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Craig Breslow may still be learning about the Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready to deal

Craig Breslow’s suggestion of the need to operate with “boldness and conviction” in the trade market points to a likely increase in trades by the Red Sox.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Two weeks into his tenure with the Red Sox, Craig Breslow pronounced himself ready to deal.

That’s not to say trades are imminent. Typically, it’s not until later in November — two weeks or so removed from the General Managers Meetings — that trade discussions start to crystallize.

Meanwhile, the chief baseball officer is still trying to get to know his new organization. He’s learning about the players — particularly minor league prospects who are years from the big leagues. Deal-making is challenging under such circumstances.

Still, Breslow doesn’t want to forgo an opportunity to improve the club just because he’s learning as he goes.


“These jobs require decisiveness and boldness and conviction, and also the humility to recognize you’re not going to win every one,” said Breslow. “I do feel comfortable executing if we have the right opportunity.”

Breslow even cited potential trades he could make from the major league roster, specifically mentioning the collection of lefthanded-hitting outfielders (Jarren Duran, Masataka Yoshida, Wilyer Abreu, Alex Verdugo) as players the Sox “can repurpose into pieces that will help fill voids in other areas.”

The determination to explore every opportunity extends beyond areas of big league surplus. At least in his remarks, Breslow has made clear his openness to making deals that dip into the team’s deepening pool of minor league prospects.

“It’s important not to lose sight that the goal of any organization is to win major league games,” he said. “It’s not to have the greatest farm system. It’s not to have the most prospect depth. It’s to win games.”

The Red Sox have a wad of lefthanded-hitting outfielders who could be included in a trade, such as Alex Verdugo.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Unquestionably, prospects and young players who deliver major impact at minimal cost represent a critical foundation to successful teams. Breslow is well aware of the value of the team’s cornerstone young players who are in the big leagues and the need to keep adding to the group.


Still, Breslow’s hiring arrived in part from team owners’ sense that the club had been too risk-averse under Chaim Bloom, including when it came to trades. The Sox weren’t making enough use of a potentially powerful roster-building tool — prospect-for-prospect swaps, prospect-for-veteran deals, or amid the past two deadline sputters, veteran-for-prospect swaps — to hasten the path through a years-long building phase.

Breslow’s suggestion of the need to operate with “boldness and conviction” in the trade market points to a likely increase in trades. Of course, the willingness to make deals doesn’t diminish the dangers associated with them, particularly for a head of baseball operations who is learning about a new group of players.

“It’s the scariest time to [make trades],” Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen reflected.

Several attendees at the meetings winced recalling trade mistakes in their first winter with a new team. In consecutive days in December 2014, A.J. Preller — in his first offseason running the Padres — dealt Zach Eflin and Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, and was part of a three-way deal that offloaded recent draftee Trea Turner to the Nationals.

“Did we really know all those players, know them in and out like we should? Probably not,” said Preller. “That’s a big, big takeaway.”

Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen says an executive's first offseason in charge is the scariest time to make trades.Elsa/Getty

Hazen joined the Diamondbacks after the 2016 season. One month later, he traded outfielder Mitch Haniger and infielder Jean Segura to the Mariners for shortstop Ketel Marte (who helped carry Arizona to the National League pennant this year) and pitcher Taijuan Walker.


“I severely undervalued Mitch Haniger,” said Hazen. “Maybe in retrospect, that’s a good thing. Because if I had held Mitch Haniger out of that trade, I probably wouldn’t have gotten that trade done. That trade’s worked out pretty well for us.”

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer recalled the first offseason he and former boss Theo Epstein spent in Chicago in the winter of 2011-12. The Cubs made a severe miscalculation, sending future two-time batting champ DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for Casey Weathers and Ian Stewart, but also swapped pitcher Andrew Cashner to the Padres for future pillar first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

“When you go to a new organization, you can make a lot of mistakes,” said Hoyer. “We made a bad decision. That’s a challenge going to a new place where you don’t know players or people quite as well. At the same time there’s also the benefit of having fresh eyes. The team you’re going to can fall in love with their players and you might have a different perspective.”

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Hazen suggested it takes roughly a year for a new leader to feel secure in their assessments of a farm system. Still, that doesn’t mean teams should avoid deals.

In his first offseason with the Red Sox in 2015, Dombrowski relied on the feedback of staff members when dealing prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra to the Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel.


“You have to take the risk,” said Dombrowski. “If you’re not [willing to do so], you’re probably not going to make big trades.”

Dave Dombrowski, formerly with the Red Sox, believes it takes about a year for a lead exec to feel comfortable evaluating a farm system.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Breslow acknowledged that in his first offseason, he’ll depend chiefly on input from longtime Red Sox front office members and player development officials in evaluating the team’s prospects. That fact makes deal-making a less comfortable proposition but does not diminish its potential importance.

“Admittedly, I’m not in a position to make a decision unilaterally at this point,” said Breslow. “The further away these guys are from the big leagues, the harder it is to project future performance. So that’s why we’ll lean into others who know these players far more intimately than I do.

“[But] the reality is trades are made with imperfect and incomplete information. Even if I had been here for 10 years, there’s projection and forecasting involved. It is a risk. They don’t all work out. [But] if you wait for the perfect trade, you will likely never transact.”

For the Red Sox and for Breslow, inactivity does not seem like a desirable path.

Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him @alexspeier.