Would Boston be willing to part with Garin Cecchini?
The flurry of trades this week reaffirms that few prospects appear in trade rumors before they’re actually dealt.
Prospects can serve as the deal-breaker in a potential trade and therefore are usually the last piece(s) to fall into place.
Since Monday, several notable prospects already have been traded, and it’s likely even more will be on the move next week with the start of MLB’s annual Winter Meetings.
The Washington Nationals dealt left-handers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol to the Tigers on Monday night, along with infielder Steve Lombardozzi, in exchange for right-hander Doug Fister.
On Tuesday, the Texas Rangers acquired a potential impact bat in outfielder Michael Choice as well as second baseman Chris Bostick from the A’s in exchange for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom.
So, in anticipation of the upcoming Winter Meetings, here’s a look at the hottest trade rumors involving top prospects.
After a breakout full-season debut in 2012, Aaron Sanchez was moved up to High-A Dunedin and, in general, appeared poised to take another huge step forward the following year. However, the 21-year-old right-hander spent over a month on the disabled list this past season with shoulder soreness, and he ultimately logged only 86.1 innings at the more advanced level.
And while he still posted solid stats with a 3.34 ERA and .202 opponents’ batting average, his 75-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio and lack of a consistent third pitch left something to be desired.
At 6’4”, 190 pounds, Sanchez is an impressive athlete with a lightning-quick arm and explosive trunk rotation. Few pitchers in the minor leagues can pump a mid-90s fastball as effortlessly as the right-hander. His command of his secondary offerings is still fringy, though he threw both his changeup and curveball with more conviction in strikeout counts this fall.
The original rumor was that the Blue Jays might deal Sanchez to the Cubs in exchange for Jeff Samardzija. However, that idea seemingly has lost steam over the last week.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), the latest buzz is that Toronto is “infatuated” with A’s left-hander Brett Anderson and could make a strong offer for him during next week’s Winter Meetings.
If Sanchez was even somewhat available in a potential deal for Samardzija, then it’s likely that he’d also be in play in a trade for Anderson.
Potential Impact: No. 2/No. 3 starting pitcher
ETA: Late 2015
Garin Cecchini enjoyed a breakout campaign this past season between two advanced levels, also marking the first season of his professional career that wasn’t impacted by an injury. The 22-year-old batted .322/.443/.471 with 47 extra-base hits (33 doubles), 23 stolen bases and stellar 86-94 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 129 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
Even though Cecchini boasts one of the best combinations of hit-tool projection and plate discipline among all minor leaguers, it’s difficult to envision him getting the nod over one of Boston’s talented infielders anytime soon. Plus, he lacks the power commonly associated with a big league third baseman.
However, that didn’t stop the Miami Marlins from checking in on Cecchini’s availability, according to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com:
Despite the fact they drafted former North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran with the sixth pick in the 2013 draft, they approached the Red Sox about their 22-year old third baseman Garin Cecchini, who would seem to be similar to Moran.
Without a path to consistent playing time in the major leagues, Cecchini represents the organization’s top trade chip this offseason. His bat is less than a year away from being ready for the majors, so expect more teams than just the Marlins to show interest in him this winter.
Potential Impact: Starting third baseman for second-division team
ETA: Late 2014/Early 2015
After spending parts of two seasons between the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League, Miguel Almonte was deployed to Low-A Lexington this year for his full-season debut.
Though he was both young and inexperienced relative to the competition, the 20-year-old right-hander emerged as one of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic League. Making 25 starts on the year, Almonte posted an impressive 3.10 ERA and 132-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130.2 innings.
In a recent article on potential trade packages for Jeff Samardzija, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) suggested that the Royals could make a strong bid by packing Almonte in a deal with Aaron Crow:
Much of baseball is split on whether Crow can start games, and when I drafted Crow at GM of the Nationals in 2008 (he didn't sign) I was confident he could develop into a good No. 3 or 4 starter; I still believe that.
Indeed, his stuff plays well in the pen and his career stats -- 158 hits in 174 2/3 innings pitched and 174 strikeouts -- are solid. But I believe he’s a potential double-digit winner and could pitch 180-200 innings, if given the opportunity. If he doesn’t start, he’s still an elite set-up man. An All-Star in 2011, the Cubs would control Crow for three more years.
However, the key to the deal could be Almonte, who also has the potential of an eventual No. 3 starter.
At 6’2”, 180 pounds, Almonte has a loose, athletic frame that allows for smooth mechanics and encourages his fast but fluid arm. The right-hander has an aggressive approach and attacks the zone with a projectable four-pitch mix, demonstrating a rare blend of pure stuff and feel for a player of his age.
Almonte’s fastball is a plus offering that works consistently in the 91-95 mph range with above-average life, and it’s conceivable that he’ll add velocity as he adds strength. The changeup is a present plus with plus-plus potential and, in general, is highly advanced for his age; he shows confidence in the pitch against both right- and left-handed hitters, and it already serves as a swing-and-miss offering.
Although he’s young, Almonte has an impressive overall feel for changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance, throwing a curveball that features a nice shape and has average potential, as well as a slider that’s inconsistent but definitely usable.
Almonte's more advanced than his age and experience suggest, and he could start moving quickly next season.
Potential Impact: No. 2/No. 3 starting pitcher
ETA: Late 2015/Early 2016