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How many of the Red Sox’ own free agents can come back?

Joe Kelly, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi celebrated the World Series victory, but only Price is guaranteed to return to the Sox.
Joe Kelly, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi celebrated the World Series victory, but only Price is guaranteed to return to the Sox.jim davis/globe staff

Globe coverage of the 2018 Red Sox season and playoffs is available in a 128-page commemorative book.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Red Sox have seven free agents from the roster that won the World Series and all have expressed a desire to return next season, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday.

That’s not going to happen, of course.

The Sox saw 36-year-old Ian Kinsler as a temporary solution to what at the time was poor depth at second base. Drew Pomeranz also is likely to move on after losing his spot in the rotation and not pitching in the postseason.


Related: Cafardo: Red Sox bullpen door may be closing for Craig Kimbrel

Brandon Phillips, a September call-up who had 23 at-bats, will get a World Series ring but probably not a contract offer.

The others — Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, and Steve Pearce — are in different categories.

“Some of the guys we would like to re-sign . . . and we’ll continue to stay in contact with them,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll see what happens. They know we’re interested.”

None of the now-former Red Sox promised Dombrowski the right to match or top any offer. But all left on good terms and agreed to stay in touch.

Related: How heavily will the Red Sox spend in the 2019 season?

Barring a trade, the Sox will start next season with a payroll of at least $212 million when factoring in raises via arbitration. That’s already over the luxury-tax threshold of $206 million.

The Sox blew past luxury-tax limits last season but will need to make tough decisions at some point. Retaining Pearce and one of the pitchers could work, but probably not Pearce and two of the pitchers.

That Kimbrel’s agent, Dave Meter, is reportedly marketing his client as the greatest closer ever suggests he will view Aroldis Chapman’s five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees as a reference point.


Related: A look at the contract situation of every Red Sox player this offseason

That could be too much for even the Red Sox. Dombrowski already has mentioned Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes as closer candidates. Or the Sox could look for a cheaper version in what is a deep free agent class.

Eovaldi, a solid starting pitcher who last month showed he could pitch in relief in the postseason, may be the best fit.

“I want to stay here,” the righthander said after the World Series. “I loved the guys here and what they did for me in terms of pitching. It was a great fit. But we’ll see where it goes.”

How are the knees?

One winter priority for the Sox will be determining the status of Dustin Pedroia and Steven Wright by getting further medical opinions.

Both had cartilage restoration surgery on their left knees by the same surgeon, Riley Williams III.

Wright had his surgery 18 months ago and Pedroia a year ago. The results have been disappointing. Pedroia played only three games last season and needed another procedure in July. Wright appeared in 20 games and had to come off the postseason roster after one game because of soreness.

“We don’t have a time frame on that exactly,” Dombrowski said. “We’re still working on that. We’ll get a pulse of it relatively soon to see what we do for the winter time.”


Pedroia is a particular concern. The Red Sox planned around his being available last season, then had to trade for Kinsler in July.

Topics at hand

From a media perspective, the GM Meetings are largely about potential roster moves. But there are actual meetings run by Major League Baseball that the executives take part it. They address such issues as pace of play, replay reviews, and teams using technology to steal signs. Dombrowski said one issue he would like to see addressed is September roster expansion. Like many around baseball, he doesn’t understand how in September some teams will have close to 40 players and others only a handful over 25. “I don’t like all those players,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think it’s right. It’s a different game in September. The roster is unbalanced. I don’t think it’s really right but I don’t have a say on it, either.” . . . Dombrowski said the Sox would be adding to their analytics department with an emphasis on integrating analytics into their scouting . . . Mookie Betts is a new father. His girlfriend, Brianna Hammond, had a baby girl on Tuesday. The announcement was made on Instagram.