The Seattle Mariners and the Atlanta Braves pulled off a very rare prospect-for-prospect trade as the Mariners sent outfielder Alex Jackson and a player to be named later for right-handed pitchers Rob Whalen and Max Povse.
Sure, Alex Jackson has struggled in the early levels of the minor leagues, but it seems a little early to give up on a player as talented as Jackson is. He was the 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft, yet he’s only reached Class A of the Mariners system. I’m not sure that Seattle got enough in this deal to make this trade worthwhile. Rob Whalen is an MLB-ready prospect as he had 5 starts at the MLB-level for the Braves last season. However, he had an awful 6.57 ERA in those starts. Whalen doesn’t have a high ceiling of potential, but if he can improve in Triple-A then he could possibly be a depth piece for the Mariners starting rotation. Meanwhile, 23-year old Max Povse could be the best player that Seattle gets in this deal. He had some troubles early on in Class A, but recently he’s been a very good pitcher as he had a respectable 3.36 ERA last season in Class A and Double-A. Povse is still a little bit away from the MLB level, but eventually he could add some solid depth to the Mariners starting rotation. Overall, it seems really early to give up on a very talented prospect like Alex Jackson. The return for Jackson also wasn’t very good as they are getting 2 lower-tier pitching prospects that just add depth at best.
I really like this trade for the Braves because they are getting a very talented prospect that they can hopefully develop into a quality MLB player. Also, the Braves are only giving away lower-level pitching depth that they probably would have never really used anyway. Alex Jackson was a high 1st round draft just a couple of years ago, so it is clear how talented he is. However, he hit only .207 with 8 home runs in 2015 in Class A and he only improved those stats to a .243 average with 11 home runs in 2016. Atlanta is hoping that his hitting abilities will improve, but it will take more time than expected in order to develop him. The good news is that Jackson will only be 21 years old at the start of next season and the Braves have the patience right now to develop him into an MLB-ready player within a few years. Losing Rob Whalen and Max Povse shouldn’t be a big loss at all since those guys are buried behind tons of quality starting pitching depth in the Braves farm system. This is a tremendous trade for the Braves since the risk of this trade is really low and they could eventually get the reward of a very good major league player.