BOSTON — Parts II and III of Dave Dombrowski’s three-stage trade plan are done.

Now all the new Boston Red Sox president has to do is find a starting pitcher.

“It’s not an easy starting pitching market out there,” Dombrowski said Saturday.

“There’s a lot of clubs looking for starting pitching and there’s not a lot of (quality) starting pitchers out there.”

When Dombrowski calls on teams that might have a viable starting pitcher available, he knows what his counterpart will be asking for in exchange.

Infielder Yoan Moncada, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, pitcher Anderson Espinoza …


“The names we don’t want to trade always start the conversation,” Dombrowski said, although he would not identify the obvious top prospects.

“We’ve got some guys we don’t want to trade … it’s apparent when we talk to other organizations how highly they regard our players … I can’t ever say you’re not going to trade such-and-such guys, but it’s also very difficult to trade certain guys.”

Fans want Dombrowski to make trades and he could engineer a deal right now.

“I can assure you that I can pick up the phone and make a call and get a starting pitcher,” he said. “But is it a starting pitcher that helps you?”

This is not 2015 when the Tigers (under Dombrowski) were dealing David Price and the Reds were looking to unload Johnny Cueto.

No aces available at a reasonable cost.


It’s feasible Atlanta would trade pitcher Julio Teheran, but the Braves would certainly begin that conversation with a desire for Moncada, Benintendi and Espinoza, as well as some major league talent.

Too much.

And for what it’s worth, Baseball America came out Saturday with its list of the top 100 prospects at midseason. Moncada, Benintendi and Espinoza were listed Nos. 1, 9 and 15, respectively.

The deal Dombrowski would like to make is for a back-end starter. With David Price, Rick Porcello and Stephen Wright the top three, Dombrowski figures the last two spots can be filled, one by trade and the other within (with Eduardo Rodriguez the front-runner)

Part II of Dombrowski’s plan was to bolster the bullpen. He did that early Saturday morning with the acquisition of right-hander Brad Ziegler.

Ziegler, and his side-armed delivery, was supposed to be a set-up guy. But he will now be part-closer with Koji Uehara, with the news that Craig Kimbrel will be out 3 to 6 weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee, requiring surgery Monday.


Considering that Uehara is hardly dependable these days – 4.96 ERA, eight home runs allowed – it’s nice to have Ziegler (2.82, one homer) coming in.

The bullpen also has Junichi Tazawa ailing with a tired shoulder. The Red Sox hope he’ll be back after the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, Matt Barnes appears to be getting more high-leverage innings – like pitching the eighth Friday night (three strikeouts and a walk).

And don’t forget Joe Kelly, who could be quite a presence if he buys into the role after his rehab outings are complete.

By mid-August the Red Sox bullpen could have 10 pitchers to choose from: Kimbrel, Ziegler, Uehara, Tazawa, Barnes, Kelly, Clay Buchholz, Heath Hembree, Robbie Ross and Tommy Layne.

Part III in Dombrowski’s plan was to add a veteran, right-handed hitting utility player who could play third base. Enter Aaron Hill, 34, who was batting .283 for Milwaukee with a .780 OPS.


Left field might be a concern with so many injuries, but Dombrowski said Brock Holt is day to day, and Chris Young and Blake Swihart are expected back. Meanwhile, Bryce Brentz is filling in well, batting .375 in nine games. He was 0 for 4 Saturday.

Dombrowski also allowed the possibility of Benintendi reaching Boston this year. Since June 1, Benintendi is batting .315 with six home runs for the Sea Dogs.

“Many guys in my career have jumped from Double-A to the big leagues,” Dombrowski said. He would not get into individual cases in the Red Sox system, but allowed that “we have young kids coming. Benintendi’s coming – I don’t know if it’s this year or next year.”

So we can tag Benintendi as someone Dombrowski is unlikely to deal.

To get Hill, Dombrowski traded pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo. Wilkerson made for a wonderful story, rising from the independent leagues to Triple-A, but there were still doubts about his major league viability. Rijo was considered a good prospect but has underachieved, moving back to Salem from Portland.

To obtain Ziegler, Dombrowski sent two decent players from low Class A Greenville – pitcher Joe Almonte, 20 (.391 ERA) and infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe, 19 (.311/.879). Neither was a top prospect and both have a long way to go.

Now Dombrowski needs to find a starter.


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