BOSTON -- In the aftermath of Thursday's trade deadline that saw the Boston Red Sox ship five key players from their 2013 World Series championship roster to four different teams in four separate deals, general manager Ben Cherington met with the media to discuss the rationale behind the moves.
To recap, starter Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes were traded to the Oakland Athletics, starter John Lackey was shipped off to St. Louis, reliever Andrew Miller was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles and shortstop Stephen Drew was sent to the New York Yankees. In return, the Red Sox received outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland, starter Joe Kelly and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig from St. Louis, a left-handed pitching prospect named Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles and currently injured utility man Kelly Johnson from the Yankees.
Here are a few takeaways from what Cherington had to say about his team's busy day:
• The decision to sell at the deadline was the result of Boston's poor play in the last week and a half. As recently as July 21, Cherington said the team was looking to add players in preparation for making a run at a playoff spot. Instead, the Red Sox dropped eight of their nine games after that day and found themselves in the situation they were in on Thursday.
"I would say when we got towards the end of that week and going into that Tampa series last weekend in Tampa that is probably when our conversations shifted," Cherington said. "We started making more calls to see what opportunities there would be for our veteran guys."
"If we weren't in the position that we're in, which I take responsibility for, then these trades don't happen."
• According to Cherington, the team's focus regarding the players they acquired was to restock for 2015 and take another run at contending. In Cespedes, Kelly and Craig, the Red Sox now have three viable major leaguers who are under team control for at least next season. As for the offseason, Cherington said the focus will be to bolster the starting rotation.
"My expectation is that we would be active in the starting pitching market this winter with trades, free agency, whatever," Cherington said. "But we're going to learn a lot more about our young group."
Cherington added: "A lot of the guys that are now on this roster will more than likely be on the roster next April, so we've got to start building a team that can win."
Cherington said attractive prospect packages were offered for several of the players the team traded, but the team insisted upon getting major league-ready talent instead.
• Speaking of that young group, the rest of 2014 will not be a lost cause, as Cherington said the remaining games this season will be dedicated to seeing how they handle extended major league time.
Top prospect Anthony Ranaudo will make his major league debut Friday, while Allen Webster, Kelly, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa all figure into the rotation puzzle as well. Rookie Xander Bogaerts will shift back to short and Will Middlebrooks will make his return off the disabled list Friday night to serve as the third baseman moving forward.
New acquisitions Cespedes and Craig will man the outfield corners, with such a plan marking the first time Cespedes will play right field in the majors. The two likely will surround rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. in center.
"We've got 54 games left," Cherington said. "These are now the most important 54 games of our season because we've got a lot to find out."
"We have new players that we want to make sure are comfortable and get acclimated to Boston and comfortable at the ballpark and everything that comes along with Boston. We've got young players who are still developing and need to continue to improve and develop; we need to focus on that."
• More roster moves are expected on Friday, as Cherington hinted that Shane Victorino will need time to nurse a back injury, and two bullpen arms will be needed to replace Miller and Felix Doubront (who was traded Wednesday to the Chicago Cubs).
In all, the Red Sox undoubtedly surrendered a large degree of talent at the deadline and will most likely endure some growing pains moving forward. However, Cherington said that he was satisfied with what the team accomplished at the end of the day, and plenty more will come before Opening Day 2015.
"As far as the return, time will tell," Cherington said. "We were happy with what we did. We think it fits with what we're trying to do, which was to focus on getting major league or near-major league proven talent."
Cherington added: "We're in better position than we were a week ago, but certainly not done. Hopefully we've done things to get a head start on the offseason."