July 14, 2013

On Baseball: Future looks secure as Red Sox prospects mature

The Red Sox, in first place, have little reason to trade any of the major pieces either in or on the way to Boston.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

With the July 31 trade deadline coming up, what will the Boston Red Sox do?

Fenway Park
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The pipeline from Portland and Pawtucket feeds the faithful in Boston. Who will fans from the top of the Green Monster and all around Fenway Park be watching over the next few years?

The Associated Press

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Xander Bogaerts may force the Red Sox to find a position for him – possibly at third base.

Telegram File

Additional Photos Below

STARTING PITCHERS

Regulars: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront.

Contracts: Dempster through 2014. Boston has options on Jon Lester (through 2014), Lackey (2015) and Buchholz (2017). Doubront is in his second season.

Future options: Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Steven Wright, Brandon Workman,
Drake Britton, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Regulars: Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.

Contracts: Uehara is a free agent after this season. Bailey, Miller, Aceves and Morales are free agents after 2014. Boston has a club option on Breslow in 2015. This is Tazawa’s third season.

Future options: Alex Wilson, Daniel Bard, Jose De La Torre, Chris Martin, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Hernandez and Will Latimer.

INFIELDERS

Regulars: Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, Jose Iglesias

Contracts: Napoli and Drew are free agents after this season. Boston has an option on Pedroia in 2015. Iglesias is in his rookie season.

Future options: Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, Michael Almanzar, Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero.

OUTFIELDERS

Regulars: Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp.

Contracts: Ellsbury is a free agent after this season. Gomes is signed through 2014, Victorino through 2015. Nava and Carp are in their third years.

Future options: Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Ryan Kalish and Alex Hassan

CATCHERS

Regulars: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway.

Contracts: Saltalamacchia is a free agent after this season. Ross is signed through 2014. Lavarnway is in his second season.

Future options: Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart and Dan Butler.

DESIGNATED HITTERS

Regular: David Ortiz

Contract: Through 2014.

Future options: Plenty.

They head into the All-Star break in first place in the American League East. The Red Sox can try to improve their team, and they have prospects galore to trade if they want.

But why would they want to?

The Sox prospects that have proven their worth at Hadlock Field in Portland and McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket are the future at Fenway, and that's not just a marketing slogan for the minor league teams.

Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Garin Cecchini These are players who will bolster Boston in future years, and both Bradley and Workman are helping out right now.

Surely not every prospect being groomed by the Red Sox will make it. General Manager Ben Cherington is making his list of untouchables and "tradeables." Brand new Sea Dogs outfielder Brandon Jacobs was in the latter category, having been sent Friday to the Chicago White Sox for left-handed reliever Matt Thornton.

When making that list, Cherington will look at what the Red Sox look like now and what will they look like in the future. Among the factors are contracts and when players will become free agents (eligibility begins after six seasons).

Here is what we see, position by position:

STARTING PITCHERS

This vital position is a strength for Boston. Allen Webster, Rubby De la Rosa, Steven Wright and Workman have already appeared in the majors. Drake Britton just reached Pawtucket. Ranaudo and Matt Barnes are in Portland, and Henry Owens could be there at the end of the year.

Having so many arms gives Boston depth to cover injuries (Clay Buchholz), as well as opportunities to fill bullpen roles.

Boston would not hastily trade away a quality arm, given the cost of pitchers on the free-agent market (Ryan Dempster, a No. 4 starter, signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal with Boston).

RELIEF PITCHERS

No place features more turnover than the bullpen. Piecing together an effective group of relievers may be any GM's biggest challenge. Boston has already lost closer Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller to injury (and Hanrahan is a free agent after this season).

This is one area where Boston may make another trade to improve although, as already mentioned, there are bullpen possibilities among Boston's starting prospects.

Alex Wilson has proven he can contribute. Jose De La Torre has been called up to help sometimes. Daniel Bard remains a mystery as he tries to rebound from his command troubles. Chris Martin and Brock Huntzinger are coming on in Pawtucket. Chris Hernandez and Will Latimer are lefties in Triple-A but not yet ready.

CATCHER

Jarrod Saltalamacchia strikes out a lot (95 times through Friday), but he also is batting a respectable .269 with eight home runs.

There has not been much chatter about Saltalamacchia's thoughts on his future. If he and Boston part ways, the Red Sox still look solid. David Ross, who is recovering from a concussion this year, can mentor Ryan Lavarnway next season. Both are better defensively than Saltalamacchia, and Christian Vazquez appears to be the best of the bunch behind the plate. Blake Swihart, 21, is developing in Class A Salem.

Dan Butler gives Boston insurance if it needs a solid backup.

INFIELD

It's hard to predict this position with so much young talent. Who figured that Jose Iglesias would take Will Middlebrooks' job at third base? And when Iglesias is filling in for Stephen Drew at short, Middlebrooks has stayed in Pawtucket, with Brock Holt manning third.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

Jackie Bradley Jr.
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Jackie Bradley Jr. is poised to be the regular center fielder next season if Jacoby Ellsbury moves on as a free agent.

The Associated Press

  


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