A little under three weeks ago, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom wasn’t yet sure how the Red Sox might approach the trade deadline, or whether not the team might lean more towards buying or selling. Since then, the Sox have been doing their best to force the front office’s hand, winning nine of their last 10 games and moving to a 49-43 record. The Red Sox are two games out of a wild card berth and, despite a competitive AL East and AL playoff picture in general, it looks like Boston will be some kind of factor in the coming weeks and months leading up to October.
That said, Bloom’s overall perspective about the deadline hasn’t entirely changed, though naturally he is happy with how the Sox have been playing.
“I think the this bigger picture of how we’ve gotten here and how it’s come through a lot of progress from a lot of good performances from our long-term core — whether that’s young players or veteran players — is really encouraging in terms of where the arrow is pointing,” Bloom told Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. “We’re gonna keep that in mind, too. We feel like we’re making a lot of progress and we just want keep layering on more and more positive things toward that ultimate goal of a championship club.”
Bloom was clear that long-term competitiveness is still the front office’s overarching goal, yet competing this season certainly seems possible. The CBO noted that the core’s development “has not only given us a chance to stay in this race in 2023, but I think has made us — and hopefully a lot of people who care about this team — really optimistic about where this is headed longer-term….Obviously what happens in the short-term, on some level we’re gonna need to factor that in and be responsive to it. As long as we keep seeing the things we wanna see from our core guys, that’s obviously something that we’re gonna keep front and center.”
Trade talks have already been ongoing in advance of the August 1 deadline, and Bloom again implied that the Red Sox (like many teams) won’t be clear buyers or sellers. The Sox could try to make deals that fall into either category, or they “might just be baseball trades that help everybody accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish.” While the standings could certainly provide more clarity over the next two weeks, there are enough teams at least on the fringes of contention that Bloom feels “the [trade] conversations are just gonna require more creativity.”
While Bloom didn’t cite any areas of need heading into the deadline apart, Bloom did make a point of saying that the Red Sox weren’t looking for first base help, since the team is happy with its tandem of Triston Casas and (when he isn’t at DH or third base) Justin Turner. It amounts to a vote of confidence in Casas, who has finally started hitting after a lengthy cold streak to begin the season. Casas hit .184/.300/.342 over his first 180 plate appearances, but has since delivered a much improved .297/.383/.515 slash line in his last 115 PA.
Obviously the Red Sox weren’t going to just give up on a former top prospect who is only in his second MLB season, yet Casas’ recent results have helped solidify his place in Boston’s core, and as a contributor to their 2023 plans. “Triston is learning and growing. He’s clearly not a finished product yet, but when you look at the trajectory, he is moving in the right direction here offensively,” Bloom said.
Pitching would also seem to be a target need at the deadline, as while the Red Sox have a lot of injured arms projected to return relatively soon, there isn’t any guarantee that those hurlers will return on schedule, or be effective when they do return. “Just because you have some of those guys that you expect to be back in action in August doesn’t mean you’re not looking to find other ways to help yourself,” Bloom said.
Chris Sale is one of those injured pitchers on the road to recovery, and manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that Sale is slated for a bullpen session on Tuesday. Sale suffered a stress reaction in his shoulder blade and will be out until at least the start of August, as per the minimum absence time required by his 60-day IL placement. Since Sale is only starting to throw off a mound now, it seems likely that his ramp-up and rehab work will keep him out for longer than the first week of August. Sale also noted two weeks ago that his injury “isn’t a very common issue” for a pitcher, so it may be a while before a solid rehab plan is finalized.