The Red Sox are nearing the completion of a trade that would send four prospects to San Diego for first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The only hold-up, apparently, is the negotiation of an extension for Gonzalez as his contract expires after 2011.
Early indications make it look like a steal for Boston, especially in comparison to a major trade Brian Cashman tried to make just a few months ago: the Jesus Montero, Zach McAllister and David Adams for Cliff Lee deal that never materialized.
The four Boston prospects include RHP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo, CF Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later. (The rest of this piece will assume the PTBNL is a middling prospect, as they usually are.)
1. San Diego wanted ML-ready prospects. They didn't get one. The highest level any of the prospects have played significant time at is Double-A, where Rizzo played 107 games and Kelly threw 95 innings. Fuentes last played 104 games for Low-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League.
The Yankees offered two players with half a season of Triple-A experience.
2. The big name talked about prior to the trade was Daniel Bard. He seemed like a lock if Boston wanted to land A-Gon. If Bard had been included in place of one of the other prospects, I could understand the trade. But obviously that didn't happen.
Cashman was willing to give up the most coveted prospect in the organization: Montero.
3. San Diego missed the playoffs by one game. How must their fans feel now? I'm surprised they didn't wait until June, to at least see if they were in the playoff hunt. They lost their marquee player and got nothing of immediate help in return while Boston got a great first-baseman in his prime.
Lee had only half a season left on his contract and Seattle was in last place, 16 games out. They had a lot more incentive to move him than San Diego does Gonzalez.
4. Is it just me, or are Sox prospects massively overrated? Kelly (who failed as a shortstop) is the top Boston prospect, yet he struggled mightily at Double-A: 5.31 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. Even his career numbers don't look overly impressive: 190 ip, 3.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9. Pretty good for a kid who just turned 21, but I don't see anything to get super excited over. (Compare his season to Phil Hughes' age-20 season at the same level.)
Rizzo ranked third on BA's Red Sox list. He's another guy with nice, but not great, numbers. In four seasons, he's posted a .284/.354/.469 batting line. For most positions, that would look very good, but for a first-baseman, it's not all that special. In 2010 he batted .260/.334/.480 between High-A and Double-A. What he looks like is a future average to good ML 1B-man.
Fuentes, the 28th overall pick last year, ranked sixth on BA's list. The centerfielder is considered a great athlete with excellent speed: In 144 career games, he's succeeded in 51 of 61 stolen base attempts. Other than that, though, I don't see the fuss - his career OPS (albeit in just two seasons) is .706. At this point, he's a lot more potential than production.
Excuse me if I'm not impressed by the package San Diego received.
The Yankees, on the other hand, were willing to trade one of - if not the best - hitting prospects in the game to get half a year of a 31-year old pitcher. We know how highly thought of Montero is/was. McAllister had a significantly better season at Double-A than Kelly did and Adams had a .900 OPS at the time of the trade.
The Sox are centering their trade around three good prospects to get a full year of one of the game's best players (at 28-years old) from a team that contended until the last day of the season. Seattle had a much greater need to trade than San Diego does, yet they wouldn't take a package of an elite prospect and two good ones for half a year of an older pitcher.
Compare Kelly's 2010 to any of the following Yankee prospects: Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner, David Phelps, Ivan Nova, Jose Ramirez, Hector Noesi. I understand Kelly is younger than most of them, but they all pitched better than he did at comparable levels, yet most are considered not nearly the prospect Kelly is. How does that work?
Obviously being ranked highly in the Boston organization doesn't mean a lot, at least compared to the Yankees' system. For example, the first, third and sixth Yankee prospects are Montero, Betances and Austin Romine. Tell me that's not a markedly better package than what Boston is trading.
Does this trade remind anyone of the Schilling deal from seven years ago?
Anyway, Boston fans should be happy, not offended, that they got a steal.