BOSTON -- Dave Dombrowski shifted in his seat and then delivered the saddest opening statement since Brett Kavanaugh ranted about PJ and Squee.
"We do not have any announcements," Dombrowski proclaimed with faux cheer. "We did not make any trades."
Dombrowski probably should've stopped right there, because the next 25 minutes left the distinct impression that no matter what they say, management and ownership have collectively given up on the 2019 season.
Uncomfortable doesn't even begin to describe Dombrowski's attempts to explain away this disaster of a trade deadline, which did indeed pass without the Red Sox doing anything beyond acquiring fifth starter Andrew Cashner a couple of weeks ago.
Instead, Dombrowski tried to sell us (and maybe himself?) on the idea that the bullpen is actually really good, and no, seriously, a bunch of teams wanted to acquire *his* relievers, thank you very much. He noted that internal solutions exist at Triple A, which means he's counting on the disappointing Ryan Brasier or the unproven Tanner Houck to rescue his flawed bullpen.
A week that started with the hopes of acquiring Mets closer Edwin Diaz before downshifting to the possibility of adding two relievers ended with the Red Sox acquiring no one because the price was too high. Dombrowski admitted the team's place in the standings played a role.
"If we were closer to first place, I would've been more open minded with some of the other things," he said.
Translation: this team isn't good enough to justify any further expenditures, not when the prize is a one-game wild card crapshoot at Cleveland or Minnesota. Ownership doesn't think this club is worth another penny, and it's definitely not my fault.
"The reality is, if we're going to make it, it's going to be the guys that are in the clubhouse," Dombrowski said. "That is the case."
Translation: Did I mention this isn't my fault?
While the Red Sox stood pat, the rival Astros acquired former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to pair atop a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, becoming prohibitive World Series favorites in the process. The Rays bolstered their bullpen (Miami's Nick Anderson) and offense (slugging first baseman Jesus Aguilar). The Indians added Yasiel Puig. The Twins grabbed a pair of relievers. If there was any remote solace, it's that the Yankees struck out, too.
What happened? For two days, manager Alex Cora had strongly hinted that the Red Sox would be adding bullpen help. Tuesday night's implosion, when Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor, and Colten Brewer combined to blow a 5-4 lead in a 6-5 loss to the Rays, seemed to cement the marriage of need and availability.
And then … crickets. Dombrowski described the costs as prohibitive, but it's hard to believe he couldn't have struck a deal for someone, anyone.
"I don't know that there was a player out there that was traded that we couldn't have acquired," Dombrowski said. "It's just that we didn't like the price that was asked. And I guess the other part of it is to know that as we talked about our farm system over the years, we got asked about a lot of our players that we just didn't want to make moves on."
This is a complete and utter surrender. With the starting pitching middle of the pack and the bullpen still two arms short, the Red Sox didn't see the point in sacrificing future resources on a hopelessly flawed team. From an ownership perspective, it might prove the right move in the long term.
But if that's the case, let's call it what it is and agree to wait 'til next year.
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