The Boston Red Sox' moves before last Tuesday's MLB trade deadline didn't make much sense, and left many fans with even more questions about the franchise's future.
The team held on to star shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. They now face the possibility of him leaving for nothing. They also traded veteran catcher Christian Vazquez, who's having an excellent season and, by many accounts, was a beloved teammate in the clubhouse. The Red Sox also made a few additions, including Eric Hosmer in a deal with the San Diego Padres, but none of those moves upgraded the roster in a significant way.
The Red Sox tried to be both buyers and sellers, but the results were lackluster, to put it kindly.
We know Pedro Martinez loves the Red Sox, but even he couldn't resist criticizing the franchise after its puzzling trade deadline transactions.
"I just don’t see where the path is leading for the Red Sox, to be honest,” Martinez said during TBS' MLB coverage last week. "They have a headache with (Rafael) Devers, have a headache with the most consistent player they have ever had Xander Bogaerts. They just got rid of (Christian) Vázquez, who figured that out in the middle of the field.
"It’s hard for me to figure out what the mentality is. I don’t know how much they know about their health, but their health is not really been impacted by the position players as much as it has been the pitching staff. I think they need help in the bullpen, and I think they need help in the starting rotation.
"And so far I haven’t seen any of those being approached as much as the positioning of the players. And I have a hard time understanding what the thought process is where Chaim (Bloom) is trying to lead the rest of the pack. I don’t have an exact idea, but I can tell you for sure, the biggest areas that they need to improve is the health of the starting rotation and the end of the bullpen. If they want to get anywhere, they have to do that and continue to play defense and get some of those guys totally healthy."
Martinez is right. Boston's pitching has genuine flaws, especially in the bullpen. And yet the Red Sox didn't acquire a single quality bullpen arm at the trade deadline who could help them the rest of this season. Hosmer does improve the Red Sox at first base, which was one of the team's most glaring positional weaknesses. But pitching was a more pressing need, and it wasn't addressed.
Now the Red Sox have a flawed roster and face an ultra-competitive race for the three wild card playoff spots in the American League. The Red Sox are just two games out of the third and final wild card berth, but there are four teams in front of them in the standings for that spot.
The Red Sox still have a chance to reach the postseason -- 22.1 percent, per FanGraphs -- but it's going to be a harder challenge than it needed to be because of the team's inability to make meaningful upgrades at the trade deadline.