As J.A. Happ put it, the slow free agent market this offseason has been a “bummer.” Plenty of un-signed talent still remains with Spring Training right around the corner, and even the World Champions don’t seem to be budging. Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski’s outlook this winter has been to resist change. After all, his team won 108 games on their way to hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy last season. In the pursuit of becoming the first repeat champions since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000, Boston has retained its identity by re-signing their two big summertime trade acquisitions, Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi. As of right now, come next week, there will be no new faces in Red Sox camp to speak of. In 2016 they brought in David Price, 2017 was Chris Sale, and last offseason it was J.D. Martinez. Having these superstars in camp on reporting day was a big deal, as it brought an elevated level of optimism and excitement to the club, and allowed them to get acclimated to their new teammates and surroundings. In this sense, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado might be doing themselves a big disfavor by holding out, potentially, until after position players are due in Arizona and Florida. But it hasn’t always been like this, evident by the offseason the Yankees had after their 1998 title. In mid-November of that year, they re-signed 20-game winner David Cone. Think about that— two weeks into the offseason and one of the best pitchers in American League was off the market! Then, just two weeks later, they brought back outfielder Bernie Williams. By Thanksgiving 1998, New York had their two biggest pieces in place for the upcoming season. Simple as that. Cone was on the decline and nearing the end of his career, but Williams hit a career-high .342 in 1999. With a similar (and proven) approach this offseason, the Red Sox have built themselves for a run at a repeat, despite PECOTA’s projection of a Yankees A.L. East title in 2019.