The MLB trade deadline is set for July 30, and the Boston Red Sox are one team that needs to make a move or two.
The Red Sox have a slim one-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays atop the American League East Division entering Thursday's games.
Veteran ace Chris Sale is working toward a return to the MLB roster before the end of the regular season. His last rehab start with Double-A Portland went quite well.
How does Sale's eventual return impact Boston's strategy at the trade deadline?
"It's definitely something you have to factor in just like any time you're looking at potential deals," Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Thursday morning on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show".
"You look at the team and the players that you have. And he's really close to being part of that. But at the same time, whoever we come out of this deadline with that's who we're going to have the rest of the way, whether it's at the big league level or depth for us in Triple-A. It's not just enough to say, 'Hey, we have 26 guys that we like, let's go.'"
"We need to make sure that we still have enough to withstand the bumps and bruises that are likely to come in some form or another. He's part of the picture, obviously, and we need to factor that in and we need to consider him. But I don't think that just because he's coming back we sit there with our arms folded and say we're good."
That last line is particularly interesting.
It sure sounds like Bloom intends to take a hard look at the market for starting pitchers regardless of how Sale's rehab plays out.
Getting another starter at the trade deadline is a smart strategy for the Red Sox. They rank eighth among the 15 American League teams in starters ERA (4.45). Red Sox starters also have allowed the most hits (532) and the third-worst batting average against (.270) among the AL clubs.
It's very difficult to win in the postseason with mediocre or below average starting pitching. Sure, the Red Sox have an elite offense that's capable of dominating any game, but it's hard to envision this team making a deep run in October without additional starting rotation depth.
So, while the progress Sale has made in recent weeks is no doubt encouraging for the Red Sox, he shouldn't be the team's only notable addition before the trade deadline.