Unlike last winter, Red Sox feeling no urgency

Club in market for new DH with Ortiz's retirement, may seek setup man

Unlike last winter, Red Sox feeling no urgency

Unlike last winter, when the Red Sox struck early and often to upgrade the roster, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving at a deliberate pace so far this Hot Stove season.

But that could change by next week's Winter Meetings, when Dombrowski and his crew will try to find a bat to replace retired slugger David Ortiz and a primary setup man to fill the void left by the likely departures of free agents Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler.

Hot Stove Tracker

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C., starting next Monday. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.

The Red Sox haven't made any acquisitions since being swept by the Indians in an American League Division Series.

Part of that is due to the fact a new Collective Bargaining Agreement hasn't been reached yet. Red Sox ownership would like to know what the new luxury tax penalty will be before trading for or signing a marquee player.

Best Hitter Winner: David Ortiz

The narrative has also changed quite a bit for the Red Sox since last winter, when the club had finished in last place for two consecutive seasons and needed an ace and a closer. These days, with a sound young core that is coming off an AL East title, Dombrowski feels he can read and react.

"Compared to last year, we were going full-bore for a closer, we were going full-bore for a No. 1 starting pitcher," Dombrowski said recently. "I don't know what's going to happen because you don't know what phone call's going to take place. There are some clubs looking to move players. Patience may end up being the situation."

The Red Sox have their entire offense coming back with one big exception -- Ortiz.

Free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are two big hitters with swings built for Fenway Park, but the fact they are right-handed hitters could dissuade Boston from pressing hard for their services. With Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts, Boston has a solid stable of right-handed hitters.

All things being equal, Dombrowski would rather his main offensive acquisition be either a lefty or switch-hitter.

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"If you had to say a preference, the preference would be a left-handed bat," Dombrowski said. "But it wouldn't have to be. I wouldn't take a guy who's left-handed just because he's left-handed over a guy you feel is a force but who's right-handed."

Then, there is the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel is back as the closer. But the setup crew is less than certain.

"I think all along we've talked about wanting someone to pitch in the eighth inning for us," Dombrowski said. "We have some guys that we really like in our 'pen, but none of them have really pitched the eighth inning. They probably have the skills and abilities to do it but that would probably be first and foremost a thing of focus for us."

The rotation has six pitchers (Rick Porcello, David Price, Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz) vying for five spots. This would seem to preclude Boston for being in the market for another impact starter. But you never know.

"I would be surprised," Dombrowski said. "We have six starting pitchers right now. One of them [won] the Cy Young Award. Another is a Cy Young Award past winner we think very highly of. Steven Wright made the All-Star team and we look for Steven to be healthy. Pomeranz made the All-Star team and we look for him to be healthy. And Eduardo Rodriguez we really like a great deal. We picked up Buchholz's option so we have a little bit of depth. Could we? Sure. Is it one of our top priorities? I would say no."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.