The Red Sox have a whole bunch of prospects at Triple-A Pawtucket, and while it's an impressive group, many of them are blocked at their current positions. Shortstop Deven Marrero is one such player, as are third baseman Garin Cecchini and second baseman Sean Coyle. While all three could be big-league players -- and at least one of them likely a very good one -- Xander Bogaerts, Pablo Sandoval, and Dustin Pedroia, respectively, stand in their way of reaching the majors.
So, the Red Sox are going to have all three learn how to play different positions to "increase versatility". The thing is, these three are also blocked at the positions they are going to learn: Marrero is set to get time at second and third -- where Pedroia and Panda play -- while Cecchini and Coyle are going to play innings in the outfield, where Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, and even Bryce Brentz are currently blocked. While the Red Sox might be hoping to find another Brock Holt hiding out at Triple-A, it's much more likely that this versatility the Sox are searching for is meant to benefit someone else. Like, say, a potential trade partner in July who has something the Red Sox do not.
Marrero is a plenty intriguing prospect on his own. He's a first-round draft selection from 2012 who has a plus glove at shortstop, and is expected to be able to hit well enough at the position that his defense is a bonus, not making up for another deficiency. Not every team in baseball needs a shortstop, however: some of them might need a second baseman or a third baseman. While Marrero's bat won't be as productive at those spots, there is a chance that his glove work is wonderful given they are easier positions to handle. If he keeps hitting at Triple-A and is suddenly a more than capable defender at one or two other positions, he could be a much more appealing prospect to more team than if he were just a shortstop. The Red Sox would have already done the heavy lifting of seeing if he can succeed elsewhere, taking some of the guesswork out of it for a team in need.
Sox prospects daily: Swihart isn't walking but tha
Blake Swihart isn't drawing walks, but he wasn't successful doing so at this time last year, either.
This is even more important for players like Coyle and Cecchini, who are not adept defensively in the way Marrero is. Coyle has played a bit of third base in the past, but might not necessarily be a starting player on a good team, so seeing if he can be an outfielder to help setup a career as a utility player with some power could do wonders for how teams view him. Cecchini is not a bad third baseman, but he's not a good one, either. Since the offensive expectations for left field and third base are similar, though, if he can field better in an outfield corner than at the hot one, it could reinvigorate his prospect status and value a bit.
Will the Red Sox trade all three of these players? It's certainly possible, although with Mike Napoli a free agent after 2015 and the Red Sox maybe able to move some big-league pieces around, dealing all of them probably isn't in their best interests: they could always have Hanley Ramirez shift to first and Xander Bogaerts to left to make room for Marrero, or put Cecchini in left in Hanley's place, and so on. Plus, having depth around is key, and Double-A Portland isn't going to provide Pawtucket with a slew of new players for 2016 as it did for 2014 and 2015 unless the Sea Dogs are suddenly full of surprises this summer.
It all depends on what deals are available to the Red Sox this summer or in this upcoming offseason, though. If the Sox think they can get enough back for someone like Marrero -- and increasing the number of positions he can play might help with that -- then they will move him, and the same goes for Coyle and Cecchini. Prospects are there to improve the major-league team, whether it's by playing for it or bringing in someone who can, and with these three essentially blocked barring something unfortunate and unforeseen, they probably fall into that latter camp.