2009 MLB Trade Value: #20-#16

Continuing on with the trade value series.

#20: Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets: 0.7 WAR

On the field, Reyes is a superstar. He ran off three straight 5+ win performances in his age 23-25 seasons, which is a pretty incredible stretch of play. As a switch-hitting five tool player headed into his prime, he’s the kind of guy you can build a franchise around. Unfortunately for the Mets, they only have him locked up through 2011, so while he’s a bargain for the next two years, he’s going to get free market salaries starting in 2012.

#19: Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore: 1.5 WAR

While Jones is just a good player right now, he’s still scratching the surface of what he can be. Still just 23 years of age, he has the kind of athletic ability and swing to add significant power as he fills out, giving him a chance to be the rare middle of the order center fielder. Plus, he won’t even be arbitration eligible until after the 2010 season. All-Stars who make the league minimum before they turn 24 are remarkably valuable.

#18: Colby Rasmus, CF, St. Louis: 3.0 WAR

Everything I just said about Jones, except he’s also left-handed and a year younger. Rasmus isn’t quite as good of an athlete, but he’s a comparable hitter and could be better defensively. It will be interesting to watch these two develop, as Rasmus is more polished and might already be a little closer to his ceiling. They’re both franchise cornerstones, though. Blue Jay fans, forget it – you’re not getting this kid for Halladay.

#17: Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle: 3.8 WAR

King Felix has taken his throne this year, swatting away critics who claim he’s been overhyped since arriving back in 2005. The ability to command his fastball consistently has allowed him to develop into a true frontline starter, and with four plus pitches, he’s capable of blowing hitters every time out. However, like with Reyes, he’s only under club control through 2011, and his strong performance this season will get him a big payday in arbitration this winter. He’s great, and still just 23, but this is the last year he’s going to be cheap.

#16: Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota: 4.1 WAR

He’s just one of two guys in their 20s in baseball that you can look at and say with confidence that he’s an easy Hall Of Famer as long as he stays healthy. He’s putting up one of the great catcher seasons of all time, and at 26, he’s just entering his prime. However, he’s a free agent at the end of the 2010 season. Anyone trading for him would only be getting a year and a half worth of value before they had to outbid New York and Boston for his services, and just thinking of what kind of contract he might get as a free agent makes one shudder. So, while he’s the odds on favorite for AL MVP, I can’t put him any higher than this.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


83 Responses to “2009 MLB Trade Value: #20-#16”

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  1. aj says:

    Mauer and…. Wright?

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  2. Jeff Akston says:

    This is a great series. I always loved with Simmons did this for basketball, it’s just that I don’t care about basketball. Was hoping that someone would eventually do this for baseball.

    Regarding this list, I love Colby Rasmus but I find it impossible to think that the Cardinals would turn down the Marlins if they offered Josh Johnson straight up.

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    • VolsnCards5 says:

      I really doubt they would trade him straight up for Johnson. Johnson is closer to free agency and has been hurt in the past. Colby for Lincecum on the other hand…..

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  3. Tom says:

    That leaves Utley, Hanley, Pujols, Lincecum, Upton, Wright, Greinke, Sizemore, Kemp, Wieters, Haren, Mccann, Braun, and Longoria adding up to 14. Panda, Youkilis, Votto or Porcello for the 15th?

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    • Matthew says:

      they already said that this panda fat guy will not be in the top 50

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    • TomG says:

      Considering where Granderson placed, I’m actually kind of interested to see where Sizemore falls.

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      • Joe says:

        Mccann won’t be on this list. There is zero chance he is listed above Mauer. I’m not sure if Grienke is going to make it either.

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      • Tom says:

        Joe,
        McCann is signed through 2012 w/ a club option for 2013; Mauer is a free agent after 2010. So, he just might be ahead of Mauer.

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      • Matthew says:

        Mccann For sure be on this list without a doubt

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      • DavidA says:

        McCann will absolutely be on the list.

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      • Fresh Hops says:

        If McCann is not on this list, it’s pretty flawed. He’s the same age as Mauer, has a track record of comparable wOBA, a little worse behind the plate, great reports on his work ethic, and, as Tom pointed out, is on a way below market contract. Indeed, he might have one the most club friendly contracts in baseball.

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      • Alex says:

        As others have said, while Mauer is the better player right now, in terms of trade value it really isn’t even close. Mauer is signed for 1 more season at 12.5 million. McCann is signed for the next 4 seasons at just over 8 million a year. That difference in their contracts is just huge.

        Oh, a slight correction for Fresh Hops, McCann is actually a year younger than Mauer is.

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    • CH says:

      I knew we couldn’t possibly have an entry where Sandoval wasn’t mentioned. The readers of this site have a HOF plaque all polished up and ready to go for him.

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      • B says:

        I was going to respond to: “He’s just one of two guys in their 20s in baseball that you can look at and say with confidence that he’s an easy Hall Of Famer as long as he stays healthy” with Sandoval as being the other, but then decided the Sandoval jokes have run their course. I think we’re definitely way beyond the point of bringing him up anymore.

        “The readers of this site have a HOF plaque all polished up and ready to go for him.”

        More like the Giants fans…

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Raul Ibanez!!!!

      Seriously, though, Chad Billingsley and Adam Wainwright could be up there. Both are locked up until 2013.

      Also Jayson Werth has1.5 years left on his contract for a total of 9 mil good and is good for ~7 wins in that period, but I can’t see him in front of Jones and Rasmus.

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    • Ender says:

      If Gallardo isn’t in the top 50 then it isn’t a good top 50.

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    • B says:

      Billingsley is at #28. I’m guessing Dave isn’t as high on Gallardo as you, Ender, because of Gallardo’s FIP. I don’t see Wainwright up there, he starts making some decent money in the next few years, though he is locked up until 2013.

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      • Ender says:

        FIP is a flawed stat over such a small sample, his xFIP is as good as Billingsley’s, he has more service time left. He has 249 IP of a 3.29 ERA now and it is only that high because of one terribad start in Coors. I stand by the statement, if Gallardo isn’t in the top 50 then the top 50 is flawed.

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      • B says:

        Interesting point, was not aware of that. So I’m assuming he’s let up a lot of HR’s then? Any further evidence that it may or may not be a fluke?

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    • Kaplan says:

      What about Quentin?

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    • Scott says:

      Tulo, Victor Martinez, Votto, or Porcello?

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      • Alex says:

        Tulo just hasn’t done enough since 2007 and there is no way Martinez is ranking ahead of Mauer when they are locked up for the same amount of time. Votto and Porcello are definite possibilities but Votto would seem to be held back by playing 1B and I’m not sure I can see the justification for Porcello being ahead of the other young pitchers that have already been listed given his lack of a minor league track record and not so impressive peripherals this year.

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  4. Pat Andriola says:

    I just can’t buy into Rasmus without seeing a little more offensive prowess. Not that a .350 wOBA for a guy his age is bad or anything, but his WAR is hugely derives from his defense. I’m sure the bat will come along even stronger, but to group him in between Reyes, AJ, King Felix, and Mauer may be a little much.

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    • ebc says:

      .350 wOBA, plus great scouting reports, plus great defense, plus he’s 22? That’s fantastic package.

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    • Teej says:

      Service time, my friend. No one’s saying he’s as good as Mauer or Felix right now. But he’s the only one of those five guys who’s under team control for five more years, which gives his value a boost.

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    • JH says:

      Wow. You’re really demanding. A 22-year-old putting up a .350 wOBA at an up-the-middle position isn’t displaying enough offensive prowess? If he doesn’t improve at ALL, he’s still a 4-win player. Assuming a semi-normal growth curve, he can develop into a 5-6 win guy easily.

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      • Chris says:

        Let’s also not forget the guy was Baseball America’s #3 prospect coming into the year. Rasmus could be one of the 5 best players in baseball at his peak.

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    • cpebbles says:

      I was actually starting to get skeptical of Rasmus early in the season when all he did was walk and single, but he is a notorious slow starter and he’s really shown it. His OPS hit .666 May 9, and he’s hit .291/.320/.540 since and looked the part. The only thing lacking is the walks, which is a skill he’s shown plenty of in the past. If he can combine the eye he showed early with the power he’s shown lately, he’s an offensive superstar.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        his WAR is way inflated, no arguing that. u honestly think he can keep up his ridiculous UZR numbers?

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      • cpebbles says:

        No, but he is easily well above average in CF. I’ll agree that the 3.0 half-season WAR is inflated, but I don’t think 6 WAR seasons are out of the question because he’s already better than a .350 wOBA offensive player and he’s 22.

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  5. Jason says:

    Question for you guys:

    Felix Hernandez, in his first year of being arbitration eligibile last year, got $3.8 million (he and the mariners agreed on that number rather than go to an arbitration hearing).

    My question: What does Felix get this year? What is a reasonable estimate of what he WILL get this year in arbitration, not what he should get or what you think he should get. Based on whatever past rulings and players and ages and performance, what is your best guess? Thanks in advance.

    Jason

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    • Matthew says:

      people say lincecum will get 10 million in his first year in ARB. is that true?

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      • B says:

        I don’t see any reasonable argument he gets even close to that. Hamels (the best comparison for Lincecum to date) is making $4.35M in his first year of arbitration (agreed to that with the Phillies). Lincecum obviously has a better resume than Hamels, but he has a long way to go to get to $10M.

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      • ebc says:

        Lincecum will get $10 million easily.

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      • B says:

        Thanks for the opinion, ebc, I’m glad you backed it up with some actual reasoning. What case does Lincecum have for $10M? What precedent is there for that?

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      • Alex says:

        What precedent is there for a guy just entering arbitration possibly coming off of back to back Cy Young’s? If anything I’d probably point to Howard as a comp and he got 10 million the first go round.

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      • B says:

        Howard isn’t a pitcher, though, and hitters have a much longer history of receiving much, much more in arbitration than pitchers. The highest any pitcher has ever gotten in their first arbitration eligible year is Hamels at $4.35M. I don’t know the arbitration process well enough to know how much Lincecum’s extra performance is worth over Hamels. I do see Hamels as the baseline, though (not necessarily a comparison as much as a starting point for determining pay), and then it depends on how much gets added on for Lincecum’s extra performance. I think more than doubling what Hamels got is pretty outlandish.

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      • Alex says:

        The point though is that Lincecum would be far beyond comparisons to any pitchers that went through the process and as the winner of the CYA (possibly multiple times) he deserves similar compensation to what Howard got as an MVP winner. As I remember, Howard also set the record for hitters by a large amount when he went through the process.

        The difference between Hamels and Lincecum is also going to end up being pretty large in terms of the numbers they’ll be looking at. Lincecum is already 35-12, while Hamels was 38-23. He’s got almost a half run advantage in ERA and that’s likely to widen. You can also throw in strikeouts, where Lincecum should end up with about a 150 K advantage. Oh, then there’s a CYA or two, which should have some value attached to it.

        I’m not saying he’ll definitely get 10 million, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he did, especially if the Giants go too low with their offer.

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      • B says:

        Maybe you’re right, maybe not, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. We’ll see. :)

        At this point my only real objection is still the Ryan Howard comp, because arbitration has never treated hitters and pitchers alike, so I just really think Howard’s contract has absolutely no effect on what Lincecum gets. The year before Howard won his case, Miguel Cabrera got $7.4M in arbitration, so you’re looking at a $2.6M increase in the record. Maybe that has some bearing on the increase Lincecum gets over Hamels – $4.35 + 2.6 = $6.95M – but I don’t know.

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      • ebc says:

        The problem with the Cole Hamels comparison, aside from the fact that Lincecum will likely have a far more impressive resume by the time they enter the hearing room, is that Hamels never went to arbitration. When players sign three-year deals, they’re almost always giving up something in annual salary. And still his annual salary was just under $7 million, not $4.35 million.

        I don’t think anyone has ever entered the arbitration years with Lincecum’s credentials. He’s clearly more valuable than Ryan Howard was at the same point, though arbiters may well be overly smitten with home runs and rbi’s. Regardless, if the Giants offer anything less than $10 million, I bet they’re going to lose.

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    • Joe says:

      How about a 10 year 200 milliong dollar contract? As a huge M’s fan, that’s what I’m hoping for. Lock this guy up long term before he becomes a FA and the Yankees offer him 50 million a year.

      As far if he goes to arbitration I’m not really sure. Say he has an awesome second half and wins the Cy Young and leads the M’s to the playoffs he would probably make around 10+ million.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        A 10 year 200 million dollar contract to a pitcher!? Not to mention at pitcher that has already thrown almost 800 innings at the age of 23.

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      • Patrick says:

        “A 10 year 200 million dollar contract to a pitcher!? Not to mention at pitcher that has already thrown almost 800 innings at the age of 23.”

        Flawed logic. Most 23 year old pitchers throw that many innings in college/the minors anyways.

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    • Sky says:

      Try this, although it doesn’t take into account the biases in arbitration for AVG/RBI and against position/fielding:

      40% of FA value in first year of arb
      60% of FA value in second year of arb
      80% of FA value in third year of arb

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      • Jason says:

        Sky:

        What is Felix’s FA value? 2009 WAR x $4.5M? 2007-2009 weighted WAR? What am I using here?

        What is your best educated guess? Thanks.

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  6. Nick says:

    “Blue Jay fans, forget it – you’re not getting this kid for Halladay.”

    I hope not.

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  7. Ryan says:

    Utley has to be the other HOF lock in his 20s…am I right??

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  8. DavidA says:

    I’m not too sure about Reyes. So much of his value is tied to his basestealing ability, and I don’t know how much longer that’s going to be there for him. Remember Quilvio Veras? Luis Castillo? I think Reyes might be one that flames out prretty quickly, like those guys. He already has a pretty bad history of leg injuries.

    Granted, Reyes has got some pop in his bat too, but so maybe he develops into more of a power hitting SS (with good speed) vs. the blazing-speed leadoff type that he’s been known as thus far. (Thoughh I don’t know about that either, unless they do something about the fences at Citi Field.) He certainly doesn’t strike me as the Rickey Henderson/Vince Coleman type, who had speed throughout their major league careers. Other guys on this list, even much lower down, seem like much safer bets to me.

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    • Eric says:

      Power at citi field is a tricky thing though – he won’t develop hr power, but he could lose a few steps speed-wise and still hit 20 triples a year in that ballpark (if he stays healthy, which is always the key issue)

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    • MetsFan says:

      Awful comparison. You just compared a shortstop with some pop to two second basemen with sub .100 ISOs. Reyes does not derive much of his value from basestealing. His value is that he’s an above average shortstop who swings an above average stick. This is a rare combination, which is by definition, quite valuable. IF he loses his ability to field SS well along with his speed due to leg issues, his value will be severely impacted.

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      • DavidA says:

        well i also compared him to 2 outfielders :)

        you’re right, though. it’s a rare combination. i would say that the way Reyes has played TO DATE would definitely rank him high on the list. i just think that going forward, his future looks a little cloudier than some of these other guys.

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    • Skelly says:

      Well, Reyes is only under contract through 2011 and I doubt his base running will decline much through then. I mean 2 years and it will drop off that much? Unless you think his current injury will really hamper him in the next couple years, this doesn’t make much sense.

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  9. Brian Recca says:

    Do you think Reyes will ask for top SS in the league money this time around? Last time out on free agency he earned a lot less than many would have expected. His contract is 4 years (2007-2010)/ $23.25M with a 2011 $11M club option.

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  10. brett says:

    It’s obviously Pujols but i’m slightly offended that Cabrera didn’t get a nod. There are probably several twenty-somethings who are sure things “if” they can stay healthy. Of course it’s always a big if.

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    • ebc says:

      It’s a pretty silly thing to say, really — there are plenty of players in their twenties on a hall of fame pace. Presumably he’s saying that Mauer & Pujols have already accomplished enough that even if they spend the rest of their careers as thoroughly mediocre players, they’ll still make the Hall.

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  11. Bmore says:

    Adam Jones will be better than Colby Rasmus defensively, has more speed, and hits for better average. i don’t understand this ranking.

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  12. Chris says:

    Under Felix Hernandez:

    “he’s capable of blowing hitters every time out.”

    uhhhh….

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    • Bmore says:

      haha good catch, but I assume he meant just meant that Felix can stoke off a bunch of guys.

      Oops, typo. ‘strike out’

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  13. Judy says:

    How much better would Felix or Verlander have to be than Jon Lester or Josh Johnson or some of the other pitchers lower down that they’d actually be worth making the contract swap?

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