Trades are living organisms.
We love to evaluate them as soon as they've popped out of the oven (sorry, still in Thanksgiving mode), but the truth is, we have no idea how they're going to turn out. The Royals' deal for James Shields was among the most bemoaned in recent memory. And, while it may still go down as a no-good, terrible, rotten trade, the Royals' World Series berth serves as vindication for a team whose decision makers have gotten their fair share of LOL's.
The A's premise in trading Josh Donaldson was simple. The difference between Josh Donaldson and Brett Lawrie isn't as vast as their projected arbitration salaries less two major-league-caliber arms and a legit up-the-middle-prospect. There's plenty of risk sewn into the deal for Oakland, but it isn't difficult to envision a scenario where the A's come out on top 3-4 years down the road.
I'll leave it to someone else to assess the merits of Lawrie vs. Donaldson. My plan instead is to break down the goodies blown in via trade winds. Then we can start placing our bets.
Barreto is the upside piece in the deal, as I'm sure you've heard. The Blue Jays signed him out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2012 for $1.45 million. He played 59 games at the rookie level in 2013 and was promoted to Low-A in 2014, where he slashed .311/.384/.481 with six home runs and 29 stolen bases in 73 games. He'll enter his first year of full-season ball in 2015.
In the aftermath of the trade, the Internet's "prospect guys" weighed in. Baseball America's Ben Badler -- who covers mostly international prospects -- noted on Twitter that Barreto is a natural hitter with quick hands who's been dominating international competition since he could hold a bat in his wee fingers.
Both Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs and Chris King of Baseball Prospectus noted that Barreto is an extremely advanced hitter for his age, and, although he hasn't played full-season ball, he could ascend quickly through any system -- a la Rougned Odor of the Rangers. He has big-time gap power and is expected to hit 12-15 home runs and steal loads of bases at full maturity. There's a lot that could go wrong in the meantime, but the ceiling is that of an impact player.
The biggest knock against Barreto is his ability to stick at shortstop. Elite offensive shortstops don't grow on trees and a great deal of Barreto's value will hinge on whether or not he's able to stick at the position. Most folks seem to think he'll land in center field (he's got a great arm, by the way) or second base. King's eyewitness account (c. 08/2014) at BP is unequivocal about his prospects of remaining at short.
"SS is not his future; bat will play at almost any position; will make a tough play look easy, then make an easy one look tough; too inconsistent with his glove and arm accuracy."
His approach is aggressive, atypical of an A's prospect, and it's fair to wonder whether he'll be used as currency for yet another trade in the coming months or allowed to mature in the A's system.
For the time being, he's the Athletics' No.1 prospect.
Sean Nolin is the type of player that every organization needs but every fanbase fails to get excited about.
He's a big (6'5, 235 pounds) command-and-control lefty with an extreme fly-ball tendency (sound familiar?). He throws mostly in the 89-92 MPH range, although he's capable of reaching back for 95. His only pitch that grades out as above-average (or "plus," in scouting parlance) is his change-up, which combined with his deceptive delivery has been his key to success in the minors. The change in scenery from Toronto to Oakland gives Nolin an excellent chance of reaching his ceiling as soon as this upcoming season. He's 25 years old and doesn't have much to prove at the minor league level (He owns a career 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP with a strikeout-walk ratio of 451/142 over 438⅓ innings). He should compete for No. 5 starter job this spring, although he may need some time in Sacramento ... err ... Nashville before making his A's debut.
He immediately becomes the best pitching prospect in the A's system.
Graveman was a pop-up prospect in the mold of Dan Straily in 2014. Granted, he didn't come close to leading the minor leagues in strikeouts as Straily once did -- on the contrary, he struck out just 115 batters over 172 innings. But he did go from relative obscurity (outside Baseball America's Top-30 organizational prospects) all the way to making his major league debut in one year. The former Mississippi State Bulldog traipsed through four different levels (A, A+, AA and AAA) in the process.
In spite of the huge on-field success, scouts see him as a borderline fifth starter with the most likely outcome being a career in the bullpen. At 6'2, 195 pounds, he's not an imposing figure on the mound. He throws a fastball in 88-92 range with a slider that does a good job of getting ground balls. He added a cutter during his breakout campaign, which has become a favored arrow in the young righty's quiver.
Entering his age-24 season, Graveman will likely be shipped between Nashville and Oakland throughout next summer.
Scouting Reports courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus