LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Either there’s a window, or there’s not.
But Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says he’s not buying the window theory.
The Red Sox are instead going to play the in-between game, trying to be competitive ever year, fully recognizing that it comes at a cost.
So the Sox are standing around watching, close to letting the winter meetings fly by without making a single move, instead trying to be constrained, resisting the urge to spend like lunatics. They have one eye on the present and another on the future.
“We always have an approximate payroll number in mind,” Dombrowski said from his hotel suite yesterday.
Now, there’s an argument to spending freely and without worry, especially for a big-market team like the Sox, who raised ticket prices again, who just signed a new beer deal with Samuel Adams and who were valued at $2.7 billion by Forbes, up 17 percent ($400 million) from 2016.
Speaking about all big-market teams, super agent Scott Boras made that argument yesterday, which we’ll get to in a second.
But this is (probably) not about money. The money issue was fixed last year, when the Red Sox managed to squeak under the $195-million luxury tax threshold in an attempt to give themselves room to spend freely now.
But they’re looking to the future.
“We are trying to build our system back at the same time,” Dombrowski said. “We gave up a lot of players (the last two years). We know that. We haven’t sacrificed any draft choices, but we have given up some players. It’s helped our big league club. At the same time, we’re still also trying to replenish our minor league system.”
If the Sox are serious about not believing in a two- or three-year window before most of their stars hit free agency, they need to find new stars. That means they have to tie their hands to their desks instead of sending the final few prospects they have to Miami or Baltimore or any other team with a “For Sale” sign sticking out of its hotel suite this week.
It means they shouldn’t sign a free agent who was offered a qualifying offer, which both available first basemen, Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana, received. If they do, they lose their second draft pick and $500,000 in precious international bonus pool money, the only way to sign international free agents now that there are strict spending limits.
It means they have to keep an eye on payroll, because once they spend more than $237 million — $40…