Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on GHS vehemently denies ownership ordered team to stand pat at trade deadline

Alex Reimer
August 01, 2019 - 11:52 am

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy vehemently denies ownership issued any sort of edict to stand pat the trade deadline. Instead, he says there just weren’t any trades worth making.

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In a lengthy interview with the Greg Hill Show, Kennedy said the Red Sox decided the price for relief pitching was too high, and would’ve endangered the club’s ability to compete in future seasons. 

“There was a desire to try and do something yesterday. But the fundamental issue in baseball –– and every club faces it –– is the inherent short-term and long-term conflict,” Kennedy said. “But at the end of the day, we were not willing to part with some pieces that we think are long-term pieces of the Red Sox. My job is to ensure we have the revenues, the resources and the right people in the right positions making the decisions and that we can be competitive not just in 2019, but 2020, 2021, 2022, and so on and so forth. That’s really the hardest part of the job, when you have to make decisions not just with the ‘let’s win tonight’ mentality, but what does this move potentially do to this club in 2020, 2021, 2022? You look at some of the players on the field –– Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi –– all of those guys were parts of proposals that we’ve received in past years. Kudos to our whole baseball operations management –– going all the way back to the Theo Epstein days and Ben Cherington and Mike Hazen and now Dave Dombrowski –– for holding onto a lot of the core assets that have allowed us to win four World Series championships in Boston. But when you get to the deadline day, and it’s as quiet as it was, I totally recognize it can be disappointing.”

Kennedy went on to defend ownership’s track record of spending, citing the Red Sox’ league-high $241 million payroll this season. Boston has sported a top-five payroll in 17 of the last 18 years. 

Ultimately, Kennedy says the Red Sox have faith their current group of players can still form a legitimate World Series defense, which is why they didn’t opt to make any significant moves -– though those options were available. “There were some discussions that involved Major League players and really rattling cages and shifting things around,” Kennedy admitted. “I’m glad those didn’t happen, because I believe in the guys we have right now. But I grew up a mile from Fenway Park, I’ve been a Red Sox fan my whole life. I understand when a big deal isn’t done, or any deal on the deadline day doesn’t get done, it can be frustrating for the fans. We recognize that and respect that. I talked to Brian Cashman after the deadline. There was kind of a scary picture of him in the back page of the New York Post. He was getting roasted back there. You just have to realize it goes with the territory. It’s hard in all of these sports. The hardest part is player personnel moves. You’re betting on human capital, and that’s really tough to do.”

Much like Dave Dombrowski, who Kennedy says is “under a long-term contract,” the Red Sox’ president expressed faith the bullpen can solidify itself over the final two months of the season. It’s the starting rotation, Kennedy says, that must improve its performance.

The Red Sox have allocated roughly $88 million on their rotation this season. 

“It’s frustrating. We made a major investment in our starting rotation. Our baseball operations philosophy with Dave at the helm has been starting pitching is the key to life and the key to success,” Kennedy explained. “I think if you went down the list to a man, each and every starter would tell you they need to be better. This group has been as accountable as any Boston sports team I’ve seen or witnessed. I know it’s annoying for fans and us in the front office to hear guys say, ‘I stunk tonight,’ but that’s all you can do. When you’re not performing at a level that you’re used to, we just ask our guys be accountable and work hard to get better. … The improvement from the 2019 Red Sox has to come from within. It’s got to come from that clubhouse. Our players know it. They’ve been frustrated, because the expectations are high here. You go around to other markets in the country, nine games over .500, a couple games out of a wild card, you’d say, ‘Alright, we’re right there.’ But coming off a magical season, we won two out of every three games, 108 games in the regular season. It feels like a letdown season, which it has been.”

While some fans may think the team’s lack of deadline activity signals complacency, Kennedy insists that’s not the case. When you invest well over $200 million in a team, you expect it to win at a high level.

“We’ve invested more resources into our baseball operation than any other team in baseball, and a certain set of expectations go along with that,” Kennedy said.

The Red Sox have not met those yet, standing at 2.5 games out of the playoffs. It’s clear ownership thinks the players who are already here are the only ones who can turn their fortunes around. 

Related: Trying to make sense of a really bad look for Dave Dombrowski