The Minnesota Twins got a jump on the Winter Meetings which will start over the weekend in Orlando by dealing for two prospects. With rights to Dominican shortstop Jelfry Marte revoked and the team out of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Twins were left with more International Free Agent money than was necessary.
The Twins traded $1 million from that pool to both the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners — both teams still in the mix for Ohtani — and received in return a prospect from each team that was taken in the 2017 MLB draft.
Under the previous CBA, players weren’t eligible to be traded until a year after they signed with the team that drafted them. Additionally, the Twins more or less got each of these players for free. International free agency rules permit teams to spend a specific amount before penalties are assessed. So the Twins, in essence, traded permission for spending an additional $1 million for each team — not actual cash.
The Twins acquired catcher David Banuelos from the Mariners in the first deal on Wednesday evening. MLB.com had listed Banuelos as the team’s No. 10 prospect, though it remains unclear if he’ll crack the top-30 for the Twins.
Banuelos, a fifth-round pick last year, hit just .236/.331/.394 for Low-A Everett in 2017 after he was selected from Long Beach State. Banuelos hit .289/.368/.468 in his final year of college, and he was named one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award which is given to the nation’s top amateur catcher.
Banuelos is regarded as a terrific defensive catcher, as he threw out 60 percent of attempted base thieves in college according to MLB.com. Their evaluators say there’s plenty to like about the bat — including some power potential from the right side — but his calling card is defense. Baseball America called Banuelos “arguably the top defensive catcher in the 2017 draft.” Banuelos threw out 38 percent of attempted base thieves with Everett last year.
Terrific thrower, has chance to be plus defender. Jose Molina comps. https://t.co/GlWulYWsYS
— Vince Lara-Cinisomo (@vincelara) December 7, 2017
Banuelos, 21, is also bilingual according to Baseball America and in addition to that draws raves for his leadership skills and in-game intelligence.
In the second deal, the Twins received outfielder Jacob Pearson from the Angels.
I would love to thank the Angels for everything. I am Offically a Twin and cannot be more excited!! pic.twitter.com/sjSSM3w6qT
— Jacob Pearson (@j_pearson2) December 7, 2017
Pearson, 19, hit just .226/.302/.284 in 40 games for the Angels’ Rookie-level team, though he was a bit better over the final 11 games (.267/.340/.333). MLB.com had Pearson as the No. 5 prospect in a shaky Angels system, and the difference in farms is evident in that he’s all the way down to No. 22 on the revised Twins list.
Pearson was Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and like new farm mate Blayne Enlow was committed to LSU. He signed for $1 million as a third-round pick — same round as Enlow, but nine picks later — which was over the slot value. According to MLB.com, Pearson — a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower — has “an intriguing power-speed mix” and a below-average arm still on the mend from labrum surgery following his 10th-grade year.
Ultimately, he’s a plus runner and MLB.com’s evaluators pegged him as a possible 20-20 guy in the future.
For what it’s worth, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Twins still have a chance of signing Marte, after all:
Even after voiding Dominican SS Jelfrey Marte's $3 million deal, I'm told #mntwins still "have a shot" to re-sign him at reduced bonus. "No hard feelings" between two parties, per sources. Twins have $1.25 mil left in '17-18 int bonus pool.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 7, 2017