Continuing on with the trade value series.
#25: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay: 0.2 WAR
The adjustment from bullpen playoff hero to front of the rotation starter has been rougher than planned, as Price’s command has been miserable this season, but he’s still showed ace-in-the-making stuff. Once he gets a little more confidence in his change-up, watch out. The major league contract he signed as the top pick in the draft makes him more expensive than most pitchers with his service time level, but he’s still a remarkably big bargain, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2015.
#24: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington: 0.0 WAR
I debated leaving him off the list since he hasn’t signed yet, but in reality, his situation isn’t that much different than an arbitration eligible player. He only has one team he can sign with, but enough value to command a pretty hefty contract. I’m anticipating that he’ll sign a major league deal worth around $25 million over six years, and even with his unproven nature, that kind of price tag for an arm like Strasburg’s is something every team in the league would covet.
#23: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit: 4.3 WAR
Verlander has made The Leap this year and is now one of the game’s most dominating power arms. He’s going to pass his strikeout total from last season before the end of July, as he’s dialed his fastball back up to 95 and is just throwing it past people. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they didn’t get him locked up long term before the breakout, so now they’re going to have pay through the nose for his final two arbitration years.
#22: Curtis Granderson, CF, Detroit: 2.2 WAR
Chronically underrated, Granderson is a true star, offering power, speed, patience, and premium defensive value in one package. He’s one of the best all around players in the game, in his prime, and under contract for $24 million through 2012 with a club option for 2013 that will probably be picked up. If he hit for a higher batting average, he’d get more notice, but he doesn’t need to in order to be a star. He’s already one.
#21: B.J. Upton, CF, Tampa Bay: 1.8 WAR
Pretty soon, we might just have to label Upton a tease. He has all the skills, and after a dominating October, he looked poised for a huge year. Instead, he’s regressed a bit, and at 25-years-old, we’re still waiting for him to put it all together. Even with the .239 batting average, he does enough other things (especially on defense) to be valuable, but he could be so much more than the +4 win player that he is now. With arbitration coming this winter, and the Rays depth of outfield talent, it will be interesting to see how patient Tampa is with him.
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