I'm not a huge basketball or hockey fan, so the time between the Super Bowl and the start of the March Madness is the deadest time of the year for me, as far as sports is concerned. Fortunately, the sports landscape got more interesting with the start of the college baseball season on Friday. As usual, Aaron Fitt and Co. are all over all things college, and you can see everything that's happening at the College section of our website.
There was some movement on the compensation free agent front, as Orlando Hudson signed a one-year, $3.38 million contract with the Dodgers. Hudson was a Type A free agent, so the Diamondbacks will get Los Angeles' first-round pick (No. 17) and a supplemental first-rounder (No. 35). Below is the updated draft order and the list of seven remaining compensation free agents.
10. Nationals (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow)
17. Diamondbacks (from Dodgers for Orlando Hudson, A)
20. Blue Jays
23. White Sox
24. Angels (from Mets for Francisco Rodriguez, A)
25. Angels (from Yankees for Mark Teixeira, A)
27. Mariners (from Phillies for Raul Ibanez, A)
28. Red Sox
29. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Gerrit Cole)
32. Rockies (from Angels for Brian Fuentes, A)
Supplemental First-Round Picks
33. Mariners (Ibanez)
34. Rockies (Fuentes)
35. Diamondbacks (Hudson)
36. Dodgers (Derek Lowe, A, to Braves)
37. Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, A, to Yankees)
38. Brewers (C.C. Sabathia, A, to Yankees)
39. Angels (Teixeira)
40. Angels (Rodriguez)
41. Reds (Jeremy Affeldt, B, to Giants)
42. Rangers (Milton Bradley, B, to Cubs)
43. Diamondbacks (Brandon Lyon, B, to Tigers)
44. Brewers (Brian Shouse, B, to Rays)
45. Angels (Jon Garland, B, to Diamondbacks)
49. Pirates (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Tanner Scheppers)
53. Dodgers (from Braves for Lowe)
70. Brewers (from Yankees for Sabathia)
76. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Scott Bittle)
101. Blue Jays (from Yankees for Burnett)
Supplemental Third-Round Picks
108. Astros (for failure to sign 2008 third-rounder Chase Davidson)
Remaining Compensation Free Agents
Ari: Juan Cruz (A).
Bos: Paul Byrd (B).
CWS: Orlando Cabrera (A).
KC: Mark Grudzielanek (B).
LAD: Manny Ramirez (A).
Mil: Ben Sheets (A).
Min: Dennys Reyes (B).
Ask BA will be taking a break for a couple of weeks, but I hope to be back on March 16.
From a talent standpoint, trading the No. 1 overall pick would be a tough sell. San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg is the prize of this year's draft, and the consensus among college scouts is that he's the best righthanded pitching prospect this decade and should reach the major leagues within a year of signing. Some scouts would take him over Rays lefthander David Price, who's baseball's best pitching prospect.
(For details of Strasburg's spectacular season-opening start, check out Dave Perkin's first-hand account.)
If I were to deal the rights to Strasburg, I definitely wouldn't give up the No. 1 pick for a package of lesser talents, because that wouldn't make my team better. You win by obtaining superstars and stars and surrounding them with a solid supporting cast. The Nationals have so many holes that they need Strasburg more than a few bodies that might make their woeful big league team look better right now.
For the sake of argument, let's take a look at the Rangers, who have the best farm system in baseball, and are deep at certain positions. They could afford to give up first baseman Chris Davis (with Justin Smoak on the way) and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (with Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez on hand), and maybe they'd be willing to part with the 14th overall pick to get Strasburg. But it's unlikely Texas would add righthander Neftali Feliz to that package, and I'd want Feliz. (And even then, it's not that hard to find a first baseman and for all his promise, Saltalamacchia has hit .261/.327/.399 and thrown out 18 percent of basestealers in the majors.) The Rangers probably wouldn't give up lefty Derek Holland or shortstop Elvis Andrus either.
I'm not going to call any player untouchable, because it's always possible for the other side to make a ridiculous offer for much more than he's worth. But if I were running the Nationals, I'd want a comparable talent, and I don't see how that's going to happen. I think Price and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters are the top two prospects in baseball, but Tampa Bay and Baltimore wouldn't make them available. No. 3 on my prospect list is Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, and I wouldn't give up Strasburg for him.
I'd be happy to take a young big leaguer who's a budding superstar, but no club would be willing to give up an Evan Longoria or Justin Upton. This approach would be a tough way to make a deal, because Strasburg hasn't accomplished anything in the majors yet and it wouldn't make sense to swap his ceiling and settle for less.
Because it would be too difficult to get a fair return for Strasburg's potential upside, the only real benefit from trading him would be saving on the eight-figure major league contract it likely will cost to sign him. But it he's the once-in-a-decade talent scouts believe he is, he'll be worth the investment.
Fields didn't pitch between the end of the College World Series in June and his signing and arrival in Mariners camp this month, so Seattle will try to be careful not to rush him. But Fields should move quickly anyway. Remember that Brandon Morrow spent just 16 innings in the minors between signing with the Mariners as a first-round pick and arriving in the majors.
I'd be surprised if Fields began his pro career at a level lower than high Class A High Desert and an opening assignment to Double-A isn't out of the question. He's already 23 and though his delivery and command could use some more polish, he can overpower hitters with his fastball and curveball.
Fields shouldn't need much more time in the minors than Morrow did. Seattle is looking for a new closer after trading J.J. Putz, and its cast of candidates (David Aardsma, Miguel Batista, Roy Corcoran, Mark Lowe, Tyler Walker) isn't the most formidable. Look for Fields to join the Mariners by midseason and to become their closer within a year after that.
I get plenty of these lightning-round questions in my weekly ESPN.com chats, though I'm not sure I've ever handled one in Ask BA before. I'll respond in kind:
Noonan over Chisenhall. I don't believe Chisenhall will stay at shortstop, and I prefer Noonan's bat at second base to Chisenhall's at third.
Frazier over Flaherty. Neither guy will stay at shortstop, and I like Frazier's bat and power a little more.
Melville over Hunt. Hunt was a steal with the 31st overall pick in the 2007 draft, but Melville was even more of a coup in the fourth round.
Lawrie over Castro. I have faith that Lawrie will take to catching, and I love his bat.