2009 MLB Trade Value: #45-#41

Continuing on with our trade value series.

#45: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego: 2.9 WAR

How different would the perception of Gonzalez be if he didn’t play half his games in a cavern? He’s posting a .273 ISO despite playing in the best pitchers park in baseball and rarely getting a pitch to hit because his teammates are so inferior. Oh, and then, there’s his contract – he’s set to make just $13 million through 2011. The Padres fans would riot if they dealt him, but his value will never be higher than it is now.

#44: Max Scherzer, RHP, Arizona: 2.1 WAR

Though he’s been projected as a reliever by many due to command problems and concerns about his delivery, Scherzer has established himself as a quality major league starter. The classic power pitcher, he has a career 3.50 FIP between last year and this year, and he’s still a couple of years from arbitration eligibility. He hasn’t yet shown that he can endure a full 200 inning season yet, so the risk of the unknown holds him back a little bit, but the overall package is still quite valuable.

#43: Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington: 3.2 WAR

For all that is wrong with the franchise, Zimmerman is the shining beacon of goodness. A good hitter and great fielder who isn’t yet 25, he’s already one of the best players in the game and has upside beyond what he is now. The newly signed contract extension will keep him in D.C. through 2013, but at rates that are just discounted, not massive bargains. He’ll likely always be a bit undervalued because so much of his value is tied to his glove, but if Washington ever puts some major league players next to him, he’s a great foundation piece.

#42: Joba Chamberlain, RHP, New York: 0.9 WAR

So, the conversion to the rotation hasn’t gone so well yet. His velocity is down, contact against him is way up, and he’s posting a 4.78 FIP because his command hasn’t improved. However, he’s still a premium arm pitching in the toughest division in baseball, and we’ve seen what he’s capable of when he’s going right. We can’t ignore the upside just because the last month or two has been ugly. The risks are significant, however – if he doesn’t start pitching better in the near future, he could easily end up back in the bullpen. Like Hamels, high risk and reward. At least he’s still cheap.

#41: Josh Beckett, RHP, Boston: 3.5 WAR

There’s little question that Beckett is a legitimate ace, with a projected 3.46 FIP going forward that is outstanding given the context of the division he pitches in. Still just 29, he’s a front of the rotation pitcher in his prime, and he’s sustained his velocity over the years, which has to be encouraging. However, he’s also only signed through 2010, so while his present value is very high, his future value is limited, as he’s going to get very expensive very quickly.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


50 Responses to “2009 MLB Trade Value: #45-#41”

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  1. themarksmith says:

    Only #45? I would have pegged Gonzalez for much higher. I think he’d probably get as much back as Halladay, if not more. He is 27, so he’s a bit old. But if you trade for him now, you get a legit middle of the order guy, in his prime, and for the next two and a half seasons. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of risk and a lot of reward. Zimmerman is pretty good, but I’m not sure he’d bring back as much as Gonzalez would. I’ll wait to see the rest of the list, but I’m a little shocked to see Gonzalez so low.

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  2. Sean says:

    I don’t know if I fully understand this series. Shouldn’t this list be filtered for people who could possibly be traded? I can’t imagine the Red Sox are going to trade Beckett. I just kind of see this leading to Pujols, H. Ramirez and Longoria being 1,2 and 3 and making it more a list of best players with upside and manageable contracts.

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    • B says:

      “Shouldn’t this list be filtered for people who could possibly be traded?”

      No. That’s not the objective of this at all. It’s to evaluate the 50 most valuable trade pieces in baseball, whether they’ll be traded or not.

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      • Sean says:

        So I guess you don’t see this as a redundant way of saying who the best players in baseball are by some arbitrary set of standards.

        What I’m trying to say is that the top 3 people on this list are probably the top 3 people on a number of other lists. Therefore, what are we really measuring?

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      • B says:

        We’re measuring who we think the most valuable assets in baseball are long-term. It takes into account their future performance, contract, how long they’re under team control. Who would you rather have? I think it’s a fun exercise.

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    • JH says:

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say Boston would probably trade Beckett for Longoria straight up. When you get to the top-20, the chance that they’ll ever be traded is miniscule, but it’s a really cool way to think about players’ relative values. It’s also incredibly popular every time Dave does it.

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      • Sean says:

        The question is not whether the Sox would give up Beckett but who has what the Sox want and is willing to TAKE Beckett. Like my man says, dude is 29 and will get expensive very quickly.

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    • Mike says:

      This is basically the baseball version of the exercise Bill Simmons does every year with the NBA.

      http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090212

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  3. Bill says:

    I thought Gonzalez would be a lot higher considering his favorable contract. Tell you the truth, its hard to believe the Padres would take Joba straight up for AG. Or that the Nats would take Joba for Ryan Zimmerman. So maybe its just that Joba is too high, especially with the threat that he’ll end up a 70 inning, 8th inning guy.

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    • Davidceisen says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Padres traded Gonzalez for Chris Davis and saying they did it to get younger.

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    • Sky says:

      Adrian Gonzalez has a very favorable contract money-wise, but it’s “only” for 2.5 more seasons. There are guys who are under contract for 5+ seasons still, meaning they only have to be half as cost-effective on a per-season basis to be as highly prized as Gonzalez.

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      • Sky says:

        Based on my comment in a later thread, I take back this comment about Adrian. It’s still “only” 2.5 years, but he’s really damn good and really damn cheap.

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  4. Jon J says:

    I’m assuming joba will have the lowest WAR of any of the top 50 (or at least of any of the 50 who no longer qualifies as a rookie).

    Also two Yankees on the list, wonder if any more, i guess no.

    What team will have the most?

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    • B says:

      Probably the Dodgers, unfortunately. Kemp, Kershaw, Billingsley should all be on there. Maybe another, like Martin?

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    • Davidceisen says:

      Any guesses on which teams will have zero players on the list?

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      • Bmore says:

        Seeing Martin’s name reminded me of my man Matt Weiters. He’ll be a top 5’er.

        It also makes me think about how much I hate watching Russell bat these days. I think he’s not only honoring his mother with the ‘J. Martin’, but also through adopting her approach at the plate.

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      • Fuitant462 says:

        Pirates Sandoval just missed the cut.
        Having trouble of thinking any Cubs actually.
        Maybe Astros, though pence may save them.
        Oakland, unless Brett Anderson/Cahill somehow make the list.

        surprising to think the cubs may be here, the others all make sense.

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      • David A says:

        NL Central looks pretty weak in general. Aside from the Brewers, who are pretty much loaded with young talent.

        Cards have Rasmus but I don’t think he makes this list. Though his fielding is awesome. Some pretty good players in minors too, but minor-leaguers aren’t eligible, are they?
        Pirates have McCutchen, but again, I don’t think he makes the list. Or Doumit. Nothing really great in their farm system either.
        Astros have Pence. He might be on the list.
        Cubs have nobody. Ouch.

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      • ebc says:

        Rasmus will be pretty high on this list, I imagine.

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  5. Judy says:

    The Rays will have a lot, more or less than the Dodgers?

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    • JH says:

      Hm…Price, Longoria, and Upton should all be on it, and probably Garza. Other than that…? Shields is great while he’s cheap but only good once he gets expensive, which is coming. Bartlett’s 28 and having a career year. If Zobrist wasn’t on it, Bartlett won’t be. Pena’s 31, Navarro’s mediocre, Aybar’s awesome but doesn’t play enough to get a clear sense of his everyday value, and the bullpen’s full of spare parts. 4, maybe 5 guys.

      I admitedly don’t know as much about the NL, but I can’t think of any Astros that deserve a place among the top 50. Berkman’s great, but he’s a 1B, he’s expensive, and he’s getting up there in age. Am I missing someone in Houston?

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      • Davidceisen says:

        I’m not sure if Garza will be on it. Would you trade Hamels, Joba, or Beckett for Garza? Crawford might be somewhere, though he is signed for only 1.5 years.

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      • alskor says:

        I would absolutely trade Joba for Garza. Beckett or Hamels… probably not. Theyre on top of their game and peaking.

        Garza isnt a real service time difference with Joba and he’s already the guy people hope Joba will be.

        Yeah… Joba is probably too high IMHO.

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      • matthew says:

        dodgers will have 3 top 15 maybe 4 if you count the Amazing Jonathon Broxton

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      • mattsd says:

        Matthew, Broxton won’t be on the list.

        The Dodgers will probably have 3, and I expect Billingsley to appear in the next few groupings.

        Kemp’s placement will be interesting. I could see an argument justifying his placement anywhere from the back end of the top 10 to outside the top 30.

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  6. Joe says:

    I would think the Rays would have the most. They are loaded with talent in the majors and high minors. The Mariners will probably one have one, Felix. I think with the way Gutierrez has been playing this year there is a case to have him on this list.

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  7. Joe says:

    Maybe Oswalt? He’s only a couple of years older than Beckett. I’m not sure what his contract is though.

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  8. Judy says:

    I would definitely trade what’s left on Beckett’s contract for the rest of Garza’s.

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  9. Dorsey says:

    Adam Jones, Franklin Gutierrez, Tulo…cheap young elite defenders are going to be high on the list. Wouldn’t surprise me if Jones were top five. Baltimore is loaded with guys to build around.

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    • Mike I says:

      I don’t think Adam Jones comes close to the top 5. The numbers don’t support him being an “elite defender” so far, and his hitting is merely above average.

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  10. Rodney King says:

    Joba is way too high, looks like somebody believed the hype.

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  11. Ray says:

    Predictions on top-5? I’ve seen people mention a top 3, someone say Jones in top 5, etc. What are people thinking?

    I’m liking something like this:
    1) Lincecum
    2) Hanley
    3) Longoria
    4) J. Upton
    5) Felix Hernandez

    (I contemplated any number of people in that fifth slot, from Sizemore to Kershaw to Mauer…in the end the combination of arb eligibility and production won out)

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    • ebc says:

      You can argue about which of those guys you prefer from a baseball standpoint, but Longoria’s going to be number one because the Rays were smart enough to sign him to a long contract as soon as they called him to the majors. Lincecum might make more money next year than Longoria makes in the next five.

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    • Benne says:

      When Dave did this series last year, not a single pitcher was in the Top 5, and only two (Lincecum and Felix) cracked his Top 10. I don’t think that will change this year.

      1. Longoria
      2. Hanley
      3. Justin Upton
      4. Pujols
      5. David Wright, or possibly Joe Mauer

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      • Ray says:

        You would rather have Pujols and the massive contract he’ll command over a cost-controlled guy like Lincecum or Felix? I get it, pitchers are a much more volatile bunch, it’s more difficult to predict future success becuase of any of a million different factors. But if I’m starting a team from scratch I’d want Lincecum or Hanley, period. Add in that they’re both cost controlled for a few more years and it’s a no brainer to me.

        Pujols will be a in the $200 million club very, very soon. I don’t see how his trade value is anywhere near some of these early-20’s arb eligible guys.

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      • Sky says:

        Ray, this is talking about current contracts. Even at $18M (or whatever) a number of seasons of Pujols at that price are extremely valuable.

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    • marcello says:

      I think Longoria is pretty obviously #1 and I’d guess Lincecum doesn’t make the top 5, due to the fact that he’s already going to arbitration next year and will probably get $10M+.

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      • Ray says:

        I had forgotten how much of a bargain Tampa got with Longoria, I’d definitely move him up ahead of Lincecum and Hanley because of that. I also forgot Lincecum would be arb eligible after this season, that changes things a bit.

        I still stand by my comments on Pujols, though. Best player in baseball? 100%, there’s just no question about that. Great value going forward? For a few years, sure, but come 2011 you’ll almost certainly have to overpay on the back end of a massive contract. I’m not sure how far out Dave is looking, so Pujols is a solid value for the rest of ’09 and all of ’10 and ’11, but I think I’d stick with the young guys.

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      • B says:

        I think you guys need to look up what players get in arbitration. Lincecum won’t get $10M+. He SHOULD, but the system doesn’t work like that. Cole Hamels was a Super Two this last season and the Phillies ended up giving him a 3 year, $20.5 million contract. He’s making $4.35 million this year (first year of arbitration). Lincecum is better, and with a Cy to his name will definitely command more, but Hamels money is a good starting point to work from. Maybe Lincecum gets $6-7M next year?

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      • ebc says:

        Ryan Howard got $10 million in arbitration. I doubt the Giants will even offer less than $10 million; lord knows what Lincecum will demand, since he stands a pretty good chance of entering arbitration with back-to-back Cy Youngs under his belt.

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      • B says:

        Ryan Howard is a hitter. Lincecum is a pitcher (Obvious, I know). The precedent set before each of them is very different, as no pitchers have ever gotten nearly that much. Howard also won his arbitration case (which, given the average of the two offers, added $1.5M to his contract), we don’t know if that will be the case for Lincecum.

        Hamels is a much better comparison, because Hamels got the most money for a first time arbitration eligible pitcher ever (Phillies signed him to a contract rather than going through arbitration). As I stated before, he’s only scheduled to make $4.35M in his first arbitration eligible year. Lincecum will have a hard time making the case he deserves more than double what Hamels got. I don’t see Lincecum breaking 8 figures, though $8M wouldn’t shock me, I guess…

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  12. Ummmm says:

    lol at adam jones being top 5. I wouldnt even rate him the highest player on his own team in terms of trade value. Sizemore, Longoria, Justin Upton, Lincecum, King Felix, etc. These are guys that you basically don’t trade for anything.

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  13. TDC says:

    How is a pitcher with Joba’s upside making no money too high on the list? Because he had a rough month last month and its fresh on your minds? People seem to think David Price will be on this list and higher. What has he done to prove he is so much better than Joba?

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  14. Marco says:

    Bottom 5?

    1. Wells
    2. Soriano
    3. Zito
    4. Hafner
    5. ?

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    • Bill says:

      Julio Lugo has to be down there (though only a year and a half left on the deal). Gary Mathews Jr., Carlos Silva, Dontrelle Willis and Magglio Ordonez all are pretty bad.

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    • Ray says:

      5. Todd Helton?

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  15. cecil says:

    so, since 2007 fielder has had a war of 11.2 to gonzalez’s 9.6 and he’s two years younger?

    i’ll give the edge in body type, contract and home park to gonzo, but given prince’s upside and age advantage i can’t see how he’s lower. especially since the list seems to pretty heavily factoring in upside with the inclusion of guys like joba and heyward.

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  16. Joe S. says:

    Cubs and Astros probably won’t have any on the list. I think that Pujols is a great value, I think that he will extend his contract with the Cardinals for way below market. He never going to make as much as A-rod, Jeter, Tex, or Cabrera

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