2011 Trade Value: #30-#26


Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#30 – Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas: +12.9

While Kinsler is overshadowed by teammates such as Josh Hamilton, he has quietly become one of the best second baseman in baseball. Always a good contact hitter, he’s reduced his strikeout rate even further, and now he’s just a low BABIP away from being a legitimate MVP candidate. The Rangers might only have him under team control for another two seasons, but at a total salary of $17 million, he provides a lot of value for minimal cost. He’s an under-the-radar star, but the Rangers would have to be bowled over in order to move him.

#29 – Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Boston: +16.2

Everything that was just said about Kinsler is true of Youkilis with the exception of the under the radar stuff. Youkilis is an established star and one of the best hitters in baseball, and yet the Red Sox owe him just $25 million over the next two seasons. As an older player who might not age all that gracefully, almost all of his value is tied up in the here and now, but his performance relative to his salary is tremendously valuable.

#28 – Ben Zobrist, 2B, Tampa Bay: +18.0

Sure, he’s 30-years-old and a lot of people still don’t understand how it happened, but Zobrist has established himself as one of the best players in the game. The power is back, the defense is still terrific, and there really aren’t any weak parts of his game. But, really, he’s here because of the contract. The Rays owe him just $10 million combined in 2012 and 2013, and then they hold a $7 million option for 2014 and a $7.5 million option for 2015. It remains to be seen how much long term value he’ll have, but there’s a ton of value in his present performance and the price tag that he’s locked in at.

#27 – Buster Posey, C, San Francisco: +5.2

He was a tough guy to place because of the injury. Obviously he provides no present value in terms of 2011 performance, and he’s essentially going to surrender one of his cheap years of team control, but he’s a good enough talent that teams would still be lining up to have Posey as their catcher going forward if the Giants put him on the block. Had he not been run over, he’d probably have been another 10 spots higher on this list. There just aren’t that many good young catchers who can also hit in the big leagues right now.

#26 – Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis: +5.3

It was nice of the Cardinals to announce Garcia’s extension before I wrote this post, as he slid up a couple of spots based on the deal. St. Louis was able to lock up his arbitration years and first year of free agency at the bargain price of $28 million, and they got two team options tacked on to the end of the deal. For a pitcher of his abilities, this is a team-friendly contract. Garcia might not have the pedigree or the raw stuff of some of the other elite young lefties in the game, but he’s performed almost as well as any of them, and the Cardinals should be thrilled that he’ll be in St. Louis for at least the next half decade.

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

42 Responses to “2011 Trade Value: #30-#26”

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  1. benjipants says:

    So where would Brett Anderson have ranked before, well, an hour ago?

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  2. Mike says:

    After seeing Garcia come in at 26, I am really interested to see what Dave does with Atlanta’s young starting pitchers. Obviously Hanson will be on here, but what about Beachy and Jurrjens? JJ compares favorably to Garcia in all but his contract, but I imagine that might be enough to keep him off this list.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I don’t think Beachy will appear here, for reasons discussed in the 35-31 thread. He’s turned in a half-season (give or take a few starts) of #1 starter performance to this point, but he hasn’t demonstrated much durability within individual games, and he has no pedigree. If he can start turning in more innings per start while maintaining roughly equivalent peripherals, he should definitely make an appearance near the middle of next year’s list.

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    • Ben Hall says:

      I don’t think Jurrjens compares well to Garcia. Jurrjens has had very good ERAs that are almost entirely tied to what appear to be unsustainably low HR/FB rates. His strikeout rate has been below average every year in the majors, and this year it’s fallen well below average. His walk rate has been about average until this year. And other than his rookie year, he hasn’t gotten a lot of ground balls. Compare that to Garcia, who combines one of the best ground ball rates among starters with above average strikeout numbers. His walk rate, below average last year, has fallen to significantly below average (though not as good as Jurrjens’s) this year.

      It’s not that Jurrjens is a bad pitcher. And if he maintains this walk rate he’s a good pitcher. But I just don’t think he’s in the conversation with Garcia.

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  3. jeffrey gross says:

    No aramis ramirez yet? Man, I can’t imagine how much higher he could possibly be!

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    • Kazinski says:

      He was at #57.

      He’s owed about 6m for the rest of this year, and the Cubs have a 16m option for next year. There is a 2m buyout, so if the Cubs or another team decide not to exercise the option he is owed 8m for the remainder of this season. I don’t see much excess value in that contract, in fact the Cubs may have to kick in some cash in a trade.

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  4. This has been a great day for my fellow members of the tribe. No, not the Indians. #31- Ryan Braun
    #30- Ian Kinsler
    #29- Kevin Youkilis
    Three Jews in a row… l’chaim!

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  5. Joe says:


    FYI, your #35-31 and #40-36 links both take us to the #45-41 page.

    and I mean, I can understand if you think it’s some of your better writing and you want to bump its hits, but pretty weak way of doing it if you ask me :)

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  6. SC2GG says:

    Kevin Youkilis is an older star player, one of the best at his position, who’s value is tied into his favorable contract and current performance over the next couple years.

    Roy Halladay is an older star player, the very best at his position, who’s value is tied into his favorable contract and current performance over the next couple years.

    Would you trade Halladay for Youkilis?

    I wouldn’t.

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    • Telo says:

      Hmm. You have presented a good qualitative case to be made for each of these guys. If only we knew just how much excess value each one of these players provided over their current contracts, we would have an answer to this very interesting question you have raised.

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      • D says:

        Here we go again.

        Youks contract is for significantly less per season and he is a couple years younger. That probably makes up for the difference right there. There aren’t many good 3rd basemen right now either.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        This is an interesting new idea, Telo. Why don’t you go back and comment on each of the preceding posts in this series? And of course make sure to bang that drum in each one to come. That goes without saying.

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      • Flightrisk says:

        Telo, I thought you were working on that project — counting on seeing those results to provide a statistical core to this peripheral work!

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      • Dave says:

        Telo is fast becoming the most tiresome commentator on Fangraphs.

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      • Joe says:


        The difference in contracts is <2WAR right? (7.5mil/yr)

        So Youk is a better bargain if he's within 2 WAR (per year) of Halladay over the next few years. Given how his defense looks at 3rd, not so sure he will do that (I do realize he can move to 1st if he were traded to another team but then he gets the positional hit)

        While there aren't that many good 3rd baseman, are there that many good pitchers in the neighborhood of Halladay?

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    • Ari Collins says:

      Good point, D.

      The answer is:

      1. Youk’s contract is way better

      2. No matter how consistent and durable Halladay has been, he’s still a pitcher in his mid 30s who could break down at any moment.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      Halladay’s contract isn’t favorable at all. He’s a $20m+ player, only a handful of teams can swing that.

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  7. Joe says:

    link to players 35-30 directs to 40-36.

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  8. Eminor3rd says:

    I would have ranked Posey much higher, despite his injury situation. Certainly many spots higher than Jaime Garcia. I understand the arguments for each, but I can’t see any universe where the Cardinals can get Posey for Jaime Garcia.

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  9. tdotsports1 says:

    Seems like a lot more pitchers on this years list? Being too lazy to check myself anybody have a running count?

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  10. Rich says:

    Really enjoy this series but there is no way does any major league team that has a 22 year old MIchael Pineda trade him for Youklis. No chance.

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    • Big Oil says:

      Hypothetically, the Phillies, if they had Pineda at #5 (assuming Oswalt return), wouldn’t move him for Youk to replace Flacido Polanco?

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  11. guy says:

    You player links are wrong.

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  12. Shaun Catron says:

    Ive been wondering if Kinsler hadn’t had such a poor start and such a low BABIP what his numbers would look like right now. His on base/walk rates are great, hes efficiently stealing bases and hes got 13 HRs to boot. If his .250 average was around .280-290, exactly how many SBs/Runs/RBI more are we talkin here? Even with the .250 average hes still putting up good numbers.

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    • YP says:

      I just asked that lol. He’s had plain ol bad luck is what it comes down too. It doesn’t really make sense, but hopefully he can get his avg up to about 270ish by the end of the year and have a slash close to 270/400/490 ish.

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  13. andy says:

    mad bum. is he gonna be this high on the list?

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  14. Joncarlos says:

    Clearly Dave is interviewing for MLB jobs and #s 35-31 must be kept secret by the team he’s looking at. Or else it’s all Mariners and he is ashamed to put it up :)

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