10 MLB Prospects Who Could Be the Centerpiece of Winter Meetings Blockbuster Trades | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

10 MLB Prospects Who Could Be the Centerpiece of Winter Meetings Blockbuster Trades

0 out of 10

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The 2022 MLB winter meetings will begin Sunday, and while the MLB talent changing teams in blockbuster trades can often steal the headlines, the prospects who go the other way in those deals often wind up being the bigger story.

    Workhorse right-hander Jeff Samardzija going from the Oakland Athletics to the Chicago White Sox during the 2014 winter meetings was one of the biggest stories to emerge from the four-day event, but years later it became clear the South Siders lost that trade when Marcus Semien and Chris Bassitt emerged as impact players in Oakland.

    Ahead we’ve taken a look at 10 notable prospects who could find themselves at the center of blockbuster deals during this year’s winter meetings because of a blocked path to the majors, some boom-or-bust potential or their proximity to the majors relative to their team’s window of contention.

    Here’s hoping we see at least a few exciting deals struck in the coming days.

C Diego Cartaya, Los Angeles Dodgers

1 out of 10

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: Diego Cartaya #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts in the second inning during the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

    Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Dodgers had enough catching talent in the organization to include Keibert Ruiz in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner blockbuster deal at the 2021 trade deadline, and they have another top-tier catching prospect who could be viewed as expendable in Diego Cartaya.

    The 21-year-old posted an .892 OPS with 22 doubles, 22 home runs and 72 RBI in 95 games between Single-A and High-A in 2022, and while his receiving skills remain a work in progress, he has middle- of-the-order offensive potential.

    With Will Smith entrenched as the MLB starter and 2022 second-round pick Dalton Rushing hitting .404/.522/.740 with 19 extra-base hits in 30 games in his pro debut, the Dodgers can afford to flip Cartaya to fill another need. without mortgaging the future at catcher.

OF Gabriel Gonzalez, Seattle Mariners

2 out of 10

    With their window to contend wide open and a wealth of young outfield talent in the majors and the upper levels of the minors, the Seattle Mariners could consider flipping teenage outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez for more immediate help this winter.

    The 18-year-old signed for $1.3 million in 2021 and then hit .321/.410/.468 with 22 extra-base hits in 67 games between rookie ball and Single-A in his stateside debut in 2022 to send his prospect stock. soaring.

    Rebuilding teams love to stock up on lower-level prospects with tools, and while Gonzalez does not have one standout skill, he’s above-average across the board with a chance to hit for average and power while playing a solid corner outfield if the pieces fall. into place. Don’t be surprised if he climbs onto leaguewide Top 100 lists in 2023.

OF Luis Matos, San Francisco Giants

3 out of 10

    MESA, AZ - NOVEMBER 01, 2022: Luis Matos #6 of the Scottsdale Scorpions bats during a game against the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park on November 1, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

    Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    Shortstop Marco Luciano and left-hander Kyle Harrison are likely untouchable from the San Francisco Giants farm system, but everyone else could be available in the right blockbuster deal to improve the MLB roster. Outfielder Luis Matos has a strong case for being the No. 3 guys in the system, even after a down year in 2022.

    The 20-year-old hit .211 with a .619 OPS in 91 games at High-A Eugene, and while those numbers look bad at first glance, he’s still well ahead of the developmental curve. He tallied 14 doubles and 11 home runs in 407 plate appearances, and he didn’t look completely overmatched with a 16.0 percent strikeout rate.

    The Giants have pushed him aggressively, and he has taken his lumps as a result, but that speaks as much to their confidence in his upside as anything else. Scouts also got a good look at him in the Arizona Fall League where he was one of the youngest players.

SS Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets

4 out of 10

    PORT ST.  LUCIE, FL - MARCH 11: Ronny Mauricio #2 of the New York Mets in action against the St.  Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park on March 11, 2020 in Port St.  Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    With Francisco Lindor entrenched at shortstop and Brett Baty looking like the future at third base, it is difficult to see where Ronny Mauricio fits into the long-term plans for the New York Mets.

    The 21-year-old was the No. 1 prospect in the Mets system as recently as 2020, and while he has been overtaken by Baty and Francisco Álvarez in the years since, he still has an extremely high ceiling.

    In a full season at Double-A in 2022, he posted a .767 OPS with 26 doubles, 26 home runs, 89 RBI and 20 steals in 123 games. His 23.1 percent strikeout rate and .296 on-base percentage are a clear indication his approach needs refinement, but his power potential is the real deal and the defensive tools are there for him to be an above-average shortstop.

RHP Griff McGarry, Philadelphia Phillies

5 out of 10

    Virginia pitcher Griff McGarry delivers to a batter in the first inning during an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional game against Dallas Baptist Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Columbia, SC Virginia won 4-0.  (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

    AP Photo/Sean Rayford

    In four years at the University of Virginia, right-hander Griff McGarry showed an intriguing ability to miss bats (12.5 K/9) and a consistent issue finding the strike zone (8.8 BB/9), but the Philadelphia Phillies rolled the dice on his big arm in the fifth round of the 2021 draft.

    He climbed two levels in his first full professional season to close out the year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, posting a 3.71 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 87.1 innings along the way, but his command continued to be an issue with a 14.6 percent walk rate. .

    The 23-year-old should be ready for his first taste of the big leagues at some point in 2023, but he still has a significant boom-or-bust risk. With Andrew Painter and Mick Abel headlining the farm system and Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suárez anchoring the MLB rotation, the Phillies might be willing to part with a high-risk, high-reward prospect to upgrade elsewhere.

LHP Kyle Muller, Atlanta Braves

6 out of 10

    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Kyle Muller #66 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

    G Fiume/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Braves have a projected 2023 starting rotation of Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Charlie Morton, Spencer Strider and Mike Soroka, with Ian Anderson, Bryce Elder and trade pickup Kolby Allard serving as experienced depth behind that fivesome.

    Where does that leave the MLB-ready arm of Kyle Muller?

    The 25-year-old had an 8.03 ERA in three spot starts in 2022, but he was terrific at Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 159 strikeouts in 134.2 innings while slashing his walk rate from 12.2 to 7.4 percent. relative to the previous season.

    For the Braves, he’s arguably ninth in line for a rotation spot, but he could be an immediate addition to a rebuilding club’s starting staff and a controllable arm with solid No. 2/3 starter upside.

SS Oswald Peraza, New York Yankees

7 out of 10

    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) hits a single during the game between the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees on October 5, 2022 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    With Isiah Kiner-Falefa set to return after he was tendered a contract and top prospect Anthony Volpe expected to be knocking on the door by midseason, Oswald Peraza might have been auditioning for other teams when he made his MLB debut in September.

    The 22-year-old went 15-for-49 with three doubles, one home run and two steals in 18 games after making his MLB debut on Sept. 2, and he started games at both middle infield spots over the final month.

    He could fit as a super-utility player and perhaps even as the starting second baseman a few years down the road, but assuming Volpe is off-limits in trade talks, Peraza could be the most sought after of the team’s top prospects in any major trade discussions.

OF George Valera, Cleveland Guardians

8 out of 10

    GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 22: George Valera #76 of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during the Cleveland Guardians Photo Day at Goodyear Ballpark on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

    Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    With defensive whiz Myles Straw signed through 2026 in center field and rookie standouts Steven Kwan and Oscar González now set to occupy the corner outfield spots for the foreseeable future, the Cleveland Guardians should be willing to listen to top prospect George Valera in the right blockbuster deal. .

    The 21-year-old spent the 2022 season in the upper levels of the minors, posting an .816 OPS with 25 doubles, 24 home runs and 82 RBI in 132 games. His 74 walks and 13.1 percent walk rate speak to his maturity as a hitter, but he also struck out 145 times at a 25.6 percent clip.

    Valera probably has a higher ceiling than Kwan or González if everything clicks, but with more glaring needs on the roster and an opportunity to win now in a wide-open AL Central race, flipping him is not out of the question.

OF Joey Wiemer, Milwaukee Brewers

9 out of 10

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Joey Wiemer #17 of the National League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    With Tyrone Taylor and Garrett Mitchell breaking through at the MLB level and a number of exciting prospects rising up the ranks in the farm system, the Milwaukee Brewers suddenly have an abundance of young outfield talent in the organization.

    Budding superstar Jackson Chourio is a safe bet to be untouchable in trade talks, but they could consider trading one of Joey Wiemer or Sal Frelick to address needs at catcher, third base and in the middle of the lineup.

    With legitimate five-tool potential, Wiemer has the higher ceiling of the two, but he also has a lower floor given his high strikeout rate. The 23-year-old posted an .801 OPS with 34 doubles, 21 home runs, 77 RBI and 31 steals in 34 attempts in the upper minors in 2022, but he also struck out 147 times at a 26.8 percent rate.

RHP Yosver Zulueta, Toronto Blue Jays

10 out of 10

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: Yosver Zulueta #23 of the Toronto Blue Jays during player introductions prior to the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

    Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    Yosver Zulueta didn’t make his pro debut with the Toronto Blue Jays until his age-23 season in 2021. He spent several years pitching in the Cuban National Series before signing in 2019, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020 and making just one appearance at Single-A in 2021.

    The 6’1″ right-hander proved worth the wait this season, posting a 3.72 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 55.2 innings over four minor-league levels, closing the year with three appearances for Triple-A Buffalo.

    The 24-year-old has a big 70-degree fastball, and he backs it up with a high-spin slider, plus curveball and quality changeup. Still, his command still needs work and his future might be in the bullpen given his age. After his rise up the prospect ranks was halted by knee and shoulder issues over the summer, the Blue Jays could decide selling high is their best move as they look to improve the MLB roster for a title push in 2023.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

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