Boston relief pitcher Matt Barnes was stunned when Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree – two of his best friends on the Red Sox – were traded to Philadelphia during Friday night’s game. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

We now join the Boston Red Sox rebuilding process, already in progress.

The reconstruction began in earnest on Friday night when the Red Sox sent Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, cash and a player to be named later (or more cash) for a pair of Phillies starting pitching prospects.

Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold represent pitching depth, something the Red Sox have been sorely lacking in 2020. Pivetta is 27 years old and has spent most of the last four years in the majors with Philadelphia. He should be with Boston soon. Seabold is only 24 and has shot up through the minor leagues. He could be a regular in the Red Sox rotation at some point next season.

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom was hired to build a sustainable contender in Boston. Right now that means sacrificing some of the current roster in the hopes of future success. Friday’s trade left the current bullpen especially thin.

For the current group of players, this is uncharted territory. Most of the current team has known mostly good times, with three playoff appearances and a championship in the last four years. This year has been different, with Boston becoming the first team in baseball to lose 20 games. The need for an overhaul is obvious, yet still somewhat jarring for a club that won it all just 22 months ago.

“It’s definitely different,” said Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes over the weekend, “but we’ve still got a good group of guys here. We do. We’ve got a good team here. Definitely young.”

Barnes is now the senior member of the pitching staff, and could well be traded before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. That can basically be said about anyone. That’s what happens when a team misses the playoffs with the highest payroll in the game and follows that up with the worst record in the American League the following year. Shortened season or no, that won’t stand in Boston.

As fans, we have seen this before. The Sox finished last in the AL East three times this decade. They used those disappointing seasons to build playoff contenders. It’s how they acquired Hembree, who was traded from the Giants as part of a deal that sent 2013 World Series champion Jake Peavy west after the Red Sox stumbled through the first four months of 2014.

Hembree made 251 appearances for the Red Sox in the ensuing years, appearing in at least 60 games each of the last two seasons. He made four hitless appearances in the 2018 championship postseason. He was an important reliever for the Red Sox, and now is being used to bring back talent that will help the Red Sox become a stronger team going forward.

If Bloom is going to add more talent to the team’s future, he’s going to think about trading some of the team’s top players. Which means players are looking at one another wondering if they could be part of the next deal. Barnes admitted Workman and Hembree were two of his best friends on the team, and that seeing them dealt in the middle of a game was stunning.

He also said he and the Red Sox know they can’t let it affect their focus in a season that is only halfway done.

“We’re going to keep fighting our butt off to go win ballgames and to do whatever we can to win as many games as possible,” said Barnes. “That standpoint is not going to change. We’re going to show up to the park every every single day prepared to play.”

For some of them, that may mean showing up at a different ballpark after being traded. It’s hard to imagine Bloom is finished. The trade deadline is next Monday, meaning the future of the Red Sox is now.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.


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