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Youth movement gives Red Sox trade options

In limited time this month, Deven Marrero has shown the ability to hit big-league pitching. He’s 8 for 19 since his call-up.Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Even with both Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts getting a day off, Wednesday added to the mounting pile of accomplishments for the Red Sox' youth movement. The roll call:

Henry Owens dominated the Orioles with 7 2/3 shutout innings in which he punched out four and walked none, offering a glimpse of what might be possible if he can locate a high-80s fastball and mix it with a standout changeup.

Shortstop Deven Marrero lashed three hits, showing the ability to lash line drives to all fields. He's now 8-for-21 in his big league call-up, offering some validation to those evaluators who believe he has a chance to hit enough to allow him to emerge as a solid starting shortstop given his excellent defense.

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Though Blake Swihart went 1-for-5, he crushed a double off the fence in center, the sort of screaming liner that likely one day in the not-too-distant future may find its way over the fence given natural strength gains. Right now, he's hitting .276/.322/.376. He's poised to become the seventh catcher since 2000 to hit at least .275 in his age 23 season or younger (min. 250 plate appearances); the other six – Buster Posey, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Russell Martin, Salvador Perez – have all been All-Stars on multiple occasions.

Though Travis Shaw went 0-for-4 with a walk, his show of power (11 homers in 48 games) at the big league level has elevated his profile beyond what it was in the minors.

Even as Jackie Bradley Jr. (0-for-3, 2 strikeouts) remains mired in a slump (1-for-27, 13 strikeouts over eight games), the industry view of him has changed thanks to his first show of sustained production in the big leagues from early-August to early-September.

In these performances, there are options and opportunities for the Red Sox. Some of these players are almost certain to be contributors with the 2016 Red Sox. But in all likelihood, that won't be the case for all of them. As such, the evidence of the possibility of big league success for a large group of young players gives the Sox a strong hand from which to deal in this offseason's trade market.

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The evidence of major league success, even if fleeting, increases the team's flexibility and ability to maneuver. Case in point: In 2007, Sox journeyman Kason Gabbard came up and made seven strong starts in the middle of the season. He went from being an organizational afterthought to an important component of a July 31 trade (albeit one that didn't pay off, for Eric Gagne), but never again made a meaningful big league impact.

The ability to sell high based on big league glimpses can permit teams not only to acquire key players but also to preserve their most important group of young players. Dave Dombrowski is familiar with the dynamic, having seen 20-year-old Cameron Maybin deliver a homer against Roger Clemens in 2007; that winter, Dombrowski dealt Maybin a key part of the package for Miguel Cabrera while keeping Curtis Granderson in Detroit.

Options and opportunities. Dombrowski appears to have a full deck from which to deal this winter.


Follow Alex Speier on Twitter @alexspeier.