Future MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Dealt Before the 2019 Trade Deadline
In a slow-moving trade season, MLB teams seem to be clinging more tightly than ever to the marquee names in their farm systems.
However, with August waiver trades no longer part of the equation and a wide array of teams in the mix for postseason spots, we still have a good chance to see some blockbuster deals in the days to come.
While we've already talked at length about the star players who could be joining contenders, let's shine some light on the other end of things with a closer look at the top-tier prospects who could be heading the other way in major trades.
Ahead is a look at seven prospects with star potential who have a reasonable chance to be dealt between now and July 31.
RHP Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees
The slowed development of outfielder Estevan Florial has opened the door for right-hander Deivi Garcia to emerge as the No. 1 prospect in the New York Yankees system.
The 20-year-old has a 3.38 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with 128 strikeouts in 82.2 innings over three minor league levels this season, and he's currently pitching at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Armed with a mid-90s fastball, tight curveball and playable changeup, he has the stuff to develop into a solid MLB starter despite an undersized 5'9", 163-pound frame. At the same time, his fastball-curveball pairing gives him an extremely high floor as a late-inning reliever if durability concerns push him to the bullpen.
As the Yankees look to solidify their position among the American League favorites, it sounds like the entire farm system is on the table in trade talks.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote: "As the Yankees pursue pitching help, for better or worse, here stands the reality about their farm system: No one is untouchable. No one should be unattainable."
Proximity to the majors is another chip in Garcia's favor, as a 2020 debut is not out of the question. That only furthers his appeal to rebuilding and retooling teams alike.
OF Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins
Trevor Larnach was the No. 20 pick in the 2018 draft and one of the most polished college hitters in the class following a standout career at Oregon State.
The 22-year-old has already reached Double-A in his first full season, hitting .307/.373/.445 with 35 extra-base hits in 95 games between High-A and Double-A on the year.
While he's limited to a corner outfield spot defensively and is still working to fully tap into his solid raw power, he has an extremely high floor and all the makings of an impact player who could arrive in the big leagues by 2020.
As the Minnesota Twins push for their first division title since 2010, shoring up the pitching staff looks like a must, and building a package around Larnach to land another quality starter or some late-inning relief help makes a lot of sense.
With Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler all under team control for multiple seasons and fellow prospect Alex Kirilloff ahead of him on the prospect pecking order, Larnach could be viewed as an expendable asset.
SS Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics
Once a consensus top-100 prospect, speedy Jorge Mateo saw his stock bottom out last season when he hit .230/.280/.353 with a 27.3 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A.
A former New York Yankees farmhand who was sent to Oakland in the Sonny Gray trade, Mateo is still just 24 years old and enjoying a resurgent season in his second go-around at Triple-A.
He's hitting .302/.339/.537 with 25 doubles, 13 triples, 17 home runs and 20 steals in 95 games, and he also now looks like a safe bet to stick at shortstop after spending some time in center field earlier in his minor league career.
With true 80-grade speed and strong numbers at the highest level of the minors, Mateo is ready for a shot at the MLB level.
Meanwhile, the Athletics have Jurickson Profar, Marcus Semien and Franklin Barreto manning the middle infield spots at the MLB level and slick-fielding prospect Nick Allen knocking on the door for a promotion to Double-A.
As they try to chase down another wild-card berth, upgrading the pitching staff seems like a must, and a package built around Mateo could be enough to land them an impact arm.
LHP Kyle Muller, Atlanta Braves
It's unlikely the Atlanta Braves will part with anyone from the top-tier prospect group of Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright in their search for bullpen help.
However, if they wind up targeting a bullpen arm with multiple years of control remaining like Ken Giles, Shane Greene or Mychal Givens, it's going to take something of value to get a deal done.
A strong showing at Double-A this season has pushed left-hander Kyle Muller to the head of the team's second-tier prospects, and he offers enough upside to serve as the centerpiece in a major trade.
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a curveball-changeup pair that has a chance to be above-average, Muller has the stuff and the durable 6'6" frame to have a long career as an MLB starter.
The 21-year-old has posted a 3.14 ERA and a .208 opponents' batting average this season while racking up 120 strikeouts in 111.2 innings. Walks remain a concern, though, as he's issued 68 free passes for a 5.5 walks-per-nine-innings rate.
For a team that believes it can iron out his command issues, his frontline upside makes him a tantalizing prospect target.
C Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers
Infielder Gavin Lux and right-hander Dustin May are now widely regarded as the top two prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, and they are the two most likely to be slapped with the untouchable label in trade talks.
Meanwhile, catcher Will Smith is now penciled in as the team's starting backstop after Austin Barnes was optioned to Triple-A, and he has gone 11-for-32 with three doubles and four home runs over 11 games in the big leagues.
That leaves fellow catcher Keibert Ruiz as the most likely to be dealt from what is a clear-cut top four headlining the Dodgers system.
Ruiz, 21, might have a higher ceiling than Smith, but he's also not quite MLB-ready. For a team that's looking to win now, that has to be taken into account.
If the Dodgers can find a way to acquire a quality bullpen arm for a package built around someone like infielder Jeter Downs or right-hander Josiah Gray, that would obviously be the preferred approach. However, if it's going to take one of their marquee minor leaguers to get a deal done, Ruiz is the one most likely to be on the move.
OF Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
Will the emergence of Yordan Alvarez and the need for starting pitching help convince the Houston Astros to part with outfielder Kyle Tucker?
The 22-year-old fell flat in his first taste of MLB action last season, but he's back to raking at Triple-A this year, hitting .260/.344/.561 with 21 doubles, 27 home runs and 75 RBI in 96 games.
A recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic described the Astros as reluctant to part with Tucker in talks with the New York Mets regarding a Noah Syndergaard trade. In a vacuum, that might seem like reason enough to leave him off of this list.
However, Tucker has been deemed "off limits" in past trade discussions, and any discussions centered around him seemed to be complete non-starters. So the fact we've shifted to reluctance could be a sign that the front office is softening on its stance.
The Astros' window to contend for a title is wide open right now, and filling out the starting rotation behind the veteran trio of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley looks like a must before the deadline passes.
2B/SS Luis Urias, San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres were expected to have Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. manning the middle infield spots together at some point this season and for the foreseeable future.
Urias is back with the big league club after an early demotion to the minors, but his struggles have continued. He's gone just 3-for-48 (.063 BA) with 11 walks and 14 strikeouts over 61 plate appearances in the majors.
Meanwhile, his 70-grade hit tool has once again been present at Triple-A with a .315/.398/.600 line that includes 19 doubles and 19 home runs in 73 games.
So where does he currently stand in the San Diego organization? Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic offered up the following tidbit in a recent article:
"The Padres are privately insisting they will not trade infielder Luis Urías, but some in the industry are skeptical of that claim, particularly if Urías could help them land [Noah] Syndergaard. Urías, a native of Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, would seem a natural keeper for the Padres, but he was signed under previous GM Josh Byrnes, not A.J. Preller."
It's been no secret the Padres are in search of a controllable frontline arm to anchor their young rotation, and swinging a deal for Noah Syndergaard would certainly fit the bill.
Impressive early returns from 2018 pick Xavier Edwards, who has already reached High-A as a 19-year-old, could also play a part in the team's willingness to move Urias in the right deal.