FanGraphs Audio: An Hour of Your Life with Jeff Sullivan

Episode 514
Jeff Sullivan is a senior editor at FanGraphs. He’s also the entirely real guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 16 min play time.)

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Of Course Steven Souza Is Going to the Rays

Generally speaking, in such cases as a prospect — or any player, really — possesses a combination of power and speed, said player is regarded with some interest by what is referred to broadly as the “scouting community.” While sabermetricians have (in the past, at least) cultivated a reasonable suspicion about such players — or, at least the level of enthusiasm exhibited on their behalfs — it’s also true that those players who’ve both (a) demonstrated power and speed have also generally (b) developed into above-average major leaguers.

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Breaking Down the Prospects in the Wil Myers Trade

The days-rumored mega deal has happened and I’m here to break down all the prospects.  I’ve put them in order of preference, though the top two prospects have the same grade, so you could flip-flop them if you prefer the instant impact of Souza over the positional scarcity of Turner.

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The Padres, Buzz, and Contention

Neither Matt Kemp nor Wil Myers have yet been officially traded. Yet it feels like those should happen any moment now, if not while I’m in the process of writing this post, and the end result will be that the Padres will have a pair of new corner outfielders. Kemp is older and Myers is younger, but both would be under team control for several years, and one of the ideas here is to generate some actual buzz about a Padres team that wants to win in 2015.

Subjectively, the Padres have long lacked meaningful buzz, even or especially locally. They’ve had nothing since Adrian Gonzalez was dealt away, and even Gonzalez was sort of a reluctant face of the franchise. Kemp is a celebrity, particularly in California. Myers, meanwhile, is a power bat with personality. People are talking about the Padres now, and everyone likes a team trying to win sooner. No one enjoys slogging through an extended period of irrelevance. But as much as the Padres are succeeding in building some hype, at the end of the day it still looks like there’s a lot missing.

You could say the Padres are kind of trying to be the National League’s White Sox. We know that, with the second wild card, teams are incentivized more than ever to try to be at least okay. With an active offseason, the White Sox have improved from also-ran to potential contender. People are excited! It’s exciting. The White Sox saw an opportunity to put pieces around Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Adam Eaton. San Diego? San Diego doesn’t have an Abreu. It doesn’t have a Sale. And the players coming in don’t appear to be superstars, name value be damned.

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Wil Myers Reportedly Heading to San Diego

Just two years after getting shipped out of Kansas City, Wil Myers is reportedly on the move again. This time, he’s going to San Diego in a fascinating three way trade that looks to create more questions than it answers.

First, the most updated details, as we know them, via Mark Topkin.

As best as we can sort it out, it looks like the deal might be something like this.

San Diego gets Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, and pitching prospect Jose Castillo.
Tampa Bay gets Steven Souza, Rene Rivera, and prospects Burch Smith and Jake Bauers.
Washington gets Trea Turner and Joe Ross

If the Nationals part of the deal doesn’t happen, Souza would stay in WAS and TB would keep Ross and Turner.

The Padres get a young right-handed hitter who is supposed to be a future slugger, but he hasn’t shown that kind of power in the big leagues as of yet. And while Myers certainly still has enough upside to develop into what he was projected to be, this is a bit of an odd fit for San Diego, who already had Seth Smith in one corner and is close to acquiring Matt Kemp to play in the other corner. Something will have to give in SD’s crowded outfield, whether it’s Smith getting moved or Myers potentially heading to yet another team.

For the Rays, this is a bit more cut-and-dry. Souza is exactly their kind of player, an underrated prospect whom the projections adore, and they pick up a few additional pieces in exchange for making a perceived downgrade in right field. Souza destroyed Triple-A last year and Steamer has him as Myers equal for 2015.

Name PA wRC+ Off Def WAR
Steven Souza 600 117 11.7 -10.1 2.1
Wil Myers 600 115 10.0 -8.2 2.3

He is a little bit older and hasn’t yet hit in the big leagues, but he comes with one extra year of team control, which is always valuable to the Rays. While the perceived gap between Myers and Souza is likely quite high, given that Souza has never been ranked as a top prospect, the forecasts think that this isn’t actually a huge step back for Tampa Bay. Even if you think the projections are too optimistic for Souza or too pessimistic for Myers, the Rays get a few additional minor pieces to offset some of that gap.

The Nationals seem to be the third team in this deal simply because the Rays wanted Souza as a Myers replacement; for them, this trade just moves some prospects around. Souza was blocked in Washington by Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper, so the Nationals turned him into a couple of pieces they’re more likely to be able to use. Ross gives them more pitching depth in case they end up trading an arm like Jordan Zimmermann, while Turner will slot in as Ian Desmond‘s long-term replacement at shortstop.

We’ll have a full write-up (or two) on this once everything is official. My early take is that this is a fair-ish deal for all involved, pending what San Diego does to clear their new outfield logjam. The Rays seem to be betting on Souza’s projections, the Padres are betting on Myers power developing, while the Nationals are betting that two good prospects slightly further from the majors are better than one who is big league ready.


Neil Weinberg FanGraphs Q&A – 12/17/14

2:44
Neil Weinberg: Hey all, we’ll get started at 3pm. Fill up the queue with questions about sabermetrics, data, FG, etc, but also anything and everything else you might want to discuss.

2:59
Neil Weinberg: Alright I’m sure you all have a lot of questions about the big deal of the day, so let’s talk Sergio Romo!

3:00
Neil Weinberg: I kid.

3:00
Comment From Guest
its odd how little “star player __ talking to free agent ___ to get him to stay/join his team” does not work. Ie, Buatista talking to melky. if i was melky i would have trouble saying no

3:01
Neil Weinberg: I think in general “star player” is not an influential position. Melky’s best friend on the team might matter, but there’s no reason to think you would listen to the advice of a player about where to sign just because he’s good!

3:03
Neil Weinberg: Tried to flip the display mid chat. One sec

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How Good of a Defender is Adam Eaton?

Even before all this recent activity, it was pretty apparent the White Sox had the makings of a good core. In fact, the existence of the core is probably in large part what drove all this recent activity. There’s an opportunity to be seized, and the White Sox had plenty of financial flexibility to play with. Clearly, Jose Abreu is a star-level player. Clearly, Chris Sale is a star-level player. Clearly, Jose Quintana is a borderline star-level player. And then there’s Adam Eaton. Eaton, unquestionably, is a part of the core. But how valuable he is depends on where you’re looking.

Looking at Baseball-Reference, last year Eaton was baseball’s fourth-most valuable center fielder, with a WAR over 5. However, looking at FanGraphs, he wound up more middle-of-the-pack, with a WAR under 3. There are a few different reasons for the disagreement, but mostly this is about defense. Here at FanGraphs, we make use of UZR. Over at Baseball-Reference, they make use of DRS. Most of the time, the metrics get along, but it’s both interesting and frustrating when they don’t, and with regard to Adam Eaton, they most certainly do not get along.

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Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 12/17/14

11:48
Dave Cameron: Well, this is a fun day to chat. Let’s talk Wil Myers and other things.
12:01
Comment From Vslyke
If the Padres really get Myers, how does that affect the Justin Upton trade market? Any chance the Giants get involved?
12:01
Dave Cameron: Upton never really made much sense for the Padres. I’m not sure there’s an obvious fit out there for the Braves. The Rangers, maybe, but they probably shouldn’t be trading for rentals either.
12:02
Comment From Logan Davis
Tim Brown has it the Mariners have been calling CHC on Ruggiano. Seems a likely fit for the reported deals we were hearing that included a not-really-significant RH hitter coming to SEA. What’s a fair price to pay?
12:02
Dave Cameron: A middling bullpen arm.
12:02
Comment From Guest
Who ends up with Myers?

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Q&A: Nick Ennis, Director of Baseball Operations, San Diego Padres

Nick Ennis was recently promoted to Director of Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres. He signed on with the Padres as an intern in the baseball operations department out of Columbia Business School, and has also been an advance scout since he joined the team in 2010. He agreed to talk at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, where he had a hotel room despite living five minutes from the convention center. How else are you going to finish up work at two a.m. in the morning and be available for brunch?

Eno Sarris: One of the first interviews I ever did was at the winter meetings, with John Coppolella, now an Assistant General Manager in Atlanta. I asked him about defensive stats, and where they were, and if he ever looked at stats like UZR. He said, yeah, we do have some of that stuff in our database and we have our own opinions. When it comes to the stuff that you see on FanGraphs, how far off is the research?

Nick Ennis: That’s a good question because in the realm of their information, the lens through which they view the world — a macro view, bucketing different outcomes of batted balls with the information that they have, that kind of stuff — I think they’re good. With the public information at their disposal, those metrics are good. That’s a testament to the skills and talent of the members of the public baseball analytics community.

Where the clubs might have access to information that isn’t publicly available — whether it’s information that’s proprietary to that specific club, or information that’s shared only amongst clubs — then you start to see advantages potentially. Better input, essentially. All these models are going to depend on their inputs as well as the way they weigh those inputs.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Chicago White Sox

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Chicago White Sox. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Colorado / Los Angeles AL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / Tampa Bay.

Batters
On the strength of his five wins, Jose Abreu was worth approximately $30 million in 2014. Should he regress a little but still manage the 3.5 WAR projected here by ZiPS, Abreu will have produced approximately $50 million in value over the first two years of the six-year, $68 million contract he signed in October of last year. Even if he ultimately opts in to arbitration (which he’s permitted to do — and almost certainly will do, at this rate — under the terms of his contract), the probability remains that Abreu will have provided an excellent return on investment.

Elsewhere around the field, it’s more difficult to find such optimism. As noted by Jeff Sullivan on Monday, the White Sox’ rate above average only at first base and DH according to the Steamer projections. Indeed, ZiPS paints a similar portrait — with the exception of center field Adam Eaton, perhaps, for whose 2015 season it’s decidedly more encouraging.

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FG on Fox: What’s Wrong With Wil Myers?

Two years ago, the Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals for a package of talent centered around outfield prospect Wil Myers. The deal was divisive to say the least, primarily due to Myers’ inclusion; teams generally just didn’t trade prospects of his stature. When you have a 22 year old Major League ready slugger who rates as the 4th best prospect in the game, and you have an opening at the position that he plays, you generally build around him instead of using him to acquire an upgrade elsewhere.

But the Royals didn’t keep Wil Myers, preferring the short-term boost of adding a frontline starting pitcher and another talented arm who would become one of the game’s most dominant relievers. So, instead, the young right fielder went to Tampa Bay, where he was quickly anointed as the next big thing; he then justified the hype by winning the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year. But after a miserable 2014 season — including a two month stint on the disabled list due to a broken wrist — the Rays are reportedly on the verge of shipping Myers to San Diego, being the second team to sell off his future in 24 months.

So what’s the deal? Why is a promising young talent like Myers about to be on his third organization before turning 25? Is there a concern about his future that has caused teams to sour on him more quickly than we’d expect, given his performance and pedigree? Let’s take a look under the hood and see if we can identify any potential red flags.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.


Team Projections and Last Season’s Statistics

The other day, I wrote the Chicago White Sox still don’t seem very good. Naturally, that drew something of a negative response, and that’s fine — people ought to be excited, and it was kind of a buzzkill headline. The White Sox have been active, and general manager Rick Hahn has succeeded in turning nothing into something, at least as far as 2015 is concerned. We all recognize there’s a reason they play the games. Who knows what might happen? Who knows what else Hahn might eventually do? Yet, within the comments, something caught my eye. Some people think Steamer projects too much regression with the White Sox. Which got some gears whirring: How do our current projections compare to roster projections using only last year’s stats?

Obviously, if you’re trying to predict Year X + 1, you need to look at information from more than just Year X. Different people will recommend looking at different windows, but as a rule of thumb, you want to consider at least three or four years, if the data’s there. Plus, there are still other things to take into account. But while Year X isn’t the only thing that’s important, Year X is also the freshest data set in memory. So when a projection differs from what literally just finished happening, people might be prone to thinking that something’s amiss.

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Wildly Speculating on a Wil Myers Trade

If you haven’t been on Twitter tonight, you’ve missed a series of pretty fascinating rumors. According to various reports — most easily summed up over at MLBTradeRumors — the Rays are working on a trade with the Padres that would send Wil Myers to San Diego. The likely return is not yet known, nor is it entirely certain that Myers would stay with the Padres, as Jeff Passan is suggesting that this deal could be the precursor for another trade.

With Matt Kemp and Seth Smith already in the fold, the Padres don’t seem like a great fit for another corner outfielder, though they have been previously linked to Justin Upton, so perhaps they’re planning on acquiring Myers to replace Smith. But for a team that seems to be making moves to upgrade now, that would be a little odd, given the projections for 2015.

Name PA wRC+ Off Def WAR
Seth Smith 600 114 9.2 -11.1 1.7
Wil Myers 600 115 10.0 -7.8 2.4

So, let’s just speculate a bit. What the Padres need more than another corner outfielder is a shortstop. You know who has an extra young shortstop and needs a corner outfielder? The Texas Rangers. You know where A.J. Preller just worked, running the international scouting department when Jurickson Profar was signed as a 16 year old? Yeah, the Texas Rangers.

Completely speculative, but perhaps the Padres are looking to acquire Myers because Preller knows that Jon Daniels wants him to play right field, and will give up Profar and some other of Preller’s old favorites. Given the injury problems Profar has suffered, I find it unlikely that there would be a one for one trade, but I could see a situation where the Padres are trading prospects to get the guy that gets them Profar.

Or, maybe they just love Wil Myers. There aren’t too many good young above average hitters on the market these days, and Smith isn’t good enough that you don’t acquire a piece of that value simply because it forces another deal. Perhaps we’ll find out soon. I think my wild speculation about a Myers-Profar second deal at least sounds reasonable, even if it’s based on nothing more than imagination.


The Top-Five Rays Prospects by Projected WAR

Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the Tampa Bay Rays. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not Tampa Bay’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Rays system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.

Below are the top-five prospects in the Rays system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.

Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 12/16/14

9:24
Jeff Zimmerman: Hi everyone, Paul is going to be a bit late and I will start this chat
9:27
Comment From Larry Bernandez
Do you think Scherzer is going to be disappointed and not get the offer he wanted? It seems like not too many teams are that interested in paying his large price.
9:28
Jeff Zimmerman: Just a few teams would be able to afford him to begin with. I think Lester’s deal set the low bar. I expect Scherzer to get a bit more.
9:28
Comment From Ceej
Which version of the 2014 Salazar are we more likely to see in 2015?
9:30
Jeff Zimmerman: I really don’t know, hopefully the second half version when he threw strikes. I watched one of his starts for this week’s Quick Looks and his defense really let him down a few times.
9:30
Comment From season tickets
whats the next big move the Os make?

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Three Sentences Each on a Flurry of Moves (Updated)

A few days ago, Dave had to throw up an omnibus transaction post for the last day of the winter meetings. Moves were getting made fastly and furiously, and Dave couldn’t keep up writing about each one individually, so for simplicity he crammed some of them together. Well, what we have now is another little flurry of moves, albeit lesser moves than some that were made last week. But in keeping with what I’ll designate as a new InstaGraphs tradition, here is another omnibus transaction post, despite it not being titled as such. Following, moves that have happened in the last 24 hours, and three sentences about them. Maybe you don’t think that’s enough sentences, but before this post, the moves had been given zero sentences. Three is bigger than zero! That’s just analysis.

Rays trade Matt Joyce to Angels for Kevin Jepsen

The Rays just found out they’ll start the year without Jake McGee, so Jepsen’s a nice bullpen addition with two remaining years of team control, against Joyce’s one. Jepsen’s coming off a career-best strikeout season, having added a functional changeup he threw once per six pitches. Joyce can’t do anything against left-handed pitching, but he’s proven very much useful against right-handed pitching, so the Angels can pair him with C.J. Cron while using him also as Josh Hamilton injury insurance.

Yankees sign Chris Capuano for $5 million

CC Sabathia is coming off surgery, Ivan Nova is coming off surgery, Masahiro Tanaka is coming off an elbow problem, Michael Pineda isn’t too far removed from surgery, and the Yankees recently traded Shane Greene for a shortstop. There are reasons why the Yankees have been rumored to have interest in Max Scherzer, but even failing a Scherzer pursuit, it’s never the worst idea in the world to try to accumulate some starting-rotation depth. It can be difficult to find a functional veteran willing to move to the bullpen if that’s what needs demand, so what the Yankees have in Capuano is a relatively rare sort who’s willing and able to be fine in two roles.

Rockies sign Daniel Descalso for $3.6 million over two years

Over four years as a semi-regular with the Cardinals, Descalso was worth exactly 0.0 WAR. He plays all over the infield, so he’s basically just taking the place of the departed Josh Rutledge. Two years might seem like too long, but in the grand scheme of things, what are two years, really?

Marlins sign Michael Morse for $16 million over two years

Right-handed power, playoff experience, and he’s not Garrett Jones. When he’s healthy, Morse remains a potent hitter, and he might very well outhit the more expensive Kendrys Morales and Billy Butler. Yet because he’s seldom healthy, and because he’s not a good defender anywhere, this is going to read like a better deal than it is, and you have to remember that the market allowed for this contract to happen despite there being so few legitimate bats available.

Padres sign Brandon Morrow for $2.5 million, with incentives

Morrow has narrowly exceeded 200 innings over his last three years combined, with diminishing totals in each. He’s understood to be a massive injury risk, and in his peak WAR seasons, he had unremarkable RA9-WAR seasons. Yet the last time we saw Morrow, he was still throwing in the mid-90s, and he’s just 30 years old, so as an upside starter or an upside reliever, Morrow’s a perfectly sensible investment for a team that sure wants to do something in 2015.

Padres sign Trayvon Robinson to minor-league contract

It happened. I think. That’s what the internet says.

Braves sign Alberto Callaspo for $3 million

When it’s all said and done, Callaspo will finish with similar numbers of walks and strikeouts. He’s somewhat versatile and he’s decently disciplined, and the Braves had a gaping hole after dealing Tommy La Stella. The one thing Callaspo doesn’t do is hit the baseball hard enough for the baseball to notice, and it turns out that’s the kind of thing you want to be able to do if you want to sign a contract with greater terms than this contract.

Cubs sign Jason Motte for $4.5 million, with incentives

Motte was a good reliever in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Tommy John surgery cost him 2013, and upon his return in 2014, he was missing velocity and therefore effectiveness. Yet a similar thing happened to Joe Nathan in 2011 before he returned to being his old awesome self in 2012, so while the Cubs understand the obvious risk here, they have the money and Motte comes with bigger upside than most of the other affordable free-agent options.

Dodgers sign Brett Anderson for $10 million, with incentives

Tommy John surgery in 2011, rehab and an oblique strain in 2012, a foot stress fracture in 2013, and a finger fracture and a bulging disk in 2014. Anderson has thrown 206 big-league innings over the last four years, but in those 206 innings he’s been worth a combined 3.3 WAR, with good-enough peripherals, so the upside is obvious, especially if you figure things like fractures are freak accidents. Anderson isn’t 27 until February, and the Dodgers will plan for him to be their fifth starter for as long as he can remain on the mound, which is a perfectly good roll of the dice for a team that can afford to outspend almost all others.

Update!!!

Indians sign Gavin Floyd for $4 million, with incentives

Tommy John cost Floyd much of 2013, and some of 2014. Yet last season ended due to an unrelated elbow injury, one that’s supposed to be just fine in time for spring training, and when Floyd did pitch with the Braves, he flashed a career-best 14% K-BB% and an overall somewhat average profile with undiminished stuff. The Indians were in no particular need of rotation help, but everyone’s in need of rotation depth, and Floyd will actually be the most expensive starting arm on the team.


Alex Rios And Problems of Perception

Everybody remembers the movie Inception, right? Nice visuals, convoluted premise, and that killer score – a more than sufficient popcorn delivery system. Fun fact: the main plot point of inception, that an idea can be planted in someone’s subconscious without them realizing, is real!

At some point this summer, exasperated Texas Rangers writer/blogger/fanalyst Jamey Newberg tweeted something to the effect of “Alex Rios is one of those players whose production will never line up with his numbers.” At first, I was offended. A player produces what he produces, his numbers reflect his….production. But the thought, the idea that a player is less than his final stat line, it stayed with me. I couldn’t shake it.

Then the offseason rolled around. The crop of available outfielders is charitably described as “very much ungood” and then a bunch of guys signed. One of those signees, Nick Markakis got four years and an AAV north of $11 million, to the surprise of many. And then, piling shock on top of shock, Rios himself signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $11 million.

There are plenty of reasons to scoff at the big outfielders contract. Entering his age-34 season, Rios comes off a rough season in Texas. He produced right at replacement level in 2014, displaying a worrisome lack of power (just four home runs and a career-low .118 ISO) and he missed time with injury, as older players are wont to do.

But more than most players, Rios’ problems are matters of perception. There are many reasons to not like Rios as a player or this signing in a vacuum, all factors that I believe contribute to the shrugs and disbelief when news of his Kansas City contract broke.

Most pressing, the concern expressed by the Rangers fan above: does his production lag behind his numbers?

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Evaluating the Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

Evaluating the Prospects: RangersRockiesDiamondbacksTwinsAstrosRed SoxCubsWhite SoxRedsPhillies & Rays

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

The common narrative about the Rays system is that 1) it’s down from past years and 2) this is because they can’t pick good players unless they pick in the top 10.  Over the 19 years of the franchise, here’s the 7 productive big leaguers over 9 tries they’ve picked from the top 6 overall slots: David Price, Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, Rocco Baldelli, B.J. Upton, Jeff Niemann and Delmon Young.

In 21 first round/sandwich picks outside of the top 6 slots, they’ve produced no big leaguers of consequence and the top current prospects of the group are Justin O’Conner (#2) and Blake Snell (#5) on the list below.  There’s obviously something to these critiques, but it’s important to keep in mind that the return from draft picks is exponential: the top few picks are supposed to produce far more value than late first round picks.

Due to all the extra high-round picks and farm-stocking trades, along with an increasingly prominent international program, the Rays system is as deep as almost any other.  Because the high bonus players haven’t worked out for Tampa Bay at even a league average rate, the top of the system is much weaker than others and their #1 prospect was acquired in a recent trade, along with #4 and #8.  There’s enough young, high-upside talent for this high-end shortage to change by this time next year, but it’s impossible to forecast something like that happening.

It’s also worth noting that 8 of the 31 prospects ranked here were acquired via trade; the Rays system has to be deep given the way the organization approaches roster building.  If the system was run like a big market team perennially in the playoffs (think Detroit), where prospects are traded once they have trade value to prop up the big league team, the Rays farm system could pretty easily be the worst in baseball due to their struggles in the draft.

Two things to monitor in the system is the catching depth (which took a hit when Arizona took Oscar Hernandez #1 overall in the Rule 5 Draft last week) and the glut of infielders with prospect value that fit best in Triple-A Durham. Behind Ryan Hanigan and Curt Casali at the big league level, the Rays’ primary catchers starting in Triple-A and moving down the chain should be Luke Maile, Justin O’Conner, Hernandez (who most expect to be returned by Arizona), Nick Ciuffo, David Rodriguez and Rafelin Lorenzo, all of whom are mentioned below as prospects, which is very rare.

In the Durham glut, the Rays have SS, Hak-Ju Lee, SS Jake Hager, SS Tim Beckham, 2B/SS Nick Franklin, 2B Ryan Brett and 3B/1B Richie Shaffer, all with varying levels of prospect value.  There’s hope that one or two of these guys could play their way onto the 25-man MLB roster, but the organization is aware that, barring injuries, some players may have to play out of position or at a lower level than expected to make things work.

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Updating Prospect Valuations

Over the last five years, a lot of good work has been done on valuing prospects. Victor Wang — now employed by the Indians — got the ball rolling in 2008, and his work was followed up by research from by Scott McKinney in 2011 and Kevin Creagh in 2012. Each piece was well done and is worth reading even now, especially if you’re interested in the various rates at which prospect tiers tend to go bust.

But we’re almost into 2015 now, and baseball revenues are exploding, making the valuations from even a few years ago look a little bit outdated. Just in the last year, we’ve seen three Cuban free agents — Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, and Yasmany Tomas — sign for around $70 million each, suggesting that teams are willing to pay significant prices for young talent with upside, even when there’s not an established Major League (or even minor league) track record from which to evaluate. We’re going to get an even better look at the market value of a premium prospect when Yoan Moncada is declared a free agent, and the bidding for his services is expected to reach $80 million once the taxes are accounted for, and that won’t even cover any of his future salaries; that’s just the cost of acquiring his rights.

So, helpfully, Kevin Creagh and Steve DiMiceli decided to update their study this week, adding in new data and using updated calculations for the price of a win based on recent inflation. Let’s look at what they found.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 12/16/14

9:02
Jeff Sullivan: I suppose it’s time to baseball chat

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: Yes, it is indeed time to do that

9:04
Comment From Xolo
How many wins better do Kemp AND Upton make the Padres?

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: Well, not enough, would be one of my answers

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: What do the Padres give up to get Upton?

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: Working a little in their favor, perhaps, is that neither the Diamondbacks nor Rockies are particularly good, and the Giants might be kind of stuck. But the Padres need more help than two above-average outfielders can give them

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