Dave Dombrowski believes lack of activity at Winter Meetings hurts baseball
LAS VEGAS — Free agency is a whirlwind in the NFL and NBA. Most of the notable players make deals within a few days and then the entire sport gets to relax a bit.
But free agency lingers for three months in baseball, sometimes longer. It’s a constant waiting game between teams and agents that only seems to be getting worse each year.
The Winter Meetings had another largely uneventful day on Wednesday, and that has become typical.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski feels the lethargy hurts the game and robs all involved of needed time off to recharge.
“I have suggested the game needs to look at that,” he said. “The reality is that if you’re a general manager or assistant general manager of a major league baseball team, there is no downtime for people.”
Dombrowski believes a rule change is needed.
“When you have deadlines, people work toward them, and there’s no deadline,” he said. “You have a signing period for the [amateur] draft . . . That’s only my own personal [opinion].”
The Sox were able to retain righthander Nathan Eovaldi but have yet to fill the openings in their bullpen. Dombrowski said that market has been slow to develop and he does not expect any acquisitions in the coming days.
Every time Dombrowski expects there will be a run on relievers, the momentum stalls.
“Nothing seems to happen. I don’t really know. It’s got to happen at some point,” he said. “We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas . . . Going into January, that’s a lot of players to sign.”
A day after it was rumored the Sox would consider trading Jackie Bradley Jr., Dombrowski said changing the outfield was unlikely.
“We really like our outfield and we think it’s a strength of our club,” he said. “All around, but from a defensive perspective, they’re winning games for us.
“It’s not one that we really look to change because we think it’s really strong. We think it’s the best defensive outfield in baseball. I think it wins games. I think it’s athletic. You have offense and defense out of it. They’re good players; they’re winning players. We’re not looking to change that.”
There are actual meetings at the Winter Meetings, and Wednesday was a day for managers and general managers to sit down with MLB officials.
Dombrowski predicted baseball would “significantly address” the lingering issue of sign stealing.
It became a topic during the playoffs when the Astros were found to have stationed an improperly credentialed team employee near the Indians dugout during the Division Series, and adjacent to the Red Sox dugout at Fenway Park during the ALCS.
MLB also told the teams that some pace of play initiatives have worked. There were an average of 19 mound visits per game in the 2017 World Series, and only six in 2018.
Wrap it up
The Winter Meetings end Thursday morning with the Rule 5 draft of unprotected veteran minor leaguers. The Red Sox, who have one open spot on the 40-man roster, are eligible to take a player. Any player taken would have to remain with his new team all season or be offered back. “We haven’t ruled it out yet,” Dombrowski said. “If we’re going to take somebody, they have to be somebody we think can contribute.” It’s more likely that the Sox lose a player, perhaps first baseman Josh Ockimey. The former fifth-round pick hit 22 home runs last season . . . Indians manager Terry Francona is confident that free agent lefthander Andrew Miller will return to form after appearing in only 37 games because of injuries. “Oh, he’ll be fine.” Francona said. “I hope he goes to the National League. That’s how confident I am he’ll bounce back.” The 33-year-old Miller, who played for the Red Sox from 2011-14, would fit nicely with the Sox again . . . Kevin Boles, who managed Triple A Pawtucket the last five seasons before resigning, was hired by the Mets to manage their Double A team in Binghamton, N.Y.