2010 Trade Value: #5 – #1

Introduction
#50-#46
#45-#41
#40-#36
#35-#31
#30-#26
#25-#21
#20-#16
#15-#11
#10-#6

#5 – Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston

Whether it is his size or the fact that he is overshadowed by other players on his team, Pedroia still hardly ever gets the recognition for being one of the best players in baseball. But he is one of the best in baseball at making contact while still hitting for power, and he rounds out his game by drawing walks, stealing bases at a high success rate, and playing excellent defense at second base. Over all, the package adds up to a +5 to +6 win player in his prime. Oh, and he’s under contract for the next five years at a total of $44 million – the last year is voided if he’s traded, but still, 4/33 for what Pedroia brings to the table is a huge bargain.

#4 – Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida

Yet another guy for whom it was pretty tough to find a final spot. Ramirez obviously brings positives to the table, as he is an offensive monster for a shortstop, especially compared with the current group that comprises his peers. He’s a five tool player producing at a premium position, and at just 26 years of age, he could get even better. And yet, he’s had some pretty public issues with management and is still not considered the hardest worker around. Further his contract is no longer dirt cheap, as he’ll be paid $57 million over the next four years. The performance and talent, however, is too impressive to have him any lower on this list, as teams would gladly put up with Ramirez’s warts in order to get a shortstop with a career .394 wOBA.

#3 – Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington

This may be as high as any pitcher will ever rank on this list. Strasburg has been nothing short of sensational so far in the big leagues, posting a ridiculous 2.11 xFIP in his first eight starts. His stuff is better than anyone in baseball, and it’s hard to see hitters figuring him out as long as he keeps throwing this hard. Oh, and the Nationals control his rights through 2016. He won’t make any serious money for another three years, so for now, the Nationals get one of the game’s best pitchers at about 5 percent of his market value. But, as with any pitcher, the risks are significant. The superlatives could all disappear with one pitch, as it has for so many phenoms before him. Pitcher attrition would keep other teams from giving up the kitchen sink to get Strasburg, but as good as he is, the refrigerator is probably on the table.

#2 – Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta

The year’s other phenom, Heyward isn’t as good as Strasburg right now, but he’s a hitter, and that makes all the difference in the world when assigning risk. At just 20 years old, he’s already shown he’s ready for the big leagues, flashing both patience and power at the plate. He’s far from a finished product, but the skills are there for him to become the game’s premier outfielder. It may come sooner than later, in fact. Because the Braves brought him up at the start of the season, they “only” control his rights through 2015, but that’s still five more years of team control for the game’s best young talent who still can’t drink. Almost everyone who is this good at this age becomes a superstar, and few doubt that Heyward is headed that way.

#1 – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay

In May, when Heyward was going nuts, I asked my fellow FG authors if they thought there was an argument for Longoria to get displaced from the top spot. The answer – no, that contract is still too ridiculous. And,upon a another look, it is. Despite being one of the game’s premier players, Longoria will make $2 million next year. Over the next six years, he’ll be paid $42 million, or about 25 percent of his market value, which is just crazy. No player in the game provides the same performance for anything close to this kind of cost, and I don’t know that there’s an offer out there that would make Tampa Bay trade their third baseman. Unless Heyward turns into the best player in the game next year, I’m not sure Longoria will be ceding this spot to anyone for quite some time. His contract is the most team friendly deal any player has ever signed.

So, that’s the 2010 Trade Value series. I’ll do another post at 5 pm talking about some of the questions that arose from the list, such as why I left off Roy Halladay and Dan Haren, and look at some of the guys who disappeared from last year’s list.




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


292 Responses to “2010 Trade Value: #5 – #1”

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  1. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Has Longoria fired his agent yet?

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    • Salty Dog says:

      I wish more guys would think like him. Did he maximize his earning potential? No, but he secured his future and gave his team a great chance to build a winner around him. After all, when he’s sitting back in retirement, is he going to care that the pile of money he’s sitting on is $40 million, and not $140 million? No.

      Besides, his agent probably advised him not to do it, if only out of self-interest. If Longoria waits a few years, he gets a ton more money, which makes his agent more.

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      • awayish says:

        hurrrrrrrrrrr

        why would he care about winning to his earnings? he’s not a fricking fan.

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      • Rich says:

        Why would he care about winning? Because working for a terrible company sucks. It lowers your standard of living, increases stress, and shortens your live.

        At the amount of money we’re talking here, standard of living is way more important than more money. If winning makes him happier, than its everything,.

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      • valuearb says:

        He could have secured his future while giving up much less of his upside. I’m pretty sure he could have sold rights to his next 6 years earnings to investors for more than $42M, but more importantly he could have secured $20M or so over a shorter time span and gotten to free agency.

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      • Eric says:

        After taxes, that $40 million is going to look like $20 million. Take out some money for living and spending and it’s looking like probably 5-10 million. Considering he could’ve had over 100 million in that same time frame, that’s a lot of cash to give up. I mean if he never earned another penny in the majors, he’ll probably be living on 150-200K per year for the rest of his life. That’s comfortable living, but nothing like what he could have generated.

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      • awayish says:

        re:rich
        if longoria cares about winning, that’s his pejorative. however, i am simply remarking on salty dog’s desire to see more players like him, and actually implying that players SHOULD prefer winning to their careers.

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      • awayish says:

        prerogative rather

        hurr me

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        His standard of living? Wouldn’t playing in a crummy city like Tampa Bay and a horrific stadium like Tropicana Field, and the unnecessary stress from dealing with catwalks be the definition of poor standard of living?

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      • joe says:

        I hate this line of thinking, if Longoria should be a sport and take less than he deserves because its not about the money, then the baseball team should pony up and volunteer to pay extra because he’s such a good sport.

        In the end these cancel out and he deserves market value.

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  2. Tom Zig says:

    Over his career, Pedroia’s offense takes a huge hit when he plays outside of Fenway. Sill solid defensively though.

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    • Rich says:

      Almost every player in the Majors (except those in Petco and one or two other parks) hits much better at home.

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      • B says:

        Yes, you have to keep that in mind, but it could also be that on top of the expected home split, Fenway (given how unique it is) helps him produce at higher levels than he would in a different environment.

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      • Tom Zig says:

        I’m aware of that. But over Pedroia’s career his OPS is over 100 points lower on the road than at home.

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      • Alex says:

        Chipper Jones OPS is 66 points higher at home than on the road and he’s played in a neutral to pitcher friendly home park.

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      • Steve says:

        Chipper: 66 point split out of a .941 total OPS
        Dusty: 115 point split out of a .831 total OPS

        Not saying that Pedroia is an illusion of Fenway, but Chipper doesn’t invalidate the argument by any stretch.

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      • Alex says:

        Chipper’s is also over a much larger and more meaningful sample size. It wasn’t meant as an attempt to invalidate the argument against Pedroia as much as to point out a guy with an extremely long career who played his home games in a non-hitter’s park that still hit far better at home than on the road. People only seem to look up home road splits for guys in extreme parks and then they seem to assume the rest of players are about the same at both without ever doing the legwork to see that’s not actually the case.

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      For a proper response, I must ask, “What’s your point?”

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    • Aaron B. says:

      If only people park-adjusted their numbers… ;-)

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      • B says:

        Park adjustments are just based on averages, though. It doesn’t necessarily apply perfectly for each individual.

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    • The Tom says:

      Did Wade Boggs make the HOF first ballot?

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  3. Big Oil says:

    I can tell you that people are going to want to know your thoughts on Pedroia’s H/R splits. Not that it bothers me that much.

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  4. StatBoy says:

    Pedroia hardly ever gets recognition? He has an MVP award and ESPN drools over him constantly. Don’t get me wrong, he completely deserves his spot on the list given his production/age/contract but that comment about recognition seemed very strange to me.

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  5. Joe Mic says:

    No Clay Buchholtz? Interesting

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    • Not David says:

      Not really.

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    • bonestock94 says:

      It’s definitely interesting that he would be mentioned in the comments of the top 5 trade value.

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      • TreyIII says:

        As opposed to the “Guys who were inexplicably left off the honorable mention category” article Cameron put together. But I get it. Young #1/#2′s with 4 plus offerings and 5 years of control are less valuable than James Shields and Dominic Brown. I totally get it.

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      • Alex says:

        He’s not a proven #1/#2 at this point (4.26 xFIP) and he’s not under team control for 5 more years (he’ll be arb eligible after 2011 and a free agent after 2014). Why would you rank him ahead of guys like Hanson or Latos who are younger, have similar projection, arguably better stuff (especially Hanson), and an extra year of team control)?

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      • alskor says:

        I would definitely take him over Hanson. Buchholz has the better stuff (not that Hanson’s is weak), throws harder and keeps the ball on the ground a whole lot more (a major weakness for Hanson). Hanson Ks more guys right now, sure, but Buchholz posted elite K rates in the minors. I think anyone would be crazy to bet on Hanson substantially improving his GB rate whereas I think there is an excellent chance Buchholz’s K rates return to something like they used to be.

        I do think its kind of silly he didn’t make this list at all, even as a HM. His pure stuff is better than all but a handful of guys, he’s young, cheap and getting better – and he has a track record of fantastic success in the minors. Its the pitcher equivalent of leaving Wieters off the list altogether.

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      • Alex says:

        Come on Al. I’m not sure I’d say Buccholz’s stuff is better. He barely throws harder (about .5 MPH on the FB) and I’d grade there breaking stuff out about the same. Both Hanson’s slider and curve are consistently graded as plus to plus-plus pitches. Buccholz clearly has the advantage in terms of changes, but if Tommy can learn to use the 2 seamer he’s begun to mix in recently it could put him over the top.

        Sure, Buccholz gets more groundballs than Hanson, but that’s just a function of how the two pitch. Hanson pitches for strikeouts, and thus pitches up in the zone a lot more. I think the 2 seamer will allow him to become more of a GB guy if he learns to use it (he’s only started mixing it in his last few starts, but its a nasty, nasty pitch).

        As for Buccholz posting elite K rates in the minors, that was really only the case early in his minor league career. He never posted a K rate over 10 in a reasonable AAA sample size and fell to around 8 in a large sample size last year (Compared to ~12 for Hanson). That points to him changing how he pitched. I think the reason the GB rate is better right now is because he stopped pitching for Ks. If he wants to get them back up to elite levels I expect the GB rate to fall off.

        You also seem to be leaving aside the fact that Hanson also has an extra year of team control, which is certainly very valuable in an exercise like this.

        And don’t stoop to comparing him to Wieters. He was never even close to that level as a prospect. Wieters was probably the top prospect of the past decade. Buccholz probably doesn’t crack the top 25. There’s a reason one gets a larger benefit of the doubt than the other.

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      • TreyIII says:

        I never said “he should be ranked ahead of Latos or Hanson”. He does, however, deserve a spot on this list. I was obviously including this year as a year under team control (’10-’14), giving him 5 total. He’s not proven, per se, but he’s got almost a full season of at least #2 numbers in the AL East under his belt. If you look at his pitching tendencies, for whatever reason, he likes pitching to contact in 2-k counts. Not sure why, especially considering the CU he possesses, but I imagine the K rates will increase over time.

        Either way, there’s a good chunk of guys on this list who haven’t proven squat consistently at the MLB level. Buchholz’s arsenal alone deserves to be recognized. Bottom line, he’s not going to be traded straight up for a guy like Soto, which is the whole point of this series…. current trade value.

        And you’re completely wrong on his prospect status. He came into ’08 as the no. 4 prospect in baseball. If you want to argue with that, then take it up with BA.

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      • Alex says:

        I brought up Latos and Hanson as comps to Buccholz. Latos only ranked #46, so if you wouldn’t take Buccholz over him, I don’t know why you’d complain about Clay not making the top 50. And his numbers are only #2 level this year on the very surface. He’s not throwing the sort of innings you’d expect from a #2 and his xFIP doesn’t support him being close to that level. The FIP is still pretty, but I’m not buying that he’s the best ever at limiting HR/FB just yet.

        I was talking about top prospects of the past decade. I realize he was #4 his last year, which is why I said not in the top 25 instead of the top 50 or something along those lines since he certainly has a case for that. As a prospect he wasn’t even close to Wieters level, which was really my point.

        If you’re going to act like Buccholz has 5 years of team control left, then you have to add another year to every other player thats been discussed, because whenever its been brought up its been in the context of years of control after 2010.

        Soto v. Buccholz makes for an interesting debate. You would get an extra year of Buccholz, but Soto is less of a risk as a non-pitcher. Honestly, I think Soto is the better player right now, though Buccholz may have more upside. I think if the Cubs offered the Red Sox that deal right now, they’d at least think long and hard about pulling the trigger. Catchers of Soto’s value and age very rarely are ever available on the open market.

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      • B says:

        The only two points I’d like to add to this discussion are that, no, I don’t think it’s accurate to say Buchholz has almost a full season of #2 numbers – he’s at 4.17 FIP and 4.17 xFIP for his career thus far in the majors. My other point is his career MLE strikeout numbers are 7.78 K/9, his last stint in AAA (’09) his MLE K/9 was 6.68, and it was 7.67 in ’08. You have to go back to 2007 and performances almost completely below AAA (with one short stint on AAA thrown in) to get “elite” K rates in his minors. It’s been a while since he’s done that. I don’t see much reason to expect his K’s to go up substantially at this point, other than maybe moving into a less competitive division (not that I have any idea how large the effect would be)….

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      Career – ERA: 4.11 FIP: 4.17 xFIP: 4.17 tERA: 4.59

      What’s interesting?

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      • TreyIII says:

        Wieters career – .270/.329/.388

        What’s interesting?

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      • Alex says:

        That he plays C. Those numbers aren’t bad at all for the position. Throw in the fact that he’s considered the best prospect of the past decade and I think you might understand why he gets the benefit of the doubt.

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      • Toffer Peak says:

        Plays difficult position. Excellent fielder. Superior pedigree and minor league performance. Younger. Extra year of team control. Even as a catcher is less injury prone/risky than a pitcher.

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    • Eric M. Van says:

      Here’s where the terrific logic of this series proves so helpful. Would the Red Sox trade the unranked Clay Buchholz even up for #46 Ricky Romero?

      And if they did, would enough Red Sox fans shoot themselves in the head and/or jump off the Tobin Bridge to bring an end to the sellout streak?

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      • Alex says:

        Would the Red Sox trade Buccholz for a better pitcher that is under team control for the same amount of time? Considering how smart there front office is, I’d go with probably.

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      • Steve says:

        If you ignore all of Buchholz’s bad starts and ignore all of Romero’s good starts, it becomes much clearer.

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  6. B says:

    I’m not sure this really changes Strasburg’s value in a meaningful enough way to move him away from a top 3 spot, but I think you should check out how his contract is structed, Dave. He is making some amount of money in the near future – it’s not exactly clear to me how his contract works (as in, who would pay what if he were traded), but he’s still owed a $2.5M bonus next January from his original $7.5M signing bonus, plus the other $7.5M from his reported $15M bonus (that was actually $7.5M signing bonus + $7.5M guaranteed as part of a contract) is due to him over the next 3 years, so all in all he’s actually due $10M over the next 3 seasons and goes to arbitration after that, which will be extremely expensive if he performs as well as we think he will….

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    • B says:

      Structured*

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    • valuearb says:

      Except that according to FanGraph’s value estimator, Strasburg has been worth $7.9M in less than a quarter of a season. So how cares that he’s costing $3M per year when he’s worth over $30M a year? And he won’t be extremely expensive in arbitration. Even if he ends up with something like $7M, $14M, $24M in three years (each of which would be record-breaking or near record breaking), he’ll be very cheap compared to his free agent value.

      If this year represents his typical performance level and he stays healthy, he’ll probably get over $30M a year for 5-7 years from the Yankees ( they paid CC, a 5-7 WAR pitcher $23M per year on a long term deal. What would they pay for 8-10 WAR?) or Red Sox. If the Nat’s can get his final arb year for $24M, not only is that a discount to his value in a long term contract, it’s has much less risk that makes that year worth more than the years in a long term contract. He’ll be easy to trade for good value in that final year even making $24M.

      That’s one of my quibbles with Fangraphs value measures, buyers shouldn’t pay as much for WAR on a long term deal with significant injury risks as they will on shorter term deals. I’d like to see market value estimate have two components, “long term deal” value, and “one year deal” value.

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      • B says:

        I wasn’t arguing against Strasburg, just pointing out that Dave was underestimating how much he’ll cost.

        As for your last paragraph, I disagree. There’s no need for two measures. A win is a win, and teams should estimate how many wins a player will accumulate, on average (which takes things like potential injuries into account) for the player over the life of his contract, and pay the market value (or estimated market value for future seasons) for those wins. I just don’t see a need for two measures?

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      • valuearb says:

        When the average MLB starter costs around $4M a year, paying Strasburg $3M if his output is 4x or more the average starter is almost insiginificant.

        And I’m not proposing a second metric for measuring wins, I’m proposing a second metric for valuing wins. A win is a win, but a team that can buy 4 wins for a single season with low risk, will pay more per win than for a long term contract for 4 wins per year with a significant risk of injury/decline. I.e. a 4 win player is probably 90% to give you at least 3.5 wins for the next year, but might only be 50% to average 3.5 wins for a 7 year deal.

        To say a 4 win player is worth $16M (for example) based on some basic linear scale is too simplistic. He might be worth $20M per year on a one year deal, and $14M per year on a long term deal.

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      • B says:

        “He might be worth $20M per year on a one year deal, and $14M per year on a long term deal.”

        Agreed completely, but I think you’ll find they really do take that into account. I don’t think you’ll find anyone around here proposing a 4 WAR player get $20M a year over the long term – we know we should expect them to average less than that (especially when they start getting to the “decline” part of the aging curve) going forward for various reasons.

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  7. tdotsports1 says:

    Cue the Pedroia/Halladay debate. Though as an avid Jays fan, I can admit Halladay’s 20 million aren’t exactly movable to a vast array of teams.

    Did someone really mention Clay Buchholz? Come on, with all of the great young arms left off, get real! Solid arm, but there is better, much better to consider for this fairly esteemed group.

    Of course Longoria is #1, Dave said he might be number one for the next 5 years if he has his way!

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    • Judy says:

      FWIW, as a Red Sox fan, I’d probably be okay with them trading Pedroia for some of the guys ranked ahead of him and a few ranked behind him, but, if they traded him for anyone they had to pay $20M a year, I’d be pretty sure a lunatic had taken over the Red Sox FO.

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  8. Rich says:

    I really don’t like Strasburg this high.

    He’s been great, yes, and he was a fantastic prospect, yes, but hes a guy who has made 8 ML starts.

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    • B says:

      “hes a guy who has made 8 ML starts.”

      That’s kind of the point – the point you’re making works in his favor. Team control and cost are big factors, here, and that a team gets 6 years of control of Strasburg and he’s not making that much money (because, as you said, he’s only accrued enough service time to make 8 starters) is a huge benefit.

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      • Rich says:

        Team control doesn’t mean jack if those 8 starts are nothing other than SSS. He hasn’t proven hes good yet.

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      • Steve says:

        really? i could see “he hasn’t proven that he’s going to have a long and healthy career” or “he hasn’t proven that he’s THIS good”, but….

        Strasburg has indeed proven that he is at least “good”.

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      • B says:

        “Team control doesn’t mean jack if those 8 starts are nothing other than SSS. He hasn’t proven hes good yet.”

        You’re missing the point. What he’s accomplished thus far is not “nothing other than SSS” – there was a reason for Strasburg’s hype – his stuff is amazing, at every level he’s dominated, etc. He has talent. Nobody is saying the 8 starts he’s given us so far is exactly what we should expect from him going forward – the point is that with his scouting reports, with his performance thus far, with his overall talent level….all that combined with the team control and his contract makes him incredibly valuable. Everything about him indicates he’ll give his team huge amounts of surplus value, on average…hence his very, very high trade value.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        He hasn’t proven hes good yet.

        Rich, I think you need to look at your evaluation system, more than looking at Strasberg’s limited service time.

        It could be true that his first 8 starts are among the luckiest 8 starts in baserball history, and for some unknown reason batters have just found him very difficult to hit, and that the sun might be in the hitters eyes all the time, causing them to strikeout at an unprecendented rate.

        Or you could just look at his attributes, skills, qualities, combined with his performance up to this point, compare it to baseball history, and understand that there’s “something unique going on here”.

        Stop acting like he’s this generation Brien Taylor or Todd Van Poppel.

        I’ll take Strasberg’s 8 starts over Heyward’s first half in regards to what it tells us. IMO, a guy that’s 20yo (Heyward) and has been injured as much as he has is a huge red flag. He could very well develop into one of those really good guys that plays in a body 6 years more aged than his birth certificate (Hey look, Cliff Floyd).

        Strasberg gives every indication that he’ll be “Justin Verlander at a bargain”. Granted, there are things we need to say … such as consecutive ~200 IP seasons, etc.

        But, don’t be silly with that “he hasn’t proven he’s good” stuff. That’s crazy talk.

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    • george says:

      exactly. if strasburg is #3, then oswalt, who’s so much more proven, has to be at worst #2.5

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      • Don Coburleone says:

        You guys clearly don’t understand the point of this list. Its NOT a list ranking the best players in the game. It’s ranking players who have the most VALUE to a franchise. Roy Oswalt’s value is high to the Astros in a historical sense, but as far as what the rest of baseball would give up to get him when considering ALL factors (skill, age, contract and potential) Oswalt is probably not even in the Top 100…

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      • bonestock94 says:

        lol what, explain how Oswalt has more trade value with his very expensive contract and 1.5 years left of team control + option.

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      • Alex says:

        Guys, its called sarcasm. He was pointing out the first comment was dumb by comparing it to what Steve Philips said about dealing Strasburg for Oswalt.

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        Oswalt’s contract is a $25 million 1-year rental. Strasburg will get paid less than that for the next 3 years, and he’s under team control for even longer.

        You can just look at the Cliff Lee trade to see what Oswalt would be worth. Lee’s probably better, but Oswalt is under contract for an extra year, so their trade value is roughly similar. And there’s simply no way Washington would give up Strasburg for what the Rangers sent to Seattle.

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      • Alex says:

        SARCASM!!!!!!

        Jesus, do none of you guys have any sort of sense of humor? Am I the only one who saw what George was doing there? Maybe if he had used the name Ken Tremendous you guys would have gotten it and laughed…

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      • george says:

        you’re right alex, i regretted not posting as “steve phillips” the instant i clicked submit comment…but i thought the reference was obvious enough…

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      • Bubba says:

        Best comment of the thread, shocked at the responses though

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      • STRONG ISLAND says:

        FANGRAPHS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS

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    • philosofool says:

      What? Oswalt is owed $16m next season and there’s an option for $16m in 2012. Oswalt has been worth between 3.1 and 4.6 WAR the last three seasons, making him paid exactly his free agent value. Being proven to be worth what you’re paid does not increase your value.

      Strasburg has been a better pitcher than Oswalt so far. He’s still developing. His stuff is already fucking off the charts good. He’s owed a paltry $7.5m over the next three seasons (assuming the Nats are paying his bonus, of which he’s still owed $2.5m), and after that he’s an arbitration case, which will probably net him $12, $16 and $20 million in his arbitration years. Regardless of what it nets him, it will be less than his FA value, so he’s a bargain for 6 more years. There’s no way Oswalt is a good deal compared with Strasburg.

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  9. coltholt says:

    I didn’t expect him in the top few, but I didn’t see Chapman on this list. He has struggled a little bit with command, but a LHP with a 103 MPH fastball plus other pitches just doesn’t come around. He will likely not see Cincinnati before next June/July. If he comes up then, he will be controlled through 2017, or his age 29 season I believe. He doesn’t have it all together right now, but teams recognize that when he does, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Knowing what they know now, I think that any GM in baseball would have handed out the contract that Cincinnati game him.

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    • Alex says:

      Mat Latos ranked #46 and I seriously doubt the Padres would consider dealing him for Chapman. Yeah, he’s a LHP that throws really hard (not 103 however, especially not as a SP), but the secondary stuff isn’t where it needs to be yet and his command is awful right now. There’s a pretty good chance he’s never a good SP in the majors.

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      • coltholt says:

        I don’t know if they will allow links to be posted or not, so I will just tell you what to search for.

        Google the phrase “Chapman throws smoke with mixed results”

        The first result is by JJ Cooper from Baseball America with an image of John Manuel’s gun which recorded a 103 MPH fastball. This particular pitch was thrown as a reliever, but was not the first report of him hitting 103. I follow John Fay on twitter and he has been posting these stats when Chapman pitches and he was regularly hitting 102, often with his fastball sitting all day between 99 and 102. If you still don’t believe me, start searching throw fay’s twitter page and you can see for yourself.

        I might argue that he could be better off throwing 96-99 and only occasionally reaching back to hit triple digits if it meant better control, but that is what he has been hitting this year. These numbers aren’t coming off of inflated stadium guns cooked up to stir up excitement. As evidenced by the 103 recorded on baseball america’s stalker gun.

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      • coltholt says:

        Bob Nightengale of USA Today also referenced at 103 MPH pitch on May 29th (as a starter)

        His tweet said as follows,

        “Those 103mph radar readings on Chapman in his last start are legitimate, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says. Wow.”

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      • Alex says:

        Ok so maybe he does touch 103 on occasion. That doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t have the secondary stuff to start currently and his control needs a lot of work. Considering all the money he’s guaranteed, I don’t think that’s nearly as valuable as you seem to think.

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    • Judy says:

      I don’t understand, what do teams know about Chapman now that they shouldn’t have known before?

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      • coltholt says:

        All anyone knew was a few video clips from international competition like the WBC, most of which was at least a year outdated at the time of the signing. (Lets not forget that many questioned the $15 Million it would take to sign Strasburg last August)

        At the time of the signing it was also unknown that he had any other effective pitch and it is now known that his slider is above average. He has also developed a solid change-up which is still a work in progress, but has shown significant potential.

        He has shown that if he could reign in his control, he could be as good as Strasburg. He will likely never have enough control to get him near that point, but nobody can expect that either. The stuff is just as good, but the control is the only difference.

        If you go back just a couple of days ago, he went 1.1 with 4 k’s on 14 pitches at AAA. That is how good he is when the control is there.

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      • Alex says:

        I seem to remember teams got to see him workout before they made offers to him. No one would have given him that sort of money based only on a few video clips.

        From what I’ve heard the slider shows great in flashes, but he isn’t consistently throwing it nearly that well. I have yet to hear anyone describe his change up as solid, or even average for that matter. Maybe it flashes that from time to time, but its certainly not consistently that good.

        His stuff also doesn’t compare to Strasburg’s at this point. Even if you only want to talk raw stuff, Strasburg has a plus-plus breaking pitch and a change that would rank at least 55, probably more around 60 or 65.

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    • cpebbles says:

      Guy hasn’t pitched very well in Cuba or in AAA, has a pretty big contract, and you think he’s one of the fifty most valuable properties in baseball?

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  10. tdotsports1 says:

    I can’t believe how far Matt Wieters fell, basically off a cliff!

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  11. BX says:

    Steve Phillips resents your meaningless “list”.

    STRASBURG IS UNPROVEN.

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  12. AStat says:

    With Heyward being 20 y/o his crazy upside makes it impossible to argue he should be anywhere but #2. Good call DC.

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    • cpebbles says:

      He still doesn’t have a power-hitter’s swing and pitchers armed with a scouting report have basically turned him into Neifi Perez’s little sister over the past few months. There’s your argument.

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      • Alex says:

        I love this argument about his swing. Pujols doesn’t have a power hitters swing either. The two of them have similar FB rates. Heyward has one of the better HR/FB in the majors at age 20. But yeah, he doesn’t project to have elite power or anything.

        As for him struggling the past few months, he’s only played 4 games this month, so that doesn’t really count. And yeah, he struggled last month, when he was playing with a badly injured thumb. The month before that he had a .456 wOBA. What, teams didn’t have a scouting report on him a month into his career, but they somehow do now? And its not like its one particular thing pitchers have been using to get him. He’s just been slightly off because he’s been injured. This comment is going to look hilarious a month of two from now.

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      • cpebbles says:

        Yeah, Pujols is one of the few people to hit for big-time power with a line drive swing. If you’re comfortable anointing someone the next Pujols after a month and a half of slugging, feel free. He looked like a superduperstar for a month last year and a little over a month this year, and has otherwise looked like someone counting on years of development to become one.

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      • Alex says:

        He looked like superstar for 2 months this season until a thumb injury clearly caught up with. People who do that as 20 year olds are almost always superstars. And he only looked like a superstar for a month last year? That .320/.393/.627 in May doesn’t qualify? He was pretty good in April and September as well. Even June was solid. His only bad month was August when he was dealing with a back injury.

        I wasn’t anointing Heyward as the next Pujols in any way shape or form. Just pointing out that its possible to hit for power without a true power hitter swing. Considering the power he’s already shown as a 20 year old, I think its safe to assume that Heyward can be one of those guys. Sure, he probably won’t hit for the average Pujols did, and almost certainly will never be that good of a hitter, but he doesn’t need to be the most valuable player in the game considering his current contract.

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  13. Greg says:

    No Lester either? Adrian Gonzalez? Adrian Gonzalez obviously only has one more season left on his deal but I’m pretty sure teams would cough up a lot more in a trade for him than they would several other players on the list.

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    • Alex says:

      Lester ranked #7. Dave already explained why Gonzalez was left off in the intro. He’s just not good enough, given only 1.5 years of team control, to gather a huge return in a trade.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      I think that Gonzalez is likely to be traded actually kind of supports his being left off the list. Teams are willing to trade for him because his trade value isn’t that great and he’s a very good player.

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      • B says:

        Good point, almost the whole list is made up of guys who just flat out aren’t available to trade for because they’re so valuable now and in the future.

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      • Mister Delaware says:

        Once you factor in home park, Gonzalez’s numbers aren’t that far off from Pujols. Its pretty plausible to think that more than half the teams would rather have Gonzalez through 2011 at $8MM than Pujols at ~$22MM. Either way, the gap can’t be as large as #22 to #51+.

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      • Alex says:

        Yeah they are. Even factoring in home park, Gonzalez has never come close to what Pujols did in 2008 and 2009.

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  14. STRONG ISLAND says:

    OH OK HERE WE GO AGIN. PEDROIA AND LETSER??? IN TOP TEN!??!11? MORE RED SOX BIAS AGAIN. HOW ARE THESE TOW BETTER THAN ROBBIE CANO AND PHIL HUHGES?111! CALL ME WHEN THSI WEBSITE STARTS GETTING REAL. OK CHOW.

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  15. Mo says:

    I think Pedroia definitely beongs up near the top of the list. I did have one thought: with all of the discussion floating around the intertubes the last few days among Wyers, Fast, Tango, etc about the (un)reliability of defensive metrics, I’m a bit uncomfortable ranking players who compile a lot of their value due to strong showings in those metrics. Not saying he shouldnt be up there, just that I really wouldnt know how to attack this issue.

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  16. Photo Petey says:

    Dave, I hope you discuss Kemp’s exclusion from the list. Seems like lots of those young promising CF’s from a year ago (including a more expensive guy like Granderson) have really fallen on hard times this year.

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  17. contract says:

    Chapman also isn’t ranked since his contract is not a bargain like that of Longoria; he’s making what, 8 or 10 million a year already?

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    • Jason461 says:

      For the record, I don’t think Chapman should be on this list (though if he gets a handle on his control, it won’t be long), but no, he isn’t making that much money. I can’t remember all the details as it is a very complicated contract, but as I recall, it projects to be somewhere between fair market value and an absolute steal if he is anything other than a total bust.

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      • Alex says:

        He’s guaranteed a ton of money for someone who is far from a sure thing. He’s still guaranteed over 25 million. If he only becomes a good reliever the deal will probably pay him over market value. He basically has to be a guaranteed starter for him to have significant value on the trade market. It was a good chance for the Reds to take, but the value just isn’t there until he proves a lot more.

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      • coltholt says:

        Of the 30.25 Million, 16.25 Million is a signing bonus. The majority of that hasn’t been paid yet, but I am pretty sure that deferred compensation would not get traded away. His actual contract is

        2010 $1 Mill
        2011 $1 Mill
        2012 $2 Mill
        2013 $2 Mill
        2014 $3 Mill
        2015 $5 Mill Player Option

        At the time he becomes arb eligible, the remaining guaranteed money is a bonus and he can go to arbitration.

        Based on his timeline, he likely won’t start next year in Cincy. If he doesn’t get super 2 next year, he becomes arb eligible.

        If that is the case, he doesn’t get to arbitration until after the 2014 season, so you have him from 2011-14 for $8 Million plus three years at arbitration salary.

        With that in mind, he gets very little in guaranteed money. $8 Million is a cheap closer or 1 season of a number 3 starter. So, if he can do better than that for a single season, anything else is already a discount. Most of what the Reds paid is already a sunk cost and would be irrelevant to his trade value.

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      • coltholt says:

        Sorry, I forgot to mention. Credit to John Fay on the contract details.

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      • Alex says:

        I don’t know why you’d assume the signing bonus wouldn’t go along with him like the rest of the contract. Sure, if the Reds are going to pay all that money it ups his value, but the same could be said of any team that is picking up a big portion of the paycheck of the guy they’re trading away. He’s far more expensive than the prospect types on here and hasn’t proven nearly as much. There is no guarantee he’s a starter down the line, and until he proves that no one is mortgaging the future for him and the millions he’s owed.

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      • coltholt says:

        Alex, if you can show me an example of a guy with deferred compensation being traded with the acquiring team picking up the tab, I would love to hear it.

        Even though it hasn’t been paid, it is classified as a signing bonus and is simply deferred compensation, he is a creditor to them for that amount.

        There was an article on detroit news by Tony Paul who referenced the top 6 creditors of the Texas Rangers (who are currently going through bankruptcy) are former players. Included in those players is Alex Rodriguez who is owed $24.9 Million. That is not a part of the salary that they sent in the trade, that is in deferred compensation that isn’t traded away.

        That is why I am assuming that the signing bonus is a sunk cost and can’t be traded away. This is not equivalent to them sending money…this is simply them paying their creditors.

        All the Reds owe Chapman in the future is 4 years for a total of $8 Million with a $5 Million player option. The rest is already a sunk cost of contract obligations already past.

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      • Alex says:

        Honestly I’m not going to waste my time looking for a specific example. I don’t care that much. I look at it is money that’s owed to him as part of his contract, so while it may make him a creditor, so is everyone else that is guaranteed money by the team. I’m not quite sure why the specific notation of what the money was for would affect the ability for the obligation to be traded away (remember the amount of money that can be sent from one side to another of the trade is up to the discretion of the commissioner, so even if general practice would be for the Reds to pay off the signing bonus, the commissioner could allow a team trading for Chapman to send the same amount of money back), but I won’t act like I have some special insight here.

        Either way, I don’t think it would fair to consider trading for Chapman sans a substantial portion of the money he’s owed to everyone else for the full portion they’re owed. Besides that, there is still a strong case against Chapman ranking in the top 50. He’s no sure thing as a starter, and without that guarantee he’s not nearly as valuable as the guys on this list.

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      • coltholt says:

        Alex,

        Long story short, a signing bonus is money already earned. The contractual obligations for the upcoming seasons is not. When a player is traded, barring cash sent one way or the other, they only owe the portion of the contract that hasn’t been earned yet.

        A signing bonus is earned as soon as the contract is signed (hence its name). This is basic business.

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      • Alex says:

        Whatever, have fun arguing semantics. It doesn’t change the substance of what I’ve been saying. Chapman is guaranteed a lot of money (regardless of who is “obligated” to pay it) and Dave may be holding that against him. On top of that, he hasn’t really earned a spot in the top 50 because he hasn’t proven that he’s going to be a starting pitcher. This isn’t a debate about who is contractually obligated to pay what was deemed a signing bonus. In all honesty I could care less.

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      • B says:

        Does anyone actually know for sure how it would work? I have no clue. Bonus clauses generally follow the player to the new team, I think (like if the Yankees traded ARod, his HR milestone bonuses would be paid by the new team when he accrues them, I believe). As for deferred signing bonuses? Got me.

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      • coltholt says:

        B,

        The responsible team is the one that is responsible for the contract at the time that the money is earned by the player.

        In your example of A Rod, you would be correct. The HR Milestones should carry with him to the new team because they would not have been earned yet. If he hits number 660 before being traded, but hadn’t received payment yet, it would be the Yankees who would be responsible.

        This is effectively what has happened with Chapman. He earned the signing bonus as soon as he signed the contract, so that is already the Reds responsibility.

        Since Alex doesn’t seem to believe me, if anyone else could confirm this for him, it would be much appreciated.

        Fangraphs contributors, could someone please confirm or correct that the contract value that would be taken into account for trade value would be $8 Million plus the $5 Million player option and/or the 2/3 years of arbitration? This would be assuming that the $16.25 Million [deferred] signing bonus would not be taken into account of his trade value. Thanks!

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      • Alex says:

        When did I say I didn’t believe you? I just said I didn’t care enough to argue about it and I really didn’t think it was quite fair to compare trading a guy whose current team would be subsidizing much of his contract to guys who wouldn’t. Either way, he’s not a top 50 asset.

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      • coltholt says:

        Okay, that’s fine. Then you are just missing my point. The Red’s wouldn’t be subsidizing any of his contract. He has already earned that much. It is only still owed because it was financed instead of paid out immediately. My point was focused on the fact that it isn’t subsidizing anything.

        Finance and accounting is what I do. I don’t claim to be the expert on how to value players, I am just a fan who knows enough to get myself in trouble. When it comes to finance and accounting though, I do have the experience.

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      • Alex says:

        They’d be paying him almost 15 million while he plays for another team. Yeah, it may be a signing bonus, and maybe he already “earned” it, but it still functions the same as them sending the money along with him if the money was simply guaranteed instead of a signing bonus. I really could care less how accounting rules apply to it, the whole point is it functions the exact same way as a team sending along 15 million in future payments.

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      • coltholt says:

        Fine, I’m done trying. Like talking to a brick wall.

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      • Alex says:

        Dude I understand your point, you’re just trying to argue over something that’s not worth arguing about. Either way they’re paying him to play for another team. In your mind is there really a difference between taking a contract, converting guaranteed salary to a signing bonus, and then trading the guy, as opposed to just trading a guy with the cash to pay the guaranteed money? Because that’s the really the difference you’re trying to argue here. Yeah, maybe it makes some sort of difference in the world of accounting and you’d really like to show us all how well you know that, but in the real world its the same thing. They’re paying money to a guy that’s not playing on their team.

        I like how you decided to focus on this as opposed to your argument of why Chapman deserved to be in the top 50. That might have actually made for a worthwhile discussion. Instead, you decided to try and show off you knowledge of accounting. Kudos!!!

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      • coltholt says:

        You missed the other half of the discussion where I did talk about his stuff.

        This actually has everything to do with his trade value. We aren’t talking about the value of the signing. Whether it was a good signing or not, or what his value to his overall contract is would be irrelevant.

        His trade value only looks at the costs that the acquiring team will have to take on, and they won’t take on costs that were already earned. So, this has complete relevance to his trade value. Will he get traded? No. So does it matter? Just about as likely as Longoria being traded, so you tell me.

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      • Alex says:

        Well yeah, part of the reason he’d never get traded is because the Reds would still be on the hook for that 15 million so it’d be kind of tough to convince them to eat that money while giving him up. See how that works?

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      • coltholt says:

        $8.75 Million of that signing bonus is paid out between 2014 and 2020 at 1.25/YR

        If he stays with the club, reaches free agency in 2017, he will still be owed $3.75 Million when he walks. Clubs have dead money on their books all the time.

        Just looking at the Reds. They still owe million per year to Griffey which they will be paying through 2024. If the signing bonus still owed to Chapman is relevant, then the $50 Mill owed by the Reds to Griffey in deferred payments should have been relevant to the trade with Chicago.

        Most of what goes on behind the scenes stays there to most fans. How a contract is paid out is often now the same way that the average American can understand it with it broken up nicely over the course of the year and paid out every couple of weeks.

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      • Alex says:

        What does dead money and Ken Griffey Jr. have to do with Chapman? The Reds wouldn’t trade him before he’s pitched a single game for them when they’ll end up paying him 16 million. That was my only point. How you got from that to people not understanding dead money and how contracts aren’t payed out nice and neat (you’re at fangraphs dude, people here know how to check Cots and find out contract info), is beyond me.

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      • coltholt says:

        Nothing says that the Reds are going to trade him. Just like the Rays won’t trade Longoria, the Braves won’t trade Heyward, and the Nats won’t trade Strasburg.

        I never argued that the Reds would or should trade him. I simply stated that half of his initial contract is irrelevant to his trade value. You disagreed.

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      • Alex says:

        I disagreed that it was irrelevant because in some shape or form that money does affect his value. You want to chalk it up as money the Reds would pay, so it shouldn’t affect what teams would be willing to give up for him. That’s fine, but it also makes it harder for the Reds to give him up because they have to keep paying him. Its the same as if another team were paying a portion of the guaranteed money of a player they were trading away. They’d get more in return, but it’d be harder to move the guy because of the money they still have to pay.

        I really only disagree that the signing bonus should be completely ignored. I think on some level it needs to be factored into a ranking like this. As I’ve said, I don’t think Chapman cracks the top 50 either way though, so its not a big deal.

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  18. Virgil Pryor says:

    Not that he belonged in the top 5, but I was a little surprised Starlin Castro wasn’t anywhere on this list. Realistically, who would the Cubs trade him for? He’s a 20 year old rookie SS who is more than holding his own in the big leagues right now, and is only barely scratching the surface of how good he can be.

    He isn’t one of the 50 most valuable trade assets in MLB?

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    • Don Coburleone says:

      Castro is a good one. A (near) league average 20 Year Old Shortstop would definately draw alot of interest from just about every team in baseball…

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    • B says:

      I would say probably not. All the other rookies that made the list were all ranked higher than he was in preseason prospect rankings, and his 97 wRC+ doesn’t seem like enough to me to make us bump him up the prospect list (especially with guys like Heyward, Strasburg, Santana, Posey performing the way they are)….

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    • oompaloopma says:

      In my opinion, Castro is still a prospect in regards to this list at this point with upside like you stated. However, I think the stat hounds want a larger sample size before his trade value is put into perspective.

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      • oompaloopma says:

        Now, I think Castro should be on the list and will be on the list next year with Colvin. Their salaries and team control will make them very high value.

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  19. Brennan Boesch says:

    Where am I?

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  20. Don Coburleone says:

    Whats with the constant bashing of Longoria’s agent on this site? Isn’t the contract Longo signed EXACTLY the kind of thing baseball needs more of? A small market franchise locking up an elite position player for way below market value! Would you guys rather see him hit Free Agency in a couple years and get signed by the Red Sox for $180MM??? We should be praising Longoria for showing commitment to a franchise that brought him to the Major Leagues, not bashing the agent who merely did what his client told him… And besides, Longoria’s face has been plastered all over TV the last 2 years, I’m sure he’s making up alot of those missed baseball dollars in commercials/endorsements.

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    • B says:

      “Whats with the constant bashing of Longoria’s agent on this site? Isn’t the contract Longo signed EXACTLY the kind of thing baseball needs more of? A small market franchise locking up an elite position player for way below market value!”

      Sure, maybe it’s good for baseball, but it’s kind of the agent’s job to get his client the best offer (according to his client’s preferences). Whether it’s good or not for baseball is besides the point if we’re talking about the job the agent did. In my opinion, the Rays could have given Longoria a significantly better offer at the exact same time they made the offer they did (right when Longoria came up), and it would have worked out well for both sides, even if Longoria hadn’t turned out to be awesome like he did. That’s how ridiculous his contract is, and that’s why I think Longoria’s agent did a crappy job.

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      • Rich says:

        “best offer” doesn’t necessarily mean “most money”

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      • B says:

        “best offer” doesn’t necessarily mean “most money”
        “it’s kind of the agent’s job to get his client the best offer (according to his client’s preferences).”

        I think I the qualifier adequately addressed that…?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Maybe I’m the only one assumming Longoria isn’t a complete idiot, and that he agreed to the contract rather than just signing it blindly.

        An agent’s job is to to please their client and/or get them what they want. If Longoria had told his agent “I want to be the highest paid 3B in MLB”, then they would have went a different direction.

        IMO, Longoria likely told him “I just want a long-term contract with some guaranteed money that will have me secure for my lifetime.”

        Seriously, once guys get past a certain numbers of millions they’re no longer getting paid for their own benefit, but for things like excessive wealth or perhaps generational wealth. Does Longoria seem like the kind of guy that needs multiple mansions, a stable of cars, etc?

        Longoria is going to be set for life with this deal, and he is fine with it. Why should we bash him or his agent? Anybody think he did not get what we wanted? Anyone think he’ll hold out later once he realizes he got screwed? No, me neither.

        This will not be Longoria’s last contract. He got paid, got security, and did not have to risk playing until free agency to get this security. If he desires to “hit the powerball” with his next contract, he should be able to. If he gets hurt and cannot continue his career, he’s still covered.

        Smart, humble, great player … IMHO.

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      • B says:

        “Longoria is going to be set for life with this deal, and he is fine with it. Why should we bash him or his agent?”

        Because I truly believe the agent got him a crappy deal. I’m very aware of the circumstances when he signed – he had just come up, so the Rays were giving him financial security for life before he had proven anything. Of course it should be a way below market deal under those circumstances. That said, I believe, at the time Longoria signed the deal, he should have gotten a much better deal than the one he got. It’s not about trading security for money – if that’s Longoria’s preference, that’s exactly what he should have done. That’s not my objection – it’s about leaving money on the table. It’s like going to a car dealership, buying the car you want at a price you like – so sure, you leave happy, but if the dealer was willing to sell it to you for $5,000 less than you paid – yeah, you got what you wanted at a price you were ok with, but you did a crappy job negotiating. I believe that’s what happened, and if it did, that sure as heck is the agent’s fault and means the agent did a crappy job. Longoria should have gotten everything he did and more at the time he signed the contract.

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    • Steve says:

      good point about the endorsements, but i’m not sure what the rest of your argument means. Longoria’s agent doesn’t work for “the fans” or “MLB” or “the Rays”. He works for Longoria. And he may not have gotten Longoria the contract that best serves Longoria’s interests.

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    • philosofool says:

      I agree. His agent’s job is to get him the best deal he can, compatible with his client’s wishes. For all we know it went like this:

      Rays: We’ll give Evan $10m for the next ten years.

      Agent: You can do better than that.

      Rays: Okay, $20m.

      Agent, to Evan: They’ve offered you $20m for a long term contract.

      Evan: Pay day now? That sounds pretty good.

      Agent: I think we can do better.

      Evan: Let’s do better. But I like the security of a long term contract now rather than gambling on long term health.

      Agent/Rays: [back and forth]

      Agent, to Evan: we can do this long term now, or we can wait until later to have a discussion about a larger contract.

      Evan: I like security, let’s take the longer deal.

      (Honestly, no one could have predicted that Longorian would regularly be more than 3 WAR, so this deal looks worse for him in retrospect.)

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      • B says:

        I still think the Rays could have offered him a much better deal (or at the very minimum, not included the ridiculous options his contract has) at the time. They took no risk whatsoever on his contract, with only reward. They definitely could have gone higher and it still would have been a smart move at the time (not knowing how good Longoria would be).

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      • Steve says:

        well, i’m not sure it’s fair to say the Rays took “no risk”. Remember, they gave him that deal, essentially guaranteeing him $45M, after only about a month (going off memory here) in the bigs. “Can’t miss” prospects have missed before. If he busts or say, shatters his wrist, the Rays are on the hook for a ton of money. It was a well calculated risk, and a smart risk, but they still took some risk.

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      • B says:

        Based on those numbers, I would completely agree with you, Steve. You’re way off, though. The Rays only guaranteed him $17.5M spread out over 7 years (7th year being guaranteed $3M because of the option buyout), though. That’s nothing. He didn’t even have to turn into that good of a player to earn that through the arbitration process. Then you throw the options on, and the potential for him to way outpeform it since (especially since he was the #1 prospect in baseball at the time), as he’s done….I firmly believe the Rays took no risk whatsoever.

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      • Steve says:

        well, there you go, i stand corrected. you are right, i forgot the details.

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  21. Tim says:

    Lets play a fun game, what would it take for a team to Hypothetically trade for Evan Longoria? Obviously the Rays would never trade him, but it could be fun to speculate what kind of return he would bring.

    Yankees: Hughes, Montero, Joba, Gardner?
    Red Sox: Bucholz, Kelly, Pedroia?
    Braves: Heyward and Hanson?

    Any other ideas?

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  22. Chris says:

    I’m a Reds fan, and let me say that Chapman is rightfully left off this list. His contract alone severely hurts his value, giving him little to no trade value. However, I do think he is going to be an outstanding pitcher.

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  23. Lucas says:

    Biggest slight? (I say Morneau; compare Youkilis at #17)

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    • Alex says:

      Morneau averaged less than 3.5 WAR a year from 2007-2009, while Youk averaged over 5 WAR

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      • B says:

        I think there’s at least a reasonable argument. Zips projects Morneau to be the slightly better hitter for the rest of the year, and that should be an estimate of “true talent level”. Youkilis is a bit better defensively, and has a slightly better contract, but Morneau is 2 years younger….so at the very least I see a decent argument that they’re fairly comparable.

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      • Alex says:

        I was simply pointing out the major difference. This is the first season that Morneau has been as good as Youk’s established level of performance. I think teams would remain a bit skeptical of this being anything close to Morneau’s true talent level at this point.

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      • Lucas says:

        What B said. Obviously this is a career year and Youk has otherwise outplayed him recently (and has that ability to slide over to 3b), but I’d lean slightly toward Morneau on who would be a better player over the next 3.5 years, due largely to the fact that Youkilis will be two years further into a very steep part of the aging curve. So with an only slightly more expensive contract, I’d say they’re very close to equal in overall value. I think Morneau’s still living down his undeserved MVP award in the Fangraphs community.

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  24. Dan says:

    How about the fact that the Rockies could have had the top two names on this list? I know the draft is a crapshoot, and the Rockies have generally drafted well, but I think they are the only team to have passed on both of these guys (Longoria/Heyward). The folly of drafting at slot is best told by the selections of Greg Reynolds and Casey Weathers.

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    • Alex says:

      To be fair, I’m pretty sure Heyward signed for around slot. Almost no one was interested in him that high in the draft because they didn’t get much of a chance to scout him. The East Cobb guys notoriously play in very few summer showcase events, he’d only get a few pitches to swing at over the course of a weekend series, and he didn’t take BP on the field where scouts could watch. Its tough for teams to draft a guy that their scouts have no feel for.

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  25. sfgiant8920 says:

    How is it that you continue to disrespect the San Francisco Giants? You give reasons to blast Tim Lincecum then put players with bigger warts ahead of him. You have Buster Poesey who any gm would give their right arm for outside the top 30 behind such great players as Shin-Soo Choo and Clayton Kershaw, but by far your biggest slap in the face is leaving Matt Cain off the list. Your telling me if you had to pick between Martin Prado and Matt Cain you’d take Prado? You’d really take Miguel Montero over the second youngest pitcher in the Giants starting five?

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    • Alex says:

      Prado is under team control for an extra year and is significantly cheaper. He’s also been more valuable this year and would have been more valuable last year if the Braves hadn’t stuck with Kelly Johnson for so long. Cain’s a good pitcher and all, but he’s not some extremely valuable trade asset.

      And seriously, I could see the argument for Posey over Choo, but I can’t think of many people who would clearly take Posey over Kershaw.

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      • Dan says:

        OK, fair enough. I should have been more clear and included “ceiling” along with “slot”. Drafting a college senior RP that high in the draft is foolish, regardless of what bonus he gets paid. If you have a pick in the top 10 and you shoot for certainty over ceiling, it almost always comes back to bite you no? I know that the knock on Heyward was limited reps for scouts to see, but I do recall the pundits all had him as a top 15 talent (in that draft class) because of his body and his power and his patience. The draft is always a “what if” game, and you never can be sure. At least the Rox have changed tactics (see Matzek). I’m just surprised that these two whiffs don’t get more ink – esp in Denver.

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      • Steve says:

        If you were the GM of the Braves and Sabean called you up and offered Cain for Prado, wouldn’t you drive Prado to San Fran yourself? I would.

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      • Alex says:

        Not at all. Leaving aside the fact that the Braves are deep in starting pitching and don’t have another 2B, Prado has been better than Cain so far this year. He was better than him last year on a prorated basis. He earns a lot less money. He’s under team control for an extra year. I’m not seeing any reason I’d consider giving up Prado for Cain outside of how well they’re known around MLB.

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    • B says:

      As a Giants fan I just can’t agree on your take. Posey’s the 4th highest rookie on the list, which is pretty impressive given that Heyward and Strasburg are two of the ones above him, and the other, Carlos Santana, is pretty comparable to Posey overall – better hitter, worse fielder (and outperforming Posey thus far in their MLB careers). Seems based on where rookies are being put on the list, Posey is right where he should be. Cain only has 2 years of team control left, one of them at $15M. He definitely shouldn’t be on the list. Lincecum is now making a ton of money – the team control is great, but the contract is not. There is no disrespect here, the Giants are ranked right where you’d expect if you looked through the whole list.

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    • oompaloopma says:

      I think Prado and Montero contracts and everyday positions outweigh Cain. Cain is signed for 3 more years. I would replace Hughes with Cain, but he is not more valuable then the pitchers in this list.

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  26. Ryan Howard says:

    Hey man, I know I missed a catch yesterday but did you see my homer? Where am I on the list???

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    • B says:

      Hahaha, good one. Howard’s a couple years away from being the least valuable trade asset in all of major league baseball.

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    • Jason B says:

      According to Joe Morgan on Sunday Night Baseball, you’re the “most underrated player in baseball.” Said with a straight face and earnest tone. One of the arguments? “HE DIDN’T EVEN GET VOTED INTO THE ALL-STAR GAME!!” Probably because he plays the same position as the best player on earth, there, Cap’n Obvious.

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      • oompaloompa says:

        Did you catch his arguement with Oral about the Soto HR. Morgan called it a blast, and Orel was like that was an out if the wind was not blowing out and in any other ballpark its an out. It was tiff tiff argument. Then Morgan blamed the Sun for Howard’s drop.

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  27. Don Mynack says:

    Wait a minute, how is Carlos Lee not on this list?

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  28. jklender says:

    Where is Miguel Cabrera rated?

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  29. Dave I says:

    No, A-Rod has “least valuable trade asset in MLB” locked up for the foreseeable future.

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    • B says:

      Probably true, though Howard is guaranteed $145M from 2011-2017 (with $10M of a team option in 2017 guaranteed, full option is for $23M)…so yeah, I guess it’s not as bad as ARod, but then again, ARod’s a better player than Howard….

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      • don says:

        A-Rod is also 4 years older, and the days when he was a defensive asset are long gone. They’re both bad contracts. The Yankees can eat it more easily, though the Phillies have gotten into the big payroll game in the last year or two too.

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      • Ryan says:

        At this point in their careers, A-Rod might be a better player than Howard in Cameron Diaz’s world, but that’s about it.

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      • Alex says:

        No, Arod is still better than him at baseball too.

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      • B says:

        Or the world where he’s as good of a hitter as Howard, playing a more valuable position, and probably similar defensively, or a little better defensively, than Howard relative to their position average. But yeah, Cameron Diaz is definitely strong evidence and all….

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    • oompaloompa says:

      You guys always forget the jersey/merchandise sales metric.

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  30. Gabagool22 says:

    No love for Alfonso Soriano?

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    • oompaloompa says:

      If he keeps blasting 2 Run dingers, I love him. He is about 25 SBs away from earning his contract which injuries I think took their toll. He gets pounded by Cub fans but overall he is not the worst LF in the NL. he is usually top 6 in player value for his career in the league. Crawford, Manny, Holliday, Hamilton usually above him.. In 2007 Sori was top of the league with only Holliday above him.

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      • B says:

        There is the whole “Soriano is 34 and that period of time in between 2008 and 2010 did, in fact, happen” thing, though….

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  31. this guy says:

    “And yet, he’s had some pretty public issues with management and is still not considered the hardest worker around.”

    Completely irrelevant. Might as well comment on their shoe size. This also depends on market. Big market teams set the market, and the premium (difference between production and salary) on a big market team is exponentially larger than his cost. In this context, the MUCH lower risk of investing in Hanley over Strasburg is bought and paid for many many many times over, making Hanley far more valuable in reality.

    Fans severely underestimate the money baseball is making.

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    • batpig says:

      I’m impressed that you were able to make a post without insulting everyone else reading, acting haughty and supercilious, and accusing everyone else of being mindless sheep. When you actually attempt to engage in dialogue and make constructive points, it’s much more pleasant.

      I would actually agree with you that Hanley should be ahead of Strasburg, although I disagree that Hanley’s off-the-field issues are irrelevant.

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      • this guy says:

        I tell it like it is.

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      • batpig says:

        so you hope….

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      • this guy says:

        Noam Chomsky

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      • Alex says:

        Noam Chomsky likes himself some crazy S&M porn…I know that much

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      • batpig says:

        going to the Chomsky card, very clever. How orginal!

        You know what, I watched “Manufacturing Consent” in college also.

        Guess what? News flash! That doesn’t actually make you any smarter or more insightful than the many bright people patrolling this website and others like it — apparently, it just makes you a smug a-hole who paints with a broad brush!

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      • Alex says:

        Batpig,

        Thought you might appreciate that what I said about the porn is 100% true. My roommates girlfriend worked in his office and part of her job was answering his email. Sometimes she’d do it from his computer when he was out. Found some pretty crazy pics on there.

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      • batpig says:

        many a great mind has enjoyed some kinky porn. No big deal! As long as he is not a pedophile and/or doing anything illegal, who gives a crap?

        History is littered with great men who have sordid sexual “extracurricular” interests. The curse of two brains!

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      • LOL!! says:

        You don’t think Noam Chomsky’s an absolute lunatic?!?!?!?!

        I guess that explains the idiotic comments…

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      • this guy says:

        By the way, simply reading something isn’t what makes you “smarter”. Otherwise, we wouldn’t differentiate students by using grades. What makes you smarter is how well you understand the material, which you clearly don’t.

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      • Alex says:

        Mmm…smug

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    • batpig says:

      also, the idea of this list is to be market-independent. Obviously, the calculus is different for a team like the Red Sox with no funding issues versus a team like the Marlins.

      For teams that have huge revenue surpluses and can support large contracts, the balance shifts towards established stars versus “young and cheap”… and vice versa for the teams which are less well endowed.

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      • this guy says:

        I beg to differ. How do you convey “market independent” trade value? The market is the foundation for a “trade” and “value” to exist. The highest bidder sets the market, therefore, you must use their value in the most profitable context.

        Even in the Marlins case, they could get AT LEAST 3 elite prospects for Hanley RIGHT NOW. Even with Strasburg’s limited success, he is not necessarily worth more than elite prospects in the minors. 25 innings vs 200+ for 3 consecutive seasons (aka a real starting pitcher) are vastly different stories. I bet many GMs take Alvarez over Strasburg even now, and Alvarez hasn’t had the same degree of success. The reason is the data we have on these guys is almost irrelevant, even over just 6 years, much less over an entire career. (and although we are assuming value over 6 years, there is $$ value to the “home town discount”. Players are people. Most don’t like moving around too much, hence the value of a “NTC”.)

        If you take an extremely short term (in some cases, over a couple of months) downgrade, you can get 3 elite prospects for Hanley, each of which could potentially appear in the top 10 of this list within 3 years. Yet, you don’t see the Marlins looking to deal Hanley at all. In fact, their owner is ecstatic to have Hanley be the face of the franchise.

        Ranking Strasburg over Hanley is comical, and the odds are heavily in my favor that hindsight will support this.

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      • Alex says:

        You lost me at “I bet many GMs take Alvarez over Strasburg even now.” That’s literally one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on this site. Maybe the dumbest. I hope for your sake that you’re just trolling.

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      • Steve says:

        Yeah, Alex beat me to it, but that is simply insane. Sorry, brother. There is not a single GM in MLB that would take Alvarez over Strasburg. None. Not even if someone gave Steve Phillips another GM job.

        I mean, I could understand this argument if your first paragraph started, “Well, I just woke up from a year long coma, but I’m going to comment anyway”. But it didn’t.

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      • Bill says:

        I think I’m with “this guy”. Despite Strasburg’s potential I just can’t imagine any GM being willing to give up Hanley Ramirez for him, despite the differences in contract / team control. Strasburg is just too risky, as a young pitcher.

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      • batpig says:

        when I say “market independent”, I don’t independence from any one specific teams’ market. I think you misunderstood my use of the term “market”.

        the list of “50 most valuable commodities” would be different for the Red Sox than it would be for, say, the Padres. The former would skew more towards higher-cost but proven commodities, the latter would skew towards cheap under-control commodities. Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, or Roy Halladay would be immensely valuable to a team like the Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees, etc. who can easily afford $20m/yr for a star talent. They would not be nearly as valuable to the Padres or Marlins, teams who would have their flexibility crippled by having to pay that much money to one roster spot. Justin Verlander wouldn’t even make the “top 100″ list for the Padres.

        Theoretically, each of the 30 teams would have a slightly different list, because each team has slightly different economic realities.

        Thus, when you are formulating a “top 50 values” list for all of baseball, you are taking a generic approach and balancing all of these factors. Dave chooses to weight things a certain way, and must balance production vs cost vs years of control. Thus, the list should be “independent” of any individual team’s market conditions.

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      • this guy says:

        Disagree again. The cost of risk is far greater to large market teams (with revenue sharing, the cost of this risk is extended to the whole league). Therefore, the cost of trading away less proven talent is much smaller to a Yankees, than an Indians, meaning you will always get more upside in return from a large market team.

        The market for Cliff Lee should tell you all you need to know. The Yankees were willing to part with 6 years of a widely regarded elite prospect. Most would agree he’s top 5. In exchange, all they asked was 2 months of a far safer player. Two. Months. Why?

        Because the value of meaningful wins is far greater than the premium Montero is likely to provide.

        Note: The comments on Chomsky only serves to support his point in that video. Pathetic.

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      • batpig says:

        you actually just proved my point with the Cliff Lee example — cheap prospects have LESS value for teams with lots of financial resources. That is precisely why the Yankees would be willing to give up a premium prospect for a short-term rental, whereas a team like the Indians or Padres would never dream of doing so.

        Thus, again, my initial point that such a “top values” list would be different for each team, because each team will have a different calculus of value for “proven star player making $$” versus “cheap pre-arb talent”.

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      • this guy says:

        You’re wrong again, but I give up on you. Your brain is filtering my thoughts and drawing what’s convenient. It’s impossible to reason with your kind.

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  32. Bob says:

    no Gordan Beckham on the list?

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    • batpig says:

      Gordon Beckham… Carlos Lee… Alfonso Soriano… I guess we are down to the “troll post” portion of the comments now?

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    • Professional Editor says:

      Where are Scott Hairston and Jerry Hairston Jr.? They get traded WAY more than the guys on this list, so obviously, they have trade value up the wazoo.

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  33. Jonah Keri says:

    Neither Longoria, nor his agent, are dummies. The details of the contract and how and why it was signed, are discussed at length in a book I won’t plug because that would be douchey. /smirkyface

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  34. Timmer Ferdette says:

    What are the odds Heyward leaves Atlanta in 2015?

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    • this guy says:

      Zero. He is the new “Chipper Jones”.

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    • batpig says:

      I’ll take a bet on “zero” odds! Exaggerate much?

      this guy is correct though that the Braves have demonstrated a willingness to pay top dollar for their core “franchise” players. If Heyward progresses as expected and stays classy, he will probably be locked up for a long time.

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      • Timmer Ferdette says:

        sweet, i saw an earlier post on a different website saying he may leave

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      • batpig says:

        no offense, but why on earth would you take ANY comments about what a player is going to do in 5+ years seriously?

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      • baty says:

        With the awesome future starting pitching rotation possibilities the Braves have, there’s a lot of motivation to stay. With some extra cash and the right moves, the Braves could be back where they were when they were dominating in the mid 90s.

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      • this guy says:

        You clearly don’t understand what you are seeing when you see Heyward. If you don’t get it with Heyward, you don’t get it with anyone. If the widely accepted version of Jesus Christ became a baseball player, he would be Heyward.

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  35. Matthew says:

    Who would ever value 9-WAR pitchers under control for 2.5 years on a discount? No trade value there! They should just DFA Halladay.

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    • Alex says:

      When exactly has Halladay had a 9 WAR season again? Plus, he’s got this thing called a NTC, sort of limits what other teams would deal for him.

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  36. I just don’t get how Strasburg isn’t #1, for the simple reason there is so. much. hype. around him. He puts asses in seats like whoa, and that’s an element I don’t think was considered here. I live in the Baltimore/DC area and believe me, no one gave two craps about the Nats in any capacity prior to Strasburg showing up. The amount of excitement and fervor around him is so great, that if the Nats called Tampa Bay and said “Strasburg for Longoria, striaght up” the Rays would take it; at least, that’s what I think.

    Though now that I’ve said all that, Heyward is the real #1.

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    • Alex says:

      I doubt it. Longoria is far less risky, has proven himself as an elite player, and is under team control just as long for a similar amount of money (maybe even less). That’s just insane. As good as Strasburg is, the Rays don’t trade Longoria to get him.

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    • Max says:

      Well, the Nats already have Zimmerman and the Rays already have Price-Shields-Garza-Niemann-Davis-Hellickson, so that doesn’t really make sense. And even without their current situations, I disagree. As Dave Cameron wrote, Longoria’s contract enables his team to build around him more easily. Him being a hitter also means he has less risk. As for your point about filling stadium seats, while Strasburg has been very good at that so far, he still only pitches once every five days. Making the playoffs and contending for world series put people in the seats every day. Thus, I don’t think that point has much oomph. I’m not trying to take anything away from Strasburg. I think he’s great, and I hope he has a HOF career, and I would definitely go to the game if he ever came to Seattle. But I still agree with Dave Cameron that Longoria has more trade value than Strasburg. I would put Strasburg above Heyward though.

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      • I would put Heyward 1, Strasburg 2, Longoria 3. Everything that’s true about Strasburg is true about Heyward, only Heyward is a position player.

        Strasburg will make under $4 million a year on his current contract. Longoria, in the extremely likely event the Rays pick up every option on him, will pay him over $7 million a year. It’s crazy that two players of their caliber are making such amounts, but I don’t see how Longoria’s contract “makes it easier for his team to build around”.

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      • Wait, that stuff I said about Longoria’s contract is wrong. Sigh. I hate when I get stuff wrong.

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  37. baty says:

    Dave,

    I would love to see a corresponding article that targets bubble players. …guys who we might project to make major leaps into and/or within the top 50, as well as players that might surpass their thresholds and take a dive before going into next year’s ranking system. For fun, it’s cool to think about how maybe someone like you would assemble some sort of a 2010 max value 25 man 100M/150M dollar dream team as the regular season closes out. This is a really fun series to follow with lots of interesting things to think about!

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  38. bender says:

    Hanley really should be higher on this list than Strasburg, if not Heyward. Hanley’s signed through 2014 for 65 million dollars, a stretch through which he’s projected to put up numbers among the top 10 shortstops of all time

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    • B says:

      My initial reaction was that you were way off. When I gave it some thought…I’m beginning to lean more towards your point of view. Heyward’s pretty much a lock to be a Super-2, can anyone think of any plausible scenario where he spends time in the minors at this point (and if he does, it’s probably a bad thing that destroys his value, anyways)? So if we assume $400K this year and next year for him, then from 2012-2014 he’ll probably run something like $10M, $15M, $20M (which is basically what Ryan Howard got in arbitration, some assumptions in those numbers of course)….so, over those time periods, would you rather have Hanley for $65M or Heyward for $45M? Does the extra year of Heyward (probably at a hefty price tag) change your answer? Should we factor in the potential to resign a guy like Heyward through his prime, potentially at a “hometown discount”? I might actually lean towards Hanley here, he’s one heck of a baseball player….

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      • Alex says:

        Heyward won’t be a super 2, but he only has 5 more years of team control after this year, since he started in the majors this year.

        You can’t use Ryan Howard as a comp of what anyone will get in arbitration. He’s a freak case that won’t be duplicated among hitters. Because HR and RBI are so important in arbitration, he was basically better than anyone else in history at the time of his arbitration in those categories. Unless Heyward hits 50 HR each of the next 2 years to go along with 150 RBI, he won’t get close to that money (and if he does he should clearly be #1 on the list anyway). Even something along the lines of 8 million, 11 million, and 15 million would be pretty much unheard of through arbitration. If Heyward earns even 1/2 of what Hanley does over the next 5 years it will be fairly surprising, and it probably would only happen if he’s putting up huge offensive numbers, to the point where he may have a higher WAR anyway.

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      • batpig says:

        Heyward cannot be a “super 2″, he came up in the beginning of the season. Super 2 status is only to reward arbitration eligibility to the top guys who have fractional seasons of service time accrued (e.g. a guy who comes up midseason).

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      • B says:

        Oh yeah that’s right Alex, dunno why I messed that up. Oh well.

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  39. max says:

    its all good to talk about service time and age and all that, but would the cards really trade pujols straight up for carlos santana? hed possibly headline a package, but not straight up

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    • Alex says:

      They might send some fringe prospect filler that basically has no value to keep up appearances but that might be it. More likely would be the Cards picking up some of the remaining contract value to get another useful prospect or two. Still, a trade like that would never happen. The Indians wouldn’t want to give up Santana, even for Pujols, and the Cards would want more than one prospect to make it happen. Once you get to the top, you’re talking about guys who would unlikely to be moved in any sort of deal.

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    • Chad says:

      Would the Cardinals trade a 30 year old 1B with a .980 OPS, under contract at 16 mill a year through the end of next year for a guy who is 24, plays catcher with a .988 OPS, with a contract at about 1/40th the cost, and under team control through 2016? Just as long as they didn’t have to deal with the backlash of fans and media who don’t understand all the factors that need to be accounted for.

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  40. jsk says:

    It would be really cool if someone fixed the links to each portion of the list now that the whole thing is live. For people reading the countdown from 50 – 1, it’s annoying to keep having to go back to the 1-5 list to work through the top 50. This seems like a simple cut and past tot he coding and only makes sense to do…

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  41. Ewing says:

    The Nationals have two players in the top six? Hell yeah.

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  42. jjh says:

    So let me get this straight. If the Tigers were offered Shin Soo Choo or Miguel Montero straight up for the best hitter in the AL (Miguel Cabrera) they would be idiots to pass it up? That is what I am supposed to get out of this list? I hope your parents didn’t pay for your college education Mr. Cameron. If so, you owe them an apology and a real career.

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    • Alex says:

      This topic

      Your head

      Neither of those teams would be willing to take on Cabrera’s contract and give up the guys you mention either. Very few teams would be willing to take on Cabrera’s contract, that’s why he doesn’t rank higher.

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  43. jjh says:

    Ahh, so I am an idiot for asking the question. Nice of you to clear that up. Your logic: just by being on a crappy small market team you become more valuable. I wonder how long it would take the Angels to say yes to a Jered Weaver, Cabrera trade. This list is an exercise in statistical masturbation.

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    • Alex says:

      No, you’re not an idiot, you just don’t understand what this series is about. Cabrera wouldn’t bring that much if he were put on the market because almost no teams could afford him, leading to less competition for his services, and a smaller return for the Tigers. When was the last player with a contract like Cabrera’s to get traded for any sort of a return?

      And you’re completely misrepresenting my logic. You acted like it was insane for those guys to be ahead of Cabrera because the Tigers would never trade Cabrera for either of them. I was simply replying by saying neither of those teams would trade those guys for Cabrera either, thus your argument means nothing in relation to this series. I wasn’t implying those guys were more valuable because their teams can’t absorb salaries, I was just refuting your irrelevant point. Those guys are more valuable because far more teams would be involved in the bidding if they were put on the market.

      And no, I don’t think the Angels would even consider trading for Cabrera unless the Tigers were eating part of the salary. The Angles never pay guys that much money. They especially wouldn’t consider trading their top pitcher, who will be especially cheap for the next two years, for a guy with that big of a deal.

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      • jjh says:

        I do understand what this series is about I just disagree with the whole exercise. My main point is that trade values are context dependent. The Angels are a big market team who is desperate for a first basemen at the moment, in fact they probably think it is their biggest obstacle to contending. They were in on Teixeira, and they are paying Hunter close to 20MM so don’t tell me they don’t pay people. They usually don’t overpay people which means that they will not resign Weaver (a Boras client). So you are saying they would rather have 2 years of Weaver than 6 years of the best hitter in the league? A hitter who’s 20MM a year salary sounds fine to me for what you get (probably his prime).

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      • B says:

        Simply put – it’s an exercise in cost benefit analysis. How much production are you getting, and how much are you paying for it? The guys that should give the most surplus value are the most valuable guys on the list. Paying $20M to Cabrera means you can’t use that $20M somewhere else. It’s not about whether the Angels can afford $20M – it’s about the opportunity cost of that $20M.

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      • Alex says:

        The Angels wouldn’t take on Cabrera’s contract in the futile hope of trying to contend this year. They have a perfectly good 1B that will be back by next season. They’re not going to take on a 106 million dollar commitment and give up their best SP just to fill a hole for half a season. Are you insane? I doubt they even have room in the budget to add Cabrera for just this season, let alone the next 5 after that.

        They’re paying Hunter 18 million a year (over 3 million less than Cabrera) and that deal was signed on the height of the market. Chances are they’d be a little more reticent to give out that money with our current economic realities. And they dropped out of the Teixeira bidding when it became clear that it would cost more the 20 million per year. I don’t think they’d just go jumping in and take on a similar deal for Cabrera right now.

        I also love how you just completely skip over the possible risks with Cabrera. The guy is a recovering alcoholic who has battled weight problems in the past. I’m sure we’re all hoping that stuff is behind him, but if someone is asking me to commit 106 million to the guy, that history is definitely going to give me second thoughts. Cabrera would probably get claimed on waivers if he was exposed. A team might be willing to take on that contract without having to give anything up. No team is going to give up a major asset and take on that contract for a guy with Cabrera’s history.

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      • jjh says:

        Tony Reagins: Just got off the phone with Dombrowski, he says he’ll give us Cabrera for Weaver straight up! A guy we aren’t even going to take Boras’ calls on in two years!

        Stat Wonk Summer Intern: Sounds great boss, but than we will have too many good players. What will we do than? And did you consider the opportunity cost of such a move? You know that hard salary cap is coming with the next CBA. Anyway they didn’t say anything about winning being the goal in my advanced statistic class.

        Tony Reagins: Uhh, yeah Timmy why don’t you go get me a coffee.

        By your logic Pujols doesn’t belong anywhere on this list than either.

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      • Alex says:

        Pujols is guaranteed 16 million, not 106 million…see the difference there?

        Also, I think Tony Reagins would realize “Hey, it’d be great to add Cabrera, but if we had 20 million sitting away in the budget, we would have looked to use it in the offseason.”

        No one, except you said anything about too many good players. Teams don’t have unlimited budgets, so they have to use them judicially. Assuming that anyone would take on Cabrera and his contract while giving up an incredibly valuable asset in the process doesn’t understand how budgets work. How do the Angels replace Weaver this season? How about in the offseason? They definitely don’t have the money to sign anyone nearly that good to replace him because they already used up all their budget and then some.

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      • jjh says:

        So one and only one year of Pujols makes him the 22nd most valuable? On that note I think I am ready to respectfully agree to disagree.

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      • Alex says:

        Do you remember what the Braves gave up for a year and a half of Teixeira? Now consider that Pujols is even better. He’d get a massive return. There just aren’t

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      • jjh says:

        Oh, one more thing…even on the sauce Cabrera belongs on this list.

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      • Alex says:

        many teams that are willing to take on a deal of Cabrera’s sign. That’s going to lead to him having less value on the trade market.

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      • Alex says:

        Yeah, that deal was looking awesome after 2008 and 2009. Teams would have been knocking down the Tigers door to take on that deal.

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      • B says:

        “Just got off the phone with Dombrowski, he says he’ll give us Cabrera for Weaver straight up! A guy we aren’t even going to take Boras’ calls on in two years!”

        “And did you consider the opportunity cost of such a move?”

        I can guarantee you any GM who’s doing his job correctly thinks about the opportunity cost. Your problem is you’re only thinking about Weaver v Cabrera. That’s not the decision. It is: would you rather have Weaver + $12M extra to spend a year or Cabrera (under the assumption Weaver gets around $17M total in arb the next two years) for the next two seasons, and then, at that point, you have more money to spend in FA with Weaver moving on. That’s why you consider opportunity cost. Because that’s the reality of the situation, it’s not just Weaver for Cabrera in a vacuum. The move makes an impact on spending money elsewhere, too. GM’s do, in fact, think about that kind of thing.

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  44. fgbomber says:

    This list is a reflection of the writer’s biases. Has nothing to do with reality.

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    • B says:

      And you base that statement on what, exactly…?

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      • fgbomber says:

        Based on empirical evidence. Elite prospects get traded for top MLB players almost every season. Based on the logic in this article, this always favors the team receiving prospects. Do you really think the author knows better than a multi-billion dollar industry that’s been developed over a century?

        The Rangers just gave up 6 years of 4 players, 1 of which is considered one of baseball’s best prospects, for 2 months of Cliff Lee. The Yankees offered Montero, and there were rumors that the Phillies were entertaining the potential to deal Brown. Even your lord Jack Z, gave up 6 controlled years of 1 top prospect and another good one, for a single season of Cliff Lee at 7 millions dollars.

        Add in the highly underestimated risk of pitchers (which is supported by a century of data), and you realize that this article is about as accurate as throwing darts at a board.

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      • fgbomber says:

        We will ignore the fact that he believes that such complex calculations can be explained in a single paragraph. These players play a significant role in a highly sophisticated economic matrix. Baseball victories have a cascading economic impact throughout the globe, well beyond the scope of baseball.

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      • Alex says:

        How many top 5 or 10 prospects do we actually see get dealt? Smoak didn’t even crack the top 10 this year and then he struggled in his first taste of MLB action. Only one guy on this list has yet to make his MLB debut and I’m pretty sure all the guys who have made their debuts have looked very good. We rarely see the truly elite guys, the sort of guys who make this list, get moved anymore.

        Montero would have been a guy that was consider truly elite if he had been traded. However, he struggled in his first taste of AAA and appears unlikely to stick at C. His value has certainly taken a hit and he is a fairly risky guy for such a lofty ranking. I never saw any serious mention of the Phillies offering up Brown to get Lee. If they had, they would have landed him in a heartbeat, so I’m not buying that.

        As for what the Mariners gave up to get Lee, what top prospect are you talking about? People were hammering Amaro at the time for not getting any very good prospects, let alone an elite guy.

        And what makes you think that they’ve underestimated the risk with pitchers? There are certainly a lot more hitters on the list that pitchers, especially near the top. The risk of pitching is constantly mentioned. Also, going back to your appeal to authority, teams give up big packages to get pitching all the time, and they’re a multi-billion dollar industry, so obviously they know what they’re doing.

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      • fgbomber says:

        Cliff Lee and Strasburg are 2 vastly different pitchers.

        The prospects you mention still carry risk, but we’re talking about TWO MONTHS of Cliff Lee. The author ranks inferior players higher because 1 player is only controlled for another 3 years, while another is controlled for 5. Mentioning risk of pitchers, and then ranking Strasburg #2 is worse than not mentioning it at all. At least with the latter, you can feign ignorance. With the former, it shows awareness of its existence, but the failure to interpret it accurately.

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      • fgbomber says:

        “We rarely see the truly elite guys, the sort of guys who make this list, get moved anymore.” You’re right…..sort of.

        2009

        Vazquez was an honorable mention, and he was dealt for a single A arm, 2 D pitching prospects, and a platoon outfielder.

        Max Scherzer, he of the 4.41 FIP (career consistent, extremely reasonable babip of .314) with a 1.40 WHIP, and history of arm problems, got dealt for one season of one of the internet’s whipping boys, Edwin Jackson, whom they signed for an additional season at about 9 millions dollars.

        Joba Chamberlain, he of the #1 overrated ranking in the player vote, who is currently getting pummeled, came in at a sparkling 42. He’s not being traded because he’s been reduced to a lottery ticket at this point…..a lottery ticket with declining velocity.

        Dan Haren was lucky #13. Yep, the guy sporting an upper 3s ERA in a division with 3 minor league lineups, in a season heavily favoring pitchers, is owed 13 million per year for 2 more years, with a 16 million club option and a 3.5 mil buy out. His velocity has been declining each of the past 4 years. (Ok I’ll say it…Phil Hughes, not ranked. Obviously I can create a massive list of players that are worth more than Haren at this point that weren’t ranked, but you would argue “nobody saw that coming” for many of them. Phil Hughes? Moving on…) He isn’t being moved because they would be embarrassed to have to compare their current haul with the one they gave up to get him.

        Curtis Granderson, acquired for Kennedy, Jackson and Coke. Kennedy is benefiting from the move to the NL West, but after the AL put him back in his place, he has failed to recover so far. After his miraculous BABIP reverted, Austin Jackson became what he is, a decent prospect with massive flaws. Coke is a middle reliever enjoying a random above avg middle reliever season, which is what guys like Coke do. Decent package of players, but the 22nd most valuable player in 2009? Cliff Lee wasn’t even ranked, and the Yankees offered Jesus Montero for 2 months of his services.

        Roy Halladay was also on the list, who was also traded.

        3 of the 50 names from 2009 have been traded, and the best player any of them produced is probably Arodys Vizcaino. You could make an argument for Kennedy. I like him too. But 3 out of the 50 proposed most valuable players in baseball were traded, and that’s what the deals have to show for it? Additionally, this disproves your statement, because that’s 1.5% of the names listed, with an honorable mention being dealt too. That’s not what I would call “rare”, when the % of all players that are traded is less.

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      • fgbomber says:

        I meant that’s 6% of the players listed. Shouldn’t write these half asleep.

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      • fgbomber says:

        Aumont has been ranked top 50 in baseball, and was #3 in the Mariners org according to baseball america. That should be enough to discredit you. Please reply if you would like more.

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      • B says:

        Honestly, I’m just really not following your train of thought or seeing what your objections are. We know a lot of things, from how the marginal benefit of a win is different for different teams in different situations, to how talent level differs between divisions, to the risk of pitchers, etc, and theoretically, they should all play a role in the ranking. I think in a context neutral setting (where we don’t think about how important wins are to a team on the playoff brink, for instance), it makes a whole lot of sense to just look at what we expect to get from players in a production – cost standpoint. Do you object to that? Do you think Dave’s way off in his evaluation of that?

        “Do you really think the author knows better than a multi-billion dollar industry that’s been developed over a century?”

        Well, let’s keep the arguments to relevant points. Ed Wade still has a job, so in some specific cases, sure, I think that, and in other cases, no, I don’t think that. It’s not really good evidence either way.

        I’m not sure what your points with Smoak or Montero are. They didn’t make the trade value list I don’t think? Nor did anyone the Mariners traded? Pitchers are risky, which is why they’re generally ranked lower than hitters, yes.

        “We will ignore the fact that he believes that such complex calculations can be explained in a single paragraph. These players play a significant role in a highly sophisticated economic matrix. Baseball victories have a cascading economic impact throughout the globe, well beyond the scope of baseball.”

        Does Dave believe the calculations can be explained in a single paragraph? I’d be more inclined to say he assumes the saber-community understands all the factors he’s considering and he just doesn’t bother laying them out? Baseball victories have an economic impact throughout the globe beyond baseball? I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore.

        “The author ranks inferior players higher because 1 player is only controlled for another 3 years, while another is controlled for 5.”

        And what’s wrong with that, exactly? If the two extra years means the guy ends up giving you more value than the better player….I don’t get what the objection is?

        “With the former, it shows awareness of its existence, but the failure to interpret it accurately.”

        So make an objection. What should we expect from Strasburg going forward. We know pitchers are risky, we should also be able to take that into account when determining what to expect from him. So, given that you disagree, what do YOU think his future expected value is, and why?

        As for bringing up Haren and Hallday and such….I just don’t get what your point is?

        If you have objections to his list, by all means, I’m willing to discuss, I just really don’t get what you’re objecting to right now. I believe Dave is trying to evaluate production – cost, which I think is the correct way to do it. I think he’s produced a pretty reasonable list given that, and I’m just really not clear on where you object.

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      • Alex says:

        When I talk about elite, I really mean elite. Like the top 5, maybe 10, prospects in baseball. The really elite guys that are almost considered sure things. Those guys don’t get dealt anymore. None of the guys you listed were elite.

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      • fgbomber says:

        wow

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      • Alex says:

        Wow what? How many of the guys you listed were top 10 (in baseball, not an organization) prospects? You were saying elite prospects get traded all the time. Those guys (the ones that make this list, the top 5-10 in baseball) never get traded anymore. See how that kills your argument about empirical evidence being on your side in prospects being overvalued here.

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      • q says:

        “Based on empirical evidence. Elite prospects get traded for top MLB players almost every season. Based on the logic in this article, this always favors the team receiving prospects. Do you really think the author knows better than a multi-billion dollar industry that’s been developed over a century?”

        Are you daft? Where in this article does it say the team receiving prospects for a rental player always wins a trade? Did you not notice that this list is meant to be contextless, in that we ignore team’s specific concerns (holes in their roster, teams in a playoff race)?

        Why are you even talking about Lee? None of the players mentioned are even on this list, except for “rumors” that the Phillies were “thinking about it” (of course, they didn’t, so so much for that).

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      • q says:

        “3 of the 50 names from 2009 have been traded, and the best player any of them produced is probably Arodys Vizcaino. You could make an argument for Kennedy. I like him too. But 3 out of the 50 proposed most valuable players in baseball were traded, and that’s what the deals have to show for it? Additionally, this disproves your statement, because that’s 1.5% of the names listed, with an honorable mention being dealt too. That’s not what I would call “rare”, when the % of all players that are traded is less.”

        And notice that none of those 3 players are on the list this year? The fact that they were traded means that Dave was probably wrong to include them last year and their value was not as high as he thought. Moreover, these guys were traded with half a year of more data and half a year less on their contracts. Finally, it’s disingenuous to say the best player they got was X when all three were traded for a package of players.

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  45. CircleChange11 says:

    The LAA also signed Junior Sarge to a mega deal.

    They have overpaid before.

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    • Alex says:

      There’s a difference between giving a guy 10 million and 20+ million. Being willing to overpay isn’t the same as being willing to guarantee someone over 21 million a year longterm.

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      • jjh says:

        I would like to live in a world where teams are willing to pay for a 1.000+ OPS and the Gary Matthews Jr. contract is way worse than the Cabrera contract. 20MM for production or 11MM for a great catch once a year. Hmmmm

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      • B says:

        Gary Matthews Jr sucks. What does he have to do with anything?

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      • Alex says:

        Some teams are willing to pay, sure. They aren’t willing to pay that much and give up a very valuable trade asset. See the difference there?

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  46. Omar says:

    I don’t think Pedroia should be this high, I feel that his teammate, Jon Lester, is a much much more valuable commodity…imagine Pedroia in a park with a big RF…how many of those hits would drop into outs? I’m not saying he’s not an extremely valuable commodity, just overrated.

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  47. aaron says:

    Ummmmm…. Where the hell is Daisuke?

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  48. xeifrank says:

    Would be nice to have a full list and not have to click on 10 different links looking for where a player is listed. Perhaps a Top 50 list with no player summary.

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  49. Kurt says:

    Dave, you worked so hard to avoid the “homer” tag, that you’ve gone to the opposite extreme. You are telling me that I can’t get Mat Latos for Dustin Ackley? and how do you figure that Latos is worth more than Hughes? I’d have to think that Hughes at 22 years old would be in the top 20, definitely worth more than the clump of young studs making a $15-$20MM average over the length of their current deal. My point is that Dustin Ackley may not be in the majors but neither was Dominic Brown and I can say very confidently that a lot of people would rather have Ackley over Brown. Brown will be very good at an offensive minded position (LF or RF), Ackley could be equally valueable offensively in his own way, but he plays more valueable positions (2B & CF). Furthermore, I think that Dominic Brown wouldn’t be enough to get Michael Pineda. I think a team would have to trade their top prospect still in the minors for Pineda, plus kick in a guy on the teams list of top 10 organizational prospects. Jason Churchill who REFUSES to give any type of credit to the M’s farm system, since I can remember (years), thinks Pineda is the best pitching prospect still left in the minors. Throw in a potential 30-30 guy in Saunders who could some day take the title of best defensive LF in all of baseball from Crawford, then look no further than Justin Smoak, another stud who is under control through 2016, Halman woh has MAJOR strikeout problems, but yet still possesses Sammy Sosa type offensive ability minus the ‘roids. As far as tradeable commodities go, I would think that the Mariners have a good number of them and just because they aren’t willing to trade them or start their service clock, shouldn’t prevent them from being included. You said this is a list of the top 50 players with the most trade value. Pineda, Smoak, Ackley, and maybe Saunders should have been on that list. I also wouldn’t trade Gutierrez straight up for anyone on the 46-50 portion of the list, but maybe other people might shun him because he’s only an awesome defender this year instead of incredible with the glove, and his offense has been shaky since the league figured out that nobody else in the lineup besides Ichiro can hit consistently, so why pitch to Franklin if you don’t have to. By the way, yes Dominic Brown may dwarf Gutierrez’s offense, but add the negative positional value, the average to a tick above-average defense from Brown, and you still have a guy who in his prime will only be what Gutierrez will be worth in his worst season over the next 4 years and he’s signed to an insanely team friendly deal. Maybe staight up for Weaver or Shields, so I’d say even Gutierrez fits into the #39-40 range. Don’t work so hard to avoid the homer tag. The Mariners have some of the most tradeable commodities in baseball and to ignore them because some idiot from NY or Chicago calls you a homer is just silly. Anyone who would deny the talent of Pineda, Smoak, Ackley, Saunders, and Gutierrez is simply crazy. The rest of the Mariners except Ichiro, I’d probably package up and trade for a box of used baseballs and some pine tar.

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  50. Kurt says:

    Alex is without a doubt the most annoying poster on fangraphs… I’m an above-average baseball fan in terms of knowledge and I’ve never disagreed more with any one person. Even when proven wrong he argues for the sake of arguing. What’s most annoying is where he talks about Chapman… IF Chapman were to be traded, the next team would be on the hook for the 14MM or so left to be paid over 6 years more or less. Sure the Reds could make the other team pay part of the signing bonus to acquire him and depending on how good he does, that wouldn’t truly effect his trade value all that much. If you were trading Ubaldo Jimenez + 16MM, it would be a relative non-factor as it would be like 3 years and $30MM combined.

    Jimenez should’ve been in the top 5 or top 10 at the very least. If Lester and Pedroia are this high on the list with around $100MM in guaranteed money over 10 years of combined contracts, than one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball for $15MM over 3 years should be on the list too. Also, it’s not impossible that his contract would be restructured to include an extra $3MM in the final year guaranteed to keep him from voiding in the event of a trade. If told he’s either going to stay in Colorado for $21MM over 4 years or get traded and get $24MM over 4 years, but there is no way he gets traded and has the chance to opt. out of his contract after 3 years, he’s going to restructure the contract and take out the opt. out in exchange for $3MM more because his leverage is zero.

    Chapman should’ve been on the list because his contract is ridiculously affordable and if he’s called up this September and never looks back, he’ll be the cheapest 6 year guaranteed contract in baseball for a pitcher. Also if you add Strasburg’s 17MM guaranteed bonus + he’s older than Chapman + he’s NOT a LH pitcher + he’s going to see arb. a minimum of 3 times AND he’ll exceed Chapman’s guaranteed total of $14MM with his first two years of arb. So if Strasburg is in the top 5, than Chapman should’ve been at least top 30.

    Other than that, the list is solid, I just disagree on some of the placements, but it would be interesting to know what Dave’s criteria of evaluation versus his personal bias might be. Like maybe he likes Lester and the coming back from cancer pulls at his heart strings, so he bumped Lester for being a nice guy, but maybe he dropped Youkilis to #17 because he’s got a douchebag personality and his enthusiasm is annoying, which is quite difficult to do. There are few people who annoy me with their enthusiasm, Youkilis is one of them, he might be one of my least favorite players, ever. All things being equal, even if Youk signed for $8MM a year x 5 years, I would rather have Mike Carp playing 1B because he’s less douchy. Seriously, I find it vitally important that my team doesn’t sign douchy people. I hate rooting for douchy guys. It’s one of the reasons I have a hard time rooting for figgins when he acts stupid because he gets benched for being lazy or starts running his mouth about batting 9th when he had his best stretch of games without the pressures of batting at the top of the order. Maybe he should shut up and play and stop trying to run the team. Personally I’d like to see Figgins gone because he’s irritating me so far with his attitude. I wish the guy realized he’s making almost 40% of his career earnings to date in 2010 alone, yet he’s busy worrying about the batting order instead of earning his paycheck. FIGGINS MADE $15MM OVER HIS FIRST 6 SEASONS, HE’S MAKING $9MM THIS YEAR!! How did Zduriencik over value him boy more than 20%? He should have been paid $7MM a year, the fact that he jumped at the money so quick shows how much he was overpaid. I need a blog to vent. That’s all for now.

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  51. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    But, as with any pitcher, the risks are significant. The superlatives could all disappear with one pitch, as it has for so many phenoms before him. Pitcher attrition would keep other teams from giving up the kitchen sink to get Strasburg, but as good as he is, the refrigerator is probably on the table.

    ——–

    Dave hopefully fans in the DC area don’t know what you look like, or else there might be a production line of voodoo dolls coming out right about… oh now!

    To Nats fans: sorry, but not really.

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