The rotation is set. The Boston Red Sox brought back pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on Thursday.

Now all the Red Sox need to do is mess around with the bullpen and make a decision about the three-headed catching issue.

As Major League Baseball heads into its winter meetings, starting Sunday in Las Vegas, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has little left to cross off on his to-do list.

Signing Eovaldi (four years, $67.5 million) not only gives Boston a powerful, deep rotation – along with Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez – it protects Boston with both Sale and Porcello set to become free agents after 2019.

As for the bullpen, Boston is likely to lose free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel and possibly setup man Joe Kelly. The Red Sox have depth in the pen, including potential closers Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier.

The free-agent reliever market is overflowing. Take your pick among left-handers Andrew Miller and Zach Britton, and right-handers Adam Ottavino, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria and Jeurys Familia. There’s also Alex Wilson, the former Sea Dogs righty who was acquired by Detroit (when Dombrowski was with the Tigers) in the Porcello trade.

My guess is Ottavino and maybe some pitchers on minor league contracts (like Wilson).

While the bullpen has gaps, there is an excess behind the plate with three catchers.

Sandy Leon, considered the best receiver of the three, batted .177 last year. Christian Vazquez is good defensively but so-so on offense (.207). Blake Swihart, is the best hitter of the three (.229 in a limited role), but the third-best receiver (he gets extra points for versatility in the infield and outfield).

Leon, 29, is eligible for arbitration and will be a free agent in 2021. Swihart, 26, is also eligible for arbitration, with free agency coming in 2023. Vazquez, 28, is signed with Boston through 2021, with a club option in 2022.

Dombrowski is not likely to carry all three for a second season. He may keep all three until late March as insurance against injury.

THE RULE 5 draft will be part of the winter meeting on Thursday. The Red Sox protected most of their eligible prospects, including four pitchers and infielder Michael Chavis. First baseman Josh Ockimey, 23, was not protected despite his power potential (52 home runs over the past three seasons). But he’s also inconsistent, and batted only .172 (26 strikeouts, one home run) in the Arizona Fall League. Ockimey has little versatility (first base or DH), so it seems unlikely a major league team will draft him.

DAN BUTLER announced his retirement after 10 years in pro ball, nine of them with the Red Sox organization, including 2011-12 in Portland. Butler said last month that he was considering coaching and indeed, he is getting his foot in the door as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen catcher. Butler was in Pawtucket most of last season but did play two games for Boston, earning a World Series ring.

TWO OTHER FORMER Sea Dogs are leaving the organization. Pitchers Justin Haley and William Cuevas are headed to the Korean professional league. Last season both Haley (Sea Dogs, 2014-16) and Cuevas (2015) pitched in Pawtucket, and in a handful of games for Boston – also qualifying for World Series rings.

ONE PLAYER WHO can collect his World Series ring in Boston next spring is infielder Tony Renda, who re-signed with the Red Sox in late November on a minor league contract. Renda was a minor league free agent last April, signed by the Red Sox and sent to Portland. After recovering from a broken hand, he was sent to Pawtucket and called up to Boston briefly – entering one game as a pinch-runner on Aug. 5 and scoring the winning run against the Yankees in the 10th inning.

TWO MANAGERS with Sea Dogs connections were not renewed after last season. Ron Johnson (Orioles) and Arnie Beyeler (Marlins) were both managing in Triple-A.

Johnson, 62, managed Portland in its first two seasons as a Red Sox affiliate (2003-04). He moved up to Pawtucket, then to the first-base coaching job in Boston (2010-11). He was let go after Terry Francona was fired, and joined the Orioles as their Triple-A manager. The Orioles organization is going through a shake-up, which included Johnson.

Beyeler managed Portland from 2007-10, then Pawtucket for two years before joining John Farrell’s staff in Boston as the first-base coach in 2013. He lasted three seasons but was let go by Dombrowski. He managed the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate the past three seasons.

THE CHICAGO CUBS made another Sea Dogs connection when they hired Tommy Hottovy as their new pitching coach. Hottovy, 37, was a fourth-round selection of Boston in Theo Epstein’s second draft, in 2004. Hottovy battled injuries and appeared with the Sea Dogs in all or part of five seasons (2007-11). He reached Boston for eight games in 2011 and was with Kansas City for nine games in 2012.

Hottovy had worked with the Cubs’ pitching staff (and Epstein) for four years before his promotion this past week.

Last October, Chicago named another former Sea Dogs player, Anthony Iapoce, as its new hitting coach. Iapoce, 45, played in Portland in 2002, the Sea Dogs’ last season as a Marlins affiliate.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases


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