Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced that manager John Farrell will return in 2017. “John Farrell will be our manager for 2017. He is all set, and his whole staff will be invited back,” declared Dombrowski (via the Associated Press). Farrell, whom Dombrowski called “our leader going forward,” was at the helm of a 93-69 team in 2016 that bounced back from two straight last-place finishes to win the AL East. Entering the year, the Red Sox’s most recent division title came in 2013, when the Farrell-led club also won the World Series. The Red Sox won’t reach that goal this year, of course, as the Indians swept them out of the ALDS on Monday. Nevertheless, having gone 339-309 with two playoff berths and a championship in four years, Farrell has done enough to justify a fifth season in Boston, according to Dombrowski.
Here’s more on Boston, which is now turning its focus to the offseason:
- The Red Sox aren’t a lock to pursue an outside replacement for retiring designated hitter David Ortiz, as Rob Bradford of WEEI writes. They could instead shift first baseman Hanley Ramirez to DH and use a committee of Travis Shaw, Pablo Sandoval, Yoan Moncada and Sam Travis at the corner infield positions. As Bradford notes, signing the highest-profile DH candidate set to hit the market, the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion, would enable the Red Sox to split DH and first between him and Ramirez. On Ramirez’s role going forward, Dombrowski said, “I think he’s capable of doing both. Actually, to me, he did a fine job at first base. Personally, I like the availability of the option of doing both, because I think that if you have that flexibility, it probably fits with us better with the personnel that we have going forward. But we also have to have conversations with Hanley, too, before we get to that point.”
- Dombrowski addressed the status of Sandoval, who missed nearly the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery in May and was ahead of schedule in his rehab as of late September. “His goal was to be ready, physically, to play in the ALCS. I don’t know that that would’ve happened, because our other people had been there all year, but from a health perspective, he’s really right there, so I think he’ll be healthy next year,” commented Dombrowski (via Ryan Hannable of WEEI). “There’s other guys that I’m sure say they should be the third baseman. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out. But he’s been a proven big league performer. If he’s healthy and ready to go, he has a chance to be a good performer for us.” Sandoval has been a major disappointment since the Red Sox signed him to a five-year, $95MM deal in November 2014, but the organization doesn’t seem down on him. Dombrowski said the ex-Giant “should be proud” of the rehab work he has done since his injury. Notably, Bradford reported last month that Sandoval had lost 22 pounds.
- Left-hander Drew Pomeranz endured an underwhelming second half after the Red Sox acquired him from the Padres for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza in July. Of course, Boston complained last month about the lack of medical information the Padres disclosed prior to the trade, and Major League Baseball also suspended Friars GM A.J. Preller for 30 days without pay. The Red Sox skipped Pomeranz’s final start of the regular season because he was dealing with forearm soreness, and he then pitched out of the bullpen in the playoffs. Going forward, Dombrowski expects Pomeranz to figure into Boston’s rotation, though he cautioned that his medicals will have to check out. “We look forward to him being part of our rotation. We feel for him. I’m hopeful that he’ll be OK going into next year and the doctors will be the ones that advise us on that, but I think he will be,” stated Dombrowski (via Hannable).
- In order to remain with the Red Sox, soon-to-be free agent reliever Koji Uehara will likely have to take a pay cut from his $9MM salary, per Hannable. Given Uehara’s age (he’ll be 42 next April), that’s not a surprise. Uehara remains a highly effective late-game option, though, as he recorded a 3.45 ERA, 12.06 K/9 and 2.11 BB/9 over 47 innings in 2016. Dombrowski revealed that Uehara “wants to continue pitching,” but the executive isn’t sure if the Red Sox will bring the right-hander back for a fifth year. “I don’t know how you really interpret a guy going forward at that. I don’t have any special formula,” said Dombrowski. “But I will also tell you Koji’s a hard guy to evaluate when he’s younger and healthy. Because he’s a very abnormal type pitcher. I mean how many guys that are throwing 88 mph blow the ball by you on a consistent basis? So he’s a tough evaluation no matter what.”