A little rich?

Yesterday the names Domonic Brown and Mike Minor surfaced in trade rumors as possible returns for the remaining two (probably awesome) months of Carlos Beltran’s season, and Mets fans, for the most part, salivated. Brown, a 23-year-old Phillies outfielder, entered the season ranked fourth overall on Baseball America‘s annual Top 100 prospects list. Minor, a 23-year-old lefty starter for the Braves, came in at 37 on the same list, and the particular rumor mentioning his name said the deal would include another prospect.

If those potential hauls sound a little rich for Beltran, it’s because, I suspect, they are. Looking back over recent deadline deals for pure rentals — pending free agents — there aren’t a ton of examples of top 50 prospects being moved.

Granted, teams value prospects based on their own scouting and not on Baseball America’s list. That’s just a decent general guideline to gauge a young player’s reputation around the game. Plus, there have been a handful of big prospects moved at or before the deadline: Justin Smoak, ranked 13th heading into last season, was dealt in the Cliff Lee trade; Brett Wallace (40) was dealt in a package for Matt Holliday in 2009; in 2008, Matt LaPorta (23) was traded by the Brewers to land CC Sabathia and Andy LaRoche (31) helped the Dodgers add Manny Ramirez in a three-way deal.

Obviously every season’s trade market is its own unique snowflake, and if Beltran is the best available hitter this year perhaps Sandy Alderson can get enough teams in the bidding to drive the outfielder’s price tag up. But since Beltran comes with a pretty hefty injury risk and will not bring back draft picks to his acquiring team, it seems unlikely he’ll command the type of haul that Lee, Holliday, Sabathia or Manny did.

We can certainly hope that he does, and it only takes one desperate GM to offer Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee (and footnote Lee Stevens) for Bartolo Colon. But you’ll have to put me down for pleasantly surprised if the Mets wind up with a prospect of Brown’s caliber or a package including Minor in a deal. Trade-rumor guys traffic in information gleaned from conversations with front-office types, and if I had to guess — and excuse me for conspiracy theorizing — I’d say any talk of a return that heavy for Beltran is coming out of Flushing.

Thanks to @AMirch729 for Twitter help on this one.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Dodgers traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake in the 2008 season, while Santana was in the midst of a breakout year in High A ball. Santana was not on the Top 100 prospects list before that season, but was ranked 26th the following year. Insert “Evil Ways” joke here.

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