Red Sox: Dave Dombrowski explains struggles to find minor league depth
Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wants to sign more minor league deals to add depth, but players seek opportunity.
Dave Dombrowski has done a masterful job of assembling a loaded Boston Red Sox roster that most would put on the short list of championship contenders. Perhaps, too good of a job?
Boston’s roster looks great on paper, but every team needs depth to make it through the grueling schedule and a deep postseason run. Dombrowski’s wheeling and dealing has provided the Red Sox with one of the best rosters in baseball, but has also left their minor league system thin on talent they can count on in the event of injuries.
Dombrowski has attempted to mitigate those concerns by seeking potential options that can be signed to minor-league deals with an invitation to camp this spring, where they’ll be given the opportunity to stick with the organization to serve as depth. The problem with having few holes at the major league level is that it’s harder to find decent talent to fill that role.
Players want to know that they have a reasonable shot at competing for a roster spot when they come to spring training, but there currently doesn’t appear to be any openings in Boston.
“We keep trying to sign minor-league guys to contracts with big league invites,” Dombrowski said Saturday at Foxwoods, per the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich. “We haven’t been very productive. Not for a lack of trying, but guys are still at the point where, first of all, they’re looking for major league contracts if they can. You can see this past week, they finally started to click where, they were accepting some (minor league) invites. But they’re going to other clubs rather than ours, because they don’t like the chances of making our major league club as much at this time. But we continue to try.”
Dombrowski went on to say that he’d like to add more pitching – because you can never have too much pitching – as well as an extra outfielder.
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The Red Sox are set with three young stars patrolling the outfield, plus lefty-masher Chris Young coming off the bench. Brock Holt, and perhaps even Blake Swihart, could be used to fill in if they really needed it. Beyond that, there aren’t many appealing options waiting in the wings down in Pawtucket.
The only outfielder on the 40-man roster expected to begin the season in the minors is Bryce Brentz, who provides limited upside. Perhaps there are still some that hold out hope for Rusney Castillo or Allen Craig to revitalize their careers, but adding them back to the roster would also mean counting their albatross contracts toward the luxury tax threshold that the front office adamantly wants to stay under.
Barring a rash of injuries, we already have a pretty good idea of who will make the 25-man roster to begin the season. There will be a couple of position battles to keep an eye on this spring, but it’s unlikely that any free agent they bring in is going to barge into the picture to steal one of those spots. A player that signs a minor-league deal now does so under the expectation that they’ll begin the year in Triple-A and wait to see if an opportunity arises.
There is still some talent on the free agent market, but any of the options that may interest the Red Sox are likely to hold out for a major league deal, or at least a clearer path to playing time. Perhaps they’ll circle back later if they can’t find those opportunities elsewhere, so Dombrowski will need to be patient to wait out the market.
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