A massive trade between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox dominated Day Two of the 2016 MLB Winter Meetings: left-handed ace starter Chris Sale heads east from Chicago to Boston in exchange for four prospects: infielders Yoan Moncada, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, and right-handed pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz. Let's take a look at the package of prospects acquired by the White Sox.
Luis Alexander Basabe, OF: Basabe is from Venezuela, signed by the Red Sox as a free agent in 2012. His twin brother, Luis Alejandro Basabe, was also signed by the Red Sox but was traded this past summer to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Luis Alexander played 105 games for Greenville in the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2016, hitting .258/.325/.447 with 12 homers, 25 steals, 40 walks, and 116 strikeouts in 403 at-bats.
Basabe is a switch-hitter, age 20. Featuring 60-grade speed and an above-average throwing arm, Basabe also has wiry strength in his 6-0, 170 build and began tapping his power more often this year. His strike zone judgment is inconsistent and it remains to be seen how he will adapt to advanced breaking stuff at higher levels, but he has the tools to be a regular outfielder. His skill development will determine if those tools fully blossom but he has made some progress. He would rate as a Grade C+ prospect at this point.
Victor Diaz, RHP: Diaz is a Dominican pitcher signed in December of 2014. He was 20 years old at the time, older than normal for an international player, but he quickly got noticed with a strong performance in the '15 Dominican Summer League. In 2016 he posted a 3.88 ERA in 60 innings for Greenville, saving 10 games in 12 chances with a 63/25 K/BB.
Now 22 years old, Diaz is listed at 6-3 ,190 pounds. He throws very hard, 94-99 MPH with reported peaks at 100. His secondary pitches lacked definition when he signed but he has since developed a slider and a splittery change-up, both of which need more work. His command needs more polish as well, but he has plenty of power in a low-mileage arm and is an intriguing speculative play. He would be a Grade C or C+ prospect right now.
Michael Kopech, RHP: A first round pick in 2014 from high school in Mount Pleasant, Texas, Kopech missed much of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons for off-the-field reasons: he was suspended after testing positive for amphetamines in '15, then broke a hand while fighting with a teammate this past season. When not dodging trouble he has few problems dodging hitters, posting a career 2.60 ERA in 135 innings with a 172/69 K/BB and just 93 hits allowed. He fanned 82 in just 52 innings in '16 in High-A.
Kopech is listed at 6-3, 205 pounds, age 20. His stuff is vicious: he works at 96-98 MPH and hits 100 regularly; there are reports of even higher peak velocities. His slider and change-up can be erratic but both flash plus, and with further command refinement he could have three overpowering pitches with at least average control. He has the upside of a number one starter but will have to show that he can handle a full workload and avoid further makeup complications. At present I rate him as a strong Grade A- prospect with a chance for a straight Grade A.
Yoan Moncada, INF: The Red Sox signed Moncada out of Cuba in 2015 for $31,500,000 (plus another $31,500,000 luxury tax to MLB). He has lived up to elevated expectations so far, hitting .294/.407/.511 in 2016 between High-A and Double-A with 31 doubles, 15 homers, 45 steals, and 72 walks in 405 at-bats. He went just 5-for-19 with 12 strikeouts during a brief major league trial but is universally regarded as one of the top five prospects in all of baseball.
A 21-year-old switch-hitter, Moncada is listed at 6-2, 205. He has everything needed to be an excellent offensive player including above-average running speed, above-average power, and sharp strike zone judgment. His contact issues during his brief major league trial are not expected to be a long-term issue, though he could benefit from some time in Triple-A to iron out his approach. Opinions on his defense are mixed, but he should provide at least average defensive performance at either second or third base. He rates as a Grade A prospect.
I think the White Sox come away well with this trade. Sale is excellent, of course, but Moncada and Kopech are two of the very best prospects in the game, and both Basabe and Diaz have some upside. From the Red Sox point of view, giving up Moncada and Kopech may not be easy, but the system still features impressive talents like Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers plus a lineup built around young stars Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley.
Overall, this can work for both teams.