The parts are finally moving. Jason Heyward’s commitment to the Cubs has left the Cardinals in need of an outfielder. Free agent Alex Gordon, who would probably not be on the Cardinals radar if they had been able to re-sign Heyward, is now in their sights. It looks like Gordon is asking for a five-year deal in the $75 to $80 million range. It’s a price likely too high for the Royals, who were initially interested in re-signing their star left fielder. And if the Royals lose Gordon, they, in turn, will have a gap in the outfield. They can fill it with a remaining free agent, such as former Rockie Dexter Fowler. Or, they can turn to the trade market and look to a current Rockies outfielder, Carlos González, Corey Dickerson, or Charlie Blackmon.
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, that is exactly what the Royals might be doing. Crasnick writes:
If the Royals want to shoot the moon, they can deal for González and take a major bite out of their prospect pipeline. Or Royals GM Dayton Moore can downsize his ambitions and make a run at Blackmon or Dickerson.
Crasnick mentions two names that might persuade the Rockies to send CarGo to Kansas City: Raul Mondesi and Miguel Almonte. In addition to those two, Kyle Zimmer might be another potential return.
Mondesi's a shortstop who the Royals have aggressively promoted in the minors. In Double-A last season, Mondesi hit just .243/.279/.372. However, he did so as a 20 year old who was five years younger than the competition. That batting line does not tell the whole story though. In Baseball Prospectus's Midseason Top 50, Mondesi ranked as the 12th best prospect in baseball. Tucker Blair writes, "He is a strong example of numbers failing to tell the entire story, and his tools are too bright to overlook." Specifically, Mondesi is an above average defender at shortstop and has a well regarded hit tool, despite uninspiring numbers.
The other name Crasnick mentions is 22 year-old Miguel Almonte. Almonte is a right-handed starting pitcher who posted a 4.51 ERA in 103 innings pitched across Double and Triple-A in 2015. Almonte throws a low to mid-90s fastball and complements it with a mid-80s changeup that, reportedly, can miss bats. His third pitch is a curveball, and it appears weaker than his other two. Significantly, Almonte debuted in the majors as a September call-up. He threw 8 ⅔ innings for the Royals.
If conversations are taking place between the Rockies and Royals, the Rockies should inquire about righty Kyle Zimmer as well. In 64 innings across Class-A and Double-A in 2015, the 24 year-old Zimmer posted a 2.39 ERA. He struck out 10.1 batters per nine innings and walked 2.8.
If there is substance in these rumors, the package the Rockies get in return would rely on which of the three outfielders the Royals receive. Additionally, a lot might depend on whether or not the Rockies would be willing to pay some of González's remaining contract. It would be overthinking it to consider whether or not Mondesi would "fit" the Rockies system given that he'd be a shortstop in the same organization as Trevor Story or Brendan Rodgers. Positions change all the time, and no player is a sure thing. He'd fit in any team's system.
Of the pitchers, Zimmer has the better minor league stats, although he's the older of the two and has yet to crack Triple-A. Almonte's September call-up in 2015 at least suggests he's ready to cut his teeth on a major league roster. One or both of Zimmer and Almonte might end up in the bullpen, so any trade involving either CarGo or Dickerson should include Mondesi.
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And it's not just the Royals who are rumored to be in on one of the Rockies' outfielders:
Nationals continuing dialogue with Rockies re: Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. Nats want a LH-hitting outfielder, Rox have 'em to deal— Pete Kerzel (@masnPete) December 12, 2015
Assuming that the Rockies and Nationals can agree on the value of the Rockies outfielders and the Rockies are solely interested in prospects, these may be some of the possible pieces returning to the Rockies.
This is probably not going to happen; however this offseason has resulted in some crazy trades, even involving two first overall picks. Giolito is the prize of the Nationals' minor league system. He's ranked by most people as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball and in the top five of all prospects. Armed with an 80 grade fastball that touches 100 mph and a 12-6 curveball that is almost as good, Giolito is the kind of prospect that makes most scouts drool.
Giolito is most likely not going to be included in any trade with the Rockies, but if he is, Bridich will have earned his paycheck for the past year, and hopefully a standing ovation the next time he makes a public appearance.
Erick Fedde, a right-handed pitcher, was the Nationals' first round pick in 2014 with the 18th overall selection. Like Giolito, Fedde has already undergone Tommy John surgery, though unlike Giolito (but like Jeff Hoffman), Fedde's surgery took place before the draft. It resulted in him slipping from a top ten pick to where the Nationals eventually draft him. Fedde has a good fastball that sits in the low 90s and tops out at 97. Combined with a developing slider, change, and good control Fedde looks to have all the pieces to potentially become a No. 3 starter at the MLB level.
Besides the Tommy John surgery, the other downside to Fedde is that this past year was his first year of professional baseball, due to losing all of 2014 in recovery and rehab. Fedde should be starting in A+ this next season, and is probably still two to three years removed from being a MLB starter.
Reynaldo Lopez, also a right-handed pitcher, is one of the more complex prospects in the Nationals system. Lopez signed as an international free agent with the Nationals in 2012 at the age of 18. Armed with a mid-90s fastball, Lopez opened the eyes of a lot of prospect hounds with a dominating 2014 campaign. His 2015 wasn't quite as impressive, though he still did post some decent strike out and walk numbers.
Like seemingly every other pitching prospect in the Nationals' farm system, Lopez did miss almost a full year due to injuries in 2013. Lopez also hasn't developed a consistent second offering to his fastball, which may make him a future bullpen piece rather than starter at the MLB level.
Let's turn to position players. Trea Turner, a shortstop, is the premier position player in the Nationals' farm system. Acquired from the Padres as part of the three-way trade that resulted in Wil Myers going to San Diego, Turner is expected the be on the Nationals Opening Day roster in 2016. Turner's best tool is his speed, which has been graded as 75-80. Past that, the rest of his toolkit is solid.
Though not as highly ranked as Giolito, Turner probably has a smaller chance of being traded, as it would create a hole at shortstop for the Nationals.
Wilmer Difo, also a shortstop, can be described as a slightly worse Trea Turner. Like Turner, Difo's best tool is his speed. However, that speed isn't quite as good as Turner's, and none of the rest of his tools are as good either. Like Turner, Difo is close to MLB ready and even had a shot cup of coffee with the Nationals in 2015.
At first glance, Difo might not seem like a great fit for the Rockies; however, if DJ Lemahieu is traded this offseason, Difo might slot in nicely next to Trevor Story in the Rockies' future middle infield.
Victor Robles, an outfielder, is a young raw prospect that the Nationals signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 at the age of 16. Robles has already demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate, including a .343./.424/.479 triple slash at Low-A this past season as an 18-year-old. Robles has the speed of a center fielder and the arm of a right fielder.
Robles is a long ways from the majors, with an ETA of 2018-2019. However, if the Rockies do succesfully trade two, or even all three, of their current outflielders, having another top outfield prospect in the system behind David Dahl and Ramiel Tapia would make a lot of sense.
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By all accounts, the Rockies have maintained a high asking price on the returns for their outfielders, which is justified. Not only did CarGo rebound from his injuries with a 40 home run campaign last year, but the remaining two years of his contract are looking like they'll be a bargain compared to the deals being signed this offseason. While Blackmon's production isn't expected to be as good outside of Coors Field, he has one more year of team control, will be very affordable, as he is entering his first arbitration year. Dickerson is similarly affordable and has a lot of control years left. That, and it's clear that he's a hitter regardless of the environment.
If one of these outfielders is moved, the return should be good. How good of a return the team gets just might elevate the farm system to be the best in baseball. It's been tough going the past few years, but an already bright future could get even more luminous within the next few days.