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Red Sox lineup help will likely come via free agency

For teams looking to add pop, J.D. Martinez is at the center of every shopping list.
For teams looking to add pop, J.D. Martinez is at the center of every shopping list.Ross D. Franklin/Assoicated press

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ORLANDO — That the Red Sox want to add an impact hitter to their lineup is obvious. The first step will be deciding whether that comes via trade or free agency.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski doesn’t have the answer to that question yet after the first day of the General Manager Meetings.

“There’s a lot of options. There’s a lot of different people out there that fit that description of first base [or] DH with a proven bat,” Dombrowski said Monday. “I don’t know that we have one way that we’re leaning.”


But Dombrowski then said he feels the Red Sox have a solid team after winning 93 games last season and that he would prefer not to trade off the major league roster.

“We’re not looking to overhaul our team. We’re looking to fine-tune our team,” Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski also acknowledged the farm system needs to be rebuilt after 12 prospects were traded to obtain Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale, and Tyler Thornburg.

“I still think we have enough depth if we want to [make a trade]. But we have to be careful at some point. We traded a lot of young guys,” Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski’s comments suggest the Sox are more likely to find their hitter via free agency than a trade. Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison, and J.D. Martinez fit into that scenario. The Sox are flexible using Hanley Ramirez as a first baseman or DH. Ramirez was the regular first baseman in 2016 but started only 17 games there last season.

Bjornson joins staff

Craig Bjornson, who had the same position with the Astros, was named bullpen coach. He rejoins Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach.

Bjornson, 48, was on the Astros’ staff in 2012 and from 2014-17. He was a roving minor league instructor in 2013. From 1999-2011, Bjornson worked as a minor league pitching coach with the Dodgers, Expos, Nationals, Rockies, and Royals. He also coached in the Venezuelan Winter League.


As a player, Bjornson spent three seasons in the Houston organization, appearing in 81 minor league games. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1991.

The lefthander had a 3.82 earned run average.

Cora felt a veteran bullpen coach would be a good fit for the staff, particularly with pitching coach Dana LeVangie new to the job. LeVangie talked with Bjornson and approved of the choice, as did assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister.

Bannister, who is the vice president of pitching development, will remain with the major league team with the goal of skipping some road trips to spend more time on player development and scouting.

Benintendi second

Aaron Judge was a unanimous choice as the American League Rookie of the Year, receiving all 30 votes. Andrew Benintendi was second, well ahead of Baltimore’s Trey Mancini. He received 23 second-place votes.

Only one voter — La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune — did not include Benintendi on his ballot. Neal voted for Judge, Mancini, and Houston’s Yuli Gurriel.

In 1999, Neal was one of two voters who didn’t include Pedro Martinez on his Most Valuable Player ballot. Martinez finished second, 13 points behind Pudge Rodriguez.

Bowling Betts

Mookie Betts capped his second appearance in the World Series of Bowling by rolling a 300 game on Sunday in Reno.


It was one of three perfect games on the day.

Betts threw his final ball perfectly and was walking away pumping his fist when the pins dropped.

“I’m much more comfortable coming to bat in a situation like that,” Betts told reporters. “After I threw the first strike in the 10th [frame], I turned around and saw the crowd and I’ll admit, I was pretty nervous. I just used my experience in baseball, my breathing techniques and things like that.”

Betts finished tied for 158th in the 194-man field. His 205.6 average over 40 games was 15 pins better than what he posted in 2015.

Cora checks in

Cora took part in some meetings on Sunday night before leaving on Monday. Cora, who played at Miami, took part in the coin toss before the Hurricanes football team beat Notre Dame on Saturday night . . . Dombrowski doesn’t expect to add any starting pitchers prior to the season but is looking at lefthanders for the bullpen . . . Triple A starters Roenis Elias and Brian Johnson will be tried as relievers in spring training . . . Thornburg, who had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, is back throwing. The hope is he will be able to pitch off a mound in spring training.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.