LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- On the eve of Monday’s official start of the baseball winter meetings, here’s a checklist of Red Sox players whose names are expected to come up in trade talks this week:
• John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster. Starting pitching is at a premium, and with the Sox believing that they have plenty of depth behind the top six, with Brandon Workman the closest at this stage to claiming a rotation spot, odds are pretty good that one of these guys will not be in camp at the start of spring training. Moving a salary for prospects definitely has some appeal to Ben Cherington.
• Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster, Drake Britton, Henry Owens. Of course teams are asking about the young arms in the Red Sox system, but all you have to do is see the prices pitchers are commanding on the free-agent market to understand why the Sox are reluctant to part with their promising kids. Of this group, the left-handed Owens is probably the most untouchable, with Barnes not far behind. Only a major deal will result in one of these guys leaving.
• Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway is only 26, still relatively young for an apprentice catcher. Jason Varitek was 27 when he became Boston’s everyday catcher. But even with David Ross missing significant time because of multiple concussions, Lavarnway made just 18 starts for the Sox last season, which hardly suggests they view Lavarnway as their catcher of the future. He has only five home runs in 291 big league plate appearances scattered over three seasons, which raises questions of whether he will ever develop into the power bat the Sox envisioned. Granted, there are few tasks harder than hitting as an irregular, but with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart rising rapidly, Lavarnway may well be a piece in a package deal.
• Will Middlebrooks. Teams are asking about the third baseman, but the Sox are unlikely to move Middlebrooks when his value is low, and there is still a strong conviction among the Sox baseball ops folks to hold onto his power bat -- they don’t want to see him blossom into a 25-30 home run hitter in another uniform.
• Mike Carp. The unheralded Carp, a late pickup by the Sox last offseason, was a key piece off the bench and hit well enough to be considered for a role as an everyday player moving forward. Carp posted an .885 OPS with nine home runs in just 243 plate appearances, and 45 percent of his hits went for extra bases. Had the Sox not re-signed Mike Napoli, Carp likely would have seen more at-bats in left field as Jonny Gomes’s platoon partner, with Daniel Nava moving to first base. Now he’s stalled in the same position he was last season, although the Sox may be reluctant to part with him because of the depth he provides.
• Franklin Morales. His health issues make him a risky proposition for prospective buyers, but Morales is just a year away from free agency, and with Andrew Miller returning from injury, Craig Breslow coming off a very productive season, and Britton gaining some big-league experience, Morales should have some appeal to a team looking for a starter or reliever. He could go.
• Garin Cecchini, Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Blake Swihart. These are the top position prospects in the Sox system -- Cecchini a third baseman, Betts a second baseman, Marrero a shortstop and Swihart a catcher. Because he is stuck behind Dustin Pedroia, Betts appears to be the player the Sox would be most willing to deal, albeit reluctantly; the other three are valued as future regulars in the Sox lineup and probably would be dealt only for an all-star caliber player.