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Red Sox don't make a big deadline trade, but they didn't have to

The Red Sox didn't have a ton of valuable pieces to move, and July 31 was never about forcing a trade.

Mike Napoli might need to hit a few more convincing dingers before the Sox can move him.
Mike Napoli might need to hit a few more convincing dingers before the Sox can move him.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox were involved in a number of negotiations during deadline day, but they didn't end up making a significant trade before the 4 pm buzzer. That's disappointing, giving they were scoping out names like Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross, and Carlos Carrasco, but it's also not unexpected: the Red Sox didn't have many major pieces to move to contenders, had already dealt Shane Victorino earlier on in the week, and are in no rush to start dealing prospects and the like just because someone is available.

Ross didn't go anywhere, so the Padres can still trade him to the Red Sox in November or December if Boston remains interested then. The same goes for Kimbrel, who plenty of teams asked San Diego about but no one pulled the trigger on. Carrasco will still be on the block as the Indians seek to plug holes elsewhere on their roster, and the Sox will presumably still have all the trade chips they would have on July 31, too.

There was no reason for Boston to force a deal before the deadline: this week was about trying to find deals that maybe the Sox couldn't let pass by, ones that looked better than something they could pull off in the offseason. That didn't happen, so no big trades occurred -- all that happened was the Sox sending the A's cash to get former All-Star and current project reliever, Ryan Cook.

Ross will still be available in the winter, with two years left on his deal. Photo credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The other thing the Sox could have done was move pieces like Craig Breslow, Mike Napoli, or Alejandro De Aza, but again, what's the rush? All three could be August moves -- July 31 is just the non-waiver trade deadline, and a reliever, outfielder, or lefty-mashing part of a platoon could all end up hurt on one contender or another before August runs its course. The Sox won't get exponentially less for swapping them out of the organization two weeks from now, as they were never going to get much, if anything, for them to begin with. Look no further than the return for Shane Victorino, who is still a fantastic defender and not all that far removed from a wonderful season: he brought back Josh Rutledge, who is just kind of hanging around on the roster for now because Dustin Pedroia is on the disabled list.

There was always the possibility someone tried to blow the Red Sox away to get Koji Uehara or Junichi Tazawa, but it was going to be hard for the Sox to go ahead with that without finding a replacement like Kimbrel -- they do plan to contend in 2016, you know. They also attempted to move Pablo Sandoval, or at least explored that move, if the rumors are to be believed. That was never going to be an easy endeavor, and would have likely required the cooperation of someone like the Padres, who have their own contracts (Melvin Upton's $31 million and Jedd Gyorko's $34 million) that they'd like to be rid of.

And there is nothing that says those ideas can't be revisited in August, unless for some reason you think any of the three would fail to clear waivers.

So, the Sox still have their minor trade chips to move over the next month. They still have all of their prospects to deal this offseason, when they aren't as constrained for time and can maybe revisit some things. Trades don't have to happen in a day or week -- the most significant Red Sox trade of this decade, 2012's Nick Punto deal, began very early on in the season with the Dodgers inquiring about Adrian Gonzalez, and it wasn't until late-August that their persistence paid off for both sides.

Kimbrel, Ross, Carrasco, and more will all be there this winter. They're still under contract for the next couple of years or more, which was the point of inquiring on them now. It's less satisfying beginning than a major makeover for 2016 right now, sure, but patience is what the market suggested for the Red Sox right now. They'll have to start patching things up internally by promoting prospects and reassigning some big-league roles before they begin introducing new faces, and that's okay.

Start with Joe Kelly to the bullpen, making room for Brian Johnson and Henry Owens to show you what they're capable of. Figure out who is going to play first base in 2016, since it seems clear at this point it's not going to be the rapidly declining Mike Napoli. Give Cook and the recently claimed Jean Machi in the pen to see if one or both can be tweaked into productivity once more. Get Clay Buchholz back healthy so he can have a regular offseason routine, see who in the bullpen is reliable and worth keeping there in a year, and maybe promote someone like Dayan Diaz to see if they're better than the up-and-down guys like Jonathan Aro and Noe Ramirez who have been promoted to this point. There is work to be done, and the Red Sox can focus on that now -- the big stuff will still be waiting in a few months.