After promoting top tier prospects like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Daniel Bard over the past few years, the Red Sox pipeline of talent from the minor leagues has gone dry recently.
The next wave of prospects ready to perform at Fenway Park include shortstop Jose Iglesias, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, outfielder Ryan Kalish, and pitchers Felix Doubront and Anthony Ranaudo. Doubront looks like he will start the 2012 season as the Red Sox fourth starter, Lavarnway could break Spring Training as the backup catcher, and Iglesias is likely to become the team's starting shortstop as soon as he shows some ability to make contact at Triple-A Pawtucket. The others are on the near horizon and should all be contributing in Boston by the 2013 season.
One name that I omitted was Lars Anderson. The 24-year-old Anderson has his path to the major leagues blocked as a first baseman by Adrian Gonzalez but a strong training camp (.343/.425/.543) and a willingness to try to learn to play left field has made him an asset to the Red Sox as a trade chip.
It is no secret that the Red Sox could use more pitching. They were involved in discussions with veteran starter Roy Oswalt but could not close the deal (although he is still available and could ultimately become a Red Sox). Another option for the Red Sox would be to explore their options through a trade.
With Anderson's value rising and the Red Sox need increasing, finding a trade partner should be on general manager Ben Cherington's list of priorities.
One option could be the Phillies. They have a need a first base with Ryan Howard rehabbing from a torn achillies tendon despite their offseason addition of Jim Thome. With Anderson's new found ability to play in the outfield, he would have additional value to the Phillies off the bench once Howard returns.
In return for Anderson, the Red Sox could add starter Joe Blanton. Blanton would be able to give the Sox a veteran starting pitcher while also giving manager Bobby Valentine the ability to move Daniel Bard back into the bullpen.
The value of Anderson will probably never be on the field at Fenway Park but if he can entice another team to send Boston a valuable pitcher that provides them depth in both the rotation and (with the ability to transition Bard back to a relief pitcher) the bullpen then he will have made a major impact on the 2012 Red Sox.