The 2016 trade deadline is, as of my typing these words, three minutes in the past, and the Red Sox have made all of one deal on deadline day, acquiring Fernando Abad for Pat Light.
It was, then, a quiet deadline day--Abad is certainly a minor move--for the Red Sox. There was the requisite Chris Sale talk, and some few murmurs on a Carlos Beltran deal, but with 4:00 come-and-gone, the team is largely unchanged.
Or, at least, it is from yesterday. Dombrowski was certainly not completely quiet this season. Drew Pomeranz was the big splash, Brad Ziegler quite the steal given the prices being paid for relievers on the open market, and while we're all still waiting for him to do much of anything, Aaron Hill is a sensible backup for Travis Shaw. Throw in Abad and you've got nearly a fifth of the roster made up of new acquisitions.
That didn't come without a price. But we are now one year into the Dealin' Dave Dombrowski era and sitting on a farm system that still features Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers to go with a shiny new Jason Groome. Yes, Espinoza is gone, as is Margot, but Dombrowski has not gutted the farm, nor left the Red Sox proper high-and-dry.
There's still, of course, a lot of work to do. And Boston's hopes both to reach the playoffs and make something of them are not as great as they might have been. Imagine this team with Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Sale and Carlos Beltran. They would be pretty much certain to at least make October.
Then they might get bounced in the ALDS. Possibly even the Wild Card game. And who knows if they're even in position to contend in 2019? There's just no guarantees when it comes to October, much as there were no guarantees when the Red Sox faced the Twins in Fenway Park, or headed to Tampa Bay for three against a Rays team that hadn't won a game in over a week.
There's a bit of a stigma against half measures, probably in no small part because Mike Ehrmantraut is just the best. I'm generally on board with that stigma, in fact. A team should not aim to win 84 games. If you're a buyer, you're a buyer. If you're a seller, you're a seller.
But once you've put your team in the point where they can and should at least take a wild card spot--and the Red Sox are certainly over that line--there needs to be a balance struck between now and the future. It takes that much more effort to add a win to a good team than to a bad team. Going from 88 to 90 to 92 requires either perfect circumstances with weak spots on the roster aligning with well-stocked markets, or major investments to bring in exceptional players to replace simply solid ones.
How much are those two wins worth? Millions of dollars, to be sure, but not the foundation of multiple teams to come. Once the Sox removed the truly glaring weakness on the roster--or one of two depending on your belief in Sandy "Ted Williams" Leon--that's likely what the available trades amounted to.
Now they've got their team. It's one that can win. They just have to actually go out and do the job. If there's help coming, well, they could certainly do worse than what they have within the organization. Andrew Benintendi, anyone?