BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox waited until late February last year to make their splash on the free agent market, finally signing outfielder/DH J.D. Martinez to a deal on Feb. 26. It paid off in a big way throughout 2018, with Martinez’s bat a much-needed injection of power into the Boston lineup.
Most fans weren’t expecting a winter repeat in 2019, but with a big vacancy at closer, there was some hope out there that Dave Dombrowski would make another late-offseason signing to help bolster the Boston bullpen. The Red Sox president of baseball ops. shot that down Monday in Fort Myers.
“As far as signings are concerned I would say we’re through at this point,” Dombrowski told reporters at the team’s Spring Training complex, via WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “That doesn’t mean that won’t be a priority just because of how we shape up. It’s something to kind of follow in spring training as you follow other things, I can’t rule that out. We don’t have anything going outside the organization. We stay in contact with people and see if there is anything that becomes a situation that makes sense.”
With that, you can pretty much close the book on any chance of the team bringing back Craig Kimbrel. The flamethrower who has locked down games for Boston the last three seasons remains a free agent with lofty demands, though it appears his market is dwindling at this point. But even if Kimbrel’s price tag goes down, chances are the Red Sox won’t be interesting in locking him up long-term.
So as for now, the Red Sox will go into the new season with Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier or another current player on their roster tasked with getting the final three outs on a given night. Dombrowski has taken a conservative approach to his bullpen this offseason, letting Joe Kelly sign a three-year deal with the Dodgers. The only reliever Dombrowski has signed is former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia, who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Majors since 2015.
While Dombrowski said he’s done signing players, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a trade. The Red Sox have three catchers for two positions, and may be able to net them some kind of reliever for Blake Swihart or Christian Vazquez, though likely not the closer they currently lack.
But with Opening Day just over a month away, it’s sounding more and more like the Red Sox will try to defend their World Series title with their current crop of relievers.