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Boston's Front Office Strikes Out in August

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The last chance for the Red Sox to improve their roster from the outside has come and gone.  Baseball’s July 31st non-waiver trade deadline has passed and now that September is here, they have also let the waiver deadline pass without bringing in any help. 

Baseball fans are usually unclear on how exactly trades can be made after the non-waiver trade deadline in July.  I will attempt to explain it the best that I can.  **WARNING** a lot of baseball jargon ahead.  Keep reading though…maybe there is some sort of exciting surprise waiting for you at the end.

MLB’s August acquisition deadline or the “waiver trade deadline” as it is known, has more rules then the non waiver trade deadline that comes a month before.  For teams to trade for players on another team, they have some extra hurdles to clear.  Any player that could be involved in a trade negotiation must go through the trade waiver process.  Front offices put players on what is called “revocable trade waivers.” What that means is that each team has a chance to claim the posted player off the waiver wire.  The waiver wire is sorted from worst to first. The worst team in MLB has first crack to claim a player and the best team has the last chance to make a claim.  Theoretically this is a chance for the worst teams in the league to improve.  All franchises in the MLB will have an opportunity to use their claim.  Once the available player is awarded to the team with the highest spot in line, three things can occur.  The original team can either pull the player off waivers (hence “revocable”), they can allow the franchise who claimed the player to just take him and pay the remainder of his contract, or the two teams can come to a trade agreement.  Typically only players with bad contracts are just given away.  If the player that was placed on waivers goes through the entire league unclaimed, then said player can be dealt to any of the teams in the MLB.  All players on major league rosters must pass through this process to be dealt.  Minor leaguers do not have to go onto waivers to be moved so that’s why teams who complete trades involve their minor league players.  The “player to be named later” is typically used if the other team is interested in players on the major league roster.  Just an extra tidbit to add to your newly acquired baseball knowledge.  That is a lot to absorb, so take a minute and read this paragraph again.....and maybe a third time. 

Okay…so there isn’t a great big surprise waiting for you but, now you have information to wow even the biggest baseball fan or put any non baseball fan to sleep. 

Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the Sox front office did not acquire a single player in the month of August.  Other teams were busy adding as much talent to their roster that they possibly could to load up for the playoff run.  Not the Sox.  They stayed pat. The “stay pat” movement may have worked for the Celtics but I do not think it was a strategy the Red Sox should have deployed.  Listen, I realize that this Red Sox teams has 98 wins and are on their way to winning the AL East.  That doesn’t change the fact that the team could still have used a little extra punch in certain areas.  All of their playoff competition added to their rosters.  Yes, even the Oakland A’s brought in some extra help for the home stretch.  Even though they own the best record in all of baseball, this team isn’t perfect.  If you have followed along all year you can clearly see where they are lacking.  And if you haven’t been watching have no fear, I’ll tell you where they could use some improvement.  It is their bullpen, Boston’s bullpen is shaaaaakkkyyyy.  Craig Kimbrel is still a solid anchor, but his supporting cast is not so much.  Joe Kelly looked good to start the season, but here we are in September and Kelly is rocking his usual over four ERA.  Carson Smith was brought to Boston to be a back end of the bullpen pitcher.  That isn’t the case because he severely injured his shoulder slamming his glove against the bench.   Nobody has taken the bull by the horns and proved they are worthy to be the reliable reliever before Kimbrel.  Oh, what about Matt Barnes?  He has a mid three's ERA, but let’s all be honest, he seems to blow the lead whenever he is brought into a game with some real pressure.  And now that he is out indefinitely with hip inflammation so he can’t even take the mound for the Sox.  Who knows, maybe a converted starter becomes a main factor in the bullpen for the playoffs.  The Houston Astros used their third and fourth best starting pitchers to close out innings later in the games during their run to the World Series.  Will the Sox go that route?  I can’t wait until October to find out.

My theory is that ownership did not want to continue to spend over the luxury tax limit.  They cannot spend more money on new acquisitions without getting penalized for it.  I never thought I’d be saying the Boston Red Sox were not able to spend the cash to get better players.  I did not agree with the decision to not do anything.  Boston’s World Series window is not as big as you’d think.  They should do everything they can to win now. They did make some trades before the July deadline.  But when you have a team that will win over 100 games, because they are going to win over 100 games, you do everything in your power to go after that World Series championship. 

I have to cut them some slack because they are sitting with the last waiver position.  Every MLB team had the chance to claim a player before they ever got to the Sox.  Fernando Rodney and Ryan Madson are relief pitchers that I think could have helped this bullpen.  Neither pitcher is a bullpen ace, but that goes to show you how bad Boston’s relief staff is.  I think either guy could have brought a little spark to their bad news bullpen.  Both players never made it to the end of the waiver order so the Sox were never a possible destination.  Instead the Dodgers and Athletics added to their respective bullpens.  Being the best team in the entire league is great for so many reasons, but making trades in August may be the lone negative. 

Well known players were subjected to and ultimately dealt this past month.  Andrew McCutchen, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez, and Josh Donaldson were just a few to switch teams.  The Red Sox were never going to go after any of these players however some lesser known players were traded that could have really helped for the playoff stretch. You are probably not familiar with Xavier Cedeno but this left handed reliever could have been a major upgrade to this pen.  He is 31 years old but sported a very good 2.84 ERA while striking out more than a batter an inning in Chicago.  Maybe Cedeno could have been the left hander that the Red Sox don’t have at the moment.  Even though Steve Pearce has had his moments in a Red Sox uniform since he joined the squad, I still believe that this lineup could use a pinch hitter who bats from the right side of the plate.  Pirates’ third baseball David Freese was dealt to the Dodgers.  Freese isn’t the everyday player he used to be but he has so much playoff experience and could be a boost to the bottom of the lineup when called upon.  Even though you could find these guys at the end of the other teams’ rosters, they could have helped.  Sometimes diamonds in the rough lead to diamond championship rings. 

The Red Sox really didn’t have many chances to get players on the waiver wire.  Having the last spot can be rough, but a few guys cleared waivers and didn’t end up moving at all.  Detroit’s Francisco Liriano and the Mets’ Jerry Blevins went unclaimed and I think Boston could have brought either on board.  Even though their remaining salaries are a tad expensive, the Red Sox are already over their budget so they might as well keep spending to help their chances.  Perhaps I’m being greedy, but I want another parade in November.  CJ Cron plays for the Tampa Bay Rays and also cleared waivers.  He has shown power over his career, and if Boston and Tampa could have come to an agreement, Cron could have packed a major punch for the batting lineup.  Especially against left handed pitchers late in the game.  Jackie Bradley Jr is going to start a lot of games in the outfield.  Having some right handed pop on the bench could come up clutch.  It is clear that this Red Sox team is very good, but it’s a shame they weren’t able to bolster this roster like some of their rivals.

Can the Red Sox win the World Series? They absolutely can, but this past weekend’s series with the Astros was a splash of cold water to the face.  This bullpen can be the single reason why they are eliminated this October.  I think it would have really been beneficial for them to have added some more arms for their bullpen, but they were quiet in August.  Dombrowski and his front office added Kinsler, Pearce, and Eovaldi in July, so it’s not like they didn’t add anyone at all.  And maybe Brandon Phillips and Ryan Brasier are the players that step up and fill these roles.  I guess we will have to wait and find out.  As a member of Red Sox Nation, I want to see this team win so I certainly hope so.  

I still can't believe you fell for the old surprise waiting for you trick...

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