Ranking the top prospects traded this offseason

December 19th, 2019

While the early signings of elite free agents such as and have dominated the offseason headlines, there also have been some interesting trades featuring top prospects.

Last year, it was Mariners who made the biggest splash by acquiring three Top 100 prospects in two separate deals in early December. After acquiring left-hander Justus Sheffield from the Yankees in the trade, Seattle flipped and to the Mets for outfielder Jarred Kelenic and right-hander Justin Dunn, New York’s respective first-round picks from the 2018 and ’16 Drafts.

Back in 2016 it was the White Sox who made the biggest offseason prospect haul, landing and from Boston in the deal before sending to Washington for hurlers , Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

More important, the aforementioned trades have accelerated the rebuilding efforts by both organizations, infusing their farm systems with young, high-ceiling talent. The White Sox have already assembled one of the more exciting young big league rosters in the game; the Mariners, with their increasingly strong system, aren’t too far away from earning similar recognition.

We should see even more prospect-centered deals transpire this winter as teams continue to assess their rosters heading into 2020. For now, though, these are the top 10 prospects to have been traded this offseason:

1. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, Rays No. 6 (No. 72 overall)
Acquired from San Diego as part of the - swap, Edwards, the No. 38 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, gives the Rays another speedy, high-contact middle-infield prospect to go along with the likes of Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan. The 20-year-old switch-hitter split his first full season between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, batting .322/.375/.396 with 76 runs scored and 34 stolen bases in 123 games.

2. Will Wilson, SS/2B, Giants No. 10
The Angels’ first-round pick (No. 15 overall) from the 2019 Draft, Wilson was dealt to San Francisco along with left-hander Garrett Williams and in a salary-clearing move that ultimately helped the Angels sign free agent Anthony Rendon. The Giants, meanwhile, landed a solid prospect in return, as Wilson projects to hit for both average and power, though some evaluators wonder if he’ll be able to stick at shortstop due to his below-average speed.

3. Steele Walker, OF, Rangers No. 12
The White Sox 2018 second-round pick quietly put together a strong first full season, slashing .284/.361/.451 with 51 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs, in 120 games between Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. The Rangers were thrilled to acquire Walker for in December, as they believe the 23-year-old outfielder has untapped left-handed power potential to go along with an already advanced feel to hit.

4. Jake Cronenworth, SS/RHP, Padres No. 17
Cronenworth, 25, was a breakout two-way prospect for the Rays in 2019 before they packaged him with Tommy Pham to the Padres in early December. The former seventh-round pick (2015) turned in a career-best offensive performance, producing a .334/.429/.520 line with 10 homers, 40 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 88 games for Triple-A Durham. Cronenworth, who racked up 27 saves during three years as the University of Michigan’s closer, also fared well in his return to the mound, tossing 7 1/3 scoreless frames with nine strikeouts while showcasing a 94-96 mph fastball and hammer breaking ball.

5. Emmanuel Clase, RHP, Indians No. 23
Trading former AL Cy Young winner to Texas last week netted the Indians one of the more exciting young relievers in the game in Clase, who flashed truly electric stuff -- most notably, an absolutely nasty cutter that averaged 99.2 mph -- in the big leagues late last season after beginning the year at Class A Advanced Down East. The 21-year-old right-hander ultimately tossed 23 1/3 innings out of the Rangers’ bullpen, registering a 2.31 ERA with 21 strikeouts and a .230 BAA.

6. Buddy Reed, OF, Athletics No. 22
Acquired from the Padres as the player to be named later to complete the offseason trade, Reed was shipped to Oakland on Dec. 13, one day after he went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft. The former second-round pick (2016) has scuffled over parts of two seasons in Double-A, batting .213/.284/.339 with 189 strikeouts in 164 games, but he’s an outstanding athlete with sneaky raw power and plus speed that enables him to impact the game both in the outfield and on the basepaths.

7. Kyle Bradish, RHP, Orioles No. 26
The best of the four pitching prospects acquired in the trade, Bradish was sent straight to the Class A Advanced California League for his pro debut last season and held his own in the hitter-friendly circuit, recording a 4.28 ERA with 120 strikeouts and a .235 BAA in 101 innings. The 2018 fourth-rounder’s size (6-foot-4), four-pitch mix and natural deception all highlight his upside as a starter, though control issues caused by inconsistent mechanics may ultimately force him to the bullpen.

8. Jose De Leon, RHP, Reds No. 30
Sent to the Reds for cash and a PTBN in November, De Leon is a former Top 100 prospect who first reached the Majors with the Dodgers in 2016. He was dealt to the Rays that offseason, but missed most of the 2017-18 seasons while battling injuries, including Tommy John surgery. A clean bill of health in 2019 helped De Leon get back on track, however, and he returned to the big leagues in August after a strong showing at Triple-A Durham. De Leon may not be the prospect he once was, but the 27-year-old still has the potential to offer value as a backend starter or long reliever.

9. Blake Taylor, LHP, Astros
A former second-round pick (2013) by Pittsburgh whom the Mets acquired in 2014, Taylor was traded for a second time in his career this offseason, going to the Astros in early December in the deal. The 24-year-old left-hander put it all together in 2019, posting a 2.16 ERA with 10 saves and 74 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings (40 appearances) while advancing from Class A Advanced St. Lucie to Triple-A Syracuse. Armed with a lively 94-96 mph fastball and tight slider, Taylor appears poised to carve out a role in Houston’s bullpen during the upcoming season.

10. Kyle Brnovich, RHP, Orioles
The Bundy trade netted Baltimore three of the Angels’ top picks from the 2019 Draft including Brnovich, an eighth-rounder who was one of two NCAA Division I pitchers to reach triple digits in strikeouts in each of the last three seasons. The Elon product’s knack for generating whiffs is tied heavily to a plus 82-85 mph knuckle-curve that was regarded by scouts as one of the better breaking balls in his Draft class.

Best of the rest (listed alphabetically):
Kennedy Corona, OF, Mets (from Astros)
Rico Garcia, RHP, Giants (from Rockies)
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Mets (from Twins)
Jimmy Herget, RHP, Rangers (from Reds)
Isaac Mattson, RHP, Orioles (from Angels)