I was talking to a front office executive last week who was lamenting the disappointing season of a certain highly regarded prospect in the system. He's the kind of prospect who could have helped his team put together an attractive trade package, but not anymore. It's important to keep in mind that prospects serve two purposes for an organization. The first, obviously, is to produce at the big-league level for the parent team. The second, and equally important purpose at this time of year is to acquire big-league talent for a playoff run. With that in mind, here are some players whom their parent clubs wish were in a different place as they try to get deals done.
New York Yankees: Problems at the Top
When dumping high-priced players, teams tend to want something in return that is close to big-league ready. Players fitting that profile provide less risk, and they also serve a public relations role by showing the fans what the team got back. The Yankees began the year with two highly regarded pitchers at Triple-A who nearly represented the sum of their upper-level talent, but both have had disastrous 2012 campaigns. After reeling off a trio of impressive starts, left-hander Manny Banuelos struggled with his control in a May 18th outing, hit the disabled list with what was described as elbow soreness, and hasn't pitched since. Righty Dellin Betances has had an even more disturbing year. He's never earned praise for his messy delivery, but he's completely fallen apart mechanically this season, earning a demotion to Double-A after putting up a 6.39 ERA in the International League with 69 walks in 74.2 innings. He's had mixed results since returning to the Eastern League, but his trade value couldn't be lower.
Baltimore Orioles: Problems at the Bottom
Along with the big-league-ready players, teams often look for a high-ceiling kid at Low-A, and other than Dylan Bundy's remarkable eight-start run at the beginning of the year, it's been nothing but bad news for Baltimore's Sally League affiliate. Right-hander Parker Bridwell entered the year as a big kid with upside who threw hard, and he has a 6.30 ERA. Jason Esposito is a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt who should be dominating at this level, and he's hitting .225/.281/.297. Nick Delmonico received a $1.525 million bonus as a sixth-round pick and is hitting .249/.344/.396 while looking like a first-base-only type. That's three potential trade pieces off the table, and without complementary prospects surrounding studs like Bundy and shortstop Manny Machado, the Orioles are in a bind when it comes to making a major move.
Washington Nationals: Guys Got Hurt
When players get hurt, they can't develop, and scouts don't see them. That automatically downgrades their stock. The Nationals have lost three of their top prospects this year to injuries that keep them out of any trade scenarios. While 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon wasn't going anywhere anyway, teams need a stud to lead off a package for a top pitcher, and the Nationals lost two big arms in left-handers Sammy Solis (Tommy John surgery) and big-money 2011 pick Matt Purke (shoulder). Those injuries have left them a bit handcuffed in terms of getting a deal done.
Atlanta Braves: Just One Stud
There are trade targets, and then there's Zack Greinke. While Greinke isn't definitely available, it's certain that no trade for him can happen without the Brewers being able to acquire a top-flight prospect in return. That puts the Braves in a bit of a bind. While they have some depth in their system, right-hander Julio Teheran is their only stud, and he's had an off year while continuing to struggle to find some consistency with his breaking ball. Despite an ERA approaching five at Triple-A Gwinnett, he still has the potential to be a front-line starter, but the Braves don't want to trade their only top-notch prospect, especially when his value has been reduced by the tough year. By all accounts, Atlanta is in on Greinke, but it's hard to see them being able to compete with the more attractive packages that a team like the Rangers can offer.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Unbalanced
When the Dodgers have been rumored to make a deal of late, the names everyone has heard are right-handers Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Gould, and Allen Webster, and there's a reason for that. If you want to make a deal with the Dodgers, you'd better not be looking for a hitter. LA's is the most unbalanced system in the game. The top non-pitching prospect in the system is High-A outfielder Joc Pederson. Behind Peterson are either Triple-A players with likely, but limited big-league futures like catcher Tim Federowicz and utility man Alex Castellanos, or moderate-ceiling, high-risk players at the lower levels who just won't have value until they produce. Teams that don't want pitching have nothing to talk about here.
â€‹A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
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