Trading for a Young Starter: Sandy Alcantara
Image courtesy of © Joe Camporeale – USA TODAY SportsOf course, most every team wants young, cheap, and talented pitching so obtaining such a starter is easier said than done. And while not expensive in actual dollars, a young, team-controlled starter would likely be costly in prospect capital. Fortunitely, Minnesota happens to be rich in prospects and there may be opportunities to “buy” a young starter without necessarily giving up an elite prospect.
The natural place to look for the coveted young starter would be in an organization that is unlikely to be competitive in the near future. Look no further than the Miami Marlins and Sandy Alcantara. The Marlins displayed a willingness to trade away talented young pitching at last season’s trade deadline when they shipped rookie pitcher Zac Gallen to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Plus, the Twins have experience in dealing with Miami’s front office with the Sergio Romo deadline trade.
Gallen was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jazz Chisholm, a Double-A shortstop prospect whose stock was dropping due to inconsistency despite being a top-100 prospect. The trade was a headscratcher as Gallen, although unheralded as a prospect, was having a sensational rookie year (which continued with Arizona). This could work to Minnesota’s advantage as Miami seems to favor international bats (as they also received Lewin Diaz from the Twins in the Romo trade) and have displayed a willingness to part with young pitching (pitching prospect Chris Vallimont was included in the Romo trade) as they have little chance of being competitive in the near future.
Alcantara would be a cheap young piece the Twins could add to their rotation, which would not only potentially fill a rotation spot for years to come (he’s under team control for the next five seasons), but allow Minnesota to allocate its financial resources to signing additional free-agent pitching. Plus, there is a lot to like in Alcantara.
Alcantara throws both a four- and two-seam fastball along with a slider, changeup, and curve. He throws hard, averaging 95.6 on his four-seamer and 95.3 on his sinker, and would give pitching coach Wes Johnson plenty to work with. Alcantara showed the ability to go deep into games as he threw two complete-game shutouts and tallied 197.1 innings on the year. Also encouraging is the fact that he seemed to get better as the season progressed, pitching to a 2.78 ERA and allowing just a .595 OPS from August onward (74.1 innings).
The biggest thing holding Alcantara back has been his lack of strikeouts combined with spotty control. In the first half of 2019 his K-BB% was just 5.3 % but that did rise to 11.6% in the second half and was up to 15.2 % in September/October. He has the stuff to get more strikeouts and working with Wes Johnson could go a long way toward maximizing Alcantara’s potential.
The Twins have plenty of young international bats that may intrigue the Marlins, including Wander Javier, Gilberto Celestino, Yunior Severino, and Misael Urbina. Any of those young hitters alone are unlikely to be enough to acquire Alcantara, but including one of them in a package with another prospect or two in the 5 – 10 range might work.
Outside of the Marlins and Alcantara there are plenty of tanking teams that may be willing to part with young pitching and the Twins would be wise to do their due diligence. Filling the rotation will be neither cheap or easy but it is imperative that Minnesota be ready to explore every opportunity.
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