Winning baseball teams -- at least the ones without exorbitant payrolls -- are usually powered by young, cost-controlled talent. And in the land of cost-controlled talent, the top prospect is king. Not only do elite prospects stand a good chance to be stars, but they offer the potential of providing a star's production -- which would cost a fortune to obtain from a free agent -- for the league-minimum salary or something close to it.
Since top prospects are such valuable commodities, teams are reluctant to trade them without receiving huge hauls in return, so we rarely see such prospects change organizations before they've had a chance to sink or swim in the majors. That's why it was so strange to see two top prospects -- Wil Myers and Trevor Bauer, each of whom is arguably one of the top 10 prospects in baseball -- on the move this week.
When a prized top prospect is made available via trade, it's natural for potential partners to wonder, "What's the catch?" Teams have more information on their own players than other organizations do: free agents who re-sign with the same team go on to age better than those who are allowed to leave and sign with a new team, which suggests that front offices are particularly adept at projecting the players they know.
That information advantage goes double for prospects, whom opposing teams haven't seen as much compared to players already in the Show. So how often do traded top prospects pan out? And should fans of the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks be freaking out that their teams just traded away future stars? The data suggests that those fan bases need not worry too much.