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Inbox: Bichette or Tatis Jr., who would you take?

December 21, 2017

At the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, I ranked the 10 best prospects who have been traded this offseason. Since then, we've had two more deals involving significant prospects. Here's what the updated Top 10 would look like:1. Christian Arroyo, 3B/SS, Rays (from Giants in Evan Longoria trade)

  1. Sandy

At the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, I ranked the 10 best prospects who have been traded this offseason. Since then, we've had two more deals involving significant prospects. Here's what the updated Top 10 would look like:
1. Christian Arroyo, 3B/SS, Rays (from Giants in Evan Longoria trade)

  1. Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins (from Cardinals in Marcell Ozuna trade)
  2. Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins (from Yankees in Giancarlo Stanton trade)
  3. Enyel de los Santos, RHP, Phillies (from Padres in Freddy Galvis trade)
  4. Nick Neidert, RHP, Marlins (from Mariners in Dee Gordon trade)
  5. Magneuris Sierra, OF, Marlins (Ozuna trade)
  6. Yairo Munoz, SS/3B/OF, Cardinals (from Athletics in Stephen Piscotty trade)
  7. Max Schrock, 2B, Cardinals (Piscotty trade)
  8. Zac Gallen, RHP, Marlins (Ozuna trade)
  9. Jacob Pearson, OF, Twins (from Angels in international pool money trade)
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I love these sorts of questions, as you probably could tell if you read my all-Prospect Showdown Inbox from two weeks ago. Jonathan Mayo and I also debated the merits of Byron Buxton vs. überprospect Ronald Acuna earlier this week.
So it's easy to get me to jump at a comparison of two of baseball best prospects, who are shortstops with similar tools. Whom do I prefer between Bo Bichette (Blue Jays No. 2 prospect) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres No. 4)? Check out the video at the top of this story for my answer.

It's clear what both teams were trying to do. After their worst season since 1985, the Giants are trying to jump back into contention while staying under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. The perpetually payroll-shedding Rays are shedding more payroll, with a net savings of $60.5 million over the next five years after trading the greatest player in franchise history for Denard Span, Top 100 Prospect Arroyo and live-armed if wild pitching prospects Matt Krook and Stephen Woods.

Picking up $60.5 million of the $88 million owed to Evan Longoria over the next five years isn't an onerous commitment, even if he'll be 36 by the time that commitment expires. But the Giants could be headed for a massive fall with an old big league team and a thin farm system. They should bounce back some this season, yet it's also possible that we may never see Madison Bumgarner or Buster Posey in another playoff game while wearing a San Francisco uniform.
The Rays haven't had a winning season since 2013, so it makes sense to try to get younger and cheaper, though it's also somewhat disheartening to see them once again run away from an expensive but reasonably priced contract. Arroyo is one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and is gifted enough to make adjustments to produce some power, so he should become a more valuable player (and will definitely be a lot cheaper) than Longoria by 2020 or so. Krook and Woods are projects for Tampa Bay's development staff but could become late-inning bullpen weapons.

Interesting. The Red Sox had the best farm system in baseball as recently as mid-2015 but have slipped into the bottom third after a slew of graduations and trades. The Yankees also have promoted several of their best prospects to New York and dealt others during the last two years, yet still have one of the game's deepest systems.
Bearing in mind that our current Boston and New York Top 30s on Prospect Watch were mostly assembled in July and will undergo some major revisions when we update them in February, a combined Top 50 would include about 35 Yankees and 15 Red Sox. The contrast would be even more stark at the top, with left-hander Jay Groome and third baseman Michael Chavis the only Boston farmhands who would crack a combined Top 10.

The Braves may have the best prospect in baseball in Acuna, and they may have the best defensive outfield prospect in Pache, who figures to push Acuna to a corner when they both wind up in Atlanta. On the 20-80 scale, some evaluators hang 70s on Pache's center-field skills, arm and speed. Pache, the Braves' No. 10 prospect, has incredible range and instincts, and that strong arm allows him to play anywhere in the outfield he's needed.

A career .290/.340/.358 hitter with 43 steals in 176 pro games, Pache won't be a slugger but should provide more than enough offense to merit regular time once he gets stronger. He played all of last season in low Class A at age 18.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.