There's no delicate way to put this, so we'll just ask bluntly: can Chaim Bloom really trade Jackie Bradley Jr. this weekend?
MLB's trade deadline is Monday at 4 p.m. and Bradley has felt like a candidate to be moved since opening night in July. He's a free agent this fall, he's almost certainly no longer a part of the team's future, and he's probably ready for a change of scenery anyway after eight seasons in Boston.
Objectively, it makes sense to deal him now for something of value before he leaves for nothing this winter, since the Red Sox probably won't make a qualifying offer in these uncertain economic times.
But the last two days have made Bradley the most important member of the Red Sox, and one of the most significant athletes in Boston. As the team's only Black player, he was regrettably left to speak for the entire organization on Wednesday following the decision to play rather than stand in solidarity with NBA players, who had wiped out a night of playoff games with a wildcat strike after yet another incident of police brutality, this time in Wisconsin.
Thursday made Bradley even more of a central figure, as he informed management he wouldn't play against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, leading teammates to agree that this time they wouldn't take the field, either.
"Everybody wanted to support Jackie," said manager Ron Roenicke.
Making matters trickier, Friday is Jackie Robinson Day as teams celebrate the life of the man who broke the color barrier. The traditional April 15 event was postponed because of the pandemic, and the new date just happened to land during a time of protest and upheaval following the shooting of Jacob Blake seven times in the back by a white officer.
Over 100 current and former big leaguers have agreed to donate their salaries for Aug. 27-28 to the Players Alliance, which will use the money to combat racial inequality and aid families in Black communities.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, must continue to reckon with their own dismal history, and not just because they were the last team to integrate. Since 2017 alone, they have found themselves at the center of controversies like Orioles outfielder Adam Jones hearing racist slurs in Fenway Park, a fan earning a lifetime ban for life for saying something similar during the national anthem the very next night, the club's white players choosing to attend a White House World Series celebration despite divisive presidential rhetoric, and most players declining to kneel during a moment of unity on opening night in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of a Minnesota police officer.
Bradley has had to answer for all of the above almost entirely on his own over the years, solidarity only belatedly arriving after basically every other sport in America shut down to honor the protests and demand justice.
So with all of that as the backdrop, can chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom really trade Bradley for what will almost certainly only be a marginal prospect, especially when he could move a similar player in Kevin Pillar for pretty much the same return?
Or is it more important to allow the only Black player on the Red Sox to finish the season here, where he can continue to serve as a living, breathing reminder of what's at stake for Black men across America?
Here's my advice to Bloom: trade somebody else. The entire roster is pretty much for sale, anyway. Bradley didn't ask to become the conscience of the organization, but it is a role he has served with honor and dignity. He deserves better than to be jettisoned at a time when the team has proven that without his voice, it has no idea what to say.