According to Evan Drellich of MassLive.com, the Red Sox are uncertain whether or not they will be players in the markets for Cliff Lee and Matt Garza.
There are a good number of reasons why the Red Sox could be in such ambiguous territory, but right now two stand out, both related to the fact that it's still just July 3rd:
1) They don't know what their needs are
Cliff Lee and Matt Garza, as Drellich notes, are not in the same category. One is an ace, the kind of guy who a middling team could add to make themselves contenders, or take a troubled rotation and give it an anchor. Matt Garza is the solid mid-level arm who helps to solidify an already decent rotation, or can provide insurance against injury or decline.
So even if the Red Sox do feel they need a pitcher--and it's not yet clear that's the case--they would be hard-pressed to say which one they need with so many balls up in the air. If, for instance, Clay Buchholz just can't get back on the mound, and Jon Lester suffers through a few more implosions, suddenly Cliff Lee looks like just what the doctor ordered. If Buchholz returns after the All-Star break, and Lester settles down, however, they can likely get away with, at most, a Matt Garza type.
2) They don't know what the market is
Of course, if the Cubs came offering Matt Garza for Daniel Bard, the Red Sox would be falling over themselves to make that deal. But this is not how the trade market works. With four weeks left before the deadline, it's not even entirely clear who's a buyer and who's a seller. How much demand is there for Cliff Lee and his giant contract? Will there be enough Garza-type arms to go around, or will he be at a premium?
At the moment there's relatively little incentive for any team to make a deal unless they're presented with a very tempting offer. At some point the market will start to take more concrete shape, at which point the first teams to correctly identify which way it's going will have an opportunity to sell high or buy low. Until then, though, the wait-and-see approach makes sense.
With that in mind, then, it's no surprise that the Red Sox don't really know where they stand. It's the same reason trades get bunched up around the deadline every year, even if it means sacrificing a few starts from Lee, Garza, or any other player who might get dealt come July 31st. Especially for a team with a decent cushion on top of their division. While those wins shouldn't be taken for granted, neither should the value that comes from making the right decision with as much information as possible.
Read more Red Sox:
- John Lackey finally living up to his contract
- Is Boston's bullpen overused? Or are we all just crazy?
- Red Sox scouting Matt Garza before trade deadline
- Red Sox trade targets: Cheap relievers
- The Celtics, the Red Sox, and two franchise-saving trades