The Cleveland Guardians are trading away the 2016 draft class
You know, 2016 doesn't feel like it was that long ago. But things do move quickly in the span of seven years, and when you look back at that draft for the Guardians... wow. They did ton of things right in that draft, but their top two picks (numbers 14 and 55 overall) have not panned out as fans had hoped. And now both of those players are gone.
If you haven't made the connection yet, we're referring to Will Benson (14th overall) and Nolan Jones (55th overall), each of whom debuted with the Guardians this past season. But neither one really made an impact, and compounding the matter further, neither one had much of a clear path to any regular playing time, either.
Is this poor drafting? Others seizing an opportunity? A degree of bad luck? An organization moving in a different direction? If we're being honest, it's all of this. Last season, there where questions galore across the outfield but then Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez and Will Brennan (to an extent) showcased their abilities and the front office had to take notice. This is not meant as an indictment on either Benson or Jones, but this, along with multiple other factors, played against each of them.
Not all is lost, however, as the front office did turn Benson and Jones into two prospects. Back in November, the team traded Jones to Colorado in exchange for infield prospect Juan Brito, who profiles as a bat-to-ball switch-hitting second baseman. Then, just the other day, the club decided to move on from Benson, as they sent him to Cincinnati for outfielder Justin Boyd. Boyd is another bat-to-ball type who has the ability to play across the outfield. The Guardians will also receive a second player from the Reds as there was a PTBNL as part of that deal, too.
As mentioned, both Boyd and Brito are bat-to-ball types that the club has certainly made a point to covet in recent years. And for good reason, too. Even though Brito had to be added to the 40-man roster, each of these moves lessens the logjam at their respective positions.
The addition of Boyd adds to a very intriguing set of outfield prospects within the organization that also includes last year's top pick Chase DeLauter, Petey Halpin, Jaison Chourio, Joe Lampe, and Isaiah Greene, all of whom may start the season in High-A Lake County. This is surely a wave of outfielders to keep an eye out for in the next two to three years.
On the flip side Brito, seems like an insurance policy if Brayan Rocchio, Jose Tena, Gabriel Arias, and Angel Martinez falter.
Are these the moves most fans clamor for? Hell no. But we can't condemn the front office here, either. Each of these trades has provided the Guardians with a little something, and time will tell if each move pans out. You hope that your top picks turn out to be All-Stars and have long careers, but that's not always the case. In that same sentiment, the 2016 draft should not be considered a failure either, as it did net the organization Aaron Civale, Shane Bieber, and Zach Plesac.
Then again, there is the real possibility I could be writing a follow-up article soon on the return the team received after it trades Plesac before camp breaks for the season.