In their quest to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2009, the Red Sox might need a little help from the front office. At or near the top of the standings for most of the season, Boston has the look of a team that could use a couple of pieces to bolster that final surge.
Whether it's bullpen help, starting pitching or another bat, general manager Ben Cherington will be on the phone until the non-waiver Trade Deadline expires at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
"Well, we'll be aggressive in making phone calls and pursuing things, and gathering information and trying to find ways to improve the team," said Cherington. "What that turns into, I don't know. I think we're still in a strong position. We've got a lot of good players here, good players in [Triple-A] Pawtucket that can help us. We'll see. It's one thing to want something. There's got to be a match. There's got to be two to dance. If we find a partner that makes sense, we'll pursue it."
Manager John Farrell has been in frequent communication with Cherington in recent days.
"There's been a lot [of talking]," Farrell said. "We have frequent conversations. Even a month ago, it's daily. This past 10 days, it might be four or five times a day."
Though Farrell knows that Cherington is the one who will sign off on any deal, he appreciates the open line of communication.
"It's good conversation. Certainly, he's the decision-maker when it comes to player personnel and additions to the roster," Farrell said. "We talk through it. He's great at keeping me up to date about what might be coming down the line."
The Red Sox already made one move a couple of weeks ago, acquiring lefty reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox. His former teammate Jake Peavy has been a starter the Red Sox have clearly had their eye on. But what will the price be?
Sox owner John Henry isn't a big fan of parting with high-level prospects, but he does enjoy playing baseball deep into October. That creates a balancing act.
"We're not going to give up the future, because we're already going for it," said Henry. "This team is already doing a [heck] of a job of going for it now. But we'll look at what availability there is. Ben will look at that."
The big prize on this year's trade market -- if the Phillies wind up making him available -- is lefty Cliff Lee.
The Red Sox are one of the few teams that has enough money and depth in their farm system to make a serious run at Lee. But it all depends on how steep the Phillies' asking price is, particularly in terms of prospects.
Whether it is Lee or any marquee name who becomes available, it's always difficult for a team to decide between going for the big prize for this season or holding on to chips that may be useful down the road.
"That's where the balance comes in. That's where the sense of judgment comes in from the general manager and others," said Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino. "You've got to be a little careful, because we're not just building for one year. Ben 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 [on the trade market]. Whether we'll be aggressive in moving prospects is a whole other question."
Few managers can appreciate the balance between the present and future more than Farrell, who was a long-time farm director for the Indians.
"Having been in some of those meetings in a different role, your view becomes daily," said Farrell. "That's what's a great balance. [Cherington has] got to have an eye on today, as well as tomorrow -- and preserve the overall vision and depth going forward. But it's hard not to think of today only when you're in the dugout."
Farrell respects Cherington's ability to prioritize both the present and future.
"He wants to win as much as anybody -- this year," said Farrell. "We're doing whatever we can to make that come to life."
Having a rich farm system is certainly a much better position to be in this time of year than having to dip into a shallow pool. That pertains both to trades or moving prospects up to the Majors for the stretch run.
"It's invaluable," Farrell said. "Many of us feel like the organization is in a very healthy spot for the reasons you mentioned, whether it's to be able to acquire somebody for prospects. But you can't ever replace the pipeline of the players. You look at the organizations that sustain something year [after] year, you can't do it just on buying players all the time. You've got to have them come from within, particularly pitching."