As we discussed earlier this morning, the Red Sox have basically nothing going right for them at this point and the only move for them is to look forward. Any chance at a playoff spot, even in an expanded field, is essentially out of reach. With exactly two weeks until the trade deadline, it would appear the focus of the front office will be on which veteran talent they can move for pieces that help in the future. That is never a great place to be as a fan, but it does open the door for some of the in-house prospects to get their shot in the majors. In fact, that is what this article is going to be about. You read the headline, right? Five prospects who could benefit from deadline moves? You get it. These are in no particular order, by the way.
The most obvious name, to me, is the guy who is most likely to get the next chance and the one who seemed most ready to make an impact when summer camp broke. Dalbec hasn’t gotten that chance yet, but mostly due to a lack of opportunity on the roster. There are no sure things in this deadline as we really have no idea how active it will be, but if there are moves to be made one has to assume J.D. Martinez could be one of the names out the door. That would open up a whole lot of possibilities. With that DH spot open, all of a sudden there could be some sort of rotation on the corner spots along with DH for Dalbec, Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis. If Mitch Moreland also gets dealt, Dalbec could essentially become an every day player.
Long-term it seems most likely he will settle in at first base, but given the way Rafael Devers is manning the hot corner this year that could change. I’d expect Dalbec to be up by September 1 at the latest, and for him to get his chance against major-league pitching on at least a semi-regular basis immediately.
Hart is the lone player on this list to have already made his major-league debut, having made exactly one start and not really doing very well. Generally, that is a death knell for Red Sox pitching prospects, who historically do not get much of a leash. Hart is already getting another start, though, and if the Red Sox are able to trade either Nathan Eovaldi or Martín Pérez, there is probably a permanent spot in the rotation for him for the rest of the year. His long-term role is a bit more cloudy and he probably projects best as a sixth starter/swingman, but he’s going to get every chance to prove himself as a full-time starter this year and it will be even easier if just one starter is moved.
This one is basically the same as Hart. Houck has not made his debut yet and he is certianly not as polished as the lefty, but the upside is undeniably higher. Eventually he is probably going to settle in as a reliever, and hopefully one that can work in the late-innings. But if/when Eovaldi or Pérez is dealth there is a glaring hole and there aren’t many options beyond Houck to fill it. And, even if neither of those guys are dealt and there is no hole in the rotation, a trade of Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and/or Heath Hembree could open up a spot in the bullpen for him to at least get his feet wet in the majors.
Duran is, in my opinion, the most exciting player in the system. Note that this does not equal best player, because he is not that. But as a pure speed burner who can cover a ton of ground in the outfield, he is fun as hell to watch. It sure seems like the Red Sox are going to put Jackie Bradley Jr. on the block this summer as he becomes a free agent after the season. Duran wouldn’t come right up and play every day as Kevin Pillar will get most of the starts in center field when Andrew Benintendi is healthy, but Duran could get that major-league experience and maybe some starts down the stretch. Since he’s only played a half-season as high as Double-A Duran’s call-up wouldn’t be a sure thing, to be fair, but he’s done nothing but impress since March. If for no other reason, Red Sox fans deserve some excitement in their life, too.
Ockimey may skirt the line on what it means to be a prospect, but whatever you want to call him he could get a chance for the final month of the season. This one probably hinges on Moreland getting traded, which I really don’t see as anything close to a sure thing. If that does happen, expect Chavis and Dalbec to get most of the time at first base, but Ockimey is a left-handed bat who could complement them. Plus, if Martinez is dealt along with Moreland, Ockimey could play some DH against righties as well, particularly if they want to put Chavis at second base.