Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has frequently identified starting pitcher as the top need this offseason for the Boston Red Sox.

So far, he’s only swapped out Chris Sale for Lucas Giolito. Boston traded Sale to the Braves along with $17 million in cash for 22-year-old infielder Vaughn Grissom on Dec. 30 and signed Giolito to a one-year, $19 million contract with a player option for 2025.

Giolito is much more durable than Sale and should give the Red Sox more starts/innings than Sale did but he has just a 4.89 ERA over the past two seasons. The Red Sox need more. They need to add at least one more starting pitcher and it’s quite possible they will do it via trade.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported last Wednesday that the Red Sox are “presently spending more time exploring the trade market (than free agents) and could be active.”

Boston has multiple talented prospects who could headline a trade package for a No. 1 or 2 starter but who? MassLive below examined the major league and minor league depth at each position to identify what positions of strength the Red Sox have to deal from.



Triston Casas is under team control for another five seasons. He’s not eligible for free agency until the 2028-29 offseason. Rafael Devers is entering the first-year of a 10-year, $313.5 million contract extension. He’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2033 season.

The Red Sox, therefore, are set at both first base and third base in the long term, although there should be some concerns about how long Devers will be able to play third base. He had negative-9 defensive runs saved in 2023 and has negative-53 defensive runs saved in seven major league seasons (per Fangraphs). He might eventually need to move to DH.

Casas already has shown the ability to be an elite hitter, finishing in the 93rd percentile in walk percentage (13.9), 92nd percentile in expected weighted on-base percentage (.370), 89th percentile in expected slugging percentage (.500) and 86th percentile in chase percentage (22.1%) among major league hitters in 2023, per Baseball Savant.

With Devers and Cases locked in, the Red Sox certainly could afford to trade corner infield prospects but they don’t have many with great value.

First baseman/third baseman Blaze Jordan is the only true first base prospect who MLB Pipeline ranks on its Boston Top 30 prospect list. He’s Boston’s No. 13 prospect and doesn’t have the value to headline a package for a top of the rotation starting pitcher. The Athletic’s Keith Law saw him for the first time in 2023 late in the season and wrote, “Jordan was always known for his raw power, and did have a dozen homers in 73 games in High A before the promotion (to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs), but he’s already slowed down enough at age 20 that he’s going to be limited to first base, and I didn’t see the bat speed he’ll need for the bat to profile there.”

For a young power hitter, Jordan has impressively kept his strikeout percentage down (14.3% in 525 plate appearances last year) but his overall numbers dipped after his promotion last year. He slashed .324/.385/.533/.918 in 73 games at High-A Greenville, then .254/.296/.402/.698 in 49 games at Portland. But at 20, he was more than three and a half years younger than the average Double A player.


Boston also has 18-year-old third baseman Antonio Anderson, who MLB Pipeline lists as their No. 15 prospect. The Red Sox drafted Anderson in the third round (83rd overall) in July 2023 out of North Atlanta High School in Georgia and signed him for $1.5 million, well above his slot value of $846,000.

Does Bobby Dalbec have any trade value at this point? The Red Sox moved Michael Chavis at the 2021 deadline for left-handed middle reliever Austin Davis. Boston likely would receive something similar for Dalbec at this point as his strikeout percentage (34.3%) remained extremely high at Triple-A Worcester despite his enormous power. He led Red Sox minor leaguers with 33 homers.


Outfield is a position of strength to trade from, and Boston could potentially have three outfielders on its 2024 Opening Day roster who are 27 or younger. Jarren Duran is 27, Wilyer Abreu 24 and Ceddanne Rafaela 23.

Baseball America has four outfielders on its 2024 Red Sox Top 10 prospect list. Roman Anthony is ranked Boston’s No. 2 prospect, Rafaela is No. 4, Miguel Bleis is No. 5 and Abreu is No. 6.

Left fielder Masataka Yoshida is signed through 2028. Duran, Abreu and Rafaela all are still pre-arbitration eligible with several years of team control remaining. Anthony, who is not on the 40-man roster yet, has the most trade value of any of the six young outfielders mentioned above. He has the value to headline a prospect package to acquire a top of the rotation starter.


But it would be extremely difficult to part with someone with his talent. Anthony is only 19 and made it to Double-A Portland in September, 14 months after being drafted out of high school. His .403 on-base percentage was second among Red Sox minor leaguers (minimum 395 at-bats and 100 games) last year behind only Chase Meidroth (.408). He has a Casas-like disciplined approach, posting an excellent 17.5% walk percentage (86 walks, 491 plate appearances) between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville and Portland.

Rafaela has the highest ceiling of any Red Sox outfield prospect other than Anthony because of his combination of power (he led Boston’s minor league system in extra-base hits in 2022 and ’23) and speed/athleticism that gives him Gold Glove potential in center field. But there is one concerning area – his inability to lay off pitches outside of the strike zone. He had a 38.8% chase percentage, 29% whiff percentage, 31.5% strikeout percentage and 4.5% walk percentage in his first 89 major league plate appearances in 2023.

Abreu and Duran’s value have never been higher after strong 2023 performances. Abreu ascended 16 spots from No. 22 to No. 6 in Baseball America’s Red Sox organizational rankings during his past season.

Bleis, a 19-year-old center fielder, remains a top-five organizational prospect despite being limited to just 31 games in 2023 because of shoulder surgery. MLB Pipeline named Bleis the Red Sox’s top 2024 breakout prospect candidate and wrote, he’s “Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers.” As a top five prospect, he has plenty of trade value.


Shortstop Trevor Story is signed through the 2027 season and Boston’s top overall prospect, Marcelo Mayer, is a shortstop. Breslow, meanwhile, views 22-year-old Grissom, who Boston acquired from the Braves for Sale, as an everyday second baseman.


The addition of Grissom certainly makes second base prospect Nick Yorke – who Baseball America has added and removed from its Top 100 list multiple times the past three years – an obvious trade candidate.

Yorke, a 21-year-old who Boston drafted in the first round in 2020, remains Boston’s No. 8 prospect (per Baseball America). He entered 2022 ranked No. 31 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list after slashing .325/.412/.516/.928 with an impressive 15.6% strikeout percentage in his first full minor league season. But his stats have tailed off somewhat the past two seasons and his trade value likely has diminished some.

Does the addition of Grissom also make Mayer more likely to be traded? Grissom isn’t good enough defensively to play shortstop every day. Story has been limited to just 137 games in two seasons with Boston because of injuries. The Red Sox have a lot more second base depth at the upper levels than shortstop depth and it would be difficult to part with Mayer’s talent as he has the potential to be an elite defender and hitter. Baseball America ranks Mayer No. 15 on its Top 100 list and it grades his power, fielding and arm all 60 (plus) on the 20-80 grading scale.

Former chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom drafted several shortstops in his four years. Mayer was the fourth overall pick in 2021. Bloom also drafted shortstop Mikey Romero in the first round in 2022 and shortstop Nazzan Zanetello in the second round in 2023. Romero spent most of 2023 injured and so his value likely isn’t where it was a year ago.

Rafaela has the ability to play an above-average shortstop in addition to potentially Gold Glove-caliber center field, as mentioned above. So he gives Boston additional talent at shortstop if they were to trade Mayer for a top of the rotation starter.

Boston’s second best shortstop prospect, Yoeilin Cespedes, is several years away from the big leagues. Baseball America ranks the 18-year-old Boston’s No. 10 prospect and it wrote July 11, “Already, Cespedes looks like one of the top hitting prospects to come through the organization’s academy since Rafael Devers a decade ago.”


The Red Sox have plenty of second base depth. Second baseman Enmanuel Valdez showed an ability to control the strike zone. But Valdez needs to improve defensively to be considered a potential everyday second baseman. Grissom also has questions defensively. Second baseman Meidroth, a 22-year-old fourth round pick in 2022, led all Red Sox minor leaguers in on-base percentage (.408) last season.

Eddinson Paulino, a 21-year-old shortstop/third baseman who is Boston’s No. 21 prospect, also has potential. Keep an eye on rising 18-year-old shortstop prospect Franklin Arias who dominated Dominican Summer League pitching.

Shortstop Brainer Bonaci had been one of the fastest rising prospects in the system. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline ranked him the Red Sox’s No. 11 prospect overall but he was placed on the restricted list for violating the minor league Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.


The Red Sox have one of the game’s top catching prospects in Kyle Teel who they drafted in the first round in 2023 out of the University of Virginia. Baseball America ranks him No. 85 on its Top 100 list. He has the same type of trade value as Mayer and Anthony. He likely could headline a prospect package for a top of the rotation starter.

But it’s extremely difficult to part with someone with his potential at that important of a position. All-around catchers are difficult to find. Only nine of the 114 first round picks the past three drafts (2021-23) have been catchers and Teel is one of nine catchers listed on Baseball America’s Top 100 list.


Connor Wong and Reese McGuire, the only two catchers on the 40-man roster, likely are better suited to be No. 2 catchers. Teel has the potential to be an above-average No. 1 catcher. Both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America grade his arm 60 (plus) and his fielding 50 (major league average) on the 20-80 grading scale. He has had impressive pop times and went 33 for 91 (.363) with a .483 on-base percentage, .495 slugging percentage and .977 OPS in 26 games between three levels (Florida Complex League, High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland) last year after Boston drafted him 14th overall.

He’s one of four catchers along with Nathan Hickey, Johanfran Garcia and Brooks Brannon who MLB Pipeline ranks on Boston’s Top 30 list.

Garcia and Brannon have potential to become top 10 organizational prospects but they are both only 19 and haven’t logged too many minor league games. Hickey has power but some obvious defensive flaws that could force him to switch positions eventually.


The Red Sox have way more positional talent than pitching talent in their farm system. They have had difficulty developing pitchers for decades and need to add talent, not subtract. Breslow already has added, acquiring three pitchers (Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts and Nicholas Judice) from the Yankees for Alex Verdugo and trading for a Rule 5 draft pitcher (Justin Slaten).

Despite lacking in this area, none of Boston’s pitching prospects should be considered untouchable. Their two best pitching prospects, Luis Perales and Wikelman Gonzalez, throw hard and have nasty stuff. But both Perales (5.0 walks per nine innings in ’23) and Gonzalez (5.7 walks per nine innings in ’23) have control issues that could force them to the bullpen eventually if not corrected.

Hunter Dobbins, Yordanny Monegro, Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, Angel Bastardo and Dalton Rogers are among the other young Red Sox pitching prospects with potential but this is not a position of strength to trade from.

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