Ben Cherington: Boston Red Sox ‘keeping an eye’ on trade market


After getting swept in Minnesota this week, the Boston Red Sox have fallen into last place in their lackluster division with a record that stands five games below the .500 mark. We are now past the quarter pole of the season, beyond the point where we can brush off the team’s struggles with the sentiment that it’s “too early.”

The disappointing results thus far have Red Sox Nation clamoring to shake things up. General manager Ben Cherington isn’t blind to the fact that changes need to be made, but while he acknowledged that he has been monitoring the trade market, he also stressed the need to look internally first.

"“We’ve got to keep an eye on (the trade market),” Cherington said on MLB Network Radio. “As you guys know, sometimes there’s guys available, there’s things available to you early in the season but they typically tend to involve trades where you’re moving around deck furniture. For whatever reason, a guy is out of favor with a team or is expendable and you’re trying to fill depth with those types of deals.”"

Cherington isn’t looking to make lateral moves for the sake of doing something. Smaller moves will be made for depth purposes, such as Wednesday’s acquisition of outfielder Carlos Peguero, but the big splash fans are looking for isn’t available right now.

"“The needle-moving deals tend to happen later in the summer. Not that they can’t happen earlier, but they tend to happen later in the summer. We’re keeping an eye on things and certainly every team is doing that – talking to teams and seeing what’s out there. I think when things aren’t going well and we’ve had a rough stretch, you’ve really got to look internally first and figure out what’s going and how do we get this a little better among ourselves first. Not that you’d rule out doing something externally, but how do we get things better internally first to put ourselves in a better position where we can consider moves at some point to supplement the team?”"

The next step for the Red Sox internal search comes Thursday with the debut of prized pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, who has pitched brilliantly in the organization since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at last year’s trade deadline for reliever Andrew Miller. Rodriguez has posted a 2.98 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 48.1 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket this year.

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Rodriguez is part of a trio of promising young lefties in Pawtucket right now. Henry Owens may have the highest ceiling, but he has struggled with his control this year and needs more seasoning. Brian Johnson has been arguably the best of the bunch so far, but Rodriguez is already on the 40-man roster, which makes it easier to give him the first shot. Each of them could make an impact in the near future, so the potential of at least one of them becoming a significant part of the team’s long term plans for the rotation may make Cherington hesitant to give up the farm for a proven ace.

When Rodriguez takes the mound on Thursday, it may end up being merely a spot start. The intention for now is to get his debut out of the way, allowing him to get his feet wet at the major league level, with the expectation that they may need to rely on him later this season. However, if Rodriguez dazzles in his debut, it will be difficult to ship him back to Pawtucket when other starters on this staff have been struggling.

As the trade deadline gets closer, talks will begin to heat up. We will start to hear the whispers of names like Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto grow louder. If the Red Sox are in position to contend for a playoff spot by then, Cherington has the assets to make a significant move if he wants to.

By preaching patience and looking internally first toward promising young pitchers like Rodriguez, by the time the deadline rolls around he may not need to make such a move.