Projecting the Prospects in the Craig Kimbrel Trade

The Padres and Red Sox swung a deal on Friday night that sent Craig Kimbrel to Boston in exchange for a quartet of prospects: outfielder Manny Margot, shortstop Javier Guerra, second baseman Carlos Asuaje and left-handed pitcher Logan Allen. As Dave Cameron noted immediately following the trade, the Red Sox coughed up quite a package for the rights to Kimbrel. Not only did San Diego receive a high-quality prospect in Margot, but they got quantity as well. Here’s what my fancy computer math says about these prospects. The numbers next to their names refer to their projected WAR totals through age 28 according to KATOH.

Manny Margot, 10.2 WAR

The Red Sox signed Manny Margot as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican back in 2011, and he’s hit at every stop since then. He put himself on the prospect map in 2014 with a strong showing in Low-A, but he outdid himself in 2015 by essentially replicating those numbers in both High-A and Double-A. Margot makes a ton of contact, hits for modest power and runs wild on the base paths. All of that bodes well for his future in the show, especially considering he’s always been very young for his levels. Here are some comps that were generated using a series of Mahalanobis distance calculations.

Manny Margot’s Mahalanobis Matches
Rank Name Mah Dist WAR thru 28
1 Erick Aybar 1.60 13.3
2 Sergio Nunez 2.10 0.0
3 Nomar Garciaparra 2.24 32.6
4 Juan Sosa 2.32 0.0
5 Manny Alexander 2.46 0.0
6 William Bergolla 2.53 0.0
7 Tike Redman 2.55 1.8
8 Jacob May* 2.57 0.0
9 Robert Valido 2.77 0.0
10 Alex Ochoa 2.79 4.4
11 Jose Ramirez* 3.21 2.8
12 Brent Abernathy 3.25 0.0
13 Shane Victorino 3.54 13.1
14 Damon Buford 3.87 1.7
15 Eider Torres 3.94 0.0
16 Anthony Webster 3.95 0.0
17 Eddy Diaz 3.95 0.0
18 Aaron Holbert 4.04 0.0
19 Jesus Tavarez 4.05 0.0
20 Matt Howard 4.15 0.0
*Yet to play age-28 season


Javier Guerra, 3.1 WAR

Javier Guerra (No, not that Javy Guerra.) was one of many intriguing infielders in the lower levels of Boston’s system. Guerra spent last season — his age-19 season — in Low-A, where he slashed .279/.329/.449. That power output is exciting, especially for a shortstop, but his strikeout numbers bordered on concerning. He struck out in 24% of his plate appearances last year, after whiffing in 20% in 2014. His strikeouts are the flaw that most threaten to derail him in the upper levels. But overall, there’s a lot to like about a shortstop who thrives in full-season ball as a teenager. Here are his statistical comps:

Javier Guerra’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah Dist WAR thru 28
1 Corey Smith 0.33 0.0
2 Johermyn Chavez* 0.59 0.0
3 Franklin Gutierrez 0.65 13.3
4 Dilson Herrera* 0.70 0.9
5 Anthony Garcia* 0.71 0.0
6 Jeff Key 0.72 0.0
7 Edwin Diaz 0.84 0.0
8 Jarek Cunningham* 0.84 0.0
9 Renato Nunez* 0.96 0.0
10 Craig Wilson 1.01 6.5
11 Mike Mcdade* 1.05 0.0
12 Oreste Marrero 1.09 0.0
13 Choo Freeman 1.15 0.0
14 Brad Nelson 1.17 0.0
15 Fernando Perez* 1.18 0.8
16 Matt Kemp 1.19 20.8
17 Osvaldo Sanchez 1.19 0.0
18 Reid Brignac 1.29 0.0
19 Danny Clyburn 1.31 0.0
20 Tom Nevers 1.31 0.0
*Yet to play age-28 season


Carlos Asuaje, 1.3 WAR

Carlos Asuaje is an undersized infielder who hit an unremarkable .251/.334/.374 for Boston’s Double-A affiliate last year. Asuaje lacks power or speed, but posted strikeout and walk rates of 15% and 10%, respectively, last year — both better than average. Throw in that he doesn’t play shortstop, and Asuaje looks like more of a grinder type than a toolsy guy with tons of upside. At 24, Asuaje probably doesn’t have a ton of improving left to do, but he also doesn’t have far to go before he’s worthy of a bench role. The comps:

Carlos Asuaje’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah Dist WAR thru 28
1 Jefry Marte* 0.03 0.0
2 Scott Romano 0.06 0.0
3 Bobby Morris 0.13 0.0
4 Josh Horton 0.33 0.0
5 Bob Zambrano 0.38 0.0
6 Colin Curtis 0.39 0.0
7 David Fisher 0.39 0.0
8 Trot Nixon 0.45 11.7
9 James Darnell 0.50 0.0
10 Rafael De Lima 0.52 0.0
11 Mark DeRosa 0.55 1.1
12 Brian Friday 0.57 0.0
13 Mike Lockwood 0.59 0.0
14 Jesus Guzman 0.60 3.0
15 Jason Varitek 0.62 3.9
16 Justin Sellers 0.62 0.6
17 Doug Saunders 0.63 0.0
18 Jamie D’Antona 0.64 0.0
19 Luis Exposito 0.67 0.0
20 Chris Martin 0.68 0.0
*Yet to play age-28 season


Logan Allen, Insufficient Data

Logan Allen is the lone pitcher headed to San Diego in this deal, and is also the most raw of the four prospects involved. Boston drafted Allen in the eighth round out of high school in the most recent draft. Yet, despite being a late round pick, he dominated in his first taste of pro ball. He spun a 1.59 ERA in eight starts, with a 26:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.1 innings. Straight up video game numbers. Of course, the sample is small, and his performance came against a low level of competition. So it would be wise to defer to scouting reports, rather than dwelling on Allen’s performance. Nonetheless, you’d be hard pressed to find a prospect with a better pro debut than Allen’s.

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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John Coppolella
John Coppolella

In other words, we got the guy who’s the best comp to the Red Sox top prospect. Braves fans gotta chill out.


Good point, John. Because a 32-year old shortstop with one year of control at $8.5M per year is most likely to develop into a 21 year old AA player under team control for six seasons at cheap prices. Totally the same thing. It’s not like these Mahalanobis distance metrics are only one way, intending to inform what a prospect not yet in baseball will become. They’ve obviously two ways, and we can expect players to turn from one into the other. Personally, I’m hoping that Trot Nixon can make a comeback and play AA again this year.


Honestly, I’d love to see Trot Nixon make a comeback. Hot Trot was awesome. Cowboy Up!


Not really though. The reason a perfectly average MLB regular (which is what Manuel Margot is being projected to become) has value, is that you have 6 or 7 years pre-FA years of them. If the Padres were getting one year of the average projected outcome of Margot, and for 1 year and $8 million, fans would have infinitely less reason to be excited about it.