Boston Red Sox: 5 Top Prospects Who Should Be Off-Limits in July Trade Talks
They're the first-place team in the American League East, four games ahead of the injury-bitten New York Yankees entering play Thursday. The roster, a mixture of emerging stars and high-priced veterans, is constructed to win now.
That said, the Sox should avoid mortgaging a farm system Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked No. 21 in the game.
Sure, they could use reinforcements in the infield and starting rotation. But Boston and swap-happy president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski shouldn't decimate what's left of the MiLB ranks in the process.
Specifically, here are five prospects the Red Sox ought to keep off-limits in deadline discussions, unless another club is willing to grossly overpay.
Bryan Mata, RHP
While not loaded with blue-chip talent, the Red Sox's system is chock full of pitchers. Of Boston's top 30 prospects, per MLB.com, 21 straddle the mound.
Still, the Sox should hold on to their most projectable arms. Developing cost-controlled hurlers is a lot cheaper than paying for $200-plus million "aces" (cough, David Price).
That brings us to Bryan Mata. The 18-year-old Venezuelan flashes a low-90s fastball with room for increased velocity, along with a changeup and curveball that could both develop into plus offerings.
In 30.1 innings at Single-A, he's struck out 27 next to seven walks.
He's a raw, under-the-radar talent but one the Sox should nurture rather than move.
Michael Chavis, INF
The 26th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft, Michael Chavis posted a 1.029 OPS with 17 homers in 59 games at High-A Salem this season before a promotion to Double-A Portland.
The 21-year-old has leveled off since but still owns a .275/.326/.525 slash line. He's also got a strong-enough arm for shortstop or third base, though his defensive capabilities might be best suited for "a second baseman in the Dan Uggla mold," per MLB.com's scouting report.
Dustin Pedroia is signed through 2021, yet he's 33. A potential keystone sacker with plus thump isn't something Boston should cast aside.
Roniel Raudes, RHP
Getting back to Boston's cache of pitching prospects, here's another young arm worth keeping.
The Red Sox's 2016 MiLB pitcher of the year, Roniel Raudes posted a 3.65 ERA in 113.1 innings at Single-A Greenville.
This season, he owns a less impressive 4.90 ERA in 68 frames at High-A and has spent time on the disabled list.
Still, with his deceptive delivery, plus changeup and emerging curveball, the 19-year-old Nicaraguan has the tools to develop into at least a mid-rotation starter.
The Sox could get something for him as part of a package, but they'd be better off seeing what he becomes.
Jason Groome, LHP
Now we reach into Boston's top shelf.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Jason Groome suffered a lat injury in April and owns a 6.75 ERA overall in 17.1 innings between Low-A Lowell and Single-A Greenville.
That by itself means it's a bad time to sell on the strapping 18-year-old, who has the stuff of a front-line starter.
Groome boosted his case by tossing five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts on July 4. He's a work in progress, as all teenage arms are, but he's a keeper.
"Just being able to have the command on his pitches is huge," Lowell manager Iggy Suarez said in June, per Kevin Dillon of MassLive.com. "Obviously he has a high ceiling with his talent and what he can bring to the table. Being able to get him that at a young age along with his mindset and his makeup makes it even better."
Rafael Devers, INF
The Red Sox have a gaping hole at the hot corner.
Pablo Sandoval is an injury-plagued bust. The alternatives have failed to pick up the slack. Boston needs an answer.
That answer isn't top-rated prospect Rafael Devers, at least not yet.
Yes, Devers is hitting .303 with 18 home runs and a .957 OPS in 73 games at Double-A Portland. He's also just 20. Boston isn't rushing him to The Show.
Instead, look for the Sox to trade for a third baseman. The Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas or Chicago White Sox's Todd Frazier could both fit as rentals, provided they don't cost Devers, who may be manning the position by 2018.
"He knows that he has to put the time in and wait for his opportunity," said Portland skipper Carlos Febles, per MassLive.com's Conor Ryan. "To me, I don't think he's thinking that he's going to be in the big leagues tomorrow or the next day."
Soon enough, though. Soon enough.