The Boston Red Sox again find themselves in a position where they need to make a move before the July 31 MLB trade deadline to have a strong chance of earning a postseason berth.
The defending World Series champions already made a trade with the Baltimore Orioles earlier this month to acquire veteran starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, but he's struggled over two starts and the team's bullpen still is shaky.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was asked Thursday on WEEI's "Dale & Keefe Show" about any payroll issues entering the deadline, and he admitted ownership has not put any restrictions on the front office.
"No, nobody has said there are any restrictions," Dombrowski said. "I think the way we treat this ... and our ownership over here has been fantastic. John (Henry) and Tom (Werner). We have the top payroll, and Mike Gordon, in Major League Baseball. There's a reason they call it a penalty. When you go above that $246 (million) top-level you not only have to pay significant dollars from a financial perspective but you drop 10 spots in the draft and that's a big penalty. So you try and not do it. We really went into last year not want to do that but we did exceed it because we thought the moves would make a difference for us. So there is no reason anybody has said you can't do it, but you also have to have a real significant reason you are going to go above that. We have a lot of good players that I think we can show we can run with the guys that we have, but if there is a right piece out there we think can make a difference nobody said you can't do it."
Red Sox principal owner John Henry told WEEI's Rob Bradford during the team's June series against the New York Yankees in London that "We’re not going to be looking to add a lot of payroll."
This remark was a bit surprising given the team's willingness to acquire players at the trade deadline throughout his tenure as owner, in addition to the enormous financial backing he's provided -- the Red Sox have had baseball's highest payroll since the beginning of 2018, per Spotrac. The Red Sox added Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi before the deadline in 2018 and both of them played key roles in the team's championship run. Pearce was named World Series MVP.
Boston begins a four-game series with the rival Yankees on Thursday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox trail the Bronx Bombers by 11 games for first place in the American League East, but they are just two games out of a wild-card spot.
The Sox are 11-6 in their last 17 games and their offense leads the AL in hits and ranks second in both batting average and runs scored. The issues Boston must address at the trade deadline lie in the rotation and the bullpen. The Red Sox bullpen has struggled throughout the year with 18 blown saves and a 4.59 ERA (10th-best among the 15 AL clubs).
The luxury tax is an important issue for Dombrowski and Co. to consider at the trade deadline, but the Red Sox could be a very dangerous out in the playoffs with another quality pitcher on the roster. It's an opportunity the team shouldn't pass up, especially when the its current core could look a lot different in the near future as several star players near free agency.
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