Henry Owens should not be untouchable in trades


Henry Owens is a great pitching prospect. He has improved in every season of his Minor League career, trimming his ERA and, more importantly, his walk rate in the 2014 season, his strongest one yet, and now ranks as arguably the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. However, unlike Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, Owens should not be untouchable in potential trades this offseason.

In no way am I advocating trading Owens, as he has a great chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter going forward. The reason that the Red Sox should be willing to trade him is right there though; his ceiling is likely as a mid-rotation or possibly a #2 starter. If the Red Sox look to deal Owens this offseason, it will likely be as the headlining prospect in a trade for an elite starting pitcher, likely either Cole Hamels or Chris Sale.

Both of those starting pitchers are proven aces, meaning that Owens, who is a solid prospect but simply doesn’t have that ceiling, could potentially be expendable in a trade. After all, despite Owens’ strong Minor League numbers– he posted a 2.94 ERA and 9.6 K/9 between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year– he primarily thrives on deception due to his 6’6″ frame rather than raw stuff. That deception is certainly useful but, with Owens throwing in the low 90’s and without great command, it does limit his ceiling at the Major League level.

Once again, I’m not suggesting that the Red Sox trade Owens but if there is an opportunity to land an elite starting pitcher without giving up Betts or Swihart in a trade, then dealing Owens is their next best bet. The Red Sox’ first priority for an ace should be acquiring Jon Lester or James Shields on the free agent market but if the price is too high and they are forced to after somebody on the trade market, then so be it. The Red Sox shouldn’t trade Owens if they can help it, but they also shouldn’t hold onto him if there’s an opportunity to land a better pitcher.