John Tomase

Why buying at trade deadline is actually best long-term move for Red Sox

Being buyers at the trade deadline would send a positive message to the players and fan base.

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If all that matters to the Red Sox is the future, then the front office will invest in the roster this month. Consider it a down payment on the better days we've been promised for the last five years.

Here's how chief baseball officer Craig Breslow can sell an aggressive trade deadline approach to ownership: the foundation has clearly been laid, and nothing will jumpstart the culture they're building like a playoff spot.

No need to await the arrival of Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, Kyle Teel, and Co. Reward this team for what it's doing right now and lay the groundwork for the future by giving it playoff experience. Even if the Sox are swept in the wild card round, it will pay off down the road.

This squad is different than the last two that Chaim Bloom abandoned at the end of July, because they're on the upswing. We couldn't say that about last year's club, which had run out of starting pitching by July, but survived because of a favorable schedule full of off days. Once those disappeared in August, so did their season, and they finished last.

Similarly, the 2022 club was clearly a team in transition, marking the final days of Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Christian Vazquez, among others. They went 8-19 that July and Bloom's biggest mistake was not conducting a fire sale.

But this edition? No comparison. The All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday afternoon, and the Red Sox featured three homegrown choices: third baseman Rafael Devers, center fielder Jarren Duran, and right-hander Tanner Houck. Those are what's known as building blocks, and there's no need to daydream about what the next generation at Double A might bring when this one's already here.

To reinforce the point, the Red Sox shut out the Yankees on Sunday night to take two of three. Devers homered twice, rookie sparkplug Ceddanne Rafaela homered once, and young right-hander Kutter Crawford tossed seven shutout innings over just 68 pitches. Everyone in the preceding two paragraphs was drafted/signed and developed by the Red Sox, who lead the race for the final wild card spot by 1.5 games over Royals. They've also closed within 4.5 games of the Yankees, who are in freefall -- only three weeks ago, New York led the Red Sox by 14 games.

The Red Sox (winners of 16 of 22) are everything the Yankees (losers of 16 of 22) are not. They're young, athletic, exciting, refreshingly unjaded. They just show up and play, and it's hard not to get sucked in by their enthusiasm, whether it was Crawford screaming after the final out of the seventh, Devers admiring both of his homers, or reliever Justin Slaten and Rafaela jumping up and down as Devers made the tough barehand play to end the eighth.

The Red Sox are building something in a way that's reminiscent of the 2015 Celtics, who acquired Isaiah Thomas and then made a shocking run to the postseason. Even though LeBron James and the Cavs swept them out of the playoffs in the first round, that club planted that seed that sprouted into a title this spring. By the time Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum arrived two and three years later, respectively, the Celtics had already established playoff expectations. They took James to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018, made the NBA Finals in 2022, and won it all three weeks ago. Had they simply waited for their top picks to arrive and develop, they never would've signed Al Horford, and who knows how this all unfolds.

The Red Sox deserve a similar boost, even if their odds of claiming another World Series are similarly low. Consider it a win-win: a short-term investment that sends a signal to the clubhouse and fans that this club is worthy of our attention, and a long-term one that marks the start of something much better.

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