The trade deadline is officially in the rear-view mirror, and the Boston Red Sox didn’t do anything. Despite several rumors implying the Red Sox wanted a reliever, the price was apparently too high and Boston didn’t grab an extra arm at the deadline. While this is obviously frustrating to some fans, it’s objectively the right move to make. This team isn’t worth mortgaging the future over, and the best course of action is to accept this probably isn’t their year and hope guys get hot in September and October.
Dave Dombrowski Made Right Move At MLB Trade Deadline
Despite the high payroll and a ridiculously talented offense, this team just doesn’t have enough pitching to seriously challenge the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and the rest of the MLB elite. All the good arms in the bullpen are either worn down from overuse (Matt Barnes), untested minor leaguers (Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor), desperation plugs (Nathan Eovaldi), or just not good (everyone else). Brandon Workman has been the only reliable pitcher throughout the season, and even he has a history of slowing down as the season progresses. This bullpen was more than one arm away from being fixed, so trading for an established star wouldn’t provide much support.
Even if Dombrowski could fix the bullpen, it wouldn’t do much good. Bullpens protect the lead, but it’s hard to get a lead when four of the five starters are struggling. Chris Sale hasn’t been himself this year and has a 5.86 ERA and a 4.96 FIP through 27.2 innings in July. He always wears down as the season progresses, so there’s no reason to expect him to get better in September and October. David Price was Boston’s best pitcher throughout the majority of the season, but he’s struggled in recent outings as well. Price has a similarly ugly 5.08 ERA and 4.58 FIP in July.
The top of the rotation is faltering, and the rest of the unit hasn’t done well either. Nathan Eovaldi suffered an elbow injury early in the season and only recently returned to the bullpen. Rick Porcello is having an atrocious season and currently holds a 5.55 ERA and a 4.69 FIP in 116.2 innings of work. Eduardo Rodriguez has probably been the most consistent arm in the rotation, but he’s yet to pitch more than 140 innings in a season. Andrew Cashner has only pitched 17.2 innings with Boston, so it’s too early to say if he’s been good or bad. However, he doesn’t have the skills to anchor a rotation for a legitimate playoff contender.
So Why Not Sell?
The Red Sox pitching staff needed at least three or four more arms to be legitimate contenders, which is obviously asking a lot. Boston’s farm system is better than it was last year, but it still isn’t great. Getting that many arms would have been reckless, all things considered, so buying wouldn’t be a smart move. If that’s the case, then some may think that the Red Sox should have sold off their assets rather than sit and do nothing.
This would be a good idea, except the Red Sox have nothing to sell. This team has too much talent to not be competitive in 2020, so any potential trade had to involve somebody on an expiring contract. If Rick Porcello were pitching like his 2018 self, then he probably wouldn’t be on the team right now. However, Porcello has been objectively bad throughout the year and probably couldn’t fetch even a Low-A infielder at this point in time.
The only other players of note hitting free agency are Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce. Pearce and Moreland have battled injuries throughout the season, and platoon first baseman are a dime a dozen. Holt, meanwhile, is just a utility infielder and wouldn’t garner any prospects of note in a trade.
The fact of the matter is that buying teams want pitching and not hitting. The Red Sox don’t have any pitchers to sell, leaving them forced to exist in a purgatory between contention and tanking. This team has a good amount of talent, but the unit collectively hasn’t played up to their ability. If they can magically find that missing gear, perhaps they can get hot and go on an unlikely playoff run. However, if they can’t, then they’ll just end the season with the best farm system they could have possibly had at this moment in time.