ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jake Peavy is gone, shipped out to the San Francisco Giants Saturday.
Now the question is: who's next?
The Red Sox entered Saturday's game in the throes of a four-game losing streak and sat 10 full games out of first place in the American League East. Not long ago, speculation was that the Sox would be looking to add to their roster in order to bolster their playoff chances in the second half.
But with the chance of the post-season slipping away, might further selling be in order?
"What we're doing is, we're listening,'' said general manager Ben Cherington. "We're gathering information, as we have been over the last month or so and as we get closer to the deadline, it starts to become more clear as to what teams are the most motivated to add in different areas... and we'll start to get more clarity on exactly what opportunities might be out there for us.
"But we're not there yet and we're not closing on anything yet, but we're listening and we'll just see how the rest of the week goes. We're in a unique position in that the performance of the team has put us in a position where we have to at least listen and yet we have guys, particularly on the pitching side who are not only elite performers but have been a big part of winning a World Series recently.
"It's a unique combination of guys and there's a lot of teams that are interested in those guys.''
Though he didn't name them, Cherington was presumably referring to starter Jon Lester, closer Koji Uehara and perhaps lefty reliever Andrew Miller -- all of whom are headed for free agency after the season.
On Friday night, Lester reiterated that he would understand if the Sox chose to move him by Thursday and added that a deal wouldn't preclude him from returning as a free agent.
Understandably, Cherington didn't want to address Lester's case specifically, but hinted that the Sox might consider such a strategy.
"We have to talk to teams, we have to listen to what teams are looking to do,'' said Cherington, "and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there. Anything we do [between] now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible toward Aprill of 2015. That might mean doing very little, it might be doing a bunch of stuff, it might be in-between. I don't know yet.''
Of Lester, Cherington said: "We feel good about our relationship with him and our position hasn't changed: we'd certainly love Jon to be here in 2015.''
The team's 1-4 mark in the first five games of a critical 10-game stretch against A.L. East opponents has been a step backwards and might have caused the Red Sox to re-assess.
"I have to say, it's been a disappointing week and a little surprising even,'' said Cherington. "We ran off a bunch of wins and then we had a big (14-1) win Monday night up in Toronto and we kept thinking, even as of Tuesday, we were looking forward to continuing that run and adding wins and I really thought we would.
"It hasn't happened. So you start marking down the days until Thursday. Thursday does mean something; there's a reason why they call it a deadline. So we have to be mindful of that, mindful of where we are, what the math says about our chances and we have to act accordingly.''
When asked whether the Sox would be reluctant to deal potential free agents they would like to re-sign, Cherington said: "I think each case is different and I don't know that keeping or trading any of them necessarily helps or precludes us from signing them. I don't think it's a black-and-white thing with any of them, but it is probably different with each one of them.''
In the larger sense, Cherington added, the organization has a responsibility to "see what opportunities are out there. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't and if there are ways to strengthen our position and put ourselves in a better position and get a jump start on building and getting as good as we can as quickly as we can, then we have to look at that.''
The Sox agreed to send the Giants $2.5 million in Peavy's remaining salary and that lessening of salary helped the Sox get a better return in talent. If the same situation presents itself in other potential deals, Cherington said the Sox would do the same.
"It's a sliding scale,'' said Cherington. "I think most teams look at it that way. You acquire talent and players in different ways -- sometimes it's with players, sometimes it's with money and sometimes it's with a combination of both. We wouldn't rule anything out. There are some cases where the money never really comes up and then there are other deals where it makes sense to help out a little bit to maybe get something that you like a little better.''