After the Boston Red Sox reportedly signed not one but two major free agents — Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez — in the first big free agent coup of the 2014-15 Major League Baseball offseason this weekend, rumors are flying about the fate of Boston’s young prospects who would now appear to be blocked by the two big name, big bucks acquisitions.
In particular, what happens to Xander Bogaerts, the team’s highly touted super-prospect from Aruba whose two positions — shortstop and third base — are set to be occupied by Ramirez and Sandoval, respectively? And after reported deals of five years and about $100 million each to those two superstars, neither Sandoval nor Ramirez will be going anywhere — assuming reports of the twin signing prove correct.
Especially after dealing away ace lefty Jon Lester, the Red Sox have coveted the Phillies’ star hurler, another left hander who, like Lester, is 30 and whose career stats look remarkably similar to Lester’s. While Boston General Manager Ben Cherington’s interest in Hamels has been no secret, neither has the Phillies’ fixation on several of Boston’s top young players.
Breaking in with the Red Sox in 2013, playing a role in their World Series victory that year, then spending all of 2014 in Boston may mean that Bogaerts isn’t exactly a “prospect” anymore. But the Aruba native — only the fifth player from that Caribbean island ever to play in the Majors — will not even turn 23 until next October 1.
Clearly, Bogaerts has plenty of time to realize his sky-high potential, and the Phillies have committed themselves to developing young players as they struggle to rebuild. They have also reportedly eyed Red Sox rookie outfielder/second-baseman Mookie Betts. Whether Boston would be willing to part with both of the young phenoms in one trade for Hamels is an open question.
Much of the answer may depend on how highly Cherington thinks of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, signed by the Red Sox last year to a contract worth more than $70 million and slated to play center field.
Dustin Pedroia, Boston’s veteran clubhouse leader, has a lock on Betts’ other position — but whether Cherington believes the oft-injured, now 31-year-old Pedroia can get himself into enough games over the next few seasons to make parting with Betts worthwhile is likely another key to whether the Red Sox would package both of their top prospects in a deal for Hamels.
But the departure of Bogaerts would now appear to be a foregone conclusion, especially with another top shortstop prospect, Deven Marrero, putting his time in at the minor league level, just waiting for a slot to open up in Boston. Whether the Red Sox send Bogaerts to Phillie in a deal for Hamels, or elsewhere as Cherington looks at all of the pitching options out there, appears to be the only remaining question about the young Aruban’s future.