The Red Sox may not want to trade any prospects this month, but they might not have a choice.
The upside of Chaim Bloom's focus on restocking the farm system is that the Red Sox currently boast ... a restocked farm system. They're not yet blessed with an abundance of top-tier talent, but they're making progress. Prospects like Jeter Downs, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski have joined the organization since Bloom arrived not even two years ago.
The downside to restocking the farm, however, is that eventually it comes time to place a prospect on the 40-man roster or risk losing him in the rule 5 draft, where no one is safe. Just ask the Yankees, who probably thought they could sneak Garrett Whitlock through as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox had other ideas and now Whitlock is one of the most valuable members of their bullpen.
At any rate, as things stand now, the Red Sox project to have more players worth protecting than roster spots this fall, and that should influence how Bloom approaches the July 30 MLB trade deadline.
In addition to minor leaguers like left-hander Jay Groome, catcher Ronaldo Hernández, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario who are already on the 40-man, the Red Sox must also find room for standouts like Downs, the red-hot Jarren Duran (who'll likely be promoted to Boston before the season is out anyway), and even a lesser-known name like Double-A right-hander Brayan Bello, who was just selected to participate in the MLB Futures Game as part of a breakout season.
Last fall, the Red Sox decided to protect Eduard Bazardo after a strong instructional league, and he ended up pitching in the big leagues before suffering an arm injury. With clubs constantly hunting for young talent, the rule 5 provides an opportunity to get it, even if it means keeping a player on the big league roster all season.
The Red Sox boast an intriguing list of names who will need 40-man protection this fall. Players who signed their first contract at age 18 must be protected after five years, while players signed at 19 or older have four years.
What that means in practice is that college players drafted in 2018 like Duran and reliever Durbin Feltman will needed to be added, along with high school or international players like Bello who were signed in 2017.
Here's just a partial list of players who fit that criteria: Bello, Downs, Gilberto Jimenez, Winckowski, Feltman, Duran, Frank German, Thad Ward, Andrew Politi.
Add that group to the minor leaguers the Red Sox protected last year and more than half of the 40-man would be devoted to prospects. That ratio is obviously too high, which means Bloom could be motivated to deal from his surplus of mid-level prospects, either to acquire a veteran rental, or perhaps in a 2-for-1 upgrade.
There are some legitimate names on that list. Downs entered the season as the No. 1 or 2 prospect in the organization, though he has been surpassed by Duran. Bello has hit 100 mph en route to the Futures Game. Jimenez is a switch-hitting, five-tool outfielder with incredible speed who could easily be the organization's best prospect by this time next year.
Feltman is a second-half candidate to pitch in Boston, while Winckowski is 4-1 with a 3.65 ERA in Portland's rotation. Meanwhile, the Red Sox effectively bought German in the Adam Ottavino salary dump with the Yankees, and Politi entered the season as a top-30 prospect, though he has struggled at Double-A.
Even if we're not talking can't-miss stars, that's still a considerable amount of talent. With holes at first base and in the outfield -- not to mention the evergreen need for pitching -- the Red Sox can use help.
It makes all the sense in the world to use some of their extra prospects to go get it.