ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After the Red Sox' voluntary workout at Tropicana Field Thursday evening, general manager Ben Cherington addressed the team's approach as the non-waiver trade deadline draws near, at the end of the month.
Cherington said that while the next weeks should dictate much of the Sox' strategy at the deadline, he doesn't envision a situation in which the team would be trading key elements of its roster.
"I don't envision a scenario where we're sellers, in the traditional sense of the word," he said. "We have some potential surplus in areas we've talked to teams about, and maybe there was ways that could help us now and in the future. But every year in Boston is too important. We're focused on winning this year, and still believe we can.
"I don't think blowing it up makes sense for where we are. There's a lot of talent on the team. We're right in the thick of the wild card chase. We've played very well since the beginning of May aside from the last week. I just think it would be foolish to start doing things that got in the way of giving us a chance this year. We'll see how it goes. Like I said, we have to play well. We have to start winning games."
With the Red Sox 9 1/2 games out of first place in American League East, but just 2 1/2 out in the wild card race, Cherington insisted that the focus will continue on making a playoff push, and not just planning for the future.
"It has to," he said when asked if the final weeks of July would shape how the Sox approach the trade deadline. "We're always going to do whatever we can to give ourselves a chance to win. There's no such thing as taking a year off in Boston. We feel like we're right in it and have as good a chance as most teams to be there at the end. But we have to play well and give ourselves that chance, and we'll do everything we can to improve the team in the meantime. We'll see where we are as we get to the later part of July. We've got some ways to improve the team internally, potentially. And we've started to look at ways to improve the team externally. If we play to our capability with the guys we have here, our hope is we don't have to make a lot of moves."
Cherington, who said the hope is for rehabbing outfielder Carl Crawford to rejoin the Red Sox next week after playing three games for Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox this weekend, noted that the Sox have gotten to a point in the season where they can't use injuries as a crutch anymore.
"We've been saying for a while that we feel like we have a good team here, but at some point you have to show it on the field and the reality is we're at .500 the day after the All-Star break," the GM said. "We have good players that have been playing. We have good players on the way back who are getting healthy. But at some point you have to stop talking about the calvary coming back and start winning games. So, we have to do that.
"We basically had been playing .600 baseball since the beginning of May, up through Sunday of the Seattle series. Last week hurt us. Hopefully it's just a blip on the radar. We've been taking two steps forward and one step back. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can take another couple of steps forward and the return of the health of a couple of key players should help us do that."
Cherington also addressed reports that the team would be reluctant to go over the luxury tax threshold, handcuffing its approach at the trade deadline. The GM said that notion is false, although the organization will continue to work within an internal budget.
"We have a budget like any team, but the CBT [competitive balance tax] threshold number is not of particular relevance this year more than any other year," Cherington said. "We've gone over that number in the past. We may go over it this year. You don't know until the end of the year because you don't know what happens. We've gone over in the past and we could go over it this year, so that's not relevant. But we do have a budget and that is relevant. We have to stay within that budget like we would in any year. We have some flexibility, and it's up to us to create more flexibility if we need it. The good news is we have a chance to add more talent just through health than most teams do. We're not in a position of needing a lot of payroll to add talent to the team, we hope."
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