fb-pixel Skip to main content
Nick Cafardo | On Baseball

Is J.D. Martinez the power hitter the Red Sox want?

J.D. Martinez, who played for Arizona last season, was signed by the Tigers (and Dave Dombrowski) in 2014.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

’Tis the season for podcasts: “Season Ticket”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Red Sox president of operations Dave Dombrowski said he knows whom he wants for the middle-of-the-order power hitter.

Problem is, he’s on one timetable and the agent is on another.

Also, he’s in one salary range and the agent is in another.

“For sure, I’d rather be done right now,’’ Dombrowski said from the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. “I’d like to be making a couple of announcements. You know you don’t unilaterally control that, but I’d much rather get things done quicker.”

Dombrowski wasn’t letting on whom he was talking about, and then spoke generally about the “pool of players” that fit his description. We can assume Scott Boras is the agent in question. We can assume Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez are the players he’s talking about.


Boras pretty much holds the key to the entire free agent process. When you represent free agents Hosmer, Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, and Greg Holland, you control the market.

“I wouldn’t get into talking about what we were doing in that regard,” Dombrowski said when asked to identify the players. “Yeah we do [know]. I have a list in my pocket. There’s a variety of guys who fit that description. There’s a lot of conversations taking part around the industry. What I’m finding because [Shohei] Ohtani and [Giancarlo] Stanton situations didn’t happen until right beforehand, I’m not sure things are going to be closed here. There are clubs who are weighing different options on what they’re doing.

“There’s a lot of exploration,” Dombrowski said. “I’ve gotten numerous phone calls out of the blue on things I’ve never had that conversation about before. We’re asked ‘What about this?’ We haven’t agreed to anything. Usually they don’t happen out of the blue that much.”


Asked whether he was meeting personally with Martinez, who was due in here to meet with one team, Dombrowski spoke in generalities. He said face-to-face meetings were advantageous because, “You know them a little more. You can grow it a little bit more. That would be the advantage.”

But Dombrowski knows Martinez very well from his time with the Tigers. Dombrowski picked up Martinez when the Astros released him before the 2014 season. As we’ve written before, imagine that Dombrowski signed Martinez on the cheap then and four years later could be paying him $30 million.

And when asked if there was pressure to get something done as season-ticket applications go out and marketing needs to be done, Dombrowski said he had a phone conversation with Red Sox owner John Henry (who also owns the Globe) and Tom Werner to inform them that patience would have to be exercised in this market because things are moving slowly.

I also asked Dombrowski how many of his roster players were off-limits in trade talks.

“I’ve always taken an open-mindedness,” he said. “But if someone offered you two Barry Bonds, you’d make the trade. There are a lot of guys I wouldn’t think about trading, but if someone made you an offer you couldn’t refuse then you’d do it. It doesn’t happen very often.”

Dombrowski said he’s also kept in contact with his own free agents, of which Addison Reed is the most prominent, but Eduardo Nunez also is a significant one.


“Won’t get into specifics,” he said.

And Dombrowski, who has about 30 personnel with him here, said he’s also listening to Alex Cora and valuing what he thinks about personnel.

“You work hand-in-hand [with the manager],’’ he said. “He has a feeling on what fits in with the club and the role they play. It’s important to do that. In his defense, he doesn’t know our players as well as he will in another year. But he has a good feel for them. We just had 30 people in this room and we had discussions. You never know if someone has a tidbit about somebody’s background.”

Dombrowski has three lefthanded hitters in the starting lineup, so it’s slanted righthanded, but that doesn’t mean the righthanded-hitting Martinez wouldn’t be considered.

I also asked Dombrowski if he was committed to Rafael Devers as his third baseman and he said yes. What I was getting at is possibly signing Mike Moustakas and moving Devers to first base.

“Yes, we’re committed to him,” Dombrowski said. “If somebody said here’s a great third baseman . . . but we’re committed to him at third base.”

Well, there are some great third basemen out there.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, for instance, spent the day fielding calls on Manny Machado. The Blue Jays might make Josh Donaldson available.

But the Red Sox don’t appear to be in either hunt.

“Nobody’s saying we don’t want to come to Boston,” Dombrowski said. “We present a lot of good things. We won the division two years in a row. We have a great fan base. Every day there’s a passionate feel to it.”


Dombrowski said he doesn’t want to give up his best prospects.

“That’s not our goal to trade those guys,” he said. “They don’t necessarily always ask for prospects. In the best-case scenario, we’re trying to build back up our system. We’re still trying to replenish our minor league system. Down below we have quite a bit of pitching at A ball that are going to Double A. It doesn’t mean they don’t come up in conversation with clubs. I’d rather keep that and keep building.”

He also would not give up major league talent — unless the return was worth it.

“I don’t think we would but I wouldn’t rule it out. We don’t plan on that because we’re trying to win,” he said.

Dombrowski will hold off on a back-end starter because he feels he has enough depth at the moment. He said if he needed something because of injuries, he could pick up a veteran pitcher in the spring or later, as he did with Doug Fister last season.

At the moment, it’s just a waiting game.

He’d like to move quickly. The agent wants to move slowly.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.