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Dave Dombrowski: Red Sox not changing approach toward prioritizing finding short-term deal for bat 12.06.16 at 12:04 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox found their eighth-inning reliever, and it will only cost them a couple of million dollars (and some players). But that isn’t changing how Dave Dombrowski views the club’s approach toward finding the next piece of the puzzle.

The acquisition of reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers (in exchange for Travis Shaw and minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington), the Red Sox will be on the hook for whatever it costs to sign the first-year arbitration-eligible reliever. It presumably leaves the team wit about $6-7 million before bumping up against what they planned on maxing it’s payroll at heading into the season.

The Red Sox could now presumably make a deal involving starter Clay Buchholz, who is owned $13.5 million this season, and make a run at a high-end bat to help fill their DH/first base hole. But, speaking to the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he is staying the course.

“It clearly now defines what our payroll spending will be for our setup guy. It puts us in a position where we have that type of knowledge of where we want to know,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m also not in a position to change our mindset that we want to go big dollars for a first baseman-slash-DH. It does give us the knowledge of where we need to go. Now we can kind of focus on other things.”

Dombrowski went on to say the Red Sox are indeed looking for a player who preferably hits from the left side and plays first base. Both free agents Mitch Moreland and Pedro Alvarez fit that description and have been linked to the Sox.

“I don’t know that we really have that person on board,” he said. “Brock Holt has played over there. We’ve talked about playing Pablo over there at some point. I can’t tell you 100 percent this would be the guy. It’s something we need to explore.”

Source: Red Sox acquiring reliever Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee 12.06.16 at 9:37 am ET
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OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox have seemingly taken care of their top offseason priority.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have acquired hard-throwing relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. Multiple outlets report that the Red Sox will be sending the Brewers infielder Travis Shaw, minor-leaguer infielder Mauricio Dubon and minor-league reliever Josh Pennington.

The 28-year-old Thornburg totaled a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances for the Brewers in 2016, saving 13 games. He struck out 90 batters in just 67 innings, walking 25.

Thornburg, a third-round selection by Milwaukee in the 2010 draft, throws his fastball between 94-97 mph. He has had issues with his right elbow, having been shut down for a six-month period during the 2014 season, but found success (and health) once the Brewers committed to him as a reliever last season. (For more on Thornburg’s health, click here.)

Thornburg won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. He is entering his first offseason of arbitration-eligibility.

(The Boston Herald was first to report a trade between the teams was happening, and the inclusion of Dubon. The Boston Globe was first to report the inclusion of Travis Shaw. Baseball America was first to report the inclusion of Pennington. FoxSports.com was first to report that Thornburg would be headed to the Red Sox.)

Red Sox notes: Dave Dombrowski prioritizing finding 8th-inning reliever, will wait out designated hitter market 12.05.16 at 8:00 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

OXON HILL, Md. — As it turned out, the signings of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran weren’t all that big a deal to the Red Sox, after all.

And that bit of news was just part of the eyebrow-raising that Dave Dombrowski’s meeting with the media elicited Monday evening.

“There were not,” said the Red Sox president of baseball operations when asked if he was engaged with the pair of designated hitter candidates, at the MLB Winter Meetings. “We were aware of everything taking place, but we weren’t engaged in a situation to do that, because I really, [assistant general manager] Brian O’Halloran’s handled a lot of the phone calls. He’s kept me abreast of what’s going on. But we really had made the point that before we got into where we were going to allocate our dollars. We wanted to do that for a setup guy and see where that takes us and then make a decision from there.”

But what about that replacement for David Ortiz?

As turns out, Dombrowski and Co. are all in on finding that lock-down eighth-inning guy, an not in any huge rush to bring in another bat.

The plan right now is to put the majority of the Red Sox’ efforts into finding that late-inning relief pitcher. As Red Sox manager John Farrell explained, “I think our main goal is to identify a guy so it’s not so much a matchup situation. Turn it over to one guy in the eighth inning, regardless if he’s facing left-handed or right-handed hitters.”

So, what it means is that the Red Sox will be waiting to see what kind of bat falls into their price range after allocating resources for the reliever. It could even get to the point where no hitter of significance is brought in to fill a role most everybody thought would be a chief priority for the team heading into the offseason.

“I can’t say for sure, but, yeah, perhaps that would happen,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think so. We’d bring somebody in, I think, but I can’t tell we’re 100 percent sure we’re going to do it because it’s going to be dependent upon who we can find and the dollars they’re looking for at the particular time.”

— Dombrowski spoke to the issue regarding the new luxury tax threshold, and the Red Sox’ perceived desire to not go over for a third straight season.

The new limit stands at $195 million, which the Red Sox stand about $15 million shy of. But with a desire to have some flexibility for in-season acquisitions, that actual budget for offseason moves might be in the vicinity of $8 million.

The first time the Red Sox went over they were taxed 17.5 percent (ending up being just under $2 million), with last year’s penalty coming in at 30 percent. Going over this year would mean they would be taxed on 50 percent of the number they exceed the threshold by. If they do not go over, the penalties reset.

“No, no. No. I don’t want to use the word ‘mandated,’ because that’s wrong” said the president when asked if ownership has instructed him not to go over the limit. “But I have an awareness of the penalties. I mean, I got the memorandum of understanding and the summary on Saturday night. Here they are if anybody has five minutes that you want to spend reading. It’s 133 pages of memorandum of understanding that is very difficult. I have read through it. I have skimmed through it, though, I don’t know that with a fine-tooth comb. I did make notes on it that I thought were very important so I understand going into the meetings where we stand. Obviously the basic agreement still has to be ratified. That doesn’t take place until December 15. But I think there’s an awareness that I wanted to have, and I think when you look at it. But I can’t tell you that last year that we went into the winter meetings I would’ve preferred to be below the CBT, too, but we just went above it because we thought that was the best way to win a championship at the time.”

— Dombrowski said the Red Sox aren’t locked into acquiring just a lefty hitter, or even a player who solely plays the infield.

That conversation led to one of the continued focal point for the Red Sox’ offseason: Getting production out of Pablo Sandoval.

“I think we’ll always strive to have a balance,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that we ran into this past year was the three right-handers at the top of the order. We also produced the most runs in baseball. I think if you look at the way we stacked the lineup when we got into the postseason, it was a little bit of a mix moving Bogey to the six hole and sliding David up to the three hole. I think for us, one of the things, as I look at the lineup for next year, one of the keys for us is going to be Panda. That’s not to put it all on him, but here’s a left-handed bat who is a proven guy and has every opportunity to make a major impact on our team this year.”

— Dombrowski revealed the list of Red Sox players on the preliminary rosters for the World Baseball Classic.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Hanley Ramirez.
USA: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., David Price, Rick Porcello (who has already said he will not participate)
NETHERLANDS: Xander Bogaerts
VENEZUELA: Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon
ITALY: Andrew Benintendi

— While Dombrowski wouldn’t comment on the Red Sox’ level of interest in Japanese star Shohei Otani, a 22-year-old who excels at both pitching and hitting and is scheduled to be eligible to play in the major leagues after the 2017 season, the president did offer an interesting comparison.

“I can’t speak specifically for him because I haven’t seen him play enough myself,” he said. “We have reports on him. Do I think a player can be a two-way player? Yeah. It could happen. Is it very difficult? Yes, but i’m not saying there’s not a player out there that can’t do that because some of them are rare, rare guy – Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. It can be done.”

Red Sox pick up John Farrell’s option for 2018 season 12.05.16 at 5:42 pm ET
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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Speaking to the Boston media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced the team was picking up the 2018 contract option for manager John Farrell.

Prior to the move, Farrell’s last guaranteed year was the 2017 campaign.

“John has done a real fine job for us,” Dombrowski said. “He had a good year last year. I thought did a good job in handling the club. We were in a position where we had a good working relationship and had the respect of our players. Our players played hard for him. So we’re very happy to have done that. It puts stability with our staff going into spring training.

“Why wait until now? Just so many things happened at the end of the year. There was no rush. It didn’t have to be exercised until 10 days after the 2017 season. But as soon as the season ends you sort of split, when you get beat in the playoffs. Mike Hazen left us at that point. We had some front office things to do. We were in different positions ourselves. So we really just wanted to sit down and have a face to face talk before we did something like that, which we had a chance to do [Sunday]. We had a really nice conversation, just like always. John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations.”

For more from the MLB Winter Meetings, click here.

Edwin Encarnacion identified Red Sox as one of 3 preferred landing spots 12.05.16 at 3:02 pm ET
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Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Could the Red Sox get into the Edwin Encarnacion bidding? Probably not, but based on the slugger’s interest in Boston, maybe they should at least kick the tires.

The Red Sox continue to be on the outskirts of negotiations for the services of Encarnacion, still seeking to acquire a replacement for David Ortiz via a short-term deal. The Sox’ motivation for the approach is seemingly driven by a desire not to eclipse the luxury tax threshold.

But if the Red Sox’ strategy does change, it would seem there would be a very clear path.

According to a source close to Encarnacion, the 33-year-old designated the Red Sox as one of the three teams he identified heading into free agency as a preferred landing spot. Another was Toronto, who have already signed Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. The third club was not known, although it wasn’t the Yankees.

With Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran each agreeing to one-year deals, with the Yankees and Astros, respectively, some of the free agents still being attached to the Red Sox for short-term solutions are Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli.

Ortiz reiterated his endorsement for Encarnacion over the weekend at his Celebrity Golf Classic, which the former Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter attended.

For more from the MLB Winter Meetings, click here.

Potential Red Sox target Greg Holland ‘popular guy’ at Winter Meetings 12.05.16 at 7:35 am ET
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Greg Holland

Greg Holland

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — If there Red Sox are going to lock up Greg Holland, it’s not going to be easy.

According to a major league source at the Winter Meetings, the 31-year-old reliever is “a popular guy” in this free agent market. WEEI.com recently learned the Red Sox have been among the most aggressive teams pursuing Holland, although their level of interest is shared by multiple teams.

Holland remains an interesting option for the Red Sox, who are prioritizing finding an eighth-inning reliever.

The former Royals closer missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but showed good health while performing in a showcase for teams in early November. Holland won’t start throwing again for another few weeks after taking some time off following the workout.

The righty had been one of the most dominant closers in baseball prior to pitching with a bad elbow in 2015. From 2013-14, Holland went 93-for-98 in save opportunities, totaling a 1.32 ERA and .170 batting average against.

One potential late-inning relief option came off the table when Joaquin Benoit agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies Sunday, according to multiple reports Former Blue Jay Brett Cecil also is off the table, inking a four-year, $30.5 million contract with the Cardinals.

As for late-inning relievers still on the market, Sergio Romo and Brad Ziegler are two who remain available.The Red Sox are not believed to be in the mix for the free agent market’s high-end closers, such as Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen.

David Ortiz proclaims Red Sox better start talking contract with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. because they ‘are baseball’ 12.02.16 at 3:51 pm ET
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PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — While the Red Sox’ focus these days remain on finding a replacement for David Ortiz and an eighth-inning relief pitcher, according to the former Red Sox designated hitter there should be something else on the organization’s radar.

Don’t forget about saving some money for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

“They are baseball,” said Ortiz of the trio when speaking at his celebrity golf tournament Friday. “In a heartbeat, I would sit down to talk to those kids. The most important about them is that they have that work ethic as a younger player. That’s something that to me, they have unbelievable value. These kids, they come to the field and it’s straight business. Me, as a veteran player, knowing how you come from the bottom to the top, it’s something that to me is extremely important. Those are the players you he want on your ball club. Young, talented, with that mentality, that’s on another level. I know that at some point, the red sox will have to sit down with them, with Jackie, even my main who played left field [Andrew Benintendi] that has a couple of days in the big leagues, they’re going to sit down with all those kids because they are what people want. I want to come the field every day to see what they can do.”

For more of Ortiz’s comments from the event, which annually raises money for the slugger’s foundation, click here.

David Ortiz isn’t backing off endorsement for Edwin Encarnacion 12.02.16 at 3:29 pm ET
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Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and David Ortiz all are participating in the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic this weekend. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and David Ortiz all are participating in the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic this weekend. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — David Ortiz understands that it’s not just as simple as picking his replacement and signing him. But that doesn’t mean he can offer his recommendations.

Talking at his annual celebrity golf outing, Ortiz reiterated what he said about free agent Edwin Encarnacion, first in April, and then at the All-Star Game: the Blue Jays slugger would be the perfect fit on this Red Sox roster.

“You know what though, the reality is, the way baseball is right now, when you have a guy like Edwin doing what he does, he can ask for whatever he wants,” Ortiz said Friday afternoon. “Not everybody is hitting 40 bombs in the big leagues and doing all the damage that he’s doing. So if you’re going to recruit a guy like him, you know you’ve got to bring that money in. [Carlos] Beltran is another good choice, but you know that Beltran is probably going to want to play a couple of more years. Veteran wise, a guy that cares and really wants to win, I know he’s another choice. It all depends the shape the organization is in.

“It’s easier to demand and say things from this standpoint but you need to know how much the organization has to spend, how many year they want to give away. We have a good group of guys out there, you’re going to have to sit down and talk to them about long term. You know what I’m saying? We have four or five guys, you’re definitely going to have to sit down and chat with them about 100 million dollars. Let’s not put pressure just on the Red Sox. You know there’s a lot of things we need to take care of.”

The likelihood of Encarnacion doesn’t seem strong, especially after a source told WEEI.com this week the Red Sox would “probably” not be one of the righty hitter’s finalists when it came to picking his next destination.

Encarnacion has already reportedly turned down a four-year offer from the Blue Jays worth around $80 million, and the Sox are intent on filling Ortiz’s spot with a shorter term deal.

But Ortiz wants to make it clear that if there were any concerns that the 33-year-old Encarnacion wouldn’t be able to produce for the life of whatever deal he gets, those should go out the window.

“Edwin, he knows the American league,” Ortiz said. “He knows that this division is a tough division to play in and what he does is guaranteed. It’s scary to think what he can do. same with [Jose] Bautista. Bautista’s average year where he deals with a lot of injuries which is not something you see often but he’s a guy who has been healthy pretty much his whole career. That’s a guy [in Encarnacion] I wouldn’t doubt about to think what he’s capable of. It’s up to the organization what they feel comfortable doing.”

No matter who the signing turns out to be, Ortiz does have a clear idea of what the Red Sox need after the DH’s retirement.

“The situation between MLB and the Players Association kind of stopped everything. I’m pretty sure now with the winter meetings we’re going to hear some new stuff. We need some thunder,” he said. “We need some thunder. I’m not going to be playing but I’m going to want the Red Sox to still win, so hopefully something good comes our way.”

Hanley Ramirez isn’t recruiting free agents in Dominican Republic, but he is planning on playing playing winter ball there 12.02.16 at 12:14 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez talks at the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday. (WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez talks at the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday. (WEEI.com)

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Hanley Ramirez would seem to have plenty of opportunities over the weekend to make a pitch to potential Red Sox free agent targets. Ramirez, after all, is joining the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Dexter Fowle and Aroldis Chapman at the David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic.

But Ramirez explained that recruitment isn’t on the docket.

“No. No. No. We’re just here for one big thing, to help the kids,” said Ramirez when asked if he would be selling the Red Sox on some of the other attendees, who are also in town to support the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

Ramirez did, however, offer some other news when it came to his presence in the Dominican Republic: He is planning on playing winter baseball there in the coming months.

The Red Sox first baseman explained that he was hoping to participate in the Dominican Winter League, with the Licey Tigers, to prepare for his participation in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

“Yes, that’s my plan,” said Ramirez of trying to defend the Dominican Republic team’s crown in the WBC. “Hopefully they let me play here to get ready for that.”

The last time Ramirez played in the WBC, 2013, he actually hurt his thumb to the extent that his season didn’t start until late April. After coming back earlier than expected, Ramirez was sidelined again after four games due to a hamstring injury. He did go on to have one of his better years, hitting .345 with a 1.040 OPS

“You get your swings in. You get used to the game quicker than in spring training,” Ramirez said. “That’s the difference because now your mind is ready to start.”

“You have a chance to play for your country and it’s something basically the whole world is seeing. There’s only one thing. It’s really special.”

Ramirez touched on a variety of other topics Friday afternoon …

ONE HAVING NO DAVID ORTIZ

“After the last game, we tried to take every part of things from David in keeping in that clubhouse. His vibe, the way he goes about his business. At the same time, everybody knows he’s going to be missed. But we’ve got to move forward and we’ve got a lot of guys in the clubhouse who can lead the way.”

ON IF HE PREFERS DH OR FIRST BASE

“I don’t care. I just want to play and have my four at-bats, maybe five. Just go out there and kick some butt. It doesn’t matter where I’m going to be playing. … I’m not the type of player or person who says I want to do this or I want to do that. I just want to go into spring training and do whatever they ask me to do.”

ON IF PLAYING FIRST BASE HELPED HIS OFFENSE

“Not really. I was able to to find something in my swing in spring training with our hitting coach and go from there, shorten my swing out. Because you have to separate those two out, offense and defense. Sometimes you’re going to think about defense, and when you’re on defense you’re going to be thinking about offense. You have to be strong in mind to separate those two parts, come out, be you and do what you’re supposed to do.”

ON FILLING MORE OF A LEADERSHIP ROLE

The only thing I think you can do is to help the young guys, like David always did, and deal with you guys. That’s something that’s never going to change. We’ve got a couple of guys. Pedey, we’ve got Buchholz who has been there forever. But we will have the same team together as a group, not just one guy. That’s what we did last year.

ON IF HE LIKES THE IDEA OF ROTATING GUYS INTO THE DH SPOT

“Definitely, so we can keep everybody fresh for the playoffs.”

REFLECTING ON LOSING TO CLEVELAND IN THE PLAYOFFS

I wasn’t really disappointed because I know we have some young guys. Playoffs aren’t the same thing as the regular season. Playoffs, everything counts. Every pitch, every thing. It’s a little bit different. They got a taste, and I know we’re going to come back stronger this year and we’re going to go farther.

ON THE SHORT PLAYOFF RUN BY THE RED SOX

That was my third or fourth time in the playoffs, and in the playoffs anything can happen. The hardest part is just getting in. After you get in, you can’t predict anything. For Cleveland to make it all the way to the World Series, that’s something special, with all the young guys they have. Their pitching staff was great.

ARE THE RED SOX A WORLD SERIES CONTENDER?

Definitely. Like I say, if we stay together like we did last year, and I think we’re going to be stronger mentally this year, it’s going to be scary.

HOW DO YOU FEEL AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

I think I’m more motivated this year because of how far we went in the playoffs. We didn’t go far enough. I can’t wait to get bak to the playoffs and go farther.

Source: Red Sox ‘probably’ not going to be finalist for Edwin Encarnacion 11.29.16 at 9:58 pm ET
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Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion

It was trending this way for the last month, but now it looks like there will be some certainty very soon.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox are “probably” not going to be a finalist for the services of free agent first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told TSN Tuesday afternoon that his client would most likely sign a contract either later this week, or early next week. He went on to add that two clubs have extended serious offers to the 33-year-old, not disclosing what teams they were.

Kinzer did add that the Blue Jays, who along with the Yankees and Astros may be considered the favorites for Encarnancion’s services, are perhaps the most aggressive. It was reported that slugger turned down an offer from Toronto in the vicinity of four years, $80 million.

“The Jays are showing Edwin the most love,” Kinzer told Rick Westhead of TSN. “We’re talking. They want him back. (GM) Ross (Atkins) has been talking to Edwin. They have a great relationship.”

The Red Sox have been consistent in their approach throughout the offseason, insisting their preference in signing a replacement for David Ortiz would be via a short-term deal. One option they remain interested in is Carlos Beltran.

As is the case with other clubs, the Red Sox are also waiting for the new Competitive Balance Tax threshold to be identified in the revamped Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

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