One of the more revealing moments at last week’s winter meetings came when Dave Dombrowski was asked if he believed the Red Sox needed more leadership in the clubhouse.

After a moment’s thought, Dombrowski said, “No, I don’t think so.”

He flashed a wide smile and turned to the guy sitting next to him, new Manager Alex Cora. Dombrowski reached out and half-patted, half-squeezed Cora’s shoulder.

“We have a guy that’s a good leader,” he said.

For a seasoned baseball executive with his pedigree and for someone who traveled with the team all of last season, Dombrowski downplaying a leadership deficit made him sound as if he either wanted to gloss over a known flaw or that he was out of touch.

He’s not wrong about Cora helping in the leadership department.

But Cora is not a player, and a manager’s influence alone is not enough.

As it stands now, the Red Sox have a leadership deficit in the clubhouse as significant as the power deficit that popped up as soon as David Ortiz retired following the 2016 season.

Hanley Ramirez is not a leader. Dustin Pedroia, on his own, does not provide enough of the caliber of leadership the young core needs.

The rest of the current positional player core – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez and Rafael Devers – can be expected to remain with the Red Sox for the next couple years – barring trades – before they become free agents. They all have leadership traits, they all have the potential to grow into leaders.

Clubhouses, however, thrive on leadership from mid-career and veteran position players.

Pitchers are a different breed, but certainly mid-career and veteran pitchers play a role in every clubhouse’s culture.

Some of the Red Sox pitchers are thick-skinned and no-nonsense enough to be positive role models for younger players. Or, they are simply neutral forces.

One, David Price, has been the topic of plenty of discussion this year. The mutual vilification campaign he and the media are engaged in sucks up far more oxygen than it should, but lack of oxygen to the brain never stopped a player or a media member from doubling down on his or her stance.

Attempting to circle the wagons against outsiders like the media is an old trick from an outdated playbook that modern-day Red Sox players shouldn’t be using. If the Red Sox do not fill the leadership vacuum with fresh, positive presences, the current situation, toxic at times, will continue to steal time and energy from the goal of winning. Plus, it threatens to drag down and thwart the development of young players both on and off the field.

This is why Red Sox management is at a critical juncture of the offseason as it ponders which bats to acquire in order to keep the Red Sox a World Series-contending team before their current two-year window for winning closes.

Add the right player or players, and the team’s young core will be surrounded by teammates who can send the right message about how to succeed in Boston. Minimize or neglect positive leadership traits of those the Red Sox may bring aboard, and the young players become flight risks.

Later in the winter meetings, Dombrowski said intangibles will matter when the club settles on its targets.

“We take makeup and leadership and all that very important on a club,” the Red Sox president of baseball operations said. “What you end up paying for that compared to what you would pay for others, it’s part of the equation. So sure, that’s important for us.”

Dombrowski admitted he understands better today than when he first arrived the dynamics involved in finding players who can hold up playing in Boston.

“I think it makes a difference, sure – I mean, probably more so once I’ve been here,” Dombrowski said. “I happen to love the (Boston) atmosphere and the passion. Some guys have a hard time with the daily scrutiny. So, yeah, I think it makes a difference. Sure it does. I don’t think it eliminates a lot of players (from consideration) by any means, but I think some guys – let’s just say somebody heard the passion of a boo or something that it really isn’t toward the player but is more just performance at that time – have a harder time handling that. Yeah, I think you have to at least consider it. I think it’s a great place to play, but other people may feel differently.”

Luckily for the Red Sox, the two most suitable and attractive free agent choices each come with the reputation of being a leader and as a positive clubhouse force.

At the top of that list stands first baseman Eric Hosmer, who at 28 is only six months older than Bradley and less than two years older than Betts and Bogaerts.

It should come as no surprise that Hosmer’s agent, Scott Boras, is bullish on Hosmer as a player. Besides his tender age as a free agent and accomplishments at the plate and as a defender, Hosmer is, in Boras’ eyes, special because of the intangibles he adds to the clubhouse.

“When you talk about the player’s ability to go in the locker room, whether it’s the last game of the season, the first game after a losing streak and (Hosmer) walks up and does his routine – he sets the example,” Boras said at the meetings. “He makes sure he knows each of his teammates’ routines and makes sure they execute their routines.” Boras and his corporation have devised a “Prestige Value” component to gauge players, a component that he says should be added to a player’s WAR (wins above replacement) to give everyone a truer and more accurate view of the total contributions a player brings.

As Boras views it, the sum of Hosmer’s PV-plus-WAR is off the charts.

“This type of person is rare,” Boras said of Hosmer. “And it’s extremely rare to have him at a young age.”

As for the other big-ticket free agent option, J.D. Martinez, Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo noted that his addition to the lineup and also the clubhouse quickly paid dividends.

“It was such a fast-forming relationship, which is a credit to him – he’s just a very humble, down-to-earth, easygoing guy, that off the field became a member of our family, our Arizona family,” said Lovullo. “And inside of the day-to-day activities, I don’t think I’ve seen a more passionate, smarter hitter walk through his day-to-day activities.

“He studies, he watches as much video as I’ve ever seen. He understands how the pitcher’s going to attack him.

“He’s a very dedicated, routine-oriented hitter and it all translates. I couldn’t say enough good things about what he did to show the rest of our group what it takes to prepare for the moment and expect good outcomes from the moment.”