The release of A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday marked a turning point for the Red Sox this season. The youth movement has started in earnest, with the club starting five rookies on Wednesday night. As Alex Skillin wrote earlier this week, more moves should be on the way as the front office tries to strengthen the club for 2015. With tremendous prospect depth already though, the club faces an interesting challenge in the trade market.
To get an idea of that prospect depth, here are the Red Sox prospects that are either ready for the majors now or should be ready in 2015:
P: Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson
OF: Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, Alex Hassan, Bryce Brentz
IF: Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, Will Middlebrooks, Travis Shaw, Sean Coyle
C: Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart
Many of these players have already contributed to the team in 2014, and should see bigger roles as the season moves on. The trick for the front office will be determining who stays and who goes. This becomes especially challenging at positions like third base where the Sox have multiple players who can play the position but don’t have a clear answer on the best option.
The other challenge is that the traditional trade deadline move of trading veterans for prospects doesn’t make much sense for the club. With the amount of prospect depth the Red Sox have, adding more prospects doesn’t do much to move the needle. Instead, the front office may target a player at a position of need for the Sox (perhaps a corner outfielder) or a stud prospect rated higher than what the Sox have in the minors.
The issue of course is that the major league teams won’t give up their best prospects without getting similar value back. The Red Sox likely covet top prospect Oscar Taveras, but the Cardinals wouldn’t move him without getting one of the Sox three elite prospects (Mookie Betts, Henry Owens or Blake Swihart) in return.
The Sox system has enviable pitching depth from which to deal, especially at a time when so many teams have suffered from a rash of arm injuries. Dealing a veteran like Jake Peavy plus one of the Triple A prospects might bring back an impact prospect further from the majors than the Sox group.
Another strategy would be to target established major league players who would fill a need for the Sox going forward. These range from superstars like Giancarlo Stanton, to above average players like Dexter Fowler who might be available for a less costly package of prospects.
Stanton and Fowler aren’t necessarily trade targets for the Red Sox or even available, merely examples of the type of players they might ask for. The Sox haven’t thrown in the towel for 2014, but it is time to explore trade options that will preserve much of the young talent while strengthening the team’s future.