5 Prospects the Boston Red Sox Should Consider Dealing at the Deadline
Major League Baseball's July 31 trade deadline is now less than two months away.
With the AL East race expected to remain tight all season long, it stands to reason that the Boston Red Sox will be buyers rather than sellers come midsummer.
If the Red Sox need to make a key acquisition or two for a playoff push, Boston does have a number of young prospects likely to generate interest from other teams. In addition to them being desirable trade bait, the Red Sox have cause to consider each of the following five players expendable.
Statistics courtesy of RedSox.com.
Deven Marrero, SS
The Red Sox selected Deven Marrero out of Arizona State in the first round with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Marrero played in 64 games for the Single-A Lowell Spinners in 2012, then split last season between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
Boston gave Marrero a brief stint with the big club during spring training this year, and he more than held his own. The 23-year-old went 7-for-21 (.333) in 13 games while playing outstanding defense. ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes referred to Marrero's performance on March 6 against the Miami Marlins as:
a fielding exhibition worthy of Cirque du Soleil, one in which he displayed spectacular range diving for a ball up the middle, showed off his aerodynamic capacity while completing a double play and handled everything else hit his way with soft hands and a strong arm.
Unfortunately for Marrero, the Red Sox have a 21-year-old shortstop in Xander Bogaerts, who is already becoming a star in the majors.
Allen Webster, P
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in 2008, the Red Sox acquired Allen Webster in the blockbuster trade that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to L.A. in 2012.
Last season with Triple-A Pawtucket, Webster struck out 116 batters over 105 innings, while also throwing 30.1 innings on the big league level. So far in 2014, Webster is 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 12 starts for Pawtucket.
Of Boston's numerous pitching prospects, the 24-year-old Webster appears closest to making the jump to the major leagues. However, with younger top-flight arms such as Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Trey Ball coming up behind him, the Red Sox may be willing to part with Webster.
Christian Vazquez, C
Boston drafted Christian Vazquez in the ninth round in 2008, and he's climbed steadily through the minors ever since. Vazquez is currently ranked as the 10th best prospect in the organization according to MLB.com.
This year in Triple-A, he's hitting .269 over 156 at-bats and has thrown out 13 of 34 (38%) would-be base-stealers.
Via Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles recently said the following about Vazquez:
I’m not going to put predictions on him, but I am going to tell you he has a chance to be a quality bat and a future major-league hitter. I think we sell the bat short sometimes because the defense is that good. A lot of players fall into that category. I think with him we’re looking at a guy who can be a complete package. He has a chance.
Despite the high praise from his manager, the Red Sox could look to deal Vazquez because of...
Blake Swihart, C
Blake Swihart, 22, is a year younger than Vazquez and rated Boston's No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, which also projects him as the fourth best catching prospect in all of baseball.
The Red Sox chose Swihart with the 26th pick of the first round in 2011. Now in his third full minor league season, he's hitting .286 with five home runs and 24 RBI this year in 43 games at the Double-A level. Swihart has also thrown out 16 of 31 (52%) runners attempting to steal this season.
Whether it's Vazquez or Swihart, only one of these two can be the franchise's catcher of the future—making the other a possible trade candidate.
Mookie Betts, 2B/CF
Boston drafted Mookie Betts in the fifth round in 2011. Following a slow start to his professional career in 2012, Betts won the Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year award last season after batting .318 with a .417 on-base percentage, 38 steals, 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 462 at-bats between single-A and high-A-level ball.
This year Betts is tearing it up in Double-A with a .355 average and a .443 OBP through 54 contests. At one point spanning 2013-14, Betts reached base in 66 consecutive games, just five short of the all-time minor league record.
SoxProspects.com rates Betts the No. 1 player in the entire Red Sox farm system.
A natural second baseman, Boston has decided to try Betts out in center field given Dustin Pedroia's eight-year, $110 million contract. But before recently becoming a big league regular, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was considered one of the Red Sox's top prospects as well.
With Pedroia locked in at second base and Bradley Jr. looking to develop into Boston's everyday starter in center field, the Red Sox might at least explore what other teams are willing to give up for a potential All-Star in Betts.