With the non-waiver trade deadline just a few days away, I’ve been getting lots of questions about what prospects the Red Sox have available to part with in any potential deal. While it's unclear whether the club will be opt to be "buyers" in the coming week -- especially given the team's recent slide -- here’s a list of prospects that will be Boston's potential trade commodities, broken down into five categories.
Over the years, the Red Sox have been careful not to trade blue chip prospects unless a proven All-Star like Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, or Josh Beckett is coming back in return. I don’t expect that pattern to change this year. This year’s blue-chippers are SS Xander Bogaerts, RHP Matt Barnes, and CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. Each projects as an impact regular at the major league level at this point, and each has All-Star potential.
I’m not saying that these players won’t be traded, I’m saying they probably won’t be traded at the deadline unless the Red Sox are getting a top line starting pitcher in return. Even then, the trade would more than likely involve a group of players in the below categories.
Solid B prospects
There are a handful of solid B-type prospects in the system that Boston might be willing to make available in order to fetch impact major league talent. The Red Sox front office has shown a willingness to take chances on trading these types of prospects in the past. Some examples include OF Reymond Fuentes (part of the Gonzalez deal), LHP Nick Hagadone (part of the Martinez trade) and OF David Murphy (part of the Eric Gagne deal at the 2007 deadline).
Prospects who fall in this category this year are OF Bryce Brentz, 3B Garin Cecchini, OF Brandon Jacobs, RHP Alex Wilson, OF Keury De La Cruz, and 1B/3B Travis Shaw. There is an abundance of outfield talent at the upper levels of the Sox system, so it would not be surprising if the club trade one of Brentz or Jacobs to a smaller market team interested in cost-controlled talent. Both profile well as second-division starters. Cecchini, an outstanding offensive talent currently playing with Low-A Greenville, has an All-Star ceiling but is several years away from the majors.
Wilson, presently with Triple-A Pawtucket, could contribute to a major league bullpen right now, and projects as a solid seventh-inning reliever over the long term. De La Cruz and Shaw are both in the midst of impressive breakout seasons, and the Red Sox may be willing to sell high on them at the deadline.
40-man roster, Rule 5-eligible players
There doesn't appear to be a pending 40-man roster crunch on the horizon this offseason, so the team doesn't necessarily need to unload a bunch of soon-to-be Rule 5 eligible players (as it did last season by trading Chih-Hsien Chiang, Tim Federowicz and Stephen Fife in the three-team deal for Erik Bedard). That being said, there are still a number of minor leaguers who are on the bubble of deserving a spot on the 40-man roster with a big market club, but who may have more room for development and playing time in a smaller or mid-market organization.
That pool of players includes 1B Lars Anderson and OF Che-Hsuan Lin, both of whom are already on Boston's 40-man roster but far down on the team's depth chart. Anderson, hitting .263/.364/.429 with nine home runs for Pawtucket, still could develop into a major league contributor. Lin, a spectacular defensive center fielder, could fit well as a No. 8 hitter for a small market National League team.
This group of players also includes three prospects who will be eligible for the 2012 Rule 5 Draft in OF Alex Hassan, a disciplined hitter playing with Pawtucket, Double-A Portland OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, an intriguing athlete with a great combination of power and speed, and 20-year-old IF Heiker Meneses, presently hitting .295/.331/.426 with High-A Salem. Meneses is a solid defensive player capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop.
It's not likely that these five players will fetch a tremendous amount in return on their own, but each could be a viable second or third chip in a larger trade.
Two other pitchers on the 40-man roster, righty Stolmy Pimentel and lefty Drake Britton, are also possibilities. Both have shown flashes of brilliance with Portland this season, but both have been terribly inconsistent. Other team's scouts will undoubtedly see their potential, but the Red Sox also highly value both prospects.
Lottery ticket prospects
In the recent past, the Red Sox front office has been more-than-willing to trade high ceiling, high-bust-potential prospects from the lower levels of the minor leagues. Some examples include RHP Raul Alcantara (part of the Andrew Bailey trade), RHP Juan Rodriguez (Bedard deal), RHP Roman Mendez (part of the Jarod Saltalamacchia trade), and OF Engel Beltre (Gagne deal).
Red Sox minor leaguers who fit this mold in 2012 include RHP Frank Montas, IF Michael Almanzar and OF Kendrick Perkins. Montas is the prototype. The 19-year-old Dominican right-hander can dial his fastball up to the high-90s, but he's very raw in terms command, deception, and secondary stuff. Almanzar and Perkins can both put on a show in batting practice, but their power has yet to translate into game action on a consistent basis. In his fourth year in A-Ball, Almanzar has shown some improvement, and is presently hitting .302/.356/.468 with Salem.
Major league surplus
The Red Sox also have a handful of players with major league experience that could be more valuable to other clubs or who could use a change of scenery. However, these types of players are often dealt after the July 31 deadline and during the waiver trade period before August 31. Given their situations, these types of players typically have minimal trade value, but sometimes marginal value can be obtained in return. In the past, the Sox have occasionally traded these types of players for C-level prospects. For example, the club traded RHP Ramon Ramirez to San Francisco for reliever Daniel Turpen in 2010. As another example, Boston sent Casey Kotchman to Seattle in January 2010, in a deal that netted prospect RHP Miguel Celestino and Bill Hall.
Red Sox players in this category this season include RHP Clay Mortensen, RHP Mark Prior, IF Nate Spears, OF Scott Podsednik, and OF Jason Repko. Players currently on Boston's 25-man roster who could be expendable due to minor league depth include Vicente Padilla, Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, and Ryan Sweeney.