Ask BA

Yet another example of why making preseason predictions is futile (especially if you’re me): I picked the Rangers to finish third in the American League West and the Giants to place fourth in the National League West in the April 5 Ask BA. Whichever club wins the World Series will end a long drought, as the Giants haven’t been champions since 1954, when they were still in New York, and the Rangers never have won since coming into being as the Washington Senators in 1961.

As much as I appreciate the depth of San Francisco’s rotation, I think Cliff Lee and a superior offense will lead to Texas winning in six games. Though if my 2010 prognosticating performance means anything, the Rangers are doomed.

    Lately we've been hearing a lot about the Royals possibly trading Zack Greinke this offseason. I'm curious as to which prospects on potential Greinke suitors would be considered "untouchable." This is just my opinion, but I would guess the Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Reds, Rockies, Tigers, Twins and Yankees all could be after him this winter.

    Dave Gershman
    White Plains, N.Y.

ESPN’s Buster Olney broke down possible Greinke destinations a week ago, and he also mentioned the Angels, Braves, Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox. So let’s take Dave’s 11 teams and Buster’s additional five and look at which prospects might be untouchable in each system. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that all 2010 draft picks are trade-eligible rather than having to wait until a year after signing their first contract.

I’m not going to get into the question of how much financial sense it would make for each team to give up cheap prospects and then give Greinke a lucrative contract. The comments below are based purely on talent.

Angels: Mike Trout. He’s the best prospect in baseball.

Braves: Maybe Julio Teheran, but Greinke could make Atlanta the team to beat in the National League. Freddie Freeman is a solid prospect, but you have to give up a potential solid regular at first base if he can land you an ace.

Brewers: None. Brett Lawrie and Jake Odorizzi aren’t deal-breakers.

Cardinals: None. Shelby Miller has a huge ceiling, but he’s still a few years away from reaching it.

Cubs: None. I’m not sure they could build a Greinke deal around Chris Archer or Brett Jackson if they wanted to.

Dodgers: None. Dee Gordon and Zach Lee would be expendable in a Greinke trade, not that owner Frank McCourt would want to pay him.

Mets: None. But Wilmer Flores and Jennry Mejia aren’t going to be the centerpieces of a Greinke deal.

Nationals: Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. Washington has invested $25 million in the last two No. 1 overall picks, and they’re not going anywhere.

Phillies: Domonic Brown. I can’t see Philadelphia giving up pending free agent Jayson Werth’s replacement after strip-mining its farm system in a series of trades over the last couple of years.

Rangers: None. Texas has a deep system and could afford to part with Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar or anyone else.

Red Sox: None. Though Boston does love Casey Kelly.

Reds: Aroldis Chapman. Don’t be surprised if he’s Cincinnati’s closer by the all-star break.

Rockies: None. Tyler Matzek is in the same situation as Shelby Miller: high upside but not close to it yet.

Tigers: None. Ditto for Jacob Turner.

Twins: None. The best-case scenario for Kyle Gibson would be to become a lesser version of Greinke, and Minnesota has the center-field depth to part with Aaron Hicks.

Yankees: None. Jesus Montero might be the best all-around hitter in the minors, but New York was willing to move him for Cliff Lee this summer.

The Yankees would seem to be the best fit for Greinke. Montero may be the best prospect any club would be willing to give up, New York could throw several intriguing pitching prospects into a package and also could pay Greinke more handsomely than any other club. Whether Greinke would approve a trade to the Yankees remains to be seen.

    If Angels outfielder Mike Trout is arguably the second-best prospect who came out of the 2009 draft, behind only Stephen Strasburg, why did he last 25 picks? Were scouts just not expecting him to adjust to professional pitching as well as he has? As an avid Angels fan, I've watched Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood fail to live up to their hype. What about Trout should give me more confidence that he won't do the same?

    Brandon McCreary
    San Diego

The simple answer is that Trout is a lot better than almost anyone realized. He floated a $2.5 million price tag the night before the 2009 draft, but that didn’t really scare teams away. The Angels, who didn’t believe his asking price, were on him more than anyone and took him with their second of two first-round choices. He signed for a slot bonus of $1.215 million.

Viewed as a raw athlete at the time of the draft, Trout has proved to be anything but raw. He didn’t face elite competition as a New Jersey high schooler and had some length and loopiness in his swing, so he wasn’t expected to hit pro pitching right away. Yet he has batted .344 in two years of pro ball. He was graded as having 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, and it turns out that was selling him short, because he’s an 80 runner.

I’d feel better about Trout delivering on his promise compared to Kotchman, McPherson and Wood. I liked all of those players, but they all had flaws they couldn’t overcome. Kotchman never hit more than 10 homers in a minor league season and his power never developed like the Angels hoped. Even during their breakout seasons, McPherson and Wood struck out in bunches, which proved to be their undoing in the majors.

Even if Trout doesn’t get any better than he is right now—which would be silly, seeing as how he’s just 19—he’d hit for average, get on base and run wild once he did, and play a quality center field. His power is still developing, and he should hit at least 20 homers per season once he gets more aggressive about driving pitches. He’s a more well-rounded player than Kotchman, McPherson or Wood ever were.

    A player has a mutual option with his team and is a Type B free agent. His club exercises its option, but the player declines his and chooses free agency. Does the team get a supplemental pick? Do they have to offer arbitration after he turns down the option?

    Brian Koke
    San Diego

Ask BA always gets a few procedural questions about free-agent compensation every offseason, so this one gives us the opportunity to review the rule again. To receive compensation, a free agent’s former club must offer him arbitration and his new team must sign him to a major league contract.

Clubs losing Type A free agents (rated in the top 20 percent of players at their position, based on a statistical ranking) get the signing team’s first-round pick and a supplemental first-round choice as compensation. If the signing team finished with one of the 15 worst records in baseball in 2009, its first-rounder is protected and it loses its second-rounder instead. Clubs losing Type B free agents (in the 21-40 percent grouping at their position) get a supplemental first-rounder.

Applying these rules to Brian’s question, the team would get a supplemental first-round choice as long as it offered the player arbitration. Any of the option maneuvering is irrelevant.

" Oct. 18 Ask BA