Yesterday, the ProJo’s Tim Britton posted a rhetorical-sounding column, "Should the Red Sox talk extension with Xander Bogaerts?" It begins, more or less:
Since the start of last season, Bogaerts has batted .328 with an .813 OPS while playing a premium defensive position. At 23, he is fulfilling the enormous hype that accompanied his rise through the minor leagues.
This, of course, leads to the question: Might the Red Sox want to sign Bogaerts long-term now?
It's not a ridiculous conversation to have, even though Bogaerts' agent is the notoriously patient Scott Boras and the shortstop isn't even arbitration-eligible until after this season. Bogaerts won't be a free agent until after 2019.
Britton's analysis is as right as ever, but I’ll take him one further: It’s a ridiculous question not to have. The Red Sox should try to extend Xander Bogaerts. They should also try to extend Mookie Betts. This is the basic function of management: to sign young, great players like these, at times like these. Full stop.
Dave Dombrowski says he's not interested in doing this. As he told reporters, per Britton’s column:
"I find it's usually not the time to do things," he said Wednesday of having those talks during the regular season. "One thing you don't want to do is have a distraction. You're always planning, but there's still time at the end of the year."
He’s not wrong about it being a distraction, but, of course, the only way it becomes a significant one is if anyone knows about it. And if you really parse Dombo’s quote, at no point does he say he’s actually not going to do it. It’s not usually the time to do things, sure, but Bogaerts is anything but usual. Thus, using my extremely simple powers of deduction, I declare Dombrowski a potential giant, fat liar!
Okay, maybe not fat:
If you travel to a Red Sox game and Dombrowski is with the team, you will likely see him on a morning jog decked head-to-toe in Red Sox gear— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) June 2, 2016
But a liar nonetheless, and with good reason. He's no dummy. He knows when to avoid stepping in the mud. He’s slick.
I still can't shake the image of Dombo on his first night as team President, last August at Fenway Park, sipping on a glass of red wine like a conquering king. Gone were the Epstein and Cherington beerbros, now and forever. Now we were high class. It must have felt, to John Henry and Tom Werner, like a culmination of everything on which they had worked on with the Sox. Dombrowski looks and plays the part to perfection; he's baseball's version of JP Morgan's own silver fox, Jamie Dimon. He makes moves. He oozes money. And now he has the throne.
The Red Sox don't need to rush into trading for a starting pitcher
The Red Sox will probably need a starting pitcher from outside the organization, but they don't need one right away.
As recently as 10 years ago, after the Sox won their 2004 title behind a hodgepodge group of "idiots," Theo Epstein said the team was committed to becoming more professional, a goal basically achieved on the field by the wonderful, anodyne 2007 team. Still, though: the boys were in charge. When Epstein left, his deputy took over. The old guard was still around.
Now the Red Sox are a legitimate luxury brand, and when Dombrowski was let go by Detroit last season, Henry must have known exactly how he wanted it to play out -- if he didn't know it beforehand.
(If it sounds like I'm suggesting that Dombo's release from the Tigers and signing by the Sox were conspicuously interrelated, good; that's what I'm trying to do.)
Anyhow, what we know about Dombrowski is mostly tied to big acquisitions, and making big acquisitions takes a certain kind of skill. You don’t liberate Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins just by making a couple phone calls. You need to butter people up, and then you need to close the sale.
I think Dombo is buttering us up. I don't think there's any question that given Bogaerts's performance, it would be advantageous to sign him earlier rather than later, and that he’d be open to doing it during the season. I only think this because he’d be derelict in his duty otherwise. Behind every poker face is a poker player, and, like a lot of poker players, he’s slow-playing his big hand. He has no reason to cash in yet. Just don’t be surprised if it happens sooner rather than later. Maybe even during the season. It might not come to pass, but if you think Dombroswki isn't talking about it, I'd love to play cards with you some time.