Dave Dombrowski talks closer options, Dustin Pedroia, and catching situation
FORT MYERS, Fla. — All of the Red Sox pitchers and catchers are now in camp here, and on Wednesday morning, Mookie Betts, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce joined a growing group of position players who are looking forward to the opportunity to repeat as World Series champions.
Yet the absence of a couple of players — free agent Craig Kimbrel, who remains unsigned, and Dustin Pedroia, who is expected to arrive at JetBlue Park as soon as Thursday — leaves questions hovering about the state of the team. On Wednesday morning, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski offered some insight into present and future areas of uncertainty:
■ Dombrowski reiterated that he does not expect to make a significant expenditure to add a closer, even with Kimbrel still on the market. Dombrowski praised Kimbrel as a “Hall of Fame-caliber” reliever, and expressed his belief that some relievers are better suited to handle the ninth inning than others. That ability remains uncertain until they’ve been given the opportunity.
Dombrowski made it clear that the Sox believe Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier have the stuff to close and suggested that Tyler Thornburg (formerly the Brewers closer) could have both the stuff and pedigree to handle the role if he’s fully healthy. Dombrowski also cited Steven Wright as an internal candidate.
“We’ll keep an eye on what’s taking place outside the camp, but we think our answers come from within,” he said.
For now, said Dombrowski, the Sox prefer to have an identified closer to handle ninth-inning duties, though he allowed that such thinking can evolve.
■ For the first time, Dombrowski affixed a number to the team’s hopes for Pedroia, suggesting that the club still believes he can be the primary second baseman, but that his workload will be measured.
“We’re still not looking at a 150-game player,” he said. “We’re hopeful he’s a 125-game player at this point.
Dombrowski also noted the team’s confidence in filling in with Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and Tzu-Wei Lin.
■ Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon, and Blake Swihart all are in camp. Dombrowski said he prefers to enter the season with two catchers, but that the trade market for catchers has been slow to form, in an offseason where J.T. Realmuto was just traded and where free agent options remain available.
■ Dombrowski declined to get into any details about conversations with players regarding extensions, but said Betts “is the type of guy we want in the organization for a long time,” and that Chris Sale is “another guy I would like to have in the organization for an extended period.”