Could any trade deadline acquisitions have saved the 2022 Red Sox?
Not that any of them really made a difference.
To most people who paid attention for even a minute, it was clear pretty early in the season that this wasn’t Boston’s year. Call it a gut instinct or a lifetime of watching this team, but it’s easy to tell when the Sox have that “It Factor,” and they didn’t in 2022.
Between a slew of injuries and plain old underperforming, a lack of quality pitching did this team in more than anything. In that way, it was 2020 all over again; the Sox had many of the fearsome sluggers they’d had on their 2018 championship squad, but without effective pitching, most games got away from them fast and deflating the lineup.
That’s why it was pretty difficult to believe Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom when he opined after the deadline that he thought they’d added pieces who could turn the season around but hadn’t acquired a single pitcher. In fact, they’d actually subtracted a pitcher when they traded Jake Diekman to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Reese McGuire.
But maybe if the Sox had targeted pitching at the deadline, things would be different. The season had unraveled pretty quickly as more injuries piled up in August and September, but perhaps, with different additions, those players’ absences wouldn’t have been the final nail in the coffin.
Here are three pitchers the Sox didn’t get at the deadline who could’ve improved the club in the short (and some in the long) term…
Jordan Montgomery: New York Yankees to St. Louis Cardinals
Starting off with one of the most unrealistic options, because the Red Sox and Yankees almost never make trades. When the Yankees sent Adam Ottavino and Frank German to Boston during the 2020-21 offseason, it was the first trade since the Babe Ruth salary dump that launched an 86-year curse.
Just kidding. But it was only the sixth trade between the rivals since the Divisional Era began in 1969. And since after letting Garrett Whitlock fall into their laps two years ago, the Yankees will be loath to make any substantial trades with the Sox.
Instead, at the deadline, the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis for centerfielder Harrison Bader, who was injured at the time and didn’t notch his first hit in pinstripes until September 20. His first home run for the club didn’t happen until Game 1 of the ongoing ALDS.
Montgomery had a 3.69 ERA over 21 starts when the Yankees dealt him, and he posted a 3.11 ERA over 11 regular-season starts for his new team, including the first complete game and shutout of his career.
It’s unclear who the Sox could’ve given up to get him. Keep Jackie Bradley Jr. and trade Jarren Duran? Doubtful, though the Sox ended up releasing Bradley and having to pay him to play against them, which wasn’t a great strategy. Maybe Chaim Bloom could’ve somehow convinced them to take Franchy Cordero and Ryan Brasier.
The Yankees would’ve wanted a hefty return. Montgomery is entering his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent, and that added year of affordable club control enabled the Yankees to ask for more. As evidenced by the moves the Sox did make at the deadline, going the extra mile wasn’t in the cards, no pun intended.
But given the Sox’ rapidly-improving farm system, the money coming off the books this winter, and the gaping holes in the pitching staff both in-season and in next year’s roster, Montgomery would’ve been a smart pick-up. It would’ve taken a lot to get him, but to borrow Bloom’s favorite word, there was a lot of potential “upside,” too.