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Larry Lucchino, John Henry, Ben Cherington discuss ‘tricky’ trade market

07.24.13 at 5:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox have secured a cornerstone for their future in the form of the long-term deal that will ensure that Dustin Pedroia remains with the team through 2021. But what about the present?

There are now seven days left prior to the July 31 deadline for trades that don’t require waivers. And the Red Sox continue to explore the acquisition cost of virtually every player who is being made available.

That said, the fact that the team is being (in its own terms) “aggressive” in exploring the market does not necessarily mean it will make moves. After all, the Sox have already walked away from conversations about a couple of players who, in a vacuum, fit the profile of players who could have represented meaningful reinforcements in the form of both former Cubs starter Matt Garza (who yielded third baseman Mike Olt, starter Justin Grimm and a dominant High-A performer in right-hander C.J. Edwards) and former Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez (who went to the Orioles for corner infield prospect Nick Delmonico).

The Sox suggest that, given their desire to build a winner for the long haul, they’ll be careful about the possibility of dealing their prospects.

“You’ve got to be a little careful because we’re not just building for one year,” said CEO/president Larry Lucchino. “[GM Ben Cherington] has talked about building the next great Red Sox team, and that would involve some of the prospects who would be sought after. We’ll be aggressive in finding out what’s there. Whether we’ll be aggressive in moving prospects is a whole other question.”

Lucchino remained consistent in suggesting that the Sox would not fall into the trap of making a move at any cost. The team does want to upgrade by the end of the month, but only if the right opportunity presents itself.

“I always expect there to be moves. But that doesn’t mean there always are,” said Lucchino. “I know how hard everybody works to bring about some improvement in the club. It’s one of our fundamental obligations, really, in the front office, to look into this. That doesn’t mean making a deal just for the sake of making a deal, but our obligation is to see if we can help the team get better as the season goes on. That could be from our internal system, too. There’s a lot of good young talent in our system that could help us.

“We’ll be aggressive in covering the waterfront and talking to clubs. If there’s a player we hear may be available on the market, we will be there to talk about it to see what the possibilities are,” he added. “Since we got here, every year, we have tried to do something at the end of July, when we’ve been in a race in particular. That doesn’t mean we always do it, do anything, because there’s a real value these days on high-quality prospects, and we have a lot of them. There’s going to have to be a pretty good deal to extract some of these high-quality prospects we have.”

Principal owner John Henry said that the Sox have the financial resources and payroll flexibility to make moves. But given the potential cost in prospect talent, he downplayed the need for the Sox to upgrade, while not dismissing the possibility that the Sox would do so.

“We’re not going to give up the future because we’re already going for it, this team is already doing a hell of a job of going for it now. But we’ll ‘€” we’ll look at what availability there is,” said Henry. “I think that we’re already very strong. We have the best offense in baseball, scoring the most runs. We’ve had some bad luck with pitching injuries. So we’re looking but, it’s hard to predict. Everything’s ‘€” making trades at the trade deadline is expensive especially with regard to future talent. It’ll be tricky.”

Cherington offered a similar theme, saying that the Red Sox want to upgrade but only in the right deal. He did make clear that the Sox are not considering a scenario that would involve moving pieces from the big league team. The team is looking to add, a departure from a year ago when the club contemplated either deals to subtract (as with the Dodgers blockbuster that eventually unfolded in August) or to add and subtract (various scenarios that involved Jacoby Ellsbury and Josh Beckett moving at the trade deadline, for instance). Those sorts of deals are now off the table.

“We’re certainly not going to take away from the major-league team right now. We’ve got a chance to win. We’re trying to help the major-league team, not take away from it,” said Cherington. “As far as the minor-league system, we’ve got a lot of really good players and players that get asked about all the time, players that we value and think are going to be here for a long time. It depends on the situation.”

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