Here's what Chaim Bloom's first legitimate trade of the 2020 season should tell the rest of the roster -- if you're not nailed down beyond 2020, you're on the block.
The Friday night deal that sent closer Brandon Workman and setup man Heath Hembree to the Phillies for a pair of pitchers was aggressive, coming 10 days before the trade deadline, and also decisive. We've long suspected that Bloom's first priority would be adding young arms to an organization bereft of them, and that's exactly what he did.
There's a chance that right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold are simply JAGs who never make an impact in Fenway Park. But there was enough to like about each of them to take a swing. The fact that this deal comes so early in the deadline window suggests that Bloom plans on taking more hacks.
That means Jackie Bradley Jr. is probably on borrowed time, provided Bloom can find a taker for a center fielder slugging .288. First baseman Mitch Moreland should be an easier sell, especially since he has played himself onto the radar of multiple clubs with his hot start and Gold Glove defense at first.
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If you're not a definitive part of the future, you're expendable, which means Michael Chavis, Andrew Benintendi, Kevin Pillar, and quite literally every pitcher on the active roster shouldn't be surprised if they're summoned to the manager's office.
"The timing of trades is not always something that you can foresee," Bloom said. "Philly came hard after these two pitchers. They really wanted to complete something and anytime you have a situation where you've got some time before the trade deadline, you're not just looking at the trade in a vacuum, you're also trying to think about what are the options that you can have between now and the deadline, and obviously that's something we have to weigh, but we felt that this return was a really good fit for us, that we got two pitchers that not only fit an area of need, but are also pitchers we like that can be part of this thing for many years. I thought that was worth doing right now."
So what did the Red Sox receive? Pivetta is the more recognizable name, since he has spent parts of the last four seasons in the big leagues. Acquired from the Nationals in 2015 for former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, Pivetta memorably beat Red Sox ace Chris Sale 1-0 on a Thursday night in 2017, and a year later he dropped a 2-1 decision to Rick Porcello.
He made 32 starts in 2018 and struck out 188 in 164 innings, his 10.3 K/9 good for fifth among NL starters. Then-Phillies manager Gabe Kapler handed him the ball for the second game of the 2019 season amidst much promise, but Pivetta struggled so badly, he was demoted to Triple-A before the end of April. He has bounced between starting and relieving in the majors and minors ever since, posting a 15.88 ERA in three appearances this season.
He's got a big arm and features a 95 mph fastball along with a decent curveball, but the 6-5 right-hander has struggled with command and confidence and represents a classic change-of-scenery candidate. He'll report to the alternate training site in Pawtucket.
"He's a big, physical power pitcher," Bloom said via Zoom. "He's got a really good fastball, good breaking ball, he also has a changeup. A guy that's shown the ability to carry a starter's workload and a lot of the underlying traits that show the potential for a lot more success than he's enjoyed in terms of his results."
Seabold is in many ways Pivetta's opposite. Polished and pinpoint with his command, he lacks eye-popping pure stuff, relying on a low-90s fastball alongside an average slider and changeup. He wins by mixing pitches and not walking anyone. The 6-2, 190-pounder was drafted in the third round in 2017 and has pitched as high as Double A. He's 11-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 34 minor league starts.
"He really knows how to pitch and use his stuff," Bloom said. "Really nice addition to the starting pitching depth in the upper levels of our system."
Even after winning three straight, including Friday's 8-5 victory over the Orioles, the Red Sox clearly aren't going anywhere. It's Bloom's job to start building for what's comes next, and there's a good chance that not only is he not done dealing, he hasn't even gotten started.
"We always want to stay active in conversations," he said. "I think really the goal should be to make sure that we are fully aware of all the opportunities that might be out there, anything that could be a chance to better our organization and help achieve our goals, make sure we're prepared to do something if we do find that opportunity out there. It's too early to know what these 10 days will hold."