Midway through June, the Boston Red Sox are sitting in third place in the AL East with a record of 36-34. Through 70 games, that's not exactly where the defending World Series champions wanted to be.
As a result, that has spurred some potential talks that the Red Sox could make a move to bolster their roster. Conversely, there has also been talk that they could sell off some parts to re-stock a mediocre farm system if they don't improve quickly.
However, Red Sox president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, isn't ready to change the team and referenced that a lot could change before the league's July 31 trade deadline.
“A lot can happen between now and [the trade deadline],” said Dombrowski, per Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. “Right now, even though we are not happy with the way we have played, we think we’re better. I think the players think we’re better, I think the staff thinks we’re better. Again, we all know we have to do it. We’re not by any means ready to say, ‘Oh, this is not going to work,’ because it still has a chance to work.”
Hypothetically, Dombrowski could be right, as this squad is largely the same one that was able to take home the title last year. However, they did lose their two best bullpen arms, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, and Nathan Eovaldi has missed a large chunk of the season with an elbow issue. And in Eovaldi's stead, the team's spot starters have struggled mightily.
Still, despite the negative attention that the pitching -- and specifically, the bullpen -- has gotten lately, Dombrowski isn't viewing the unit as a problem spot. He also pointed to Steven Wright's return as something that could bolster the pen.
“I think our bullpen gets way too much focus of attention as being a problem for us. I don’t think that they have performed anywhere nearly as poorly as some guys have said. I think some guys have performed very well, actually,” said Dombrowski, per Speier. “You put [Wright] in our bullpen, that’s a big addition all of a sudden for us.”
Wright was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2019 season after a positive PED test. He will be eligible to return to the Red Sox on June 25.
In 2018, Wright logged a 3-1 record with a 2.68 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings pitched. The knuckleballer started in four games and could help to fix the unit's troubles and serve as a solid spot starter at times.
Still, it is fair to question the Sox' bullpen. After all, they were forced to have Josh Smith, a pitcher with a career record of 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA, close last night's 7-6 victory. While it worked, it is still clear that they may be an arm short in the bullpen, despite what Dombrowski and Alex Cora think.
Perhaps the team could investigate trading for a back-end bullpen option if Wright's return doesn't spark the team the way that they are hoping.
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