The Boston Red Sox management woke up on Tuesday and decided that they didn't like the Winter Meetings to be all talk and no show. So they decided to make some noise and add starting pitcher Chris Sale from the White Sox and reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. This deal obviously has some immediate implications for redraft leagues in 2017 and owners of Chris Sale, but what about the prospects?
The White Sox received in return quite the haul for Chris Sale. By sending the southpaw to the Red Sox, Rick Hahn and company received in return top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada, flame-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and reliever Victor Diaz. Here are the details on the Red Sox - White Sox trade:
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, MLB)
There is little that Moncada can't do, but he probably still requires some time to develop in the minors. The 21-year-old phenom showed an extremely exciting combination of power and speed last season in the minors as he posted 15 home runs and 45 stolen bases across only 106 games (split with 45 at Double-A and 61 at High-A). But as he reached the upper levels of the minors, he began to show why he did not go straight to the big leagues. At High-A, Moncada struck out only 21.1% of the time, but that number jumped up to 30.9% when he advanced to Double-A. Then in a cameo appearance at the big league level, he struck out in 60% of his 20 plate appearances (12 Ks) and mustered only four hits.
Is this to say that you all should be concerned about his future? Absolutely not, but it does mean that the trade may not guarantee him starting playing time at third base for the White Sox right away. Besides, they do still have Todd Frazier at third, though it looks likely he will be dealt away before the season begins.
What this trade really means for Moncada is that it is likely he will bat higher up in the lineup upon an initial promotion, but it will be a weaker lineup. Batting leadoff for the White Sox will help him score plenty of runs, but it hurts that Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts have been effectively replaced by (what will likely be) Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera.
With that said, a trade to any team was never going to severely plummet Moncada's value, no matter where he was dealt. With his combo of power and speed, he still looks poised to become a future All-Star and one of the most valuable dynasty prospects in baseball.
Michael Kopech (SP, A+)
Kopech took some time to be fully recognized by prospect evaluators as a true dominant pitching prospect, but in 2016, he really started to turn heads thanks in large part to his outstanding stuff.
With one of the hardest fastballs in the minors and a wipeout slider, Kopech racked up a whopping 82 strikeouts in only 52 innings of work at High-A this season. To save you some trouble with the math, that is 40% of the batters he faced. Fantasy owners are probably going to read that and have their jaws drop, especially since most scouts believe racking up gaudy strikeout totals in the big leagues will hardly prove to be a challenge for the 20-year-old right-hander.
But what will prove to be challenging is reigning in his command. It should hardly be surprising that a young pitcher who has been clocked in triple-digits has trouble locating his pitches. Along with his impressive strikeout numbers, Kopech also posted a rather high walk rate of 14.2%. And while opponents only hit a meager .146 off of him at High-A, Kopech will need to bring that walk rate down in order to survive against big league hitters.
I will be brutally honest and say that I am concerned about Kopech heading to the White Sox. They tend to rush their pitching prospects through the minors (e.g. Carson Fulmer and Carlos Rodon) before their guys have any time to improve their command. Kopech has top-of-the-rotation potential and that certainly won't change by moving to the South Side of Chicago, but his control is volatile and his upside could be soured if he is not given enough time to develop.
Luis Alexander Basabe is the only other name you all will really need to focus on. He is a guy with a promising power/speed combination, though like Moncada, he has struggled at times with plate discipline. He is still a couple seasons away from the big leagues, but he no longer faces a major blockage ahead of him as the White Sox outfield lacks the star power and depth of the Red Sox.
It looks like he could be in the big leagues by midseason 2018. But his production will hinge on whether he can cut down on the strikeouts. If he does, he could be a solid 20/20 outfield regular. If not, he could be a fourth outfielder for the White Sox and will be limited in his value to fantasy owners.
The only other player involved in the deal is reliever Victor Diaz. He is a 22-year-old reliever still pitching his way through Class-A. He should not have any implications on dynasty owners.