If you put a great deal of interest into potential bench players, decent relievers and fringe prospects, then presumably you've had quite a good time the past couple days. Teams have been solidifying their Opening Day rosters recently, which tends to lead to a great deal of activity while getting 40-man rosters in order. These kinds of situations have treated us to seven trades over the past 48 hours, and I thought it would be worth going over them with you guys here. Obviously some of these deals will probably end up being insignificant in the big picture, but I really like talking trades and, well, I'm hoping you guys do, too.
TRADE: Twins trade RHP Billy Bullock to Atlanta in order to retain Rule 5 pick Scott Diamond
REACTION: Atlanta has been lauded over the past couple days for making a shrewd move in acquiring Bullock, and rightly so. The Braves didn't even choose to protect Diamond in the Rule 5 draft over the winter, and now they're walking away from the whole situation with a 22-year-old reliever that sits in the mid-90's with closer-upside. His command is quite shaky, but the stuff is there and he could make an impact pretty quickly if he can make some improvements. Baseball America rated Bullock as the club's No. 15 prospect coming into this season, and rated Diamond at No. 29 on the same list. Obviously Minnesota doesn't agree with BA's evaluation of the two players, but the consensus seems to be that the Twins are making a mistake here. Diamond fits into the profile that Minnesota usually looks for in pitchers, but at the same time his ultimate upside is probably that of a No. 4 starter. Seems odd to give up a young guy with velocity and bat-missing ability like Bullock for a relatively fungible back-of-the-rotation starter, but that appears to be the scenario taking place here.
REACTION: Turpen's been remarkably busy over the past few months. He was traded from San Francisco to Boston in last August's Ramon Ramirez deal, and he was picked by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft during the winter before being returned to Boston this spring. Now he's on his way to Colorado, where he's likely to begin the season in Triple-A. For Boston, though, this has to be seen as a pretty solid deal. McKenry didn't really have a clear future in Colorado with Chris Iannetta in the majors and top prospect Wilin Rosario in the upper minors, but he's still likely to be better than many guys that are currently MLB back-ups. He's a solid defensive catcher and his .265/.328/.424 line in Triple-A from last season was actually a major dip in offensive performance for him, so there's a non-zero chance that he ends up developing into a solid starting catcher, even though he's already 26. And even if he doesn't, there are a lot of reasons to believe that the Red Sox just found a pretty good back-up catcher on the cheap.
TRADE: Blue Jays acquire 3B Jayson Nix from Cleveland for cash considerations
REACTION: We've heard about Toronto's interest in adding another third baseman for a while, and this appears to be an attempt to accomplish that goal. Nix has spent more time at second base than third in his pro career, but he spent significant time at third with Cleveland last season and competed to be the club's regular at the position this spring. Clearly he didn't win that competition, but it still seems likely that he's landed himself a job in Toronto on the bench. The Jays clearly aren't too happy about having Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion as their primary options at third, so this gives them an additional option that's likely to be a defensive upgrade, and Nix actually has some decent pop himself (26 homers, .165 ISO in 718 career PA).
REACTION: Nobody expected Fields to land a job in Pittsburgh; he was simply hoping to land a bench role behind Pedro Alvarez and Lyle Overbay. But the Pirates have clearly opted to go in another direction, and for practically nothing Fields might be a guy worth looking at. He's only 28 and it's easy to forget that he smacked 23 home runs in 100 games for Chicago back in 2007. He's struggled to stay healthy lately, which obviously hasn't helped his cause, but he does give Colorado another option behind Ian Stewart and Ty Wigginton at third base.
TRADE: Padres acquire SS/2B Alberto Gonzalez from Nationals for LHP Erik Davis and cash considerations
REACTION: Gonzalez was apparently getting a good deal of attention this spring from other teams, and the Padres jumped to make a deal yesterday to shore up their middle infield situation. Gonzalez isn't a particularly good player, as evidenced by his .253/.292/.331 career line, but he still can be useful in a bench role given his defensive skills. As a hitter, he offers practically nothing but weak contact, as he provides minimal power and very few walks. And we all know that moving San Diego won't do anything to improve those numbers. But with Eric Patterson and Jarrett Hoffpauir on the DL and Everth Cabrera returning to Triple-A, the club needed someone to back-up the middle infield positions, and Gonzalez was presumably one of the stronger options available. Davis, a 24-year-old lefty, has an impressive 33-12 record in the minors, but he's only pitched 44 innings above Single-A and doesn't really project as a contributor at the MLB-level at this point.
REACTION: When I was talking about insignificant trades, I probably could have referenced this one directly. Shelby was once regarded as one of Chicago's better young players, landing on BA's Top-30 list for the organization as recently as last year, but struggles offensively will likely prevent him from an extended MLB career. Over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old has batted .246/.309/.407 in Double-A, and he actually performed much worse in his second stint at the level. He provides some speed and can play a decent center field, but he's not likely to make it to the majors unless he can improve his plate discipline and make more contact.
TRADE: Mets, Padres swap former first-round picks RHP Eddie Kunz and 1B Allan Dykstra
REACTION: There was a time when people projected Kunz as the Mets' closer of the future and Dykstra was viewed as legitimate competition for Kyle Blanks as San Diego's long-term starter at first base. Boy, how things can change. This is pretty much one of your run-of-the-mill, change-of-scenery deals. Kunz has seen his fastball/slider combo deteriorate over the past couple years, and last season he walked more guys than he struck out while splitting between relieving and starting for Double-A Binghamton. Dykstra used to get praise for his patience and raw power, but after two seasons in the minors all we've seen from the big slugger is a ton of walks and little else. At this point, you probably can't bank on seeing either one of these guys contributing to an MLB team.