensive pop. The trade market, too, has legitimate power available beyond the high-profile possibility of Stanton.

“That’s special power,” one general manager said of Stanton. “But there’s (other) impact ability out there.”

Next year’s free agent market? It could be remarkable, headlined by sluggers Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson…



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