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The Cardinals need a long-term shortstop. The Rangers need a long-term outfielder. Why, this is like a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie.
Rafael Furcal is out for the season, which isn't exactly going to get the man-on-the-moon font on the cover of the Post-Dispatch. Cardinals beat writers probably had something prewritten, like a George Burns obituary. Over here, though, we talked about the Cardinals' lack of planning for this event. Ronny Cedeno is the kind of shortstop who can make a team give out two-year deals to Clint Barmes, and Pete Kozma garnered the dreaded Brian Bocock comp.
But buried in that thread, commenter nostocksjustbonds made us all stop and think for a few minutes:
Solution: Trade Oscar Taveras for Jurickson Profar
Reminder: Mock trades are always awful. The average mock trade makes you wrinkle your face up like you walked in on your naked parents eating a bowl of burnt popcorn. Again, those are the average ones. The worst ones come from fans of a team on one side of the trade. They don't want to give up their best prospect -- certainly not! -- so out comes the quantity cannon. How about your #8 through #11 prospects for Giancarlo Stanton? It's not like the Marlins are using him.
But this one is elegant in its simplicity. It might be the hardest mock trade to dismiss out of hand that I've ever seen.
First off, the ages. Taveras is 20. Profar is 20, seven months younger than Taveras. Both have moved through the minors quickly, hitting at every stop. No problem there.
Then we move to the fit for each franchise. Profar can't get a regular spot because the Rangers have Elvis Andrus, who is quite good. Taveras can't get a regular spot because the Cardinals grow corner outfielders in a pot on their windowsill, and even if Carlos Beltran isn't a long term solution, the Cardinals will still need to find room for Matts Carpenter and Adams at some point.
We know the Rangers are looking for a long-term solution in the outfield because they were active in the Justin Upton talks. We know the Cardinals are looking for a long-term solution at shortstop because the words "Ronny Cedeno" appear in this article.
Taveras would help the Rangers win in 2013. Profar would help the Cardinals win in 2013.
Profar is the #1 hitting prospect in the game according to Baseball America, with Taveras #2. That's the general consensus, and it's not a huge gulf between the two, either. It's closer to the Harper/Trout debates from last year than, say, the gulf between the two top position-player prospects in 1995 (Alex Rodriguez and Ruben Rivera).
Baseball America's future grades on the traditional 20-to-80 scouting scale:
Bat: 70. Power: 60. Speed: 55. Defense: 65. Arm: 60.
Bat: 75. Power: 60. Speed: 50. Defense: 55. Arm: 55.
A drool-worthy quote from each of their BA profiles:
No prospect this side of Mike Trout has a better minor league resume than Profar. He ranked as the top prospect in the short-season Northwest League in his 2010 pro debut, then for an encore won MVP honors in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2011 after posting an .883 OPS at age 18. He earned a promotion to Double-A Frisco for 2012, skipping over high Class A entirely, and ranked as not only the Texas League's youngest player (19) but also its No. 1 prospect (ahead of, among others, BA Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers).
"You always have this feeling that he's half a level ahead of where he's playing," says Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who oversaw Taveras' signing when he was Cardinals vice president of scouting and player development. "He's the guy who sells tickets in the future."
Some stats. First, Profar:
Look at the ages in conjunction with the raw numbers, and you'll be even more impressed. Even better, both of them have good bat control -- there isn't a Wil Myers-like qualifier about how their strikeout totals shouldn't be a problem. Both of them have been the youngest players in their respective leagues, and both of them struck out less than seasoned veterans at the level.
Bad things happen to people who try to catch Jurickson Profar home runs:
Bad things happen to people who try to catch Oscar Taveras home runs:
Well, this is a dilly of a pickle. There probably isn't a right answer.
Add it up, though, and the deciding factor is probably this: Profar will almost certainly be a plus defender at short, whereas Taveras projects to be average in center. That's the tiebreaker. If you want another one, Profar is a switch-hitter who's had success from both sides of the plate in the minors. Although it's not like Taveras has struggled against lefties. And he does have 40-homer potential.
Heck, I don't know. More importantly, there's absolutely no way that a trade like this goes down. The Cardinals and Rangers would be scared to be on the Delino Deshields end of this trade. There probably could have been a similar article written in 1992 about Chipper Jones and Royce Clayton (#s 1 and 2 back in 1992), and the fallout from that kind of trade can haunt a GM for the rest of his career.
But as a thought exercise, it's almost peerless. Oscar Taveras for Jurickson Profar: Who says no? Both sides have a compelling argument. Drop the confetti and sound a horn. The Internet came up with a mock trade that doesn't want to make you throw your laptop out the window.
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