BOSTON — Your move, Dave Dombrowski.
As the Boston Red Sox played yet another marathon — a 15-inning, 5-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays that began in the rain Tuesday night and ended with Hanley Ramirez‘s walk-off homer at 1:09 a.m. ET Wednesday — Dombrowski sat in his front-row seat in a suite high above home plate at Fenway Park scanning his computer, just like always.
Dombrowski was joined briefly by owner John Henry, who usually watches from a box seat next to the dugout. Otherwise, at least from a distance, there appeared to be no flurry of activity in response to the New York Yankees (of all teams!) pulling off a trade with the Chicago White Sox for relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, as well as third baseman Todd Frazier — three players who could have helped address the Red Sox’s two most glaring needs.
A missed opportunity? Maybe.
The end of the world? Hardly.
True, Frazier made so much sense as a third-base upgrade for the Red Sox that it was presumed he’d been dealt to Boston after the White Sox took him out of the lineup before Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Robertson or Kahnle, meanwhile, would have been useful additions to a bullpen that still lacks a proven setup man despite a surprisingly successful first half of the season. Instead, they will join a deep Yankees bullpen that already features Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and closer Aroldis Chapman.
But the trade deadline is still 13 days away. Between now and July 31, there will be other third basemen and late-inning relievers available to the Red Sox, presumably at a lower cost than the three prospects the White Sox managed to extract from the Yankees by bundling together Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle in the same deal.
It was a shrewd move by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who knew he wasn’t going to get much in return for only Frazier, a free agent after the season. The Red Sox did inquire about Frazier, a major league source confirmed, but it’s not clear whether they were interested in either reliever. Two days ago, another major league source said most teams that have talked to the Red Sox “don’t see them shipping off top-tier guys” for a third-base rental and relief help. After trading top prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot and Mauricio Dubon in the past two years, Dombrowski must guard the gems that remain jealously, namely Triple-A third baseman Rafael Devers and 18-year-old lefty Jason Groome.
So, while the Yankees were willing to give up a package that included 2016 first-round pick Blake Rutherford and touted lefty Ian Clarkin in order to bridge the gap in the American League East, the division-leading Red Sox took a pass on Frazier knowing they might be able to land Oakland A’s infielder Jed Lowrie — or versatile Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants — for less.
Heck, if the Sox hold out long enough, the Kansas City Royals might begin taking calls about All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas. Like Frazier, Moustakas is playing out the final year of his contract, and the Royals have lost seven of their past eight games.
There are options in the relief market, too, even with Robertson, Kahnle, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle on the move. Two potential targets: Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Pat Neshek and New York Mets closer Addison Reed, both of whom are eligible for free agency at season’s end.
One thing seems certain: Dombrowski will make a move. Dealin’ Dave doesn’t usually stand pat in July. Over the past decade with the Detroit Tigers and the Red Sox, his trade-deadline moves have included the additions of Sean Casey (2006), Jarrod Washburn (2009), Jhonny Peralta (2010), Doug Fister (2011), Omar Infante (2012), Anibal Sanchez (2012), Jose Iglesias (2013), David Price (2014), Joakim Soria (2014), Brad Ziegler (2016) and Drew Pomeranz (2016). Dombrowski has also been responsible for the subtractions of Ivan Rodriguez (2008), Price (2015), Soria (2015) and Yoenis Cespedes (2015) in the month of July.
During his weekly appearance on NESN’s pregame show Tuesday, Dombrowski called third base an “obvious” position of need. He also noted the Red Sox are “a little bit shorthanded” in the bullpen. Considering the Red Sox were built to win the World Series, with a starting rotation led by Chris Sale and Price, it seems unlikely that Dombrowski would leave the team’s few areas of weakness unaddressed.
“I don’t think we’re close to anything at this point, but talks take place all the time at this time of year,” Dombrowski said. “I think we’re open to upgrading ourselves in any way we possibly can. We’ll just have to analyze it, see if there’s a move that can make us better.”
In the meantime, the Red Sox watched the Yankees get better Tuesday night. Now, it’s their turn to make a move.