Previously, Part 1 and Part 2 of this series explored targeting arbitration-eligible and pre-arbitration-eligible outfielders, respectively. Due to some well-intentioned clamoring, Part 3 will now explore acquiring either blocked prospects old and young, or formerly-touted minor leaguers who've seen better days.
At the 2011 trade deadline, the New York Mets almost acquired Brown as the centerpiece in the Carlos Beltran trade instead of Zack Wheeler. Considering the Mets' lack of hitting prospects even then, Brown would have been a welcome addition. In 638 plate appearances at High-A, the right-handed hitter posted a .925 OPS with 14 home runs and a whopping 53 stolen bases. Yet, his 7.2 percent walk rate was a major red flag; a lacking skill set John Sickels lamented about before the season.
Brown's stock began to take a major hit in 2012, after he posted a mere .732 OPS with 7 home runs, 33 stolen bases, and a 6.5 percent walk rate over 610 plate appearances at Double-A. His power drought coupled with a spike in strikeouts—from 12.1 percent to 14.2 percent—exposed Brown's magnificent 2011 season as a product of the hitter-friendly Cal League. Illusions, Gary Brown, illusions!
Despite Brown's offensive struggles, the Giants still promoted him to Triple-A this year. So far in 2013, Brown looks pretty lost. In 197 plate appearances, the 24-year-old has swatted a pedestrian .586 OPS with 2 home runs, 4 stolen bases and just a 44.4 percent success rate in stolen base attempts, a 6.0 percent walk rate, and an abhorrent 23.4 percent strikeout rate. Considering Brown plays in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, it's looking less and less likely that the 2010 first round pick will develop into a major league hitter, at least not with the San Francisco Giants.
Given Gary Brown's great speed, plus glove, and the power ceiling his 2011 season suggested, the California native still has a small window for garnering some trade interest. The good news is that the Mets wouldn't have to deal someone of Beltran's caliber anymore to acquire him. And even though Brown's status as a top prospect has dissipated, he would still be a worthy gamble for an organization like the Mets, who, with the exception if Brandon Nimmo, don't have any other high pedigree minor league outfielders.
It's sort of hard to believe that the Oakland Athletics have never given Michael Taylor a serious look. Since acquiring him from the Toronto Blue Jays via the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2009, the A's have relegated Taylor to four full seasons at Triple-A, with very sparing cups of coffee in the majors. The 27-year-old has always been heralded for his glove, but also owns a respectable .850 OPS and 10.8 percent walk rate in the minors.
With a full outfield in 2013 featuring Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Chris Young, and Josh Reddick, there again doesn't appear to be a spot for Taylor. Even though the A's utilize a lot of platoons, the right-handed Taylor doesn't make for an ideal partner, as he's actually performed better against his own kind, with an .878 OPS from 2011-to-present, than against southpaws.
Considering the A's also have uber prospect Michael Choice readying in Triple-A—and Grant Green too, for that matter—2014 looks even more bleak for Taylor to break in. But what is one team's depth, is another's opportunity. Though predominantly a corner outfielder, Taylor also has experience in center. On the Mets, Taylor could slip into any outfield role, especially if the inevitable demotion of Ike Davis forces current left fielder Lucas Duda back to first base.
Unlike Gary Brown or Michael Taylor, Joc Pederson is both young and still well regarded, but he's also extremely blocked. Barring a massive trade, the Los Angeles Dodgers owe outfielders Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier a combined $280.5 million over the next few seasons. If the Dodgers were able to pawn off one of the trio, the team would hand the vacancy to top organizational prospect Yasiel Puig, who is owed $26 million over the next five years.
Despite the crowd, Pederson hasn't let the competition affect his production. The 21-year-old boasts a terrific career .912 OPS and 11.1 percent walk rate in four minor league seasons, with a steady and swift trajectory of promotions. In his first taste of Double-A this season, the left-handed hitter has posted a fruitful .938 OPS with 8 home runs, an 11.8 percent walk rate, a .421 wOBA, and even 15 steals in 17 attempts.
And according to Baseball America:
"Pederson isn't a blazer, but he has the athleticism and speed to play center field. His average arm gives him a chance to play in right field as well. His tireless work ethic and grinder mentality draw praise."
In other words, he's better than what the Mets have out there, especially Lucas Duda. The bounty for acquiring Pederson would obviously be greater than either Gary Brown or Michael Taylor, but perhaps he'd be worth it. The real debate would be whether the Mets could use the Dodgers' saturated major league outfield as leverage to avoid parting with someone like Domingo Tapia.