As the Red Sox continue to hover just out of postseason position, but well shy of striking distance in the division, the organization’s outlook has been a topic of keen interest in Boston. Without the backstop of an August trade period, the upcoming trade deadline has taken on increased significance for the defending champs.
Skipper Alex Cora has continued to emphasize the need for urgency from the men in uniform. As MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports, Cora has now acknowledged the possibility that the club may not be in a strong buying position when it comes time to make a final call in one week’s time.
“The front office has a job to do,” says Cora. “Obviously our goals are set to win the World Series. If it doesn’t look that way and they go somewhere else and take another approach, you’ve got to respect that. At the end, we have to perform and we have to win games.”
There has been some chatter of a minor sell-off, though it seems quite difficult to imagine that taking place with the Boston club just two games out of postseason position and still laden with talent. But it remains to be seen how hard the front office will be able to push to improve, with a realistic assessment of the likelihood of a repeat crown necessarily weighing in the balance of how much young talent and/or future payroll capacity can be sacrificed to improve the present active roster.
Superstar Mookie Betts is emblematic of the frustrating Sox’ season to this point. He romped through 2018 but has been merely very good this year. As Christopher Smith of MassLive.com covers, Betts suggeests there’s nothing to do but keep grinding.
“Just like I may not be able to have that type of MVP season every year, well, how many teams have amazing seasons like that every year?” Betts queries. “So this year has new challenges that we have to go about and accept it.”
If the Sox elected to blow things up, Betts would be the club’s biggest trade chip. But that’s exceptionally unlikely. True, Betts has generally not seemed inclined to pursue an extension, which certainly weighs into the considerations from a team perspective. But it’s all but impossible to imagine a scenario where it makes sense for a thriving Sox franchise to part with such a talent when it controls him for one more season.
Plus, there are still scenarios where Betts ends up spending his entire career in Boston — even if it comes after a trip onto the open market. He emphasized in his comments how much he loves playing for the Sox.
“It’s been nothing but amazing here,” he says. “Just because you go to free agency doesn’t mean you don’t want to be somewhere. It’s just a part of the business.”
While Betts has declined persistent extension overtures, the opposite was true for righty Rick Porcello. As he approaches free agency, the thirty-year-old hurler is now mired in his worst season in the big leagues, with a 5.61 ERA through 110 2/3 innings. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Porcello is choosing to focus on the things he can control right now rather than dwelling on what has gone wrong or what the future holds.
From a team perspective, Porcello says, “it’s not going to be the same journey every year and this is our path right now.” Rather than comparing to the club’s blessed 2018 path, he says, the club should “focus on the positives and focus on moving forward and what we can do with the remaining games we have left, that’s where all the energy should be.” Those words translate to Porcello’s personal situation as well, as the righty explains and Bradford explores in great detail. Porcello says he isn’t worried about future possibilities that aren’t even yet clear, emphasizing that he doesn’t “think about the contract stuff anymore.”
Porcello seemingly summed things up, for himself and the team: “You play enough baseball you start to realize it’s so much wasted energy thinking about if we’re going to get a player, am I going to get traded, what’s going to happen, are we still trying to win? I have one priority right now and that’s getting my [stuff] right to get guys out. That’s it.”