Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Dave Dombrowski says Red Sox know who they want -- here's why some signs point to J.D. Martinez

John Tomase
December 12, 2017 - 5:48 pm

Dave Dombrowski has a bat in mind that he believes will bolster the Red Sox offense. "We know who we want," he told reporters at baseball's winter meetings, but he's not ready to share the name.

Reading between the lines, however, one player certainly springs to mind -- J.D. Martinez.

Dombrowski wouldn't comment on whether he'll meet with the free agent outfielder this week -- "I really wouldn't get into talking about what we would do in that regard," Dombrowski said -- but he dropped enough hints that make a case for the Red Sox adding the best right-handed bat on the market.

To be clear, this is tea-leaves reading, but consider what Dombrowski told reporters, including's Rob Bradford.

-- He didn't deny that the sides plan to meet.

-- When asked if any hitters have balked at becoming a full-time designated hitter (Martinez is an outfielder on the team with three good ones), he said no.

-- Most interestingly, he brought up the difficulty right-handers have hitting opposite-field home runs in San Francisco, which is considered a potential landing spot for Martinez. He dropped that tidbit in response to a question about how the Red Sox discuss Fenway's unique dimensions with free agents.

According to Dombrowski, only four right-handed hitters homered to right field at San Francisco's AT&T Park last year.

"That's an extreme example that's almost hard to believe," Dombrowski said.

Told that information sounded like something that could be used to the Red Sox' advantage in a free agent pitch, Dombrowski demurred.

"No, I actually read that," he said. "We didn't put it together. I just happened to read it."

With Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes and first baseman Eric Hosmer not necessarily a potent enough power bat, Martinez looks like the most obvious choice for the Red Sox in free agency.

The 30-year-old is coming off a career year between Detroit and Arizona, where he combined to mash 45 homers and drive in 104. His 1.066 OPS ranked third in the big leagues.

Martinez has a history with Dombrowski, who plucked him off the scrap heap after Martinez was released by the Astros a week before the start of the 2014 season. Martinez blossomed into an All-Star in Detroit before being shipped to the Diamondbacks last summer.

In Arizona he slammed 26 homers in only 62 games, helping the D'backs reach the playoffs.

Whether he's the answer for the Red Sox remains to be seen, but he certainly makes sense. For now, Dombrowski's not talking.

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