MLB Trade Rumors: Every Team's Top Pitching Prospect Who Could Be Moved

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst INovember 2, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: Every Team's Top Pitching Prospect Who Could Be Moved

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    Without fail, several top-notch pitching prospects will be on the move this offseason. With the free-agency market being what it is (aka severely lacking, especially in terms of starting pitching), many teams will likely turn to the trade market in order to shore up holes on their roster.

    As a result, several high-profile guys, such as Atlanta's Arodys Vizcaino, Boston's Drake Britton and Detroit's Casey Crosby, could be on the move, as their respective teams look to file holes in their rotation, bullpen and lineup.

    Teams such as Atlanta, Tampa, Texas and Toronto, all of whom figure to factor into their division's title chase, have plenty of talent and could potentially move more than one prospect, but for the sake of fairness, I have selected one pitching prospect for each team that could be on the move at some point during this offseason.

    Some pitchers have been selected for the potential they hold, while others represent players that said teams would like to distance themselves from.

David Holmberg, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    While Tyler Skaggs was the darling of the Diamondbacks farm system, at least from the pitching side, the argument could be made that his season was actually eclipsed by that of fellow lefty David Holmberg.

    Holmberg came over near the end of last season in the deal that sent Edwin Jackson to Chicago. Clearly pitching in the NL, even if just in the minors, agrees with the 20-year-old, who rocketed from Low-A to Double-A in just 21 starts in the D-Back system.

    This past season, Holmberg was brilliant, posting a 2.39 ERA in 14 starts in the Midwest League before getting the bump to the hitter-friendly California League. He more than held his own there, posting a 4.67 ERA in 13 starts while ending the campaign with a combined 3.44 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 154.1 innings. 

    While Holmberg's season line rivals that of Skaggs, the team's top pitching prospect, his ceiling doesn't appear to be as high, leaving some, including myself, to think he might be first on the trading block as the D-Backs front office staff tries to build a squad capable of contending in 2012. 

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    While the Braves have arguably the greatest pitching depth in the minors (and majors), they are quickly running into a problem at the big-league level, one of having too many talented arms to fit into their rotation and bullpen. As such, many of their top pitching prospects may actually end up as trade bait, allowing the Braves to fill many of the other holes on their roster.

    Vizcaino, who made 17 appearances with the big-league club last year (all in relief), might be the easiest target. For starters, he's been traded before, from New York to Atlanta, and getting traded once dramatically increases a player's risk of getting traded again. In addition, he seems destined for bullpen role as long as he stays in Atlanta.

    Back when he was wearing Yankees pinstripes, Vizcaino had the look of a sure-fire starter, so it appears that his only way back into the starting mix is to get out of Atlanta.

    Plenty of teams should be willing to go after Vizcaino, with his great velocity and impressive assortment of secondary pitches. He's also a fast learner, reaching the majors before his 21st birthday and pitching incredibly well at Triple-A as a 20-year-old.

    The Braves have been less than willing to deal any of their top pitching prospects over the past few years, but with their collapse at the end of the 2011 season, they might be more inclined than ever.

Matt Hobgood, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    After mediocre results in his first two seasons, the wheels officially came off of the Matt Hobgood train this year.

    The former first-round selection (No. 5 overall in 2009) finished the 2011 campaign with a 8.76 ERA. He got rocked to the tune of a 10.46 ERA in eight appearances in the New York-Penn League, not exactly the kind of results you expect to see from a 20-year-old pitching in rookie ball.

    In addition, his stuff has never looked worse. The mid-90s fastball he showed before the 2009 draft is nowhere to be found, nor is his amazing curveball that rated as one of the best in that year's draft class. Toss in the fact that his conditioning has never been up to par in the eyes of the organization, and I'd say Hobgood is a couple of poor weeks away from looking for a new organization.

    If there was any way that the O's could find to trade him, even for a mid-level prospect with little to no big-league potential, I'm sure they'd pull the trigger in a heartbeat.

Drake Britton, LHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Few minor leaguers had as rough a season as Britton, who bombed with a 1-13 record and a 6.91 ERA this past season.

    That kind of campaign called into question the legitimacy of the left-hander's status as one of the team's top-five prospects, as ranked by Baseball America before the 2011 season, and with a new regime sweeping into Fenway, Britton could be looking at 2012 as a make-or-break season.

    Unfortunately, his 2011 season proved that he, like every other Sox pitching prospect, is expendable and can be had for the right price.

    If the new player personnel staff is looking to make a splash, or more specifically if Ben Cherington is looking to step out of Theo Epstein's shadow via a daring trade, it's likely that Britton will be one of the first name brought up by both sides. 

Trey McNutt, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    You have to be a cave-dweller in the midst of hibernation to not have heard the rumors about McNutt being the centerpiece of the Theo Epstein to Chicago deal.

    And even if the Cubs don't end up parting with the burly right-hander, it's likely he could be on the move at some point during the next year. He is, after all, their top pitching prospect, which isn't saying much considering his less than stellar campaign of 2011. A 5-6 record, a 4.55 ERA and only 65 strikeouts in 95 innings and 39 walks. 

    He doesn't throw in the high 90s and doesn't feature a sensational breaking pitch. He's not an inning-eater, and like most young hurlers, he's prone to bouts of wildness. 

Jacob Petricka, RHP, Chicago White Sox

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    There's always a market for guys who can throw 100 miles per hour, which means if Petricka doesn't work out in a White Sox uniform, there will likely be several teams lining up for his services.

    Since the Sox are so weak in starting pitching, they have continued to bring Petricka along as a starter, although his long-term future may be in the bullpen, where he could consistently bring high-90s heat. The 23-year-old had a very solid campaign in 2011, his first full season in the minors.

    He looked brilliant in Low-A ball, throwing a steady 95-98 mph, utilizing his above-average velocity to rack up 48 strikeouts in 41.2 innings. After a midseason promotion to High-A, the strikeouts dropped off, and he only compiled 46 in 67.2 innings as a member of the Winston-Salem squad.

    Still, he continued to show great velocity.

    It's still too early to tell what kind of ship new manager Robin Ventura is going to run. If he proves to be a guy who prefers his veterans, I'm sure they could net some solid talent using Petricka as a centerpiece of a deal.

Brad Boxberger, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

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    The Reds aren't quite sure what to make of Boxberger, and as such, they sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get an extended look.

    Having spent a good chunk of the 2011 season at Triple-A Louisville, the 23-year-old right-hander has a good chance at cracking the big-league roster next season. After ditching starting for relieving full time, Boxberger has flourished. He pitched to a 2.03 ERA this past season and struck out 93 batters in 62 innings.

    He has looked equally sharp in the AFL, striking out 14 batters in 8.2 innings, spanning seven appearances. 

    A couple of reasons Boxberger could be on the move include his versatility (3.19 ERA and 70 K in 62 IP during his last season as a starter), and the fact that the Reds bullpen was exceptional in 2011. Each bullpen regular with 43 or more appearances pitched to an ERA under 3.72.

Zach McAllister, RHP, Cleveland Indians

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    The Indians have few pitching prospects to spare after sending their top two arms (Drew Pomeranz and Alex White) to Colorado in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez at the trade deadline earlier this year.

    Still, with the front office believing that this team has what it takes to compete for an A. Central crown again in 2012, they might make the same mistake and look to acquire some more veteran talent during the offseason. That could lead them to Zach McAllister, arguably the team's top pitching prospect.

    A former Yankees prospect, McAllister came over in the deal that sent Austin Kearns to New York last year. Since joining Cleveland, he's flourished. This past season, he went 12-3 with a 3.32 ERA and tossed a career-high 154.2 innings.

    He's a big-framed guy (6'6", 240 pounds) who has all the makings of a future No. 3 pitcher who's capable of eating innings like few others.

Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies

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    I feel kind of bad picking on Matzek, who missed a good chunk of the 2011 season due to some incredible wildness that eventually forced him to take a sabbatical. He used the time to head back to his hometown and work on his mechanics with his high school pitching coach.

    Whatever they worked on worked wonders, for when the lefty returned to the minors, he performed much better, and more importantly, he showed better mechanics. Still, the final line for the former first-round pick was very ugly: 5-7, 6.22 ERA, 111-to-96 K:BB in 97 IP.

    Combine that with an up-and-coming Rockies rotation that includes Jhoulys Chacin (23 years old), Jason Hammel (28) and Jorge de la Rosa (30), as well as the late-season acquisition of two incredibly talented future starters, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, and it's clear that the Rockies are in good hands pitching-wise.

    They could afford to cut loose a guy like Matzek, who still has tons of talent, but also too many question marks to really count on long-term. Like New York, Colorado has some aging players at some vital positions and could use some reinforcements through either free agency or trade.

    Matzek could be an interesting piece who might draw some interest.

Casey Crosby, LHP, Detroit Tigers

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    Aside from Rick Porcello, the Tigers have been very wary of handing rotation spots to fresh, young faces. Instead of entrusting top prospect Jacob Turner with a slot as they were chasing down a playoff spot, they acquired veteran Doug Fister.

    As such, it's unlikely that their top lefty, Casey Crosby, will get a long-term look anytime soon. Crosby bounced back from an injury to regain his form in Double-A this past season, posting nine victories, a 4.10 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 131.2 innings, but he showed some definite rust, walking 77 batters while plunking another five, issuing seven wild pitches and serving up a career-high 11 homers.

    Even if the Tigers do turn to an unproven arm in 2012, it will likely be Turner, whose ceiling is much, much higher, or Andy Oliver, who has gotten a handful of starts the past two seasons.

    Crosby could make excellent trade bait.

Jose Ceda, RHP, Florida Marlins

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    Assuming Ceda isn't pitching out of the Marlins bullpen to start the season, he could be looking for a way out of town, and into one where he might have a long-term future as a big-leaguer.

    Ceda has put together back-to-back fantastic seasons, giving up a combined 15 earned runs over 80 innings at Double-A and Triple-A. He's also racked up 103 strikeouts during that time and issued just 34 walks. He's also served up just five home runs.

    And the reward for Ceda's astounding numbers? A combined 29 big-league innings.

    He finished the 2011 campaign with the Marlins and pitched much better than in his 2010 debut, but he didn't amaze enough to guarantee him a spot in next year's bullpen.

    Ceda has already been dealt twice in his career, meaning the odds of him getting traded again are exponentially increased.

Lucas Harrell, RHP, Houston Astros

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    Like Ceda, Lucas Harrell has put together some pretty impressive campaigns in his six-year minor league career, and just like Ceda, he has little big-league experience to show for it.

    Despite posting a 12-5 record last year, including a 5-2 mark with a 1.73 ERA for the Astros Triple-A affiliate, Harrell made just nine appearances for Houston down the stretch. Only two of those came in the form of starts. And given he was hit pretty hard (.307 average against), he's by no means a sure-fire bet to crack the Astros roster in 2012.

    Also like Ceda, Harrell has been traded before, from the White Sox to Houston during the middle of the 2011 season.

Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Kansas City Royals

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    Just look at what the Royals' decision to bring former Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi into the fold did to their farm system's pitching depth.

    Top pitching prospect John Lamb suffered an injury and was lost for the season and potentially a good chunk of next year as well. Mike Montgomery struggled to maintain any kind of consistency and failed to reach the majors, something that seemed like an afterthought during spring training. And Chris Dwyer (8-10, 5.60) and Tim Melville (11-10, 4.32) had mediocre-at-best campaigns.

    Odorizzi actually had the best year of any of the big names, going 10-7 with a 3.73 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 147 innings, but unfortunately, he's the only member of the "big five" who has a trade history, meaning he's the most likely bet to get shipped out of town as the big-league squad slowly eeks toward respectability.

Michael Kohn, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

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    Kohn had such a surprising campaign in 2010, pitching to a 2.15 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A, culminating with a stellar late-season debut with L.A. (2-0, 2.11 ERA) that it wasn't much of a surprise to anyone that he regressed and wound up back in the minors after a disastrous big-league cameo in 2011.

    It's even less surprising when you consider that up until 2008, his final year at College of Charleston, Kohn was a first baseman. He made the jump to the mound and earned a 13th-round selection by L.A. He moved quickly, rising from rookie ball to the majors in just two and a half years.

    Kohn utilizes a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a slightly above-average curveball, but command has always been the real key for him. Even when he was dominating last year in Anaheim, he was walking batters at too high a rate (16 BB in 21 IP). He walked nine batters in 12.1 innings this year for the big-league club.

    Kohn has now spent some time in the Angels bullpen in parts of two seasons and has yet to find his niche.

Garrett Gould, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Beyond the top layer of the Dodgers pitching talent, a layer that includes Rubby de la Rosa, Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Chris Withrow, lays another level that contains guys like Garrett Gould.

    Gould is a former second-round pick (2009). He has plenty of potential, and as such, earned a bonus of nearly $1 million. His velocity appears to have regressed a bit, down to the low 90s, but he had his best year in 2011, ranking near the top of the Midwest League with 11 victories and a 2.40 ERA.

    Gould also throws a solid curveball, and the two-pitch combo has him ticketed as a mid-rotation kind of guy.

Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Assuming Prince Fielder doesn't resign with Milwaukee, the Brewers are going to have a gaping hole in their lineup, one that could be filled through free agency, but could also be tended to through one or more trades.

    The Brew Crew showed their willingness to deal this past offseason, netting both Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in preseason trades. In both cases, they gave up some very talented prospects, and you would think that they would be unwilling to risk such an endeavor again. But remember, the Brewers, even without Fielder, will still have an immensely talented squad next year.

    So all it might take to keep them in the forefront of the NL Central is a few pieces that could be obtained with the talent they have remaining in their farm system.

    Wily Peralta, a native of the Dominican Republic, had shown flashes of dominance before, especially during 2010, when he made the full-time commitment to starting. This year, he was one of the best arms anywhere, putting up some pretty filthy numbers with incredible consistency. He dominated hitters in the Southern League for 21 starts before finally being granted his release to Triple-A, where he carved up PCL hitters with the same ease.

    He racked up 117 strikeouts in 119.2 innings in the Southern League and added another 40 in the Pacific Coast League, giving him a grand total of 157 for the year, a career-high and more than any other pitcher in the system, save for Tyler Thornburg. 

    Peralta could be the centerpiece of a deal for someone to replace Fielder.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins

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    The Twins are in such bad shape that it's unlikely they would consider trading any of their top talent. In fact, it's actually more likely that they're going to be on the other end of the trade tables.

    But...if they did want to move some top pitching talent, their list would begin with Kyle Gibson, a player who they drafted back in 2009 with grand expectations. Gibson looked early on like he was going to be a dominating pitcher who flew through the minors straight to Minnesota, but he hit a bit of a road block last season (3-8, 4.81 ERA).

    He did, however, remain healthy for the majority of the 2011 season, which is an excellent sign for a guy with injury history. He also stayed true to his stature as one of the top control pitchers in the minors.

Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees

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    The Yankees have always been hesitant to turn over key roles on their big-league squad to unproven rookies. They took a chance this season with Ivan Nova and were happily rewarded with a 16-4 record and a 3.70 ERA.

    Nova's success might cause the Yankees to give another talented youngster a chance, but it's doubtful, especially if they're serious about pursuing free-agent C.J. Wilson.

    Banuelos looked sharp in Double-A last season and showed the ability to adjust to more advanced hitters during a seven-game stint in Triple-A to end the season.

    He now has 80 minor league appearances under his belt, including 64 starts, and looks to be nearly big-league ready at age 20.

    Keep in mind too that Banuelos was one of the best pitchers in spring training this past season, striking out 14 in just 12.2 innings and posting a sub-2.20 ERA.

Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

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    The Mets have longed for a staff ace since losing Johan Santana, but they have gotten to the point where their farm system seems capable of producing a couple of pitchers capable of fighting for that role.

    Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and new addition Zach Wheeler all have frontline stuff, and the only thing holding them back is experience and health. All three made such a splash in 2011, either with their injuries or their stellar play, that former first-rounder Matt Harvey was all but forgotten about.

    The right-hander dominated in his early season stint with the St. Lucie Mets, winning eight of his 14 starts and posting a 2.37 ERA. He racked up an astonishing 92 strikeouts in just 76 innings and mesmerized FSL hitters with a mid 90s fastball and a couple of solid breaking pitches. 

    The Mets decided to get aggressive with him and promoted him to Double-A midseason. The challenge in the Eastern League was greater, but by season's end, Harvey was posting the same kinds of numbers he did in the FSL.

    He finished with an organization best 156 strikeouts, held hitters to a .246 average and surrendered just nine long-balls all year.

    The Mets haven't made too many big-name moves since Sandy Alderson took over, and with little pitching talent on the market, it might make sense for the Mets to swing a trade for a veteran arm who could serve as their No. 1 until one of the younger guys gets his footing.

    While the other three guys might have a higher ceiling, Harvey seems the likeliest to achieve No. 2 or 3 starter status in the big leagues and therefore could be one of the likeliest trade pieces.

Trystan Magnuson, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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    Despite having no clearly defined role, Magnuson has been one of the Athletics top pitchers the past few seasons.

    He hasn't posted an ERA over 3.00 since his debut campaign back in 2008, and this past season, he struck out 46 batters in 45.1 innings while holding down a 2.98 ERA for the A's Triple-A affiliate. He picked up five saves, but doesn't profile as a closer long-term. 

    His low 90s fastball does figure to work well out of a big-league bullpen, however, as does his impressive splitter. 

    Magnuson reached Oakland late last season and got hit pretty hard, but he showed enough promise to warrant a longer big-league look.

Austin Hyatt, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    A lot was made of the stellar year that right-hander Austin Hyatt had for the Phillies Double-A affiliate.

    He paced the circuit with 12 victories and 171 strikeouts and finished second in innings (154.1). All in all a very impressive year, no?

    Guess again. For starters, consider the fact that Hyatt is 25 years old, still pitching in Double-A. Second, take into account that despite his impressive win total and his solid 3.85 ERA, he surrendered 20 home runs for Reading, another number that placed second in the league. I know that serving up long-balls isn't always a red flag, but consider that three of the five other guys who gave up more than 16 all pitched to ERAs over 5.75.

    Those two reasons are the exact ones that will keep most teams from inquiring about Hyatt, although there is inevitably always one or two teams that think they can salvage what everyone else can't.

    If the Phillies can find one of those teams, they could lighten their load and rid themselves of another guy who is unlikely to fill the void left by Halladay, Lee or Oswalt whenever their runs are through in Philly. 

Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pirates will be entering a phase over the next few seasons where they'll rely on some of the top talent they've acquired the past few years.

    And as they slowly build a squad capable of contending, it's likely that they'll shed some lesser talent in order to acquire even more pieces to help support their top-flight talent. Von Rosenberg might be one of those guys pawned off to help fill some holes in other spots in the organization.

    After being drafted as a member of the stellar high-school class of 2009, Rosenberg has put together two very different seasons. He looked very good in Low-A ball, posting a 3.20 ERA and a 3-to-1 K:BB ratio.

    This past season, however, he struggled greatly in High-A ball. His ERA hovered around 6.00 for the majority of the season, and he served up 19 long-balls, a testament to his less-than-impressive fastball velocity (87-91 mph).

    He did, however, look brilliant in the K:BB ratio yet again, issuing just 23 walks in 125.2 innings. He struck out 114 batters. 

    While the right-hander is a solid prospect, his ceiling comes nowhere close to that of Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, Stetson Allie or Luis Heredia.

Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    As long as the Cardinals have Dave Duncan as their pitching coach, it's likely that they can continue to contend in their division with second-hand starters such as Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook.

    Chris Carpenter is coming off of an impressive season, and they'll have Adam Wainwright back and healthy in 2012. They'll also have Edwin Jackson, who, when he's pitching with control, is one of the most dominating pitchers in the National League. And don't forget Jaime Garcia, who's gone 27-16 with a 3.27 ERA in his first two big-league seasons.

    With their pitching situation being what it is, if any team could stand to lose one of the game's top pitching prospects, it would be St. Louis. Luckily for them, they happen to have two, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, and as talented as Miller is, he's likely the more expendable one, especially if the comparisons Martinez has received to Pedro Martinez come even partially close to fruition.

    Make no mistake, however. Miller is one of the top arms in the game, and would likely fetch a very talented prospect in return. Or two. Or three. If they are in the market for a replacement for King Albert, Miller would be just the guy to build a package around.

Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres

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    The Padres quickly discovered in 2011 that Kelly wasn't exactly the high level of prospect that they thought he was when the front office demanded that he be included in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and brought back Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes.

    He struggled out of the gate, and while he rebounded with a solid campaign, he was nowhere near as dominant as he was in the lower levels of the minors with Boston. He proved very hittable, giving up a career high 153 hits in 142.1 innings. He also issued a career high number of walks, hit his highest number of batters and tied a career worst with seven wild pitches. 

    Worst of all, Kelly's strikeout numbers dipped, from 7.7 per nine IP in 2010, to 6.6 per nine IP. His K:BB ratio has been cut in half since his debut season back in 2009.

    As a once-traded prospect, Kelly's chances of being dealt again are pretty likely.

Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants

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    As mentioned in a previous slideshow, Hembree is one of the most fearsome flamethrowers in the minor leagues. He's also one of the top closer prospects in baseball. He saved 38 games last season and struck out 78 batters in just 53.1 innings.

    Unfortunately, Hembree happens to reside in an organization with one of the top closers in ball of baseball, Brian Wilson, who appears to have a lock on the job for as long as he remains a Giant.

    That could leave Hembree as a top trade chip.

Mauricio Robles, LHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Robles has a disastrous 2011 campaign.

    He posted an ERA that approached 9.00, and he walked 10 more batters than he struck out. He also gave up six homers in just 32.1 innings. To make matters even worse, he was sidelined early in the season with an elbow injury that required surgery. 

    His rehab went well enough that he was able to participate in the Venezuelan Winter League, although he's looked just as lost there in terms of his control.

    Once upon a time, Robles was a reliable starter capable of eating innings and posting huge strikeout numbers. He struck out 154 batters in 142 innings in 2010, his first full season with Seattle, and has the makings of a mid-to-back of the rotation starter.

Alex Torres, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays have the advantage of having arguably the top farm system in baseball. Without a doubt, they have the best pitching depth in the minors, giving them not only a seemingly endless supply of talent shuttling to the big-leagues, but also plenty of trade bait.

    Alex Torres made a few big-league starts last year and showed some pretty impressive resolve. He was hit pretty hard and had some control issues, but still managed to hold down a 3.38 ERA. His minor league campaign was also very strong. He posted an ERA just over 3.00 and struck out 156 batters in just 146.1 innings. It marked the third straight season that the lefty had gone over 150 strikeouts.

    Torres has always been incredibly stingy with the long-ball, but has gotten into trouble with the walks. He's issued at least 70 per season three years running, and if he's going to have any chance at staying in the Rays system, he's going to have to cut down those walks dramatically in 2012.

Barret Loux, RHP, Texas Rangers

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    Loux has a very impressive season in 2011, especially considering his intriguing past.

    He was drafted sixth-overall in 2010 by Arizona, only to have discovered that he had some injury concerns that troubled the D-Backs. They pulled their offer to Loux, who became a free-agent. He was signed by Texas, who threw him into their impressive cache of starting pitchers. He had an excellent debut, winning eight games, posting a 3.80 ERA and striking out 127 batters in 109 innings.

    He made 21 starts and stayed healthy, the first step on a path to prove the D-Backs were wrong about him. 

    The Rangers dealt away two top prospects, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin, this past season in order to acquire some bullpen help. That help allowed them to reach their second consecutive World Series, but couldn't prevent their seven-game series loss to St. Louis.

    Entering the off-season, the Rangers could potentially lose their top pitcher, C.J. Wilson, and if that's the case, they'll likely pursue another top arm to lead their staff while they wait for Martin Perez to come along.

    Loux could be an interesting piece to move.

Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Few Blue Jays prospects had as impressive a season as Alvarez, a 21-year-old right-hander from Venezuela.

    Alvarez posted a 70-to-18 K:BB ratio and held down a 3.18 ERA over 17 appearances, including 16 starts in Double-A.

    The Blue Jays have quietly built one of the most impressive collections of pitching talent in the minors, so it wouldn't come as a total shock if the team ended up dealing a few of their pieces, and Alvarez has arguably the most helium.

Brad Peacock, RHP, Washington Nationals

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    Despite pitching at a level that was head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the organization, Brad Peacock still doesn't profile as a top-flight prospect in the eyes of those who decide such things.

    Yeah, a 15-3 record and a 2.39 ERA look sensational, but Peacock doesn't have anywhere close to the kind of talent that Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman do. As such, if he remains with the organization, he's likely to fill a spot near the back of their rotation, especially if they go hard after free-agent pitching this offseason, as has been the expectation. 

    If I was a member of the front office, I'd be lobbying hard to deal Peacock, a guy who put together a pedestrian career before 2011 (19-35, 4.43 ERA). If they could make him the centerpiece of a deal for a mid-rotation guy, I'd say it would be worth it.