Less than 48 hours after the Brewers acquired C.C. Sabathia from the Tribe, the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs make a deal with Oakland for its much maligned ace Rich Harden and end of rotation starter Chad Gaudin. In return, the Cubs sent 3 major league prospects RHP Sean Gallagher, OF Matt Murton, 2B/OF Eric Patterson, along with minor league catcher Josh Donaldson.
This move is one that the A’s historically have made where they trade a top flight pitcher at the apex of his value for solid major league ready prospects with much lower salaries. From a baseball card standpoint, the immediate market impact will be on Harden’s cards. His first year cards can be found in 2002 Bowman products and Topps products. His most popular first year card is the 2002 Bowman Chrome card which has a Beckett value of $30.00. Currently, those cards are selling for $10-12 each and I am willing to bet that they will ascend close to current Beckett values if he comes and makes a major contribution to the Cubs on their way to the pennant.
Of course, the caveat with Harden is his proneness to injury. If he develops arm troubles again, the market for his cards will diminish accordingly.
As for the newest members of the Athletics, Gallagher and Patterson are the most intriguing to me. Gallagher, in 10 starts, garnered a 3-4 record with a 4.45 ERA and 49 K’s in 59 IP. Gallagher entered this season as the 5th ranked prospect in the Chicago Cubs system. He features a lively 90-94 MPH fastball with a 11 to 5 curveball and an improving changeup. At 6-5 220 lb. and just 22 years of age, Gallagher has the ability to be a durable #2 or 3 starter for the A’s. The track record that the A’s have for scouting talent from other organizations, especially mound talent, is unsurpassed by any team in baseball and, I would venture, that Gallagher was the key piece to acquire for Oakland in this deal. Gallagher’s 1st cards can be found in the 2004 SP Prospects set with his auto (#’ed to 500) valued at $60.00. Until the trade, they had been selling for $25-30 each. I would suspect that they will get a little more attention now as Gallagher almost assuredly has a spot in Oakland’s rotation waiting for him. He also has several autographed cards in the 2006 Bowman Prospects and Bowman Heritage sets. These tend to sell in the $5-7.50 range. I am willing to bet that Gallagher will have success in Oakland and be a 12-15 game winner next season.
Eric Patterson is another prospect who needed a change of scenery. His AAA numbers this season have been very good .320 6 HR 28 RBI 11 SB, but he has not been able to replicate this performance at the big league level (.237 1 HR 7 RBI in 38 AB’s). Patterson does not have all-star potential, but he can and should be a decent starting 2B or OF for the A’s. With Mark Ellis in a contract year, it seems reasonable to expect that Patterson has a good shot of taking over full time duties next season for the A’s. Patterson’s first year cards are found in the 2004 Donruss Elite Extra set where his autographed cards are numbered to #1,571. Beckett has these listed at $15 but Ebay sales tend to be in the $4-6 range. At that price, it seems like a decent purchase to grab one or two to see if his athleticism blossoms in Oakland.
The one less advanced prospect, catcher Josh Donaldson, was a supplimental 1st round pick by Chicago in the 2007 draft. He was ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Cubbies farm system last season but has struggled this season at Peoria hitting .217 with 6 HR 23 RBI and 7 SB. Donaldson showed power (9 HR) and impeccable plate discipline last season walking 37 times in 162 AB’s. This season, Donaldson has not been able to match those numbers. Donaldson has first year cards in the 2007 Elite Extra series with autos numbered to 500. These cards are currently selling for just $5-5.50 each, which could be a solid bargain if Donaldson finds his stroke and patience again. Being in the A’s system bodes well for his development and he could move fast if he can shake this bad start.
Well, that is my take on this deal. My apologies to Matt Murton and Chad Gaudin lovers out there. They are nice pieces to this trade, but their RC values really do not have the potential to move very much from this deal. Let me know what you think of my prognostications and feel free to come up with your own!