It was a trade deadline day that was virtually unprecedented for the Red Sox. In a matter of hours on Thursday, they traded away two starting pitchers, one of their most reliable relievers, their starting shortstop, and an outfielder who had more pinch-hit home runs than anyone except Ted Williams in team history.
Going back to July 9, when they designated catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, they have sent eight members of the 25-man roster packing. Along with Pierzynski are:
• Right-hander Jake Peavy, traded to the Giants on July 26;
• Left-hander Felix Doubront, traded to the Cubs on July 30;
• Left-hander Jon Lester, traded to the A’s on Thursday;
• Outfielder Jonny Gomes, traded to the A’s on Thursday;
• Right-hander John Lackey, traded to the Cardinals on Thursday;
• Left-hander Andrew Miller, traded to the Orioles on Thursday;
• Shortstop Stephen Drew, traded to the Yankees on Thursday.
Here’s what the Sox got back:
• Minor league left-hander Edwin Escobar and minor league right-hander Heath Hembree from the Giants for Peavy.
• A player to be named from the Cubs for Doubront.
• Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (and a 2014 competitive balance draft pick) from the A’s for Lester and Gomes.
• Outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig and right-hander Joe Kelly from the Cardinals for Lackey.
• Minor league left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles for Miller.
• And, infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson from the Yankees for Drew.
So, the question is: where does that leave the Red Sox?
The short-term answer is very likely right where they are for the remainder of 2014. Here’s what their roster looks like now:
Starting pitchers: Right-handers Clay Buchholz, Rubby De La Rosa, Kelly, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo, who will make his major league debut Friday against the Yankees, in place of Lackey.
Relievers: Right-handers Burke Badenhop, Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara, and left-hander Craig Breslow.
Infielders: Xander Bogaerts, Mike Carp, Brock Holt, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Kelly Johnson (currently on DL, strained left groin). General manager Ben Cherington said Will Middlebrooks will rejoin the team on Friday.
Outfielders: Jackie Bradley, Jr., Cespedes, Craig, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino.
Catchers: David Ross and Christian Vazquez.
“Our intent going into today and really this week was — given where we were, given where the team was in the standings and given the math that we’re fighting coming into this week — our intent was to try to see what opportunities were out there for us,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “There was a lot of interest in our players and we wanted to see if there were opportunities to turn that into moves that could give us a head start on, like I said, building again and becoming better as quickly as we can.”
Because of the number of veterans on their roster who had play-off experience, the Sox fielded a lot of calls from a lot of teams.
“Certainly with Lester and Lackey, there’s lots of different things we could’ve done and there were attractive prospect packages that were available to us for both guys,” Farrell said. “We just felt like what made the most sense for us was to try to focus on impact, major league talent that’s ready. We have a lot of good young players, we have strength in our farm system, so that’s already strength.
“Although there were some prospect packages or prospects that were available to us that were very attractive, we wanted to add to the major league team and really give ourselves a head start on, like I said, building again and becoming as good as we can as quickly as possible. So that sort of guided us at least on the Lester and Lackey deals towards more proven major league players.”
How close did the Sox come to meeting the goals they had set for themselves?
“Hopefully we’ve done things to get a head start on the offseason, address some things,” Cherington said. “But, I think, and I know John [Farrell] feels the same way, we have 54 games left and these are now the most important 54 games of our season. Because we have a lot to find out. We have new players that we want to make sure are comfortable and get acclimated to Boston and comfortable in the ballpark and everything that comes along with Boston. We’ve got young players who are still developing and need to continue to improve and develop and we need to focus on that and we need to start building a team again. So a lot of guys that are now on this roster will more than likely be on the roster next April so we’ve got to start building a team that can win. The next 54 games are really important towards that. There will be more work to do this offseason, too.”
And while the Sox can look to the future with the moves that were made, there was a certain amount of disappointment involved.
“We’re in this position because of the performance of the team and the performance of the team is ultimately my responsibility,” Cherington said. “If we had done a better job as an organization this year and performed better, then it’s not just likely but obvious that most of this stuff would not have happened today. So you have to start there. I have to start there with the acknowledgement that if we weren’t in the position that we’re in, which I take responsibility for, then these trades don’t happen and we don’t want to be in that position. We take responsibility for it. Our performance on the field hasn’t been good and certainly not good enough.”
The Sox will likely be active in the free agent market this winter, especially for starting pitchers.
“Looking into this offseason, you never know exactly what trades are going to be available to you in the offseason,” Cherington said. “But you do know what the free agent market is going to look like in the offseason pretty much. And there just isn’t a lot. There’s some offense available in free agency, but it’s not a particularly strong free agent class in terms of offense. So that did become a priority for us to see if we could get a little bit of a jump start on adding to the offense at the deadline. We certainly still have things we need to do this winter, but hopefully we’ve gotten a little bit of a jump start.”