Boston Red Sox: 5 Prospects Who Could Be Traded for a Pitcher
With John Lackey having Tommy John surgery and Daisuke Matsuzaka not scheduled to return until mid-2012 at the earliest, the Boston Red Sox have two holes in their starting rotation that need to be filled this offseason.
Luckily for the Red Sox, their former GM, Theo Epstein, was good about keeping the farm system ripe with young talent, as in order to get a proven pitcher via trade, you have to give up the top prospects in your farm system.
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Will Middlebrooks is the highest rated prospect in the Boston Red Sox farm system and is currently assigned to their Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox.
He is seen as the eventual replacement at third base for the aging Kevin Youkilis, but he could be used as trade bait to bring in a top-of-the-line starting pitcher.
Between Pawtucket and Portland, the Red Sox Double-A affiliate, Middlebrooks, hit .285 with 23 home runs to go along with a .328 OBP and .506 slugging percentage.
SoxProspects.com has his major league comparison as Scott Rolen and he would likely be the first guy any team asks for in a trade.
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After missing much of last year with injuries Ryan Kalish's stock has surely gone down a bit, but he is still just 23 years old with a bright future ahead of him.
Before his injury he was expected to slot into right field for the big league club in 2012, but now he could probably use another half or full season in the minors to continue his development.
In limited playing time during the 2011 season, Kalish hit .228 with zero home runs, but he dominated minor league pitching in 2010 when he was healthy.
The emergence of Josh Reddick this past season makes Kalish a little more expendable, making him a likely candidate for a trade that would bring in a pitcher.
After the Boston Red Sox traded away top prospect Casey Kelly in the Adrian Gonzalez deal last winter, Anthony Ranaudo became the best pitcher in the system.
The Gonzalez deal proves that no single man is untouchable, as he was once labeled as "untouchable" in the Red Sox system.
Ranaudo is currently in Salem, a Single-A affiliate, and had a pretty good year in his first full year as a pro.
He posted a 3.97 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 127 innings.
Any team trading a top pitcher is likely looking for a young gun to replace him in the future and for the Red Sox, Ranaudo is that guy.
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Ryan Lavarnway stepped in for the Boston Red Sox in a big way this past September and almost helped the slumping team make the playoffs.
With his success when called up, it could be a good time to cash in on Lavarnway's stock while it is at an all-time high.
He isn't a very good defensive catcher and didn't start showing power until this season when he hit a combined 34 home runs between the big leagues, Triple-A and Double-A.
Now would be the perfect time to include Lavarnway in a deal for a pitcher, as he is coming off his best season as a pro.
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With a shaky past at shortstop, Jose Iglesias is probably one of the prospects the Boston Red Sox would least like to include in a deal.
But, for the right pitcher, you can bet that Iglesias will be included in a deal.
He has yet to show the ability to hit consistently, but he could probably win a Gold Glove in the big leagues today at just 21 years old.
Last season he hit just .235 between the big leagues and Triple-A.
Now could be the time to trade Iglesias, because if he has another bad year at the plate his stock could take a plummet.
More than likely the Red Sox will not make a major deal in the offseason for a big-time pitcher, but with the Winter Meetings less than a month away, anything can happen.
William Penfield is a college football featured columnist for Bleacher Report who also writes on the Boston Red Sox and other Boston sports teams.