Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington acknowledged that at this time of the season, with MLB's non-waiver trade deadline approximately one month away, baseball teams find themselves in one of two figurative buckets.
One is called "buyer.'' The other is called "seller.''
It's hardly unusual for a team that entered Saturday night with a 36-44 record to begin thinking about ridding itself of big contracts, obtaining prospects and rebuilding.
Not the Red Sox, however, Cherington said. Not yet, at least.
Despite their underwhelming record, the Red Sox entered Saturday night's game 7½ games out of first place in the AL East, and Cherington believes in the defending World Series champions' talent.
"Focused on 2014,'' Cherington said as he sat inside the visitors' dugout at Yankee Stadium. "We're trying to look realistically and be honest with where we are, and I'm not sugarcoating where we are. It's not where we want to be. We've created a deficit for ourselves. But we still think the deficit is one we can overcome. We still believe in the talent, we believe we can be a good team this year.
"So that's what we're interested in doing is trying to be as good a team as we can. If at some point the picture changes, then it changes. Then we'll have to adjust at that point. But we're not at that point yet.''
The Red Sox are the second-worst team in the American League when it comes to scoring runs, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays heading into action Saturday.
Before the game, the Red Sox promoted 21-year-old prospect Mookie Betts, who had a .345/.437/.551 slash line in 359 combined plate appearances in Double-A and Triple-A this season. Betts was not in the starting lineup.
Cherington said the move was not a clear signal one way or the other about his team's plans. "I understand we could put potential moves into one bucket or the other; that we could put moves into the seller bucket or the buyer bucket, and I get it,'' Cherington said. "But I'm not sure every move falls neatly in either of those buckets.''
Betts' versatility gives the Red Sox some added flexibility. He can play the infield and outfield, much like leadoff hitter Brock Holt, whom manager John Farrell said has done an adequate job in Jacoby Ellsbury's former role.
The question now is if the Red Sox will make another move and acquire a hitter before the July 31 trade deadline. Such a transaction would not be needed, however, if the team suddenly starts producing offensively.
"We've got to get going,'' Cherington said. "Everyone here knows that. Scoring runs is a part of that, so we've got to find ways to do that. Hopefully, we're getting a little bit closer to giving [Farrell] more opportunities to create better matchups. If there are other things we can do to improve further, we'll pursue those. That's what we're trying to do. We think we can do it this year. We'll see if we can.''