And that would be Xander Jan Bogaerts, the 20-year-old shortstop from San Nicolaas, Aruba with the .868 OPS between Double A and Triple A this season.
I suspect there wasn't a lot of suspense there, huh? Been relentless beating the Promote Xander drum around here for a few weeks now. I bet at least you didn't know his middle name was Jan.
I can't help myself. Usually I'm pretty patient with this sort of thing -- not Ben Cherington, Yoda-level patient, but reasonably patient -- but I wanted to see him in Boston a week ago if not tomorrow, aiding against lefthanded pitching and giving a lineup that has wobbled lately a little spark.
This is not hyperbole, even with his recent mini-lump at Pawtucket. It's reality. His Triple A manager, Gary DiSarcina, is hilariously conflicted during interviews. He spends many of his words trying to temper the immediate demands for and on Bogaerts, saying there are still things he needs to work on.
Then, inevitably, when the longtime Angels shortstop is asked to compare the kid to another prospect he's seen through the years, he inevitably sighs as if to say I can not tell a lie ... then mentions Mike Trout.
Bogaerts is the Red Sox' most talented and appealing prospect since ... well, who?
Hanley Ramirez? He doesn't have the baggage. Mo Vaughn? Bogaerts plays a premium position. Jim Rice? That's Shaughnessy's comp. Dwight Evans 41 years ago? Given that Dewey arrived at age 20, maybe we do have to go back that far.
Which brings us to consideration of a modern-day sensational young right fielder. The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is not Dwight Evans; he's a barbell-chomping Dave Winfield, an imposing talent and impossibly charismatic presence who has the lousy luck of playing for the sub-relevant Miami Marlins.
Stanton is just 23 years old and already has more than 100 career home runs (106). His historical comparisons through age 22 are heady with the occasional punch-line: Tony Conigliaro, Juan Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthews ... and clown-show Jose Canseco, Bob Horner, and Boog Powell, the last two of whom obviously bear an uncanny physical resemblance to Stanton.
Stanton is a level below generational talents Trout and Bryce Harper, but he's also one of the first names mentioned when marveling at baseball's recent influx of extraordinary young players. He should be a Marlin for life. But he won't be, because no one is a Marlin for life. They are cheap in an obvious and alienating way, and while they say they have no plans in trading him, they'll trade him. It's just a matter of when.
Which is why we are talking about this now: It's great fodder. Even in the August push toward the postseason, Stanton's potential availability is a relevant topic. Nick Cafardo wrote Sunday about the Red Sox and Twins -- who according to Keith Law own two of baseball's top four prospects in Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano -- being in the best position to put together a package for Stanton. Seems to me Texas could also do so, and there were rumors at the trade deadline that the Pirates might be willing to part with Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole for Stanton, which is a haul.
I've wandered off the bag a little too far here, so let's ask the question I probably should have posed in the headline in the first place:
Could the Red Sox get the Marlins to bite on a package for Stanton without including Bogaerts?
Initially, I was skeptical, even doubtful. The Marlins apparently asked for the moon and the stars from the Red Sox last winter for Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes before they were dealt to the Blue Jays:
Middlebrooks, Doubront, Bogaerts + had to be in Boston deal— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) November 14, 2012
That considered, you'd have to figure they'd ask the Sox for Bogaerts, the technology to clone Bogaerts, and the rights to all Bogaerts clones for all eternity or until the Marlins move to Montreal, which ever comes first. Plus Henry Owens.
But my friend Matt Kory, who writes many smart baseball things for Baseball Prospectus/Sports on Earth/Over the Monster, made an interesting point during a recent email exchange when I told him I was writing about this but couldn't see how the Sox could make it work:
First, Stanton has had a down year, complete with injuries. First (part deux), one more year of indentured servitude got used up, and now he's arb eligible so the price only goes up AAV-wise from here. Those two things would, I'd think, depress his value a bit. Second, the Red Sox have had a very good year in the minors. Jackie Bradley, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Garin Cecchini, Brandon Workman, Drake Britton, and Blake Swihart all improved their value with good seasons.
Both reasonable points. Stanton led the majors with a .608 slugging percentage last season. This season, it's down to .443, which is .003 lower than Jarrod Saltalamacchia's this season. That's probably the result of the Marlins' depleted lineup -- he's already walked more times this season than he did all of 2012. But he's also had durability issues -- he missed all of June with a hamstring injury and his knees have been a hindrance in the past.
The second point Matt makes is more compelling. In a season in which so many Red Sox prospects have accelerated toward the majors, they've built up prospect redundancy at certain positions. One of the reasons they traded Jose Iglesias is because Bogaerts and Deven Marrero were right behind him. At third base, Portland's Cecchini (20th in Law's midseason prospect rankings) may be emerging as a better bet than Will Middlebrooks. Ranaudo has bounced back from his difficult 2012 season, Matt Barnes is still a top-100 prospect, and Owens might be the best pitching prospect they've had in years. Ryan Lavarnway, Christian Vazquez, and especially Swihart are all young catchers of some promise.
Depending upon their self-scouting and internal valuing of these prospects (as well as Bradley and others), they are poised to make a blockbuster trade if they so desire. It's reminscent of 2009-2010, when at times they had Anthony Rizzo and Lars Anderson as first base (I implore you to read Gabe Kapler's piece on one reason why Anderson fell short of the big leagues), Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish in the outfield, Casey Kelly and Junichi Tazawa on the mound, not to mention Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, and Daniel Bard at various stages of development.
You remember how the Red Sox handled it then: They were bold and aggressive, offering huge packages of prospects and young big-leaguers to the Mariners for Felix Hernandez and the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. Those deals didn't happen. One mega-deal eventually did, when they send Rizzo and Kelly along with Reymond Fuentes to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez.
Maybe that isn't the best example in terms of results. But the process is right. They have built up the farm system to the point that anything is possible this offseason. Even a deal for Giancarlo Stanton. Can they do it without including Bogaerts? It's still hard to fathom. The only time the Marlins aren't cheap is when someone is trying to trade with them. But it's possible, and I have no doubt Cherington will inquire at the least.
And if the Sox ultimately did include Bogaerts, well, here's to watching Stanton take aim at the Monster. In the meantime, we'd also begin counting down the days until Bogaerts is too rich for the Marlins' blood.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.