Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has been trading away every asset that has no long term value to his team in favor of prospects since he took over. This concept continued today as he dealt third baseman Chris Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss, adding to his ever-growing list of prospects he has traded for.
The Diamondbacks dealt out of depth with a slew of outfield prospects ahead of both Borchering and Krauss in their system but that does not mean these two prospects cannot yield a positive return for the Astros.
Borchering was my #9 ranked Diamondbacks prospect heading into 2012 and performed well repeating High-A with 18 homeruns in 81 games and a 119 wRC+. He has three straight seasons with a walk rate over 8%. But, with the homeruns came a lot of strikeouts as he struck out in almost 28% of his plate appearances.
Borchering was moved to Double-A where he has struggled mightily with only a 3.7% walk rate and a 32.9% strikeout rate to go with a wRC+ of 1. Yes, it is only in 82 plate appearances but the worry placed on Borchering was that he would struggle against higher level pitchers. Borchering is also limited to either first base or a corner outfiled spot so his bat is going to have to play. He is still only 21 so there is plenty of time for him to learn and he has a chance to be an above-average regular.
Marc Krauss was my #16 ranked Diamondbacks prospect coming into the 2012 season and is also limited to a corner outfield spot but has the chance to be a decent defender there.
Krauss is 24 years old and repeating Double-A but crushing the ball to the tune of a 159 wRC+ and the power and patience he has always had are still there with a .225 ISO and 16.9% walk rate. He has also cut down on his strikeouts and has hit left-handed pitching much better this year. He has a chance to be an above-average regular or a platoon bat at the worst.
Jeff Luhnow received these two prospects for Chris Johnson, a poor defensive third baseman who strikes out a lot and rarely walks. His value is based solely on what happens when he puts the ball in play and if the Luck Dragons decide to give him bad luck then he could post negative fWAR totals. He is also arbitration eligible for the first time next year and may not be worth tendering a contract to thanks to a career -30.3 UZR and only +1.4 fWAR in 304 games.
The Diamondbacks just dealt Ryan Roberts to the Rays, a third baseman who may have more value down the stretch run than Chris Johnson. The trade essentially looks like Ryan Roberts, Bobby Borchering, and Marc Krauss for Chris Johnson and Tyler Bortnick. Not a very good looking trade if you ask me.
Jeff Luhnow may not have received top five prospects but he added more value to his farm system without having to deal anything of current or long term value to his team or system. Great job, once again.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt