By Dieter Kurtenbach The MLB trade deadline is less than a week away, and while there are a few teams on the fence, we generally know who is going to be buying and who is going to be selling before August 1. Teams like the Red Sox, Nationals, Indians, and Dodgers will certainly be looking to increase their chances of winning a title this fall, and with it being an incredible seller's market, it's going to cost 'em. But even the buyers need to make sure that they're not selling the stars of the future, even if it is to acquire a star today. With that in mind, here are my 11 untouchable, untradable — don't even say their name — prospects at the MLB trade deadline.
Getty ImagesBrace Hemmelgarn
Lucas Giolito - RHP - Washington Nationals
The top pitching prospect in baseball, Giolito was called up to the Majors this season but was optioned back to Triple-A Monday. Giolito has elite stuff, and when the command comes — it looks to be just around the corner — the righty will be an ace. Even if the Nationals were to move Giolito for an elite player — Chris Sale, perhaps — two years down the line the one-to-one values could be even (and it’s never a one-for-one trade). The Nats should be good for a long while, and Giolito should be a big part of that stretch.
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Julio Urias - LHP - Los Angeles Dodgers
The jewel of the Dodgers’ tremendous farm system, Urias is the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. At age 19, he’s already started nine games for the Dodgers, and a few of them have been pretty good — he pitched five shutout innings allowing only one walk and striking out eight on June 17. This is a prospect that dominated Class A at ages 16 and 17. With a 97 mph fastball and feel for his breaking stuff that’s equally embarrassing to hitters, it’s easy to see him being one of the best pitchers in the game by the time he turns 21. Who would trade that?
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
Trea Turner - SS - Washington Nationals
His entire career has been quirky. He had only two D1 scholarship offers — NC State and FAU — and played both third and short in the ACC, turning into a first-round pick. After being drafted by the Padres in 2014, he was traded to the Nationals before it was technically allowed. He remained in the Padres system for six months, despite the fact that he was going to be on a new team in June 2015, and yet was one of the best players in the Texas League (Double-A) during that limbo period. He’s overdue for a call-up to the Majors this season, posting a Triple-A slash line of .302/.370/.471 with 25 stolen bases while playing some CF as an effort to break through to the big leagues. Turner could use a change of scenery — he long ago deserved a break — but the Nats would be fools to move a player this versatile with a bat this steady.
Getty ImagesMike Stobe
Alex Reyes - RHP - St. Louis Cardinals
Even if he doesn’t develop into a top-flight starter — and that’s absolutely still on the table for the 21-year-old righty — Reyes projects as a top-flight closer at the Major League level. That’s what a fastball that reaches triple digits will get you. Control has been an issue for Reyes, but there’s clear progress there in recent months. Reyes could easily pitch for the Cardinals this season — he should be in the St. Louis rotation this time next year, and could possibly be an ace in 2018.
Getty ImagesSean M. Haffey
Lewis Brinson - CF - Texas Rangers
At 22, Brinson is scheduled to be the starting center fielder for the Rangers next season. He has an elite glove and high-end potential to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases a year at the Major League level. The Rangers have a load of prospects they can move to land another starting pitcher or impact bat at the deadline, but even if Brinson isn’t Major League ready until 2018 (his strikeout rate has diminished to 19 percent but is still concerning) he should be Texas’ most prized minor league asset and off-limits in trades.
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Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier - OF - Cleveland Indians
It’s really hard to decide which of these two outfielders is expendable, so the correct answer is neither. Zimmer projects as a WAR machine centerfielder — a Christian Yelich-type who excels at everything. At 23, he’s in a put-up-or-shut-up campaign that has put a bit of a damper on the concept that he’ll be a five-tool star, but the Indians should see it through — the ceiling is still high and the tools haven’t diminished. Frazier is a power hitter. He carries elite bat speed and flowing red hair which will make him an immediate fan favorite upon his call up. He should compete for HR crowns at the Major League level. Both Zimmer and Frazier should be playing and contributing for the Indians by this time next year.
Anthony Alford - OF - Toronto Blue Jays
A former quarterback at Southern Miss and safety at Ole Miss, Alford’s size (6-foot-1, 215) and athleticism (4.4 40-yard dash) make him one of the most intriguing prospects in baseball. His range in center field is well above the cut and his polished approach at the plate makes him a clear bet to lead off for Toronto down the line, perhaps even adding some pop as he progresses through the system from high-A ball. The Blue Jays might be in win-now mode, but Alford’s tremendous upside at a premium position — even if not fully realized yet — should make him untouchable.
Christian Arroyo - SS - San Francisco Giants
The bat — oh, that bat — is borderline Major League ready right now. Arroyo isn’t big or all that fast, but the guy is a doubles machine [29 in 89 games at Double-A (!!!)]. Right now, he’s blocked at shortstop by Brandon Crawford, who isn’t going anywhere in the next half decade, but he’s not a plus glove at that position anyway. Third base looks surprisingly open at the Major League level with the struggles of Matt Duffy this season. Arroyo needs to improve his walk rate, (three strikeouts to every walk at Double-A) but he just turned 21 and has 14 hits in 26 MLB Spring Training at-bats — it’s well within the realm of possibility that he competes for the starting job at the hot corner next year. You don’t move a player that exciting for anyone.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Yoan Moncada - 2B - Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox’ situation is such where it’s not out of the realm of possibility to trade Moncada, who is the top second base prospect in the game and has torn up the Minor Leagues. Landing an All-Star player under extended team control on a fair-value contract at a real position of need could make Moncada expendable. But Moncada won’t be moved because the Red Sox have invested $63 million in him. If he was a third baseman, he’d already be in the Major Leagues. (Why the Red Sox haven’t already shifted Moncada to third base — Dustin Pedroia is locked up through 2021 — is another question altogether.)
Getty ImagesBrace Hemmelgarn
A.J. Reed - 1B - Houston Astros
This guy is everything the Astros want in a first baseman — he hits for power and gets on base like crazy. He struggled in 17 Big League games this season, but he projects as the Astros' everyday guy at first base starting in 2017. He might not be an uberprospect, but the Astros shouldn’t get cute here — Reed is going to be in their lineup for a long time, and there’s no available first baseman on the market that is going to be a better bet for the Astros over the next three years, when they should be competing for the World Series.
Getty ImagesBob Levey
Just missed the cut
If you have an All-Star to offer — the right All-Star — you can land one of these prospects: Joey Gallo - 3B - Texas Rangers Rafael Devers - 3B - Boston Red Sox Alex Bregman - SS - Houston Astros Raul Mondesi - SS - Kansas City Royals Dom Smith - 1B - New York Mets