It wasn’t too long ago, just last spring, that Red Sox fans had fantasies of shortstop Jose Iglesias making Ozzie Smith type plays at Fenway Park. After a small battle, Mike Aviles won the starting job out of camp and the fantasy was put on hold.
It seemed only temporary though, a year at the most, before Iglesias would became the everyday shortstop for the Red Sox. It seemed inevitable Red Sox fans would see this kid make their jaws drop with extraordinary play after extraordinary play.
But sometimes the inevitable can be a tricky thing.
A variety of events have transpired since Spring Training that seem to have made Iglesias a suddenly expendable commodity in the Boston Red Sox organization. He has gone from sure-fire shortstop of the future to potential trade bait.
Here are five players who may make Iglesias an expendable trading chip come the trade deadline.
First of all, Aviles has turned into a player no one could have imagined when the Red Sox started the season.
In addition to playing a very solid shortstop, Aviles has put up great offensive numbers.
In 67 games, Aviles is batting .265 with 9 HR and 41 RBI. His 41 RBI are the most for any American League shortstop this season—by a good margin. In fact, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians comes in second with just 31.
Aviles’ nine home runs place him second among AL shortstops. (h/t ESPN)
But Aviles is 31 years old and is not the shortstop of the future for the Red Sox.
The “shortstop of the future” label used to belong to Iglesias, and it was well deserved.
The scouting report from soxprospects.com concerning Iglesias’ defensive skills is glowing:
Elite defensive skills highlighted by extremely fluid hands and soft glove. Excellent instincts and anticipation produces his well above-average range. Will get to balls that most, if not all, will not. Plus, accurate arm. Adept at throwing on the move and has outstanding body control. Future perennial Gold Glove shortstop.
The knock on Iglesias has always been his bat. The wizardry he displays on the field simply does not follow him to the batter’s box.
Last season in Triple-A Pawtucket, Iglesias hit just .235 in 101 games. He has shown a slight spark this season and has been able to hit a respectable .269 in 42 games down in Pawtucket.
A Gold Glove caliber shortstop with the ability to hit .269 is incredibly intriguing. But his offensive numbers are still lacking and they are lacking against minor league pitching.
With Mike Aviles racking up the RBI at the Major League level, Iglesias will remain in Pawtucket for the foreseeable future.
Xander Bogaerts is quickly making his way through the Red Sox farm system and could be a future star for the Red Sox.
MLB.com ranked Bogaerts as Boston’s third best prospect and he has not disappointed on his promising talent.
What really should have Red Sox fans excited is his power potential.
Soxprospects.com considers him a “potential 30 home run bat,” and he has a “ceiling of a middle-of-the-order bat on a contending team. All-Star potential.”
Those kinds of accolades do not come along often.
While Bogaerts may be more suited for third base as he develops, he has the potential to be a cleanup hitter for the Red Sox.
MLB.com predicts Bogaerts could be on Boston’s roster as soon as 2014.
If Bogaerts is able to stick as a shortstop at the Major League Level, Iglesias becomes a very expendable commodity the Red Sox can use a trade bait to bolster their lineup.
Deven Marrero was Boston’s first pick of the 2012 draft. He just signed a $2.05 million deal with the Red Sox and is on his way to play his first professional baseball with the Class-A Lowell Spinners.
Marrero could be Iglesias with a bat. Upon signing, soxprospects.com quickly listed Marrero as the 7th best prospect the Red Sox have in their system.
North Carolina Coach Mike Roberts said about Marrero:
He's the best amateur baseball player on the defensive side I've ever seen in 35 years of coaching. He's Omar Vizquel at 20, 21, except he'll be a better hitter and steal more bases. I've seen him do things defensively I've never seen another infielder do. (ESPN)
Marrero is the true threat to Iglesias. Marrero has the defensive chops to take Iglesias’ place on a future Red Sox roster, but he’s a better hitter.
In 150 games at Arizona State University, Marrero hit .325 with 12 HR, 95 RBI, 37 doubles, 11 triples and 32 SB. He was the 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a 2011 Cape Cod League All-Star. (h/t Sun Devil Athletics)
Marrero recently took batting practice at Fenway Park and is ready to get his professional career started.
Marrero is still years away from joining the big club, but his rise through the system should be fast. Just Marrero's presence in the minors makes Iglesias a piece the Red Sox could use as a bargaining chip this season.
Jose Vinicio is still very young at just 18 years old, and he needs time to develop in Boston's farm system. But his age has not hindered his accolades.
MLB.com ranked Vinicio as Boston's 18th best prospect entering this season and soxprospects.com currently has Vinicio has the 20th best prospect in Boston's farm system. He has done nothing but enhance his status this year.
Playing in the Class-A South Atlantic League, the switch-hitting Vinicio has hit .285 with 2 HR, 25 RBI, 9 doubles and 14 stolen bases.
His 2011 performance in the Gulf Coast League is what really raised some eyebrows.
Vinicio led the Gulf Coast League in games, hits and stolen bases while ranking second in at-bats, third in runs scored and RBIs and fourth in triples in 2011. Also led GCL shortstops in chances (297), putouts (107), assists (161) and double plays (25)
Vinicio is similiar to Iglesias in that they are both light hitting shortstops with excellent defensive skills. Vinicio is a confident young player who "shows a lot of confidence and swagger in the field." (soxprospects.com)
While Vinicio still has to develop physically to be an everyday shortstop at the Major League level, that swagger and confidence, combined with raw ability, gives the Red Sox yet another level of assurance at the shortstop position should they decide to trade Iglesias.
The Red Sox have been stacking the shortstop position recently and they continued that trend by signing Taiwanese shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin to a $2.05 million contract.
Lin is 18 years old and was ranked the 18th best prospect on MLB.com’s international prospect list.
Lin does not have the power of Bogaerts or the raw defensive skills of Marrero, but what he does have is speed and raw athleticism.
Lin is a very interesting prospect and had Peter Gammons buzzing on Twitter:
Am fascinated by Red Sox SS signee Tzu-Wei Lin, Taiwanese Aboriginal, extraordinarily athletic— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) June 21, 2012
If Lin can effectively adjust to the higher level of pitching he will soon face, the Red Sox will have amazing organizational depth at shortstop. That depth only furthers Boston's ability to use Iglesias as a bargaining chip at the trade deadline.