MLB Trade Scenarios: 25 Young Players Every Seller Will Try to Acquire
Prospects in Major League Baseball often live a life of uncertainty. When they're originally drafted, they are either selected because they were the best athlete available at the time, or they filled a positional need within the organization.
They then spend the early part of their careers working on honing and developing their skills, continually hoping to advance to the next level and to make a favorable impression on their employers.
However, at some point for many prospects, they become unwilling pawns in the trade game. If their team is in the playoff hunt come late July, they're looking to upgrade their rosters, and to do that they have to field inquiries about prospects in their system who can fulfill a need for the team inquiring about them.
So, once again, uncertainty creeps in. They then start wondering where they'll be in a matter of a few weeks. They also start wondering whether or not they have a better chance to make the big leagues with the team that wants them, or if they are just being acquired for organizational depth.
The life of a prospect can seriously suck at times.
This year, because of the new playoff format in place for MLB, not as many teams will be classified as sellers, so no doubt those teams will be fielding multiple inquiries on major leaguers who can help their team out down the stretch. Sellers will be looking to rebuild for the future, so a number of prospects on buying teams may change teams come late July.
Here is a list of 25 prospects whom will be drawing the eye of selling teams within MLB.
Nick Castellanos: 3B, Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers went all in with their acquisition of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and according to recent reports, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch will absolutely give the go-ahead to make upgrades to give his team a better chance at postseason success.
To that end, selling teams will no doubt make inquiries about third base prospect Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos, taken with the 44th overall pick by the Tigers in the supplemental round of the 2010 MLB draft, has done nothing but hit since he started professional baseball. After hitting .312 last season in Single-A ball, Castellanos has done one better at the Advanced Single-A level, hitting .394 in 41 games with Lakeland.
The Tigers could be unwilling to give Castellanos, but given the opportunity to acquire a key piece that could help take them over the top this season, GM Dave Dombrowski will have an interesting decision to make.
Andrelton Simmons: SS, Atlanta Braves
During this past spring training down in Jupiter, Fla., a competition began brewing at the Atlanta Braves training camp when one hadn't even been expected.
Prospect Tyler Pastornicky had largely been anointed as the new shortstop prior to spring training, but during camp, another prospect made things very interesting—Andrelton Simmons.
Simmons caught the eye of long-time veteran Chipper Jones.
“He’s got it,” Jones said of Simmons. “He’s major league-ready defensively, there’s no doubt about that. When everybody says that he’s major league-ready defensively, they’re saying it for a reason.”
Pastornicky was eventually able to pick it up at the plate and beat out Simmons for the job and has since performed well in his rookie season, hitting .275 and committing just four errors in 33 games.
Simmons is absolutely tearing it up at Triple-A Gwinnett, hitting .365 and showing terrific plate discipline with just 11 strikeouts in 104 at-bats.
If the Braves decide they need help for their stretch run, Simmons will no doubt be a name discussed by selling teams.
Daniel Corcino: RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are already engaged in a neck-and-neck race in the NL Central Division, just a half-game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. In a packed division where adding just the right piece could set a team apart from the others, the Reds could very well be in buying mode come late July.
One of the pieces they can dangle in return could be Dominican-born pitching prospect Daniel Corcino. Corcino has made the transition to Double-A ball fairly smoothly thus far, posting a 3.56 ERA in his first nine starts for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
While the Reds lost some key prospects in their deal to land pitcher Mat Latos from San Diego, GM Walt Jocketty could be persuaded to let another one go if the player he wants is worth it.
A.J. Pollock: CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
When Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young went down with a right shoulder injury, they called upon 24-year-old prospect A.J. Pollock to take his place on the roster.
Pollock didn't light the house on fire, but he didn't look overmatched either, hitting .229 with just six strikeouts in 48 at-bats. Pollock was sent back down to Triple-A Reno when Young was activated from the DL this weekend.
The D-Backs have been struggling thus far this season with a 19-23 record, 9.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West Division. However, with two wild-card spots now available, the D-Backs are literally one hot streak away from being in contention once again, and GM Kevin Towers will do what it takes to upgrade his roster if the opportunity presents itself.
Pollock will likely draw plenty of interest, and Towers could have a tough decision on his hands, especially given the ongoing injury issues with Young.
David Holmberg: LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks are loaded with top-tier pitching prospects, with Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs heading the list.
However, they also have another pitcher in their top 10 (according to Baseball America) who could draw considerable interest as well—left-hander David Holmberg.
Considering the fact that GM Kevin Towers is likely unwilling to even discuss Bauer, Bradley or Skaggs, Holmberg could be a valuable asset for Towers as the trade deadline nears.
Holmberg is off to an excellent start this season with Advanced Single-A Visalia, posting a 6-3 record and 3.25 ERA in nine starts, including 60 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. Holmberg has also demonstrated excellent command of the strike zone, with just 12 free passes and a 1.048 WHIP.
If the D-Backs' top three pitching prospects are untouchable, Holmberg could be switching jerseys come late July.
Anthony Gose: CF, Toronto Blue Jays
Count Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports as one who believes that the Toronto Blue Jays could be major players at the trade deadline.
Rosenthal felt that because of all the wheeling and dealing done by Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos with a flurry of trades in recent years, the Jays can offer an attractive package in exchange for a top-tier pitcher.
The Blue Jays have been surging, just four games off the blistering pace set by the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.
In adding a top-tier pitcher, Anthopolous will probably receive inquires regarding the availability of center field prospect Anthony Gose. Gose is currently hitting .253 at Triple-A Las Vegas, has speed to burn and excellent range in center field.
With the second-best farm system in the majors (according to FanGraphs.com), Anthopoulos clearly has some options available to get the man he's seeking, and Gose will likely be high on that list.
Alex Cobb: RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
With starting pitcher Jeff Niemann shelved due to a fractured fibula suffered when he was hit with a batted ball, the Tampa Bay Rays recalled right-hander Alex Cobb to replace Niemann in the starting rotation.
Cobb got the job done in his very first start this season, giving up just two runs on six hits in seven innings in a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Cobb shined last season as well, posting a 3-2 record and 3.42 ERA in nine starts for the Rays. Cobb found himself behind Matt Moore on the depth chart, however, and started his season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
Niemann is expected back somewhere around the All-Star break, and if Tampa Bay remains in the hunt for the postseason, Cobb could be a name that GM Andrew Friedman will hear mentioned quite a bit in trade talks with other teams.
Francisco Cervelli: C, New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have quietly built up an excellent farm system, rising to the No. 10-ranked farm system according to FanGraphs.com.
One of the biggest strengths in New York's minor-league system is at the catching position. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are both highly regarded, and Francisco Cervelli is honing his hitting skills at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees have reportedly received calls regarding Cervelli already, and while they have thus far been unwilling to deal him, that could quickly change if an emerging need arises.
Cervelli has hit .272 in parts of four seasons, seeing extended time in 2010 with an injury to Jorge Posada. However, with younger top prospects at the position already, GM Brian Cashman just might become more willing to listen to offers if he can fulfill a major need.
Heath Hembree: RHP, San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco may be currently looking up at the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, but there are two wild-card spots currently in play. Considering their phenomenal starting rotation, they could very well be looking for upgrades in mid-to-late July.
GM Brian Sabean very well could be shopping for infield help, considering he currently has a no-name group comprised of Emmanuel Burriss, Brandon Crawford, Joaquin Arias and Charlie Culberson.
Closer Heath Hembree will be a frequently mentioned when Sabean is dealing with other GMs. Hembree has eight saves with a 3.77 ERA at Triple-A Fresno after notching 38 saves last season between Advanced Single-A and Double-A ball.
Mike Olt: 3B, Texas Rangers
Everyone loves a power-hitting third baseman, and the Texas Rangers have themselves a pretty good one in Adrian Beltre.
The Rangers have a good one on the farm as well: Mike Olt.
Olt is hitting .268 with nine HR and 26 RBI at Double-A Round Rock in 40 games thus far, with a .906 OPS as well.
When Rangers GM Jon Daniels is looking to make upgrades in order to try and capture a third straight American League pennant and first ever World Series championship, no doubt that teams will be asking about Olt.
C.J. Cron: 1B, Los Angeles Angels
When C.J. Cron signed a contract after being selected with the 17th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in last year's MLB draft, he reported to Orem in the Pioneer (Rookie) League and absolutely tore it up, hitting .308 with 13 HR and 41 RBI in just 34 games.
This year, Cron was assigned to Advanced Single-A Inland Empire, where he is currently hitting .277 with five HR and 29 RBI.
Cron's path to Anaheim may be blocked for a while, with an abundance of first basemen already with the Angels, topped by none other than Albert Pujols.
If Angels GM Jerry DiPoto is inclined to be a buyer before the trade deadline in late July, Cron's name will be a prominent one in talks with other GMs.
Taylor Green: 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
At this point, it may be hard to imagine the Milwaukee Brewers being buyers in the trade market during the early summer months. Besieged with a bevy of injuries, the Brewers are struggling with a 17-24 record.
However, if somehow they are still in the NL Central race, sellers will be asking Brewers GM Doug Melvin about the availability of third baseman Taylor Green.
Green is finally starting to mature after being selected in the 25th round of the 2005 MLB draft, hitting .336 last season with 22 HR and 88 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A.
Green was called up on May 5 as a replacement for Alex Gonzalez, who is now out for the season after suffering a torn ACL. With Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks manning third and second, respectively, Green is up more for depth at this point, so he very well could be a chip for Melvin to use if teams come calling.
Trevor May: RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
When the Philadelphia Phillies were stumbling along in April and early May, they were actually being talked about as sellers for the first time in years.
However, now that they're surging and back close to the .500 mark, that talk may have been a bit premature.
Within two months or so, we'll know whether or not Ruben Amaro will be buying or selling, but if he is buying, then right-handed pitching prospect Trevor May just might be on the minds of rival GMs.
May is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA in eight starts for Double-A Reading, and he seems to have finally figured out plate command after four years in the Phillies organization.
Christian Yelich: Outfielder, Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins were free-wheeling spenders this offseason, upgrading their roster with close to a $200 million investment altogether.
After a rough start, the Marlins have started to put it together, now just 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. While it may seem improbable that the Marlins would continue spending, that's exactly what they'll do if they have a shot at the postseason.
The Marlins' farm system isn't loaded with top-tier talent—FanGraphs has them ranked 26th out of 30 teams—but one player in particular will be of great interest to GMs across the league: outfielder Christian Yelich.
Taken by the Marlins with the 23rd pick in the 2010 MLB draft, Yelich enjoyed a terrific season last year, hitting .312 with 15 HR and 77 RBI at Single-A Greensboro. This year, Yelich is batting .290 with seven HR and 13 RBI at Advanced Single-A Jupiter.
It will no doubt take a lot to convince the Marlins to include Yelich in any deal, but it won't stop teams from at least trying.
Kole Calhoun: Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels
Outfielder Kole Calhoun has moved quickly through the Los Angeles Angels farm system since being selected out of Arizona State University in the eighth round of the 2010 MLB draft.
In just two-plus seasons, Calhoun is at Triple-A Salt Lake, hitting .296 with five HR and 31 RBI. If the Angels are buying, Calhoun will absolutely be a name brought up to GM Jerry DiPoto in discussions with other GMs.
As with many of the prospects on this list, just because they're wanted by other teams does not in any way mean that they're going anywhere. But it won't stop any GM from at least trying—they wouldn't be doing their job correctly otherwise.
Nate Eovaldi: RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Last year, right-hander Nate Eovaldi made his major-league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 6, making six starts with a 1-2 record and 3.63 ERA.
Eovaldi went back to Double-A Chattanooga this year, and the 22-year-old has once again looked promising, with a 3.18 ERA and 1.265 WHIP in eight starts.
The Dodgers are riding high at the top of the NL West, and if they're able to maintain that lead, GM Ned Colletti will be looking at ways to improve his roster. Eovaldi will no doubt be a player about whom rival GMs will inquire.
Tommy Joseph: C/1B, San Francisco Giants
If the San Francisco Giants are in fact buyers in early months of summer, then they'll be dealing from a position of strength with a bevy of young catchers in their season, including Tommy Joseph.
With Gary Sanchez and Andrew Susac seemingly ahead of Joseph on the depth chart, GM Brian Sabean could make Joseph available if teams come calling about catchers.
Joseph is a power-hitting catcher, with 22 HR and 95 RBI last season for San Jose in the California League. This year, Joseph is hitting .250 with three HR and 10 RBI at Double-A Richmond. Much like Buster Posey, Joseph can also man first base as well, making him even more attractive to other teams.
Manny Banuelos: LHP, New York Yankees
Yes, I know, the Killer B's are supposedly untouchable, but it won't stop teams from continuing to ask.
The New York Yankees have repeatedly buffed any deal that involves their two young pitching stars, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos is back at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after his promotion there last year, with a 4.50 ERA in six starts thus far. Banuelos continues to struggle a bit with command, which has been an issue in the past, but if GM Brian Cashman is looking to bolster his roster for the inevitable postseason push, might he finally bend this year if rival GMs come calling Banuelos' name?
Billy Hamilton: SS, Cincinnati Reds
At the rate that 21-year-old Billy Hamilton is currently stealing bases, Rickey Henderson must be taking notice.
The Cincinnati Reds are certainly grateful to have Hamilton in their system. Last year, the speedster stole 103 bases for Single-A Dayton. He is already averaging a stolen base per game this season for Advanced Single-A Bakersfield.
If the Reds are buyers within the next two months, GM Walt Jocketty will probably need a secretary to help field calls from rival GMs demanding Hamilton in any deal.
Will Middlebrooks: 3B, Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, out since early May with a sore back, played his final rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday and should be activated by the Red Sox on Tuesday.
That means that young prospect Will Middlebrooks is likely headed back to Pawtucket, but he can go back knowing his first stint in the majors was a success.
Middlebrooks is hitting .297 with five HR, 16 RBI and a .906 OPS. He did himself proud.
If the Red Sox are buyers, will it be Youkilis that is offered up to other teams, or will Cherington keep Youk and possibly consider offers that include Middlebrooks?
It's highly doubtful that Middlebrooks is going anywhere. But again, like many players on this list, it won't stop GMs from asking.
Jurickson Profar: SS, Texas Rangers
With shortstop Elvis Andrus signing a three-year, $14.4 million contract, prospect Jurickson Profar will be toiling away in the farm system wondering whether or not he has a future.
Profar, currently at Double-A Frisco, is one of best shortstop prospects in the majors, and rival GMs will want him included in a deal if GM Jon Daniels comes calling for a veteran to help out the major-league club for their playoff push.
Shelby Miller: RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller is at Triple-A Memphis and knocking on the door, but will that door lead to the St. Louis Cardinals or to another team?
The current Cards' rotation is handling themselves well, ranked fifth in the National League with a 3.34 ERA, and Chris Carpenter should be returning sometime soon as well.
Miller will be a hot name when GM John Mozeliak starts making calls to other GMs to bolster his roster for another run at the World Series.
Kyle Crick: RHP, San Francisco Giants
Last year, the San Francisco Giants took pitcher Kyle Crick with their pick in the supplemental round of the MLB draft. Crick is pitching well in the Sally League with Single-A Augusta, posting a 3.16 ERA in seven starts, with 38 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.
It's unlikely that GM Brian Sabean will give up Crick in any deal to bolster his roster for the postseason push, but Crick's name will be popular among rival GMs who call Sabean anyway.
Travis d'Arnaud: C, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are certainly in a position of strength when it comes to the catching position.
J.P. Arencibia is hitting .256 for the Jays, with seven HR and 26 RBI. He has also become a fan favorite as well as a respected guy in the clubhouse.
So, if the Jays are buyers within the next two months, GM Alex Anthopoulos will have a decision to make, because rival GMs are almost certainly going to inquire about prospect catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
D'Arnaud is hitting .297 for Triple-A Las Vegas with seven HR and 20 RBI, and he is considered an all-around better receiver than Arencibia. Nonetheless, if Anthopoulos wants to go after the big fish, he'll have to give up big in return.
Sean Gilmartin: LHP, Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves knew what they were doing when they selected left-handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin with the 28th pick in last year's MLB draft—the kid is pretty good.
In nine starts thus far with the Double-A Mississippi Braves, Gilmartin has posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.143 WHIP—pretty impressive for someone in their first full year of professional baseball.
With a young stable of arms such as Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran, they likely aren't going anywhere, so rival GMs will likely call out Gilmartin's name when talking to GM Frank Wren about possible trades to bolster the Braves roster for the playoff push.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.
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