If anyone hadn’t heard, the Nats finally pulled a trade. It wasn’t Belliard, or Lo Duca, or even Guzman (who they actually extended 2 more years). It was Jon Rauch, one of their most effective players this year, who happens to be locked down until the end of 2010. It wasn’t the ideal person to deal, but at the same time, I really believe that a closer is one of the final pieces a team needs when trying to get good.
The trade was Rauch for a young second baseman in the Diamondback organization, Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio will at the very least be fun to watch. He will be the fastest guy on this team if he makes it up any time soon. He is speedy.
Whenever we look at prospects, since I don’t have any scouts phone number’s on speed dial, Baseball America is the place to be. So, first of all, he was ranked the #6 prospect in the Arizona farm system. His biggest strength is his speed, he can really fly, he was the fastest player in the system. Additionally, he is a very good fielder at second base, named as their best defensive infielder. He has good hands and a very good arm. Their biggest knock on him are two things we hate to hear: lack of pitch selection and lack of power. His ability to walk has improved, and it will need to continue to improve if he is to be a good hitter.
My take on him is that he can potentially really help this team. This year, he is hitting .302/.348/.387 in AAA. If that power develops at all, and his eye continues to improve, I’d be happy to take a .300/.360/.400 player who can steal 50 bases and play stellar middle infield. He is the prototypical leadoff hitter if he can get that OBP up enough, and power would be a little less important for him. He has drawn comparisons to Luis Castillo, although he doesn’t walk as much. I’ve seen Orlando Hudson comparisons, but he doesn’t have that kind of power (that may be more fielding-related). More likely, if it works out, he is what Felipe Lopez should have been when he came over, but also with a glove.
In terms of the trade itself, I am really surprised the Nats didn’t get more. This isn’t exactly a haul for an effective closer, locked up til the end of 2010 for $5 million. It’s cheap for a closer, and maybe they should have held out for a bit, or maybe even waited til the offseason. This is not be a terrible trade, but I think we got the short end of it. At the same time, Bonifacio is more than just a middling prospect. And they really need some position player prospects. Additionally, neither Belliard or Lopez are a long term solution there, at least this guy has a chance to be one. I was just thinking Bonifacio and 1 or 2 other guys may have been possible.
What would be really exciting, the way this could work out best, is if Bonifacio gets on base enough to be an effective leadoff hitter and is another cornerstone to what would become, with him and Zimmerman, a very good defensive infield.
Now if someone would just give up a good young SS prospect for Chad Cordero…