What an offseason we had, prospect-wise. Every time we got done breaking down a prospect in a new organization, there was more work to do. As I was going back through the transactions, even I forgot just how many big-name prospects had changed placed this winter, and I do this for a living.
So let’s take a look back.
Before the playoffs had even started, the White Sox made their first trade of their busy offseason, sending manager Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins for two lesser-known prospects who don’t have the highest ceilings, but are major league ready. Jhan Marinez made a few appearances out of the Marlins bullpen in 2010, and Ozzie Martinez spent a few weeks in the majors last season and could make the White Sox as a back-up utility infielder.
A couple of months later, the White Sox struck again, sending closer Sergio Santos to Toronto for another pitcher, Nestor Molina, who immediately became the top prospect in a weak farm system. Some are higher than others on Molina, who could be a mid-rotation starter or a back-of-the-bullpen pitcher, depending on his development.
The A’s and Diamondbacks hooked up in the biggest trade of the offseason to that point, the A’s sending All-Star starter Trevor Cahill to Arizona for top prospect Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill. Parker would have competed for a rotation spot in Arizona this spring, but should have a much better chance of making the A’s rotation.
The A’s weren’t done for the winter, but before they could make another move, the Reds and Padres stole the spotlight for a few days. The Padres rebuilt a large part of their 2012 season and their long-term future by acquiring first baseman Yonder Alonso, catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, and pitchers Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos. While Latos was a big price to pay for the Padres, Alonso immediately takes over as their first baseman for the foreseeable future, while Grandal should be along by next season and Boxberger could be a nice bullpen addition as early as this year.
Not wanting to stay out of the news for long, the A’s made another move that involved even more prospects than the Reds-Padres trade. The A’s sent left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez to our nation’s capital in exchange for most of their farm system. The A’s got high-end prospects A.J. Cole, a right-handed pitcher, and catcher Derek Norris, as well as Brad Peacock, who emerged as a legitimate pitching prospect in 2011 and Tim Milone, whose ceiling is the lowest of the four, but could help out this season.
Overshadowed by the A’s-Nationals trade because it happened on the same day was a deal the Cubs and Reds put together, exchanging left-handed relievers Travis Wood and Sean Marshall, but with the Reds also sending outfield prospect Dave Sappelt and second base prospect Ronald Torreyes. Sappelt will compete for an outfield spot this spring in Chicago while Torreyes will continue to work his way through the low minors.
At this point, it had been a few weeks since White Sox GM Kenny Williams had made a move, so naturally, that’s exactly what he did. Williams sent outfielder Carlos Quentin to the Padres for two minor leaguers, the main one of which was Simon Castro, whose prospect status has fallen off after struggling in 2011.
Within the first week of the new year, the Padres had struck for a third time this offseason. This time, they hooked up with the Cubs, sending now-blocked first base prospect Anthony Rizzo to Chicago for pitcher Andrew Cashner and young outfield prospect Kyung-Min Na. It was the trade that was expected the minute the Padres traded for Yonder Alonso earlier in the winter, but perhaps not the return Padres fans were expecting.
But despite all these moves, the biggest was yet to come. Just a week later, the Yankees sent catching prospect Jesus Montero and pitching prospect Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda, thus ending the saga of a prospect more discussed in trades than any in recent memory. Montero had been rumored to be heading to about half the teams in the league over the past year or two, but the Mariners finally got the Yankees to pull the trigger.
Jeff Moore is the creator of MLBProspectWatch.com, your one-stop site for all the information you need about minor league prospects. He can be reached via e-mail at mlbprospectwatch AT gmail DOT com.
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