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Sale: Red Sox are 'right where we need to be'

From ESPN - February 14, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was not meant to be a guarantee or even a prediction. Think of it as just a friendly reminder from Chris Sale to anyone who is more focused on players not in camp with the Boston Red Sox than those who are.

"We basically, for the most part, have almost the same team that we did last year, and we were the best team in our division," the ace lefty said Wednesday. "I know people like to talk about this and that, but we were the best with what we have."

By "this," Sale might have been referring to Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning National League MVP who never indicated he would waive his no-trade clause for the Red Sox before approving a deal to the rival New York Yankees. And by "that," Sale most certainly was talking about J.D. Martinez, the marquee name among more than 100 free agents still unsigned even as spring-training camps open this week across Florida and Arizona.

The Red Sox have been most often linked to Martinez by virtue of their extreme need for a middle-of-the-order slugger. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and agent Scott Boras are at odds over a five-year contract offer reportedly worth between $100 million and $125 million. Martinez is believed to be seeking a seven-year deal for about $30 million annually.

Dombrowski declined to discuss whether the stalemate will eventually break. Indications, though, were that the situation between the Sox and Martinez was unchanged.

"I do not know if we are close to doing anything or not," Dombrowski said. "It's been a long, lengthy process, this wintertime. I do not think it's really changed a great deal. We continue to have conversations with a lot of clubs and agents. We will see what happens. But I do not know that answer."

Dombrowski did not plan on bringing back the same lineup that hit fewer home runs than any team in the American League last season. After the Red Sox were knocked out of the division series for a second year in a row, he admitted he did not provide the team with enough offense.

If it was up to Dombrowski, Martinez would already be here.

"From a positional player perspective, no, [standing pat] was not, per se, our plan," Dombrowski said. "As I have said every single year of my career when people say, 'What do you think the winter time will bring,' I will say, 'I do not know. I have no idea.' Because I do not. And this year's free-agent market is much different, and it's led us to be at this point now."

Regardless, most Red Sox players who have reported to camp like their chances to win a third consecutive AL East crown. They won 93 games in each of the past two seasons, including last year despite the fact that they never found a power hitter to replace retired David Ortiz.

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