With less than a week until the trade deadline, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said it remains unclear whether the team will make any further deals by July 31.
“We’re still in a position to sit back and see how things go,” Dombrowski said on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe Show. “There’s not a lot of needs, per se, that we have with the club.”
Dombrowski explained that the positional needs are measured by the fact that the Sox are among the big league leaders in runs and the team had already added a fifth starter in Andrew Cashner (“We needed to do that,” he said of the need to patch what had been a black hole in the rotation’s fifth spot). With Nate Eovaldi in the bullpen, Dombrowski said that he felt comfortable with his inventory of relievers, something that would permit the team to take an opportunistic, wait-and-see approach to the deadline.
“With Eovaldi coming back, that helps us,” Dombrowski told the show. “I’m not sure how much we would buy at that point. But I guess we’ll just sit back here over the next couple of days, we’ve got a big weekend series with the Yankees, probably one of the couple of best teams in Major League Baseball, they’ve beaten us up pretty good this year but we’ll sit back and see what happens.”
While the Red Sox payroll has pushed north of $240 million — well beyond both the first tier ($206 million) and second tier ($226 million) of luxury-tax financial penalties, and nearing the third and highest threshold ($246 million) that triggers both financial and draft pick penalties — Dombrowski said that he is not under orders to stay under a specific spending line.
“Nobody has said there are any restrictions,” Dombrowski said.
“There is no reason anybody has said you can’t do it, but you also have to have a real significant reason you are going to go above that. We have a lot of good players that I think we need to show that we can run with the guys that we have, but if there is a right piece out there we think can make a difference, nobody has said you can’t do it.”
Fate is with Nate
Asked whether the Red Sox needed a closer to stabilize late-innings roles, Dombrowski said that while he’d been an advocate of such a bullpen structure, he understood the logic behind a flexible approach to the role as well. He also suggested the presence of Eovaldi along with Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes gives the Red Sox options for the end of games should the team elect to employ a fixed closer.
Manager Alex Cora later said he saw Eovaldi working in either the eighth or ninth innings with a lead. The manager expressed some disappointment that the team had positioned itself to use Eovaldi just once in the first five games since his activation from the injured list.
“More winning is going to bring more Nate for us,” said Cora, who said that Eovaldi’s arm has responded well to his bullpen schedule.
Eovaldi pitched the ninth in Thursday’s 19-3 rout of the Yankees .
Cashner a contender
As Cashner prepares for his first Red Sox start against the Yankees on Friday, the righthander has plenty of experience against New York — and indeed, pitched one of the more consequential games of his career against the Yankees.
Though he has never pitched for a playoff team, Cashner took the mound for a Rangers team that was fighting for the second wild-card spot in 2017. The Rangers trailed the Twins by 2½ games for the final AL postseason berth when Cashner took the mound against the Yankees on Sept. 9, 2017. Though Texas lost, 3-1, the righthander was brilliant, allowing the Yankees just one run on four hits in seven innings while getting a no-decision.
That past may help explain why Cashner is approaching his start against New York with a measure of confidence, as does his familiarity with them. He has a 3.96 career ERA in 10 starts against the Yankees, and has pitched at least six innings against them in nine of those outings — though he was 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts against them this year.
“When you think about [starting against the Yankees in a pennant race], you try maybe a little harder and put too much pressure on yourself. To me, it’s just facing the Yankees again, something I’ve done a lot in my career,” said Cashner. “I think they’re definitely a better team since I faced them early in the year, so definitely got my work cut out, but I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to embrace the moment.”
In two starts with the Sox, Cashner (9-5 with a 4.19 ERA this year) has allowed nine earned runs in 11 innings. Much of the damage has come in the form of four homers.
“Keeping the ball in the ballpark is important against any team, especially [the Yankees],” said Cora. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
Message from Cora
Cora wore a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag and a pair of messages: “Somos más” (“We are more) and “no tenemos miedo” (“We are not afraid”), a nod to the elated sense of possibility that he and his family felt with the announcement on Wednesday night that Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló would step down in response to massive protests.
“It was a very powerful day for us. I know we got the attention of the whole world. We got it for the wrong reasons a few days ago and I think we got it for the right reasons [Wednesday],” Cora said. “Just to be around family at 11:30, just watching TV and the message, it was cool, to be honest with you. I had a lot of flashbacks from what happened last year [with the Red Sox]. How big the things that we did here, how important it was for my country.
“When we work together we’re very powerful. I think the cool thing was that there was no blood in all these protests. It was very peaceful,” said Cora. “And I think Ricardo made the right decision. Now we have to work. He listened to us. He decided to resign. But now, hey, it’s not over, because we still have to clean it. I know it’s going to take awhile, but we’ll have the right people in charge. I think the future is bright.”
Troy Tulowitzki, who signed with the Yankees in January, announced his retirement. The 34-year-old shortstop played only five games this season before going on the injured list with a strained left calf. He joined the University of Texas as a volunteer assistant coach.
Tulowitzki, a first-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2005, hit .297 with an .877 OPS over the first 10 seasons of his career. He was a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.
Tulowitzki was traded to Toronto in 2015 and endured a steady decline exacerbated by injuries. He missed the entire 2018 season because of ankle surgery.
“I will always look back with tremendous gratitude for having the privilege of playing as long as I did,” Tulowitzki said in a statement released by the Yankees. “There is no way to truly express my gratitude to the fans of Colorado, Toronto, and New York. They always made my family and I feel so welcome.
“I want to thank the Yankees organization and [general manager] Brian Cashman for giving me the opportunity to wear the Yankees uniform and live out another childhood dream. I wish that my health had allowed for a different ending to that chapter.”
Tulowitzki started four of the first five games of the season for the Yankees before he was injured on April 3.
“What I’ll remember is obviously a great player and a guy that played shortstop, a great shortstop, but played it in such a unique way, with a flair and the way he moved and played on the run and threw from different angles,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I know he loved this game.”
Gardner goes on IL
The Yankees placed outfielder Brett Gardner on the injured list retroactive to July 22 with inflammation in his left knee and recalled lefthanded reliever Stephen Tarpley from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. “It’s a day-to-day situation but we’re at that point it’s been five days now. We’re taking a little bit of a long view,” Boone said. Gardner was 7 of 24 with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs in seven games against the Red Sox this season. Mike Tauchman started in left field for the fifth consecutive game.
Peter Abraham of the Globe Staff also contributed.