Since the free-agent market for starting pitching will be relatively bleak this offseason, there’ll likely be more notable trades than signings. Given the needs of some teams who came up just shy of a playoff berth, such as the Rays and Dodgers, and those teams already eliminated, such as the Braves and Rangers, there’s a strong chance that many of the presumed trades will involve pitching prospects.
So, here’s a look at five top pitching prospects who, considering age and experience, will serve as interesting trade bait this offseason.
One of the more heralded pitching prospects headed into the season, Bauer made four midseason starts for the Diamondbacks, three of which were unimpressive.
He obviously still possesses the excellent pure stuff that made him one of top pitchers in the minor leagues this season (and the Diamondbacks’ pitcher of the year), but the front office has apparently taken issue with his training and overall approach.
If the situation doesn’t improve this offseason, don’t be surprised if Bauer’s name pops up as the Diamondbacks have always been an aggressive and opportunistic organization.
With a loaded rotation comprised of David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Jeff Niemann, it’s hard to find room for a young, starting pitching prospect. Remember, they still have Wade Davis in the bullpen, a guy I’ve always believed is more valuable as a starter.
Archer pitched well enough over two stints in the big leagues this season to warrant a rotation spot next season—if he were on any other team. Depending on whether James Shields is there next season will seemingly determine Archer’s immediate future.
Still just 21-years-old, Perez was up-and-down with the Rangers several times this season, but still managed to make six starts. Overall, the left-hander registered a 5.45 ERA with 25/15 K/BB over 38 innings, looking sharp on occasion but struggling the majority of the time.
At this point, I would expect the Rangers to be aggressive in their pursuit of an elite starting pitcher this offseason. While Perez does have a lot of upside given his age and experience, that also qualifies him as intriguing trade bait.
It’s been a tough season for Julio Teheran. After an outstanding season at Triple-A as a 20-year-old in 2011, the right-hander entered the 2012 season as one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
Unfortunately, he regressed across the board this year in his second-consecutive season at Triple-A, posting a 5.08 ERA and 97/43 K/BB in 131 innings. A September call-up, Teheran didn’t get into a game until the last day of the season, Oct. 3, when he allowed one hit over two scoreless innings.
The Dodgers’ top prospect, Lee’s name came up around the trade deadline as part of a potential deal for Matt Garza. While that trade never came to fruition, the Dodgers did part with right-hander Allen Webster as part of the Gonzalez-Beckett-Crawford-Punto deal with the Red Sox.
In his age-20 season, Lee pitched over half the season at Double-A, and threw the ball extremely well over the final two months of the season: 40.2 IP, 34 H, 9 ER, 31/8 K/BB and a 1.68 ground-ball rate.
Given the organization’s aggressiveness with pitching prospects—Kershaw debuted at 20, Billingsley at 21—Lee seems to be on pace for a late-2013 arrival, provided he’s still a Dodger.