Poll: Top Prospects For Rental Players

No general manager enjoys trading highly-regarded prospects away. But until this year, GMs have been able to trade elite prospects for players on the brink of free agency with the expectation of obtaining two compensatory draft picks for the loss of the Major League player. It was unpleasant to trade top prospects away, but the draft picks helped replenish teams' minor league systems.

This year, the rules have changed, and teams can no longer obtain draft pick compensation for players acquired midseason. The change in rules, in effect for the first time under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, creates a dilemma for baseball's GMs: is it worth trading a top prospect for a player nearing free agency when the possibility of obtaining draft pick compensation no longer exists?

It's not hard to see why some teams will refuse to trade top prospects for 'rental' players. In the view of many, the short-term gain wouldn't be substantial enough to overcome the loss of a player who could make an extended impact at the MLB level while earning a relatively modest salary.

But how else will a team obtain a star MLB player such as Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke? Surely second-rate prospects and salary relief won't be enough. And it wouldn't be the first time teams have traded elite prospects without the possibility of obtaining draft pick compensation. The Giants parted with Zack Wheeler last summer in the trade that sent Carlos Beltran to San Francisco (the Beltran-Wheeler swap isn't a perfect comparison, but it shows that some teams are willing to sacrifice top prospects for short-term upgrades).

So, if you were a general manager, would you go all-in despite the change in rules or hold onto your prospects?

Full Story | 46 Comments | Categories: MLBTR Polls

46 Responses to Poll: Top Prospects For Rental Players Leave a Reply

  1. John Dyson 3 years ago

    I voted yes, but then, I’m a Cubs fan. ha!

    • Ben_Cherington 3 years ago

      Demp and Garza should be minimal top 7 prospect from any team :)

  2. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 3 years ago

    I voted no, but I would consider it if said top prospect is blocked-like a catcher would be in the Cardinals organization or a 3rd baseman in the Nationals organization. The rental player would have to also be the exact perfect fit for what I needed.

    • schellis 3 years ago

      This was my vote as well. Its way easier to trade a prospect that has no future with your team.

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      But you can often times flip prospect for prospect. If the nats had a really good 3b prospect they can trade with the cards top catcher prospect.

  3. WisBrave 3 years ago

    Top prospects yes but not ones you’d find on a top 50 overall prospect rankings at least not strait up unless maybe there is a surplus or blocked. But I’m sure someone will be desperate enough to do it at least in one one of the trades before the deadline.

  4. It certainly depends. If you feel you are one player away from a championship, it might be worth the risk. Also, if the player is able to get you compensation if he signs elsewhere, it would possibly be worth the risk. Beltran couldn’t be offered arbitration and the Giants got nothing after losing him.

  5. leachim2 3 years ago

    If its a player that will put you over the top to make it into the playoffs, I would, the exception being a team that has a young core and a bright future. (Pirates, Nationals)

    • drabidea 3 years ago

      The Pirates and Nationals have pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot. What about a team like the Rays that have a young core and bright future but still in the Wild card hunt??

      • leachim2 3 years ago

        When the Rays get Longoria they will be re-energized. That being said, no I would not.

  6. AaronAngst 3 years ago

    I think “elite” might need to be more defined, but moves for stars just won’t happen anymore unless top prospects (top 5 guys in a system) are on the table. If your team is content with adding, say, a Carlos Lee for the playoff run then you have no need to fret.

  7. bigpat 3 years ago

    Those who say yes= Phillies and Brewers fans.

    • FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

      and cubs

    • John Driscoll 3 years ago

      And for the last twenty years before this year it would have been you Pirates fans.

  8. alxn 3 years ago

    Contending teams owe it to themselves to try to everything they can to increase their chances of making the playoffs and winning the World Series. The Cards would have been sitting at home in November if they didn’t acquire Jackson last year, and there is a pretty good chance that none of the prospects they traded for him pan out.

    That being said, I would draw the line when talking about elite prospects who seem like sure things. They should never be traded for rentals.

    • drabidea 3 years ago

      But you would still trade a B+ prospect to increase your chance of making the playoffs from 15% to 18%??

      • alxn 3 years ago


        • drabidea 3 years ago

          But you said the team owes it self to try anything to increase its chance of making the playoffs??

    • drabidea 3 years ago

      Also, Edwin Jackson was worth about 0.7 WAR over the rest of the season for the Cardinals. He also pitched a 5.60 ERA. David Freese is the reason you guys won the WS.

    • jb226 3 years ago

      This is pretty close to my view, but I wouldn’t say “never” to anything. If a player puts you over the top, then it should at least be considered even if the cost is a top prospect. There aren’t a lot of players and situations where this would apply, though; it essentially has to be a big-impact player for a ridiculously strong team with one glaring hole the player just happens to fill. And of course it presumes that you have tried to acquire said player with lesser prospects and can’t get the seller to bite.

      Naturally it also depends on the definition of “top prospect.” A specific team’s top prospect may not be much of a prospect, and even if he is it’s not clear where the draw the line for the definition. I voted yes because it was the more accurate of the two options, but it’s a pretty limited set of circumstances I would actually say yes to.

  9. I hate to beat on my team but I can’t forgive them for dealing Andrus, Feliz, Harrison etc….for Mark Texiera. That set ATL way back.

    • At the time what did you think of the deal?

      Now, of course, the deal looks extremely rough, but wasn’t it a fair bet that ATL was one piece away, at the time?

      • Well I did not care for it then, even if we thought our minor league pieces were expendable. We got a Mark Teixeira rental (granted he gave us pop), which in retrospect now serves as the reason Frank Wren covets our farm system even more. Julio/Christian/etc….. As “The Who” said, “We won’t get fooled again.”

  10. David C. Ruckman 3 years ago

    If I were a GM, I would only deal in elite prospects if there were a sign-and-trade agreement in place (CBA) or a guarantee that I’d have exclusive rights to negotiate a contract extension with the player I acquire at the conclusion of the season. Otherwise, why pay a premium when there’s little or no guarantee that I’d get maximum value? The playoffs are a big-enough gamble as it stands now; I would not want to gamble away my farm system and have nothing to show for it in six months. But that’s just me, and I’m certainly not a GM.

  11. Paul Williams 3 years ago

    I believe if you get a rental player its worth it if you have someone in your organization to take his place after he leaves for free agency. If you dont, then why give up prospects at other positions.

  12. mychiefs58 3 years ago

    you don’t get many chances to win championships. a WS is worth the loss of a future star. now, i’m not saying to gut a system, but if you really have a chance (not an A’s chance or a Pirate’s chance) and you can truly improve your team, then you have to go for it.

  13. Ken Roucka 3 years ago

    Depends, maybe.

  14. mychiefs58 3 years ago

    people stating the crap shoot the playoffs are have not taken into account the crapshoot that prospects are.

  15. melonis_rex 3 years ago

    1-Top 25? No, but that was true with the old CBA. Top 50? Sure. Top 100? Absolutely. But only for a truly elite player, and not for someone mediocre.

    2- if a rental player legitimately increases and solidifies the odds for a definite contender (as in one that doesn’t have a bazillion holes or is allowing more runs than they’ve scored) of getting into the divisional serie (whether it be through winning a wildcard and winning a play-in or winning a division), then absolutely trade top prospects for him.

    3- The compensation draft pick the seller receives is worth more because it adds money to the cap (you can’t just draft the same player later and overpay him now unless you want to sign a bunch of college seniors below slot later on.

    4- There will always be demand for elite players, moreso now with the wildcard. And a .500 team with the 2nd wildcard shouldn’t necessarily sell impending FA core pieces, so there will be less supply.

    5- Prospects are a crapshoot. Most of them bust. Sleepers bust out of nowhere all the time.

  16. BosephHeyden 3 years ago

    If you’re trading to obtain someone who is considered one of the best at their position, and it is a position you need and can’t fill on your own, why not? I think the real issue is creating a situation where that player you trade for is enticed into staying after the season. I’ll go with the Dodgers since I’m familiar with that situation, but they do not want to give up Zach Lee for Ryan Dempster or Cole Hammels or Grienke (though Grienke’s anxiety probably makes him less than ideal for LA). But those first two guys alone are going to be highly sought after in free agency by everyone. If you have the willingness to spend money like the Dodgers do, then after you make your trade, make a big effort to nab that player. Especially with a guy like Ryan Dempster, all you need to do is make sure Ted Lilly is resigned and he’s immediately got a reason to want to stay in LA. Then you offer him the big dollars before he hits free agency, and suddenly losing your top prospect isn’t that big a deal.

  17. Jeffrey Wright 3 years ago

    if the organization has a legitimate shot at winning the W.S but needs a player or two i think its ok to get rid of your best prospects because the WS championship is the ultimate goal in baseball that should warrant the teams full attention when they are playoff bound

  18. MLBrainmaker 3 years ago

    It depends…on the team, on the division, and the prospect. The Pirates for example shouldn’t think about moving Tallion or Cole (or anyone really) because the nucleus of that team is young and can afford to wait around, whereas the window for the Dodgers with Kemp and Ethier together is closing and an upgrade at 3B and a #2 SP would probably be enough to get them over the hump.

  19. Jeff 3 years ago

    I think the new wild card means if you’re not real close to a division lead, it isn’t worth it. I don’t want the Braves trading their prospects for a shot at the wild card (find out this weekend if Braves have a legit shot at division or not)

  20. Not now with the lack of getting the compensation picks. Before the rule change I would have said yes, because if you lose the player you get a pick or two. Now if you lose the player you get nothing.

  21. hiflyer000 3 years ago

    I’m actually quite shocked that nearly 70% of the people favor prospects considering the team getting the prospects almost never get the better deal in these situations.

    Prospects in baseball have to be just about the most overvalued commodity in the entire world.

    • Nick Sossamon 3 years ago

      There’s a difference between just run of the mill prospects and top tier guys that are fairly projectable. When you have guys like Trout, Machado, Harper, Sale, Profar etc. you can (or could) fairly accurately project them to be at least good MLB players, if not great. This along with the fact that they are cost controlled for six years makes top guys extremely valuable for a system even if they become just above-average major leaguers.

      I’m sure most people are comfortable with giving up some “high-upside” players or younger Rookie or class A guys that have shown flashes of something. And I agree that baseball prospects are generally harder to get a grasp on than other sports (because of the vast skill difference from high school/college to MLB). But I wouldn’t consider top prospects overvalued or overrated.

  22. stabmasterarson 3 years ago

    if youre 1 or 2 players from a championship team then you should pull the trigger. no prospect is a sure thing.

  23. drabidea 3 years ago

    I am going to assume that by top prospect you mean a top 50 prospect. Using Victor Wang’s table in prospects historical value. The average top 50 hitting prospect will be worth atleast $23.4M to the team and a top 50 pitching prospect will be worth $15.9M.

    I mean you would have to get about 5 WAR out of the player you are trading for which is absurd in less than half a season. That is also assuming the player you are replacing is worth 0 WAR.

    So the answer is NO!!!!

  24. pageian 3 years ago

    I say no, don’t trade elite prospects for rentals. The more elite prospects you hold on to the fewer rentals you will need. Delayed gratification may be tough to sell to the fans at first but if you do things right you’ll end up with a team that competes every year without the need to deal away the future.

  25. Jeff King 3 years ago

    In hindsight, if a prospect does anything special with his career, it never looks like a good trade. Doyle Alexander was pretty solid for the Tigers in his rental but no one remembers that they just remember the Tigers losing John Smoltz who put up a borderline, if not certain, hall of fame career. I’ve be leery of making a trade like this if I was a GM.

  26. UrkillingmeSmalls 3 years ago

    I think it’s only worth gutting the farm if it’s for a true stud like Ubaldo Jimenez.

  27. chi1313 3 years ago

    top prospects actually panning out is also a crapshoot. I’m a white sox fan so I have an admitted bias and angst with some moves kenny williams has made in the past, but for every gio gonzalez and chris young the organization has given up, there are three aaron poreda/joe borchard/josh fields types. the point is to win with the big league club in any given year, not with the farm system. If i’m playing craps on an annual basis, i’d rather the outcome be a playoff berth as opposed to a serviceable mlb player a few years down the road. a team like the royals has been accumulating and retaining “top” prospects for years now and they continue to be cellar dwellers year after year.

  28. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    of course there is. not every team can afford to compete every year. plenty of teams have to build toward runs where they go all-in, hopefully grab a title or two, and then rebuild

    if you know you’re going to have to rebuild soon anyway, you want to give yourself the best possible shot to make your run worthwhile

    sometimes you lose a trade to win a title. it’s a gamble, but perfectly logical one

  29. drabidea 3 years ago

    The teams that can’t afford to compete every year are the exact teams that should keep their team controlled talent

  30. melonis_rex 3 years ago

    not necessarily.

    tons of top prospects bust. if a low-revenue team has exactly the alignment of talent to compete now and is in contention midseason, they should absolutely trade for upgrades to bolster their team.

    banking hopes on a “future” that hinges on the volatility of prospects is a great way to stay in mediocrity for years.

  31. Nick Sossamon 3 years ago

    And the Angels got Mike Trout with the pick they received for Teix signing with the Yankees. Sad stuff for Atlanta.

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