Well, with Dan Haren off the table it’s looking a lot less likely that the Twins are going to make any significant trades at the deadline, so all of my work on this series might be in vain (or maybe not, if they are indeed close to a trade with the Blue Jays). Whatever, I put three days of my life into this thing and I’m going to finish it (in case you missed them, parts one and two). In this part, I am going look at the farm system, and at least attempt to determine the trade value of the top prospects. I initially planned to evaluate the prospects most frequently mentioned in trade rumors, but it’s hard to tell how viable these rumors are, and I thought it might be better to try to determine which prospects have the most trade value instead. So, I decided to use the boss’s list of top 15 prospects, and then selected the top five according trade value. I have also included a final ranking of the top 10 players in terms of trade value. All this and more, after the jump.
1) Miguel Sano: Sano was ranked #2 on the prospect list. He’s been tearing up the GCL, batting .288/.333/.500 with five doubles and two home runs in 57 plate appearances, though he’s obviously several years away from being major-league ready. Since infield prospects in general tend to be more coveted than outfield prospects, and Sano was the most sought-after international free agent behind Aroldis Chapman, the 17 year-old probably has more trade value than the Aaron Hicks. Not that it matters anyway, as Sano is likely considered untouchable.
2) Aaron Hicks: Hicks was ranked #1 on the prospect list. The 20 year-old is in his second season in Beloit, batting .269/.378/.413. A toolsy outfielder whose ceiling is probably Curtis Granderson, his name comes up quite frequently in trade rumors. The Twins have been reluctant to part with him, but with Denard Span locked up through 2014, they’ll probably move him if the price is right .
3) Kyle Gibson: Gibson was ranked #5 on the prospect list. The Twins’ top pick in the 2009 draft has been advancing through the system rather quickly, though he’s struggling a bit in AA New Britian, with a 4.12 ERA and 2.81 K/BB ratio in 13 starts. Most organizations prefer to develop their own pitching, as it gets quite pricey on the free agent market, so even mid-level pitching prospects can bring back quite a haul. Since Gibson has the stuff to be a front-line starter, he probably has more trade value than most of the other prospects in the system (and, for that matter, most of the starters in the rotation), despite this being his first professional season. Like Sano, however, there is little chance Gibson will be dealt.
4) Ben Revere: Revere was ranked #3 on the prospect list. Revere is batting .285/.361/.333 in AA New Britain. I was actually torn whether Revere has more trade value than pitching prospect David Bromberg, but Bromberg is posting a high ERA in AAA (4.15, though his peripherals are very good) and as a former 32nd-round pick, I’m not sure other front offices would be sold on him. I could be wrong, and I probably am.
5) Wilson Ramos: Ramos was ranked #4 on the prospect list. He’s batting just .240/.280/.345 with a BB/K ratio in AAA Rochester, though he put up a respectable .296/.321/.401 line in his brief stint with the big club. With so many teams searching for a catcher-of-the-future, catching prospects are pretty highly valued (and unlike the Yankees’ Jesus Montero, Ramos will probably stick at catcher), so Ramos’s disappointing numbers probably don’t hurt his trade value that much. If anything hurts his trade value, it’s Joe Mauer. Mauer is locked up through 2018, which makes Ramos expendable and gives the front office a lot less leverage in trade negotiations.
So my final rankings in terms of trade value would look something like this:
Hmm, I’m not sure I like this list. If Ramos were having a better season, I would certainly put him higher than Pavano, and if Francisco Liriano had an ERA to match his 2.17 FIP, he might be at the very top of this list. I guess it doesn’t matter much where the players are ranked, since the Twins are unlikely to part with at least seven of these ten. And therein lies the rub: the players who would bring in the biggest return are unlikely to be dealt, and the ones the organization is willing to move have far less value. This doesn’t mean the Twins necessarily have to stand pat at the trade deadline, but it does make their chances of landing someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren extremely unlikely unless they really want to overpay. Given their reluctance to deal top prospects, that seems pretty unlikely and that’s probably a good thing. Considering they would be selling low on so many of their most valuable assets, I can’t help but think the Twins would be better off waiting until next season (or at least the offseason) to make trades anyway. Ramos will almost certainly improve, and if nothing else, Hicks and Revere will have another year of development under their belts. With payroll likely approaching $100 million next season, the organization won’t have much margin for error and they really need to get full value out of any trades.