As the hours tick closer to Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, the stomachs in the Red Sox's clubhouse are starting to rumble a little more.
Just nine months after winning the World Series, an underperforming team has put the front office into the position of at least exploring the possibility of subtracting major pieces of its core.
"I don't read too much into it, but obviously you hear about everything that's going on, and there's really nothing you can do about it but sit back and wait for the minute hand to pass, and whatever happens, happens and everybody is going to have to take it regardless," said starting pitcher Clay Buchholz.
Could ace Jon Lester, who remains unsigned beyond this season, be traded before the Deadline?
Lester, who is slated to start the night before the Deadline at Fenway against the Blue Jays, admitted in recent days he's prepared for the possibility of being moved.
"I'm not going to comment on any particular player," said general manager Ben Cherington. "We have to talk to teams. We have to listen to what teams are looking to do and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there. Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015.
"And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don't know yet. But you guys know how we feel about Jon."
Lester said that if he did get traded, he would still hope to re-sign with the Red Sox as a free agent come November.
"We're certainly happy that statement reflects how he feels about the relationship," said Cherington. "We feel good about our relationship with him. Our position hasn't changed: We'd certainly love for Jon to be here in 2015."
"We have a number of prospective free agents we have interest in keeping, so each case is different and I don't know that keeping or trading any one of them necessarily helps or precludes us from signing them," said Cherington. "It's not a black and white thing with any of them, but it is probably different with each one of them. We've had an understanding what needs we're going to have going into next year and how different guys fit into that team, and I think we have an understanding of who we have at least an interest in being here, so that gets factored in."
One thing that has become clear is that the Red Sox need some more firepower in their offense.
"We also have to, again, we have to see what opportunities are out there. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't and if there are ways to strengthen the organization and put ourselves in a position and get a jump start on building and getting to be as good as we can and as quickly as we can. We've got to look at that," said Cherington.
The Red Sox over the past decade-plus have almost always been buyers during trading season and not sellers. To be sure, it's a strange dynamic.
"It's not nearly as much fun. We much prefer the alternative," Cherington said. "But I think we have to -- it changes the focus a little bit in terms of how you're allocating your time. You're looking at different types of players in return. We're probably allocating our scouts' time in a little bit different way right now as opposed to most years. That part is different. But we're still trying to find the best deals and trying to find ways to get back to being really good as quickly as we can."