MLB Trade Rumors: Jacob Turner and 15 Top Prospects on the Block

Zachary BallAnalyst IJanuary 17, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Jacob Turner and 15 Top Prospects on the Block

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    The Yankees made the biggest splash of what has been a very eventful off-season this past weekend, dealing top prospect Jesus Montero, a legitimate home run and batting average champion, for last year's most surprising rookie, 22-year old Michael Pineda of Seattle.

    Add Montero's name to the list that includes fellow top prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Peacock, Derek Norris, Tom Milone, Collin Cowgill, Jarrod Parker, and Anthony Rizzo. Each player has been traded and will likely find greener pastures (aka more playing time).

    Still, by checking my nearest calendar, I find that spring training is still more than a month away, leaving plenty of time for more deals to be made, and more prospects to be dealt.

    Jacob Turner, Detroit's stud pitching prospect, has seen his name fluttered about the market these past few weeks. He could be the next one to go, but it could also be someone else, someone lesser-known.

    It could end up being one of the guys on this list.

Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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    Despite numerous reports, most notably from Buster Olney, the Tigers remain adamant that they're not willing to part with top prospect Jacob Turner, no matter the target. GM Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News that while Turner's name did come up when the team was discussing Gio Gonzalez with the Athletics, Turner is in Detroit to stay.

    How many times have we heard that party line, though?

    The simple fact is that the Tigers are still hunting for a veteran starter, and if the Cubs were to make Matt Garza available, like for real available, there's no doubt that they'd almost certainly have to part with him. As talented a prospect as Turner is...he's most likely not going to win 15-17 games.

    Garza could...enough said.

Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Like the Tigers with Turner, the Braves have been incredibly reluctant to even discuss Delgado with other teams.

    The team has, however, been incredibly interested in Baltimore's Adam Jones, and if the Braves want to pull the trigger on that deal, which would secure them a franchise center-fielder for the next 3-5 years, it would likely take somebody of Delgado's caliber to convince the O's to cave.

    Delgado may not have the ceiling of his fellow organization-mate, Julio Teheran, but he has a ceiling as a number two starter. If he can't reach that, he's likely to be a scintillating reliever.

Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

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    If there's any player that the Tigers are less willing to trade than Jacob Turner, it's Castellanos.

    The third baseman hit .312 with 36 doubles and 76 RBI last year in the Midwest League as a 19-year old. He was one of three players offered to Seattle when the Tigers picked up Doug Fister (the Mariners eventually chose reliever Chance Ruffin).

    The Tigers showed their faith in the youngster by offering him an invite to spring training this year, but if the Cubs prove to be more receptive to a Castellanos-centered deal, it might be him, and not Turner who is on the move.

Trey McNutt, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Let's face it, the fact that McNutt is the best pitcher in Chicago's system doesn't say too much about the depth or quality of the farm system that Theo Epstein has inherited.

    McNutt was rumored as a potential candidate to be sent to Boston as a part of the deal that allowed Epstein to come to Chicago in the first place, and while those talks seem to have taken a backseat to the Cubs rebuilding process, it's still a possibility that McNutt could have a new home come the start of the 2012 season.

    Epstein is looking for guys who are ready to join the rotation in 2012, and considering McNutt's rough 2011 season in Double-A, it's unlikely he's going to be that guy.

Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers

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    Assuming that the Rangers can come to some sort of agreement with Asian sensation Yu Darvish, Perez will no doubt be staying put, but if somehow things fall apart in negotiations and Darvish is returned to Japan, the Rangers will be looking for another major piece for their rotation.

    Losing C.J. Wilson hurt the Rangers, but if they were able to get to the World Series with him as their ace, it's likely that they can do it with someone else who could be easily had in a trade anchored by Perez.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Perez is arguably the best lefty pitcher in the minors after Tampa's Matt Moore. Like Moore, he's destined to open the season at Triple-A, but unlike the Rays lefty, he'll likely spend the majority of the season there.

Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees

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    Who would have thunk that by trading the only prospect ahead of him in the system, the Yankees would have made Manny Banuelos' rise to the Majors even harder?

    That's what happens when you drop a Michael Pineda roadblock in his way.

    The addition of Pineda, as well as the lesser talked about one of Hiroki Kuroda, makes it seem very unlikely that Banuelos will be joining the Yankees rotation in 2012. That might not necessarily be a bad thing, as it will give the lefty more of a chance to gain some seasoning in Triple-A, but it also doesn't bode well for his long-term future.

    Even if it's not this off-season, don't bet against the Yankees dealing Banuelos.

    Heck, everyone thought Montero was the very definition of "untradeable," and look where he is now.

Jose Iglesias, SS, Boston Red Sox

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    Anybody who thinks that Iglesias has a legitimate shot at ever being the Red Sox long-term shortstop is sorely mistaken.

    All you have to do is look at his offensive production in 171 minor league games (.261/.308/.316 and one home run) and 10 big-league contests to know he's destined for a role outside the organization he currently resides.

    Iglesias is still young and cheap however, and could be intriguing to an organization that values defense more than Boston. Say maybe, Pittsburgh, Houston, Atlanta, or Baltimore.

Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays paid a pretty penny to acquire Archer, along with shortstop Hak-Ju Lee last off-season. It took letting go of arguably the team's best starter, Matt Garza, and aside from Lee's astounding production, the trade was a disappointment for the Rays, thanks mostly to Archer's terrible 2011 campaign.

    A year after posting a 15-3 record and a 2.34 ERA, Archer stumbled to a 9-7 mark with an ERA almost twice as high. He also posted career-highs in walks and home runs allowed. In addition, his control was almost non-existant. He plunked 10 batters and threw 18 wild-pitches.

    On the plus side, he did throw a career-high 147.1 innings. He also looked very sharp in two late-season appearances at Triple-A Durham. Those last two starts, combined with his strong past could entice some teams to bite on Archer.

    The Rays could still use some pieces to help combat the moves made by New York, Boston, and Toronto, and having a stable of arms that include Archer allows them some flexibility.

Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Let's be honest here. Taking into account the state of each organization's farm system, as well as the age each team's nucleus, which team would you project to look better in four or five years: Atlanta or Philadelphia?

    That's right ladies and gentlemen, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee aren't getting any younger, and while Cole Hamels has looked like a staff ace at times, I'm not as confident in his ability to lead a rotation. The Phillies, while they still have some ammunition, would be wise to use what's left in their farm system to make a deal like the one the Yankees just made in acquiring Michael Pineda.

    Right-hander Trevor May, the team's top prospect, gives them just that ammo. May was one of three prospects to crack the 200-strikeout mark in 2011, and that's the kind of number that catches people's attention.

    If May could be packaged with some lesser guys to get, say a Madison Bumgarner or Francisco Liriano, I think that's the kind of trade that ensures your team stays competitive down the road.

Matt Dominguez, 3B, Miami Marlins

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    Who would have thunk that the prospect of the Florida Marlins becoming the Miami Marlins would cost Matt Dominguez his long-term future in the big-leagues?

    That's exactly what happened however, as the the team moved into a new stadium and acquired a new attitude towards the free-agency market. With the addition of shortstop Jose Reyes, incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez was reluctantly moved to Dominguez's stomping ground, third base.

    Considering Ramirez offers more offensive production, in addition to giving the Marlins arguably baseball's fastest third baseman, the thought of Dominguez reaching the Majors in Miami now appears to be quite a long-shot.

    He's still young however, and the Marlins would argue that he got much better in 2011, despite the fact that he posted worse offensive numbers, making him a somewhat appealing trade target for teams looking for a younger, cheaper alternative at the hot-corner.

A.J. Cole, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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    The A's acquired two pitchers this off-season who were drafted straight out of high-school: Jarrod Parker (from Arizona) and A.J. Cole (from Washington). Both acquisitions go against the tried and true ways of the A's front-office, but in Parker's case it makes sense because he's practically big-league ready.

    Cole on the other hand, is still light-years from becoming the kind of pitcher he's one day going to be, and in Oakland's eyes, that's more risk than they're usually willing to take. As such, it wouldn't surprise me if Cole was an addition A's GM Billy Beane had his eyes on with the intent of later moving for another piece he wants more.

    Make no mistake, Cole had a stellar season in 2011, posting a 108-to-24 K:BB ratio, but he accomplished that in Low-A ball, making him about three or four years and about 30-40 pounds away from reaching the Majors, a trait he shares with none of the other players acquired by Oakland in their two biggest trades this off-season.

Jio Mier, SS, Houston Astros

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    The Astros have been quite active in the trade market since the middle of last season. They've shed some proven veterans, and in exchange picked up some very nice young players, including a couple of fine prospects.

    One of the young players they picked up was Jed Lowrie, from Boston. Lowrie has played both positions on the left-side of the infield, but should stick at shortstop for the time being. I've been big on Lowrie for quite some time now and see him working out, at least until the era of Jonathan Villar begins.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Villar, he's a toolsy shortstop down at Double-A who has garnered comparisons to Jurickson Profar, the top all-around shortstop prospect in the game.

    The Astros also have another talented young shortstop, acquired the same year as Villar, named Jio Mier. Mier has shown flashes of just about everything (speed, power, defensive ability) since signing with Houston and is likely looking at a position change, or a change of scenery.

Hank Conger, C, Los Angeles Angels

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    Conger doesn't technically have prospect status anymore, but he is a promising young player who the Angels need to make a decision on. After feeling less than inspired by his production (.209/.282/.356) in a 97-game stint with the Halos, the Angels dealt for former Rockies backstop Chris Iannetta this off-season.

    Iannetta not only offers slightly better offensive production, but is better behind the plate. Conger is now the owner of the back-up spot, just a year or two after being tabbed as one of the top offensive catcher prospects in the game.

    If he gets his swagger and his starting spot back, it will likely be with another organization.

Chris Tillman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Like Conger, Tillman no longer qualifies as a prospect, although his results in the majors have been so inconsistent (7-15, 5.58 ERA) that it's not a complete stretch to think of him as one.

    Those results were accumulated over 36 starts (roughly the number that a regular starter would make) and fail to justify the kind of promise Tillman showed in the minors: 22-19, 3.61 and a 247-to-94 K:BB ratio.

    Also consider that at age 23, Tillman is still one of the youngest starting pitchers in the Majors.

    The O's seem pleased with their stable of young pitchers, including LHP Brian Matusz, RHP Jake Arrieta, LHP Zach Britton and RHP Brad Bergesen, although they have brought in several other arms to challenge them this spring training, including LHP Dana Eveland and Asian imports Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen.

    Tillman could be a piece that the front office could dangle.

Chris Withrow, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    The Dodgers' recent first-round picks haven't worked out too well, and that problem has been amplified by the fact that so many of those picks have been pitchers through whom the Dodgers have intended to rebuild their big-league squad the past few years.

    There's still hope for a few guys, especially 2010 first-rounder Zach Lee, but the verdict is most definitely still out on right-hander Chris Withrow. He has arguably the best velocity in the system, now that Rubby de la Rosa has graduated to the majors, but control has never been his strong suit. He walked a career-high of 75 batters in 2011 in just 128.2 innings. In five pro seasons, he has yet to compile an ERA below 4.20, the number he posted in 2011.

    Still, with his impressive velocity, there is bound to be some team that would love to get their hands (and coaching staff) on his fastball. Even if he burns out as a starter, he has great value as a reliever.