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For every trade in Major League Baseball involving notable names on both sides of the transaction, there are countless others that include a player to be named later or an unsuspecting prospect ripped from his parent club.
In January 2016, the Colorado Rockies pulled off such a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays that was reported at first as big leaguers Corey Dickerson for Jake McGee. It was an up-and-coming big league outfielder for an experienced left-handed reliever.
However, there were two prospects that were included in that deal: Kevin Padlo and Germán Márquez. Padlo has appeared in the Majors the last three seasons, but is still looking to establish his career at the age of 27 with his sixth different organization. Conversely, Márquez has been named to one All-Star Game and is considered one of the greatest starting pitchers in Rockies history.
When he's on, German Marquez is a blast to watch. 96-97 fastball with that curveball? That'll work. That "Dickerson for McGee/Marquez" trade keeps taking on new life.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) September 5, 2018
Padlo was 19 and Márquez was 20 at the time of the trade with neither having advanced past High-A in the minors.
Five trades over roughly five weeks brought in similar youth for Colorado this summer. Each day closer to the Aug 1 trade deadline brought further speculation about with veteran would be on the move. Every substitution and embrace in the dugout seemed to be a clue about whether or not someone was being moved to another team.
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) August 2, 2023
In the minors, the scrutiny is less intense. The cameras less plentiful. All in all, it’s a strange time for any player under the umbrella of Major League Baseball.
“You’ll be throwing a bullpen and the pitching coach says ‘Hey, hold up. We got to wait like half an hour for the deadline to pass before we throw this,’” Connor Seabold said of his time in the minor leagues. “Stuff like that happens and it’s not always like that for every team, but stuff like that will happen and it’s always weird. There’s always a weird vibe for those days, but then once it passes, it passes. It’s just part of the game.”
Besides Seabold and the six pitching prospects Colorado recently acquired, Matt Koch was also on the receiving end of being traded at the deadline while in the minors.
A third round selection by the New York Mets in 2012 out of the University of Louisville, Koch was in the midst of his fourth professional season when his teammates filed into the dugout late in the year with strange looks upon their faces.
It was Aug 30. There were two weeks left in the Double-A Binghamton Mets’ season and the trade deadline had passed a month prior. Except there were actually two trade deadlines at the time in 2015. (The second, known as the waiver trade deadline, allowed teams to deal players who had passed through waivers.)
“I wasn’t really (expecting it) just because the deadline was done,” Koch said about the late-season trade. “And there had been like two or three other guys on my team that did get traded at that deadline. Honestly, I didn’t think I was gonna be one of the guys to get traded.”
The Mets had recently overtaken the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East and the club wanted more separation, especially after the team was coming off another wasted start by Jacob deGrom. GM Sandy Alderson wanted to improve the bullpen and was able to get Addison Reed from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He needed to part with a prospect though.
7 years ago today, the Mets traded Miller Díaz and Matt Koch to Arizona for Addison Reed.
Reed had a 2.09 ERA with the Mets and his 2.7 WAR season in 2016 is one of the best by a reliever in team history.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) August 30, 2022
“I’m standing in the dugout, and all my bullpen buddies come in. The game just got done. I turn around and they’re all staring at me smiling. ‘What, you haven’t heard?,'” Koch shared. “My Twitter was blowing up about being traded and everything, but I hadn’t heard anything official.”
Koch’s agent at the time didn’t know the details. His manager in Binghamton, current Albuquerque Isotopes manager Pedro López, didn’t know either. It sounds worse than it was, according the Iowa native.
After playing with the same group of guys all throughout his three-plus years with the Mets, riding the same buses and going through the same growing pains of being a minor leaguer, Koch was off to another organization. Just like that.
“I met the (new) team two days later. I started two days later and then the season was over,” he said. There was a happy ending shortly after when Koch got married during the offseason and was placed on the 40-man roster two months later by the Diamondbacks.
Seabold was in a similar scenario before making his Major League debut. He, too, didn’t really think he’d be traded when the news became official. The year was 2020 and, well, the world was a much different place, to say the least.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 22, 2020
“I remember earlier that day, the guy I always would drive with to the (alternate site) got traded. ‘Man, that’s crazy that happened.’ And then I (thought), ‘Could I get traded today?,’” the 27-year-old said. “Sure enough, later that day, a rumor pops up and a few hours later, I get a call saying that I’m traded. It happens quick. And I’m sure it’s the same during a normal year, too.”
Players have 72 hours to report to their new team when being traded. But during a pandemic? Teams were reticent to allow players on planes, so the Boston Red Sox, Seabold’s new team, devised a plan.
“They actually hired a driver service to drive me from Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Pa.) all the way up to Pawtucket (R.I.). That’s a long drive,” Seabold shared. “Once you get there, you even have to deal with the quarantining.”
Nick Pivetta, the other pitcher acquired by Boston in the four-player trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, was in a similar situation. The two weren’t allowed to be with the rest of the team during intersquad games for several days. Once the team at the alternative site was done practicing, Seabold and Pivetta were then able to use the facility.
Seabold had the added element of thinking he might get called up to the Red Sox, especially as the club had lost five consecutive games following the trade deadline and were 15 games under .500 during the shortened season.
“I was sitting there every day like, ‘Is this gonna happen? Is it not gonna happen?’”
None of the Rockies prospects acquired at the trade deadline are with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque yet. Victor Vodnik, one of the highest touted from GM Bill Schmidt’s haul, has been impressive so far in Double-A Hartford with six scoreless innings of work in four games.
Did the Rockies acquire another All-Star like Márquez in this group of new prospects? Or, to take a phrase used by some within the game, will they end up being more like suspects?
Time — like only a gossiping neighbor or honest child can — will tell.