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October 26, 2012

Young and on Their Way

Top Prospect Trade Candidates

by Jason Churchill

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Jarrod Parker, Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso and Jesus Montero were among the high profile prospects who changed organizations last winter. Each of them made an impact with their new club—some certainly more than others—but such trades occur each offseason as contenders look for proven talent and specific needs.

Based on conversations with some busy folks in baseball over the past few weeks, it's apparent there will be numerous negotiations that include top prospects again this year. Most clubs have had their organizational meetings already, when teams discuss strengths and weaknesses, offseason needs, trade targets, free agent possibilities, and which of their own players they might be willing to move in the right transaction.

Based on dozens of e-mail, text and phone interactions with representatives of 11 different organizations, the following 10 prospects were the most mentioned as likely to be involved in a trade.

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Arenado was described by the Rockies organization last summer as a young player who needed to mature. Scouts have described his play as occasionally disinterested and lacking energy. When a team calls out a player—Rockies then-GM Dan O'Dowd did just that to season-ticket holders last summer—it generally means any behind-the-scenes pep talks have not worked and the patience on the part of the team is wearing somewhat thin. This makes Arenado a prime candidate to be traded.

In one manner it's selling low—the other 29 teams in baseball have seen the same player and certainly share similar concerns—but the third baseman did have a big month of August and won't turn 22 until April, suggesting there is value there. The Rockies need pitching and could package Arenado for some proven help on the mound and move on from the former second-round pick.

Gary Brown, CF, San Francisco Giants
Brown is not an elite prospect, but he can fly—an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale—play defense in center field, and has solid on-base skills. He's yet to show he's a surefire everyday big leaguer, but the Giants are likely to secure a long-term answer in center field over the offseason, deeming Brown expendable.

Brown, however, is more of a second or third piece in a significant trade than a headliner, but he did enter 2012 as the club's top prospect. Still, he appears to have little chance at being the center fielder for the National League champs anytime remotely soon. After the free agent market dries up on center fielders, Brown, who could earn his way to majors in 2013, could be a valuable commodity for a team looking to build for 2014 and beyond.

Trevor Bauer, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks do not figure to be a club looking to deal prospects, since their plan, clearly, is to build from within and retain their depth. Bauer, however, may have fallen a little behind the organization's other top young pitchers—not to mention a little out of favor, possibly—and it's conceivable that he starts 2013 back in Triple-A Reno. With the likes of Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Josh Collmenter and Patrick Corbin all available and capable of being in the starting rotation, the Diamondbacks are not counting on Bauer's presence. Right-hander Daniel Hudson (Tommy John surgery) is expected back sometime during the second half of the season, too.

Bauer could be valuable enough to another team in need of big-league ready starting pitching that could offer a young player the Diamondbacks could plug into one of their few openings. Last week I mentioned a potential match with the Texas Rangers for third baseman Mike Olt, but there could be several possibilities, perhaps including a corner outfielder. What GM Kevin Towers decides to do with right fielder Justin Upton could impact Bauer's status. If Upton is moved in a blockbuster, Bauer could be included, or subsequently be traded to help fill the void left in the outfield.

James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Paxton is the mostly likely Mariners pitching prospect to be moved this offseason and most rivals believe GM Jack Zduriencik will be aggressive in an attempt to add at least one veteran hitter to a young lineup.

Taijuan Walker will be the most coveted of Seattle's crop, but it appears unlikely he'll be involved unless it's a player such as Arizona's Upton, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce or one of two Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon, or top prospect Wil Myers. Paxton is likely to hit the majors at some point next season, an attractive time table for clubs such as the Royals, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and perhaps even the Miami Marlins.

Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego Padres
The Padres tried Gyorko at second base where his bat profiles as above average, but he lacks the athleticism and footwork to handle the position long term; with the presence and emergence of Chase Headley—one of the NL's better players in 2012—Gyorko could be prime trade bait as early as this winter.

Scouts tend to like Gyroko's bat but don't believe he'll hit for the power generally desired for the position. Considering the average regular third baseman in Major League Baseball this past season hit just 15 home runs, Gyorko may fit right in, even with a contender, as a cheap option.

Grant Green, IF/OF, Oakland Athletics
Oddly, the trade of Cliff Pennington to the Arizona Diamondbacks this month probably made Green more likely to be moved than he otherwise might have been. With Pennington gone and Stephen Drew potentially hitting the free agent market—the club holds an option on his contract—it might seem that Green's chances of hitting the big leagues in 2013 improved.

He's a natural shortstop but has been tried in center field and at third base as the A's searched for a permanent position for their former first-round pick. With his defensive future up in the air, the A's are not planning on Green being a part of things anytime soon, but with the acquisition of Chris Young, Green, whose best position might be the outfield, falls deeper down the depth chart.

There are at least a few clubs that would like to see Green play second base, a position he played just a few times in 2012, and the A's have him doing just that in the Arizona Fall League. If scouts come away convinced he can play there, a trade may be most likely. Of course, the A's could come away feeling the same way and keep Green for themselves, but they do have Jemile Weeks, who may get another shot next spring, and they could return Scott Sizemore to his natural position.

Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers
If the Rangers are not willing to use Olt regularly at first base—third base is blocked by Adrian Beltre—he could be one of the main assets the club use to acquire outfield help, a true, everyday first baseman or starting pitching.

Olt made the jump from Double-A last summer but he may benefit from a little more seasoning in the minors. Either way he's going to contribute next season and could be a club's starting third baseman from the get-go. Olt simply has more value to another team, where he can play third base and start regularly.

Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts is likely headed for third base full-time and, with Will Middlebrooks ahead of him on the depth chart, his future isn't likely to be in Boston.

The club could always try him in a corner outfield spot, but he may be of more use as trade bait. The Red Sox need starting pitching, outfielders and a first baseman, any of which Bogaerts could help them acquire this winter.

Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
Of the Yankees' catching prospects—Sanchez, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy—Sanchez has the best shot to catch and hit long-term. He had a strong year split between two levels in 2012, showing power, improved footwork and a more accurate throwing arm than in past years.

The 19-year-old is at least a year and a half from being big-league ready, however, and with the Yankees needing a catcher for 2013, the club could commit to a free agent or trade acquisition and use Sanchez as bait to acquire starting pitching.

Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, Seattle Mariners
Rival scouts, at a 3-to-1 rate, believe Franklin belongs at second base long term—I think it's premature to call it on a 21-year-old who appears to be a late bloomer physically—and if that is the case Franklin could be traded due to the presence of Dustin Ackley and, to a lesser extent, Kyle Seager.

Even if the Mariners are convinced Franklin is a shortstop they could trade him, anyway, since they are likely to bring back Brendan Ryan for 2013 and 2011 second-round pick Brad Miller could be ready for 2014, which is the earliest Franklin could likely be ready to take over full-time.

 

17 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Behemoth

Matt Adams would seem to be a real possibility to be traded with the Cards having Craig, Beltran, Holliday and Taveras to use at 1B and the OF corners.

I'd be surprised if the Red Sox traded Bogaerts yet, given the potential for a special bat, the possibility that he can stick at short for a while, and the potential for Middlebrooks to fail to live up to his rookie season, especially given his high strikeout low walk approach.

Oct 26, 2012 07:09 AM
rating: 2
 
cubfan131

He was the first name that came to mind when I saw the premise of the article.

Oct 26, 2012 08:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BillJohnson

I had much the same reaction, but it may not make sense to dangle him as trade bait until he has recovered from surgery and shown he's the same player as he was for the first half of 2012. Some risk of selling low until he gets the rebound from that.

Oct 26, 2012 11:59 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

I understand the inclination to move Adams, but I've always been of the impression that's he's got higher upside than Craig and Carpenter (who are the real long-term blocks to Adams). There's an argument that spending a season as the first bat off the bench will be detrimental to his development, but otherwise, it seems likely he'd get 500+ ABs in 2014 and beyond, and you don't trade a stud if he's only "blocked" for a year.

Oct 26, 2012 22:33 PM
rating: 1
 
Behemoth

I think the Cards would be delighted if Adams put up Allen Craig numbers. Hitting .300 with 25-30HR a year if he stays healthy is pretty solid. I've also not seen much that suggests Adams has upside beyond that sort of level. The injury is probably more of a reason not to trade him now.

Oct 27, 2012 17:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Sharky

Nice work, Jason. Enjoyed the article.

Oct 26, 2012 11:27 AM
rating: 0
 
DWHennessy

Any Bogaerts deal would have to bring back premium talent under team control for a considerable amount of time, someone along the lines of Justin Upton or Elvis Andrus, otherwise it would make no sense. The Red Sox are not in a position to succeed next year without a lot of breaks going their way and need to be building toward establishing their next core group of impact players. Bogaerts is number one on that list right now. Middlebrooks may prove to be an above average player over his career, but his presence in the lineup in 2013 is hardly justification for trading a player with Bogaerts' potential.

Oct 26, 2012 12:51 PM
rating: 0
 
BillJohnson

Please, why on earth would anyone want to trade Justin Upton or Elvis Andrus for Bogaerts?

Oct 26, 2012 15:25 PM
rating: 3
 
amazin_mess

When you're a Red Sox fan that consistently overrates your team's prospects.

Oct 26, 2012 16:39 PM
rating: 0
 
raygu1

Seriously? not a Sox fan, but Bogaerts is one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball. He did make it to AA as a 19 year old. No idea how someone would think he is overrated.

Oct 26, 2012 20:14 PM
rating: 1
 
BillJohnson

You both miss the point, which isn't about Bogaerts; it's about the value of young, excellent, cost-controlled players, one of whom plays the same position that Bogaerts does (did?). It would take more than one guy with a whiff of AA experience to pry either of those two away from their teams, even if that whiff is highly promising. Again, a commentary on players like Upton and Andrus, not a knock on Bogaerts.

Oct 26, 2012 21:29 PM
rating: 1
 
DWHennessy

Respectfully, I think you missed my point. The opportunity cost to the Red Sox of developing a young, excellent, cost-controlled player in Bogaerts is too high to justify trading him right now. Strictly speaking in terms of prospects, Bogaerts has a relatively high chance of becoming the type of player who could be a centerpiece in an Andrus or an Upton trade, given his age advancement, scouting reports and track record of success, especially if he can produce in AA as a 19 year old next year. This is a long winded way of saying that I disagree that Bogaerts has more value to another organization because the Red Sox currently have Will Middlebrooks at third base. When you consider where the team is on the win curve, the type of player Bogaerts would get in a trade right now is not worth the opportunity cost.

Oct 26, 2012 22:23 PM
rating: 2
 
DWHennessy

No one, which is precisely why I'd be really surprised to see him traded right now. The most value he has to any organization is to the Red Sox in Portland given his potential. He just finished his age 18 season with a (really) brief stint in AA where he more than held his own. Unlike most of these guys, he has yet to see much resistance in his development. I'd think the Red Sox would want to give him a chance to keep showing strides in AA as a 19 year old next year. At that point, maybe Upton or Andrus isn't as ridiculous.

Oct 26, 2012 16:07 PM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

Now that Arizona have moved Young, you have to figure the only way Justin Upton goes is if a team vastly overpays. And who wants to overpay for an enigma?

Oct 27, 2012 06:15 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Jason - any chance the Blue Jays deal one of their high-end arms?

Oct 27, 2012 08:37 AM
rating: 0
 
Jason A. Churchill

R.A Wagman,

I do believe there is a chance, but it will have to be for a young player under club control for at least three years.

Re: Bogaerts

While the Red Sox aren't going to trade him just to trade him, he's not an elite prospect and is not going to stick at shortstop without significant progress and adjustments.

Translation: He's a 45 defender at best, and his glove could hold back his bat and his ETA in the majors if he stays at shortstop.

If Bogaerts can handle an outfield spot, perhaps now is the time to move him there, unless they plan to trade him. He's not likely to unseat Middlebrooks at third anytime soon. This is why rival clubs anticipate Bogaerts being the subject of trade talks as the Sox look to improve their roster from 2012.

Re: Justin Upton

It's my opinion that Upton is not only an enigma, but one that can't hit away from Chase. Scouts question his mettle, too, and that isn't usually a sign of the star-level player Upton has flashed but has been unable to sustain for any length of time.

Oct 27, 2012 17:31 PM
rating: -1
 
Behemoth

Curious why you don't think Bogaerts is an elite prospect - as a guy who has hit for average and power at A+/AA at 19, has decent defensive value even if he can't stick at short, and doesn't seem to have excessive strikeout issues generally for a power hitter, I'd have thought he would have ranked pretty highly.

Oct 29, 2012 06:06 AM
rating: 1
 
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