The next ten days in Beantown are going to be extremely instrumental as to the rest of the 2014 season. As the annual trade deadline rapidly approaches the Sox have to decide if they are buying new talent to make a run at the post season or selling what talent they deem expendable to procure prospects for the future.
Currently Boston sits some 7.5 games behind the front-running Baltimore Orioles. The AL East this season is wide open for anyone to take--with no one squad seemingly poised to run away with the division. This has left not only Boston but New York and even Tampa in a peculiar position as July winds down.
However, in order for Boston to return to the postseason they will likely need to seek assistance elsewhere. The Sox have struggled to score runs and even to get on base in general. Boston sits 21st in the league in batting with a .247 average and 25th in all of baseball in the runs scored category. Hence the Sox are on the prowl for a bat or two. Preferably an outfielder.
Yet it seems as if the brain trust in Boston is not too excited at the idea of moving some of their top-rated prospects from the organization for a veteran stick. Especially if that player is only a rental for the remainder of the season. If the Sox were a lot closer--or more competitive--they may consider moving a prospect for a finishing piece.
As far as the team's opinion on selling their top talent for even more future hopefuls, that does not seem very likely either. Boston can keep most of their squad and retool in via free agency this off season to put themselves among the elite again. Yet with a marquee name like Jon Lester ready to walk after this season (more on that in tomorrows article) and other valuable arms like Jake Peavy and John Lackey both desirable to contending teams the Sox front office must at the very least be entertaining all offers.
So what will the Sox do come the July 31st trade deadline?
Unless the wheels completely come off the bus in the next ten days I predict the Sox will value shop. Meaning they will do both buy and sell.
Boston can move pieces that are not necessarily instrumental and still compete in this wide open division. For example, both the Royals and Brewers have shown interest in struggling veteran outfielder Johnny Gomes. Boston can afford to move him out of town for a reliever or even a prospect. Once a depleted outfield the Sox seem to have plenty of options now. Also, starting pitcher Jake Peavy is an expendable guy on this roster. Certainly, the veteran has seen better days, yet he still yields a ton of value to a team looking for a fourth or fifth starter--and teams will pay through the nose for pitching in July, especially a guy with his resume. Besides, Boston has plenty of young arms ready now to throw every fifth day, they no longer value Peavy as much as they once did.
In this peculiar position of mediocrity, the Red Sox find themselves in a position where making a drastic move either way could prove to be not only foolish, but have a long term effect as well. In this market, the Sox can not afford to withstand a lengthy rebuilding process. Just nine months removed from a World Series crown, fans are already jumping into the harbor. The front office will have to be creative and make educated decisions both for their near and future plans.
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