MLB trade deadline: Which prospects should the Red Sox trade?

USA TODAY Sports

Little comes for free at the trade deadline, so who should the Sox be willing to deal?

If the Red Sox make a deal before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it's going to cost them prospects. The quality of those prospects is in question, but they will be prospects, especially if it's a trade for someone like the White Sox' Jake Peavy.

As much as fans -- and hey, the Sox themselves -- would prefer to hoard all of their prospects, you have to give up something to get something. Figuring out what that something is becomes the question. We've looked at some B-level prospects and young players who have lost their rookie status in the past, but now, just a few days before the deadline, it's time to see what other prospects the Sox have in their cupboard that could be moved.

Now, this isn't meant to suggest that all of these prospects should be dealt, or that there is something wrong with them. However, if the Red Sox could get a serious starting pitcher to help them through August and beyond, then a few of these names, while missed, would likely be worth dealing.

Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

Ranaudo is one of Boston's better pitching prospects, but there are a few reasons to be intrigued by the possibility of moving him. For one, he's had a history of inconsistency and injury that stretches back to his college days -- the reason he fell to the Sox in the sandwich round in 2010 to begin with was because of said history. In addition, he requires a 40-man roster spot this November in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Now, he's absolutely deserving of that spot, there's no question of it. The issue becomes that there are plenty of other prospects who need 40-man protection who are also deserving, and one or a couple of them might need to be sent off in trades between now and November to alleviate the space issue, much like in 2011 when the Red Sox dealt Stephen Fife and Tim Federowicz, two current MLB players, to condense the roster and bring back an in-season upgrade.

As one of Baseball America's top-50 prospects from their updated mid-season list, Ranaudo could definitely bring something back. He might not work as the center piece in a deal for someone like Peavy, but he could be a very good start, depending on how the White Sox feel about him. He's something of a wild card, given his history of injuries and the fact he's still not through a full professional season without some issues, and while there's absolutely mid-rotation talent here, there are a lot of ways his career could go wrong, too. If the return is good enough, it would be hard to fault the Sox for sticking Ranaudo in a trade at a time when his stock is once again up. By the same token, you could understand wanting to keep his potential futures to yourself.

Deven Marrero, SS

Marrero, Boston's first-round pick from the 2012 draft, is an interesting case, if only because he's potentially stuck in the minors regardless of his progress. That's no guarantee, of course, but Boston is seeing something of a logjam at the upper levels between shortstop -- Marrero's position -- and third base, thanks to the presence of Jose Iglesias, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, and Garin Cecchini. As Marrero has a glove that's expected to be plus, but might just have a bat that grades out as average-ish for short, he's a pretty good but not amazing trade chip for the Sox when you combine all of that with the sheer volume of talent ahead of him.

20130714_jla_ae5_056Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Now, the Sox could absolutely hold on to Marrero, and he could find his way to the majors eventually through a variety of situations -- let's say that Cecchini ends up at first base or in left, Middlebrooks never puts it together enough to stick in the majors, Bogaerts has to move off of shortstop to wherever Cecchini doesn't play, and Iglesias just can't hit enough to justify a big-league starting gig. Given all the depth they have -- even with this admittedly pessimistic scenario in play -- and the shortstops behind Marrero in Jose Vinicio and Tzu-Wei Lin, Marrero might be one of the safest pieces to move. Like Ranaudo, by himself he's not a centerpiece, but something involving the two of them might get another club's attention.

Mookie Betts, 2B

Betts could easily be taken off of this list, but let's focus on why he's here. Dustin Pedroia just signed an extension that has him in Boston through 2021, and he plays second, the same position as Betts. Barring catastrophe, there's a good chance that, by the time Betts is ready for the majors, Pedroia will still be the team's second baseman, and a productive one. So, if for no other reason than he's blocked at his position, Betts could be available.

There are arguments for keeping him around, of course, and they're legitimate ones. You never know if aforementioned catastrophe will strike, for one -- what if Pedroia has a season-ending injury at some point, and it's at a time when Betts is prepared to step into a big-league role? He's not Rule 5-eligible until after the 2015 season, and he's all of 20 years old as well as an excellent defensive player. So, there's reason to hang on to him.

That being said, if Betts turns out to be the difference between a major deal getting done and one not getting done, you could see the Sox pulling the trigger if only because Pedroia is locked up -- there would be time to fix any second base issues that arise between now and then, especially when you consider all of the shortstop depth in the system.

Sean Coyle, 2B

Speaking of second basemen in the system that are potentially blocked, here's Sean Coyle. He's currently on the disabled list after he was placed on the disabled list in early June for an unknown knee injury, but he's been rehabbing in Fort Myers rather than pushing his way back to High-A Salem. How much of that is due to the presence of Betts in Salem is unknown.

Coyle isn't in the same category of prospect as the three others above, but he is intriguing, given he's displayed patience and some serious pop in the past. At the time of his injury, he was batting .248/.309/.517 with 10 homers and 18 extra-base hits in 36 games. There are obvious issues there, but for a 21-year-old in High-A just starting to turn things around at the level, you could do a lot worse.

He's not Rule 5-eligible until after the 2014 season, so a club who thinks he could prove his worth in the next year-plus might like him appended to a trade with more significant names. He's certainly not going to carry a deal by himself, but if someone is looking for some interesting mid-level prospect who might have careers, Coyle's power for a second baseman does make him worth a shot to a team with far fewer prospects than the Sox.

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