2012 Trade Value: #20-#16

#50-#46
#45-#41
#40-#36
#35-#31
#30-#26
#25-#21

Note: salaries are rounded estimates and include all team-controlled years. Rankings from the 2011 Trade Value series in parentheses.

20. (12) David Price, SP, Tampa Bay – Under Team Control through 2015

The Rays ace has continued his steady climb into elite territory, and is establishing himself as one of the dominant left-handed starters in the game. At age 26, he’s added nearly one MPH to his average fastball velocity and has become a groundball pitcher for the first time in his career while maintaining his usual blend of few walks and a lot of strikeouts. The only thing holding Price back from a higher ranking is the fact that he’s got three more trips through arbitration, and as a guy who qualified as a Super Two, he’s going to get expensive in a hurry. This is the one guy the Rays weren’t able to get locked up that they probably wish they could have, and because of his escalation paychecks, he may not be in Tampa Bay all that much longer. When the Rays do trade him, however, they’ll get a monstrous return.

19. (NR) Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco – Signed through 2019 for $58 million

Okay Giants fans, you win. Bumgarner’s absence from last year’s list brought plenty of criticism, and it was simply a poor call on my end to exclude him. Now, with another year of quality pitching under his belt and a very friendly contract — the first five guaranteed years only call for $35 million in total — Bumgarner not only makes the list, but rates as one of the more valuable pitchers in the game. There aren’t many 22-year-olds who can throw strikes as regularly as Bumgarner can, and he gets enough strikeouts and groundballs to make the overall package work. He might not be a classic ace, but he’s a good pitcher with a very good contract, and every team in baseball would love to have him.

18. (NR) Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Detroit – Signed through 2015 for $75 million.

Perhaps the biggest benefactor of the shift towards rewarding premium players with large contracts, Cabrera was also unranked a year ago due to the amount of money that he’s still owed over the next 3 1/2 years Given the rising costs of acquiring big time hitters, however, there are a number of teams that would gladly line up to pay Cabrera $22 million per year without a long term commitment. While he’s taken a bit of a step backwards this year (protection theory, where are you?), he’s still an offensive force, and he doesn’t even turn 30 until next spring. Even with the salary of a star player, the Tigers would get a strong return for him if they put him on the blocks.

17. (14) Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle – Signed through 2014 for $49 million

While his fastball velocity is still MIA and he doesn’t get ground balls like he used to, he’s getting better at every other part of pitching. His change-up is one of the best single pitches in the game, and to compensate for the lack of ground balls, he’s just started using it to strike everyone out instead. Like Price, Felix is just 26 years old, so while he doesn’t come with a team friendly long term contract, any team acquiring him would have a couple of years to convince him to stick around, and in the meantime, they’d have one of the true legitimate #1 starters in the sport.

#16. (11) Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers – Under Team Control through 2015

Trying not to sound repetitive with the above paragraph, but there are a lot of similarities between Kershaw and Felix at this point. Like Felix, Kershaw also has two years left before he hits free agency, though his already negotiated 2013 salary is significantly lower. Kershaw is also still just 24, so he’ll be up for his next contract well before his decline years become a big concern. He’s probably the most coveted left-handed pitcher in the game, and given his age and performance, he’d rank significantly higher if the Dodgers had been able to buy out any of his free agent years. Even with just 2+ years under control, however, Kershaw is so good that he’d command a king’s ransom in return if the Dodgers decided to put him up for sale.




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


115 Responses to “2012 Trade Value: #20-#16”

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  1. jim says:

    felix is only 26? i suppose i knew that intellectually, but for some reason, to see it in this post carries some extra weight

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    • Big Jgke says:

      Count me shocked by that, too. I had to read it over a few times just to let it sink in.

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      • Breadbaker says:

        It helps me keep perspective that’s Felix is about six weeks younger than my kid. My kid is fine, but he’s not winning any Cy Young awards.

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  2. Oren says:

    And now the Giants fans (myself included) complain about how Bumgarner should be higher!

    Seriously, though, I’m surprised that he’s below Posey. Assuming Posey makes it… if he didn’t that would be scary. But I’d think with the injury issue, Bumgarner would be above Posey. I mean, seriously, look at that contract! It’s almost Moore-like, and he’s not struggling like Moore is!

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    • Nivra says:

      This.

      What would you rather have?
      2 yrs of King Felix and $9M
      or 7!! Years of MadBum

      It’s a no brainer, IMO.

      Even if Dave is penalizing arb eligible guys, that shouldn’t affect MadBum, if anything, he’s worth more.

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  3. tmorgan1970 says:

    There’s 15 left. Who are they, folks?

    Trout, Harper, McCutchen, Longoria, Strasburg, Verlander, Heyward, Stanton, Bautista, Braun, Posey, Lawrie… and I’m 3 short. Embarassing.

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    • RMD says:

      Ryan Howard

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    • James says:

      Ryan Howard ofc

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    • Oliver says:

      This is where the list starts to break down–there’s simply no prospect package that will equal the value of Mike Trout over the next years.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I mean, sure, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be had. If the Reds sent Votto, Cueto, and Bruce, Trout would be packing his bags for Cincinnati. It’d never happen, but there’s more to trades than “prospect package[s].”

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      • BJ says:

        Anon21 …

        That was just an example but honestly, I don’t think the Angels would even consider something like that. That would boost their payroll an additional $35m or so, cause redundancy at 1B and OF (where they already have too many players).

        Your premise though is correct. Of course, Trout is movable. Any player is. The cost would just be so prohibitive that it wouldn’t make much sense for anyone involved.

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      • Anon21 says:

        Take your pick. Nationals send their entire starting rotation. Tigers send Cabrera, Fielder, and Verlander and pick up half their contracts. The point is banal, but it stands: no one is untouchable. That’s really more or less the point of a series like this, since we all know that most of the guys in the top 20 would never actually be traded, because no one would want to pay what they’re worth.

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    • Nsamp7 says:

      Possibly Chris Sale??

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    • grant says:

      Sabbathia? Tulo?

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    • ppabich says:

      Andrelton Simmons

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    • jpg says:

      I’m guessing Wright, Hamilton and Jennings.

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      • ppabich says:

        First and the last I can agree with, the middle one is a free agent at the end of the season.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Wright’s a free agent after this season, if he’s traded. And he’s only locked up through next year if he stays in NY. I don’t see how he can be close to the top of the list, despite his performance this year.

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      • BX says:

        Cameron already said in his chat that noone who was a FA after this or next season was on the list except for Cano, so Wright and Hamilton are out.

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    • Reno Dakota says:

      Kemp.

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      CLogdorp will say Yuni Betancourt by the end of the thread im sure.

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    • Oren says:

      Kemp, Jennings… Wright?

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      • Oren says:

        Tulo instead of Wright, and I think we got it.

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      • Los says:

        No on Jennings or Wright. Kemp, Tulo…Weiters?

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      • jpg says:

        Weiters is alteady on the list. @Ppabich duh good call about Hamilton. @Oren I know he’s an elite talent at the toughest position but in my eyes Tulo deserves to fall off the list. The guy just can’t stay on the field and has a contract thats equal parts lengthy and pricey. Don’t get me wrong I’d love him on my team and so would everyone else, but there has to come a point where this guy’s value has to take a serious hit because of his history with injuries.

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    • George Brett says:

      If Brett Lawrie– of the 278/323/407 variety– is on this list, I’ll shit my pants.

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      • Anon21 says:

        He’s a really good defender, flashed excellent power last year, and has a couple pre-arb seasons left. I think he’s a totally plausible top-15, although I’d really have expected to see him lower.

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      • Colin says:

        He should be on the list, and I think he will be. Problem is, they really passed the point where he should have appeared by now. People are giving way too much credence to his line last year.

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      • Garold says:

        He’s 22 and on pace for over 4 WAR this season; a season in which he’s under-performing with the bat.

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      • chuckb says:

        @ Garold — generally, I agree with the sentiment but it’s really premature to say that a guy who’s been in the big leagues all of 1 season is “underperforming with the bat” in his last 4 months. There’s so little track record to go by, we can’t reasonably conclude that this season’s performance won’t be his median or even his peak performance.

        Like you, I think he’ll only get better but he has so little to go on that we can’t call this season’s performance “underperforming.”

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    • NRowe says:

      Gabe Kapler, Joel Zumaya

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    • mrauscher says:

      I’d say Kemp, Tulo, and Weaver in addition to those 12. I think Tulo has to drop quite a bit (I’d guess to the 11-15 group) but I can’t see him falling off the list entirely, he’s been too good when he plays.

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    • TKDC says:

      Longoria
      McCutchen
      Trout
      Bautista
      Kemp
      Strasburg
      Verlander
      Heyward
      Stanton
      Braun
      Harper
      Weaver
      Tulo
      Posey
      Lawrie

      But, honestly, Harper could be anywhere 2-10 depending on how much the author lets his personal bias cloud reality. Also, Posey and Lawrie should be in the 20s.

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      • Nick O says:

        I’m disappointed but not at all surprised that no one has mentioned Josh Reddick, currently 9th in the AL in WAR, 140 wRC+, with a seemingly sustainable .300 BABIP, and he’s pre-arb. I realize he wasn’t great in the minors but his defense and incredible arm mean he’ll still be valuable if his hitting falls off somewhat.

        I wouldn’t think he’d be top-20 but I thought he’d make the top 50.

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      • BX says:

        @ Nick O

        To some degree, as Dave mentioned in his “What I learned from last year” post, he’s valuing proven production moreso than a low salary. If Reddick performs like this next year as well, I think he’s a lock for next year’s list.

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    • BX says:

      Weaver and two others who were previously unranked would be my guess.

      Can’t see Kemp, Ells, or Tulo because of the injuries.

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      Thanks for the help, folks. Glad you mostly agree with my 12, at least. Lawrie was the 12th, but he’s definitely top 50, and hasn’t appeared yet, so….

      Kemp, Tulo, and Weaver, I believe is the consensus finish. Kemp I can’t believe I missed. Tulo is still a value contract, despite recent struggles, just like Longoria (although the contract isn’t THAT juicy). I suppose Weaver makes sense, as he signed with the same structure as Felix and Verlander. I’d have had Felix over Weaver, but that’s just nitpicking.

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  4. Oliver says:

    Hell, I’m not even a Giants fan and I was complaining about Bumgarner not being on last year’s list.

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  5. brewcitydomer says:

    Ellsbury and Kemp for sure. Maybe Carlos Ruiz? Anthony Rizzo?

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    • brewcitydomer says:

      Tulo is probably the third, along with kemp and ellsbury.

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      • Pinstripe Wizard says:

        Gotta be those three. Ruiz is too old for the list as a catcher, and there’s no way Rizzo makes it that high. I wouldn’t have necessarily minded his inclusion, but I would mind a Top 15 inclusion.

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      • ppabich says:

        Ellsbury is a FA after 2013, no?

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      • everdiso says:

        no way it’s ellsbury, do you even watch baseball? dude hasn’t played this season and he had 1 good year.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Now accepting wagers on whether this is the “real” everdiso.

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      • Michael Scarn says:

        I think that’s the real everdiso. He is definitely know for ridiculous anti-Red Sox bias, and it doesn’t seem quite “out there” enough to be coming from an impostor.

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      • Mcneildon says:

        I’ll say…fake everdiso.

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      • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

        if his comments get positive feedback, nothing happens. if they get negative feedback, he’s always being trolled.

        hmmm….

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  6. James says:

    Re:protection theory – I don’t want this to devolve into a protracted discussion, but I would like to note Cabrera is having his lowest BB rate/IBB rate since 2009.

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    • Average_Casey says:

      Go to my blog at Average-Casey.blogspot.com I have a post about this.

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    • Nathan says:

      IBB looks pretty minor, but certainly his overall BB rate is down quite a bit. That’s really the only difference in his offense this year compared to last year’s dominant season.

      I know there isn’t a lot of statistical support for protection, but I can’t help but think that perhaps with Fielder behind him, Leyland is encouraging Cabrera to be more aggressive. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but if we try to think like crusty old Leyland, the rationale is probably that he should swing more because with Fielder behind him the pitches will be better.

      The really odd thing is that there’s nothing in Cabrera’s numbers that clearly explains his drop in OBP. His K% is good, his batted ball rates are in line with career expectations, and his plate discipline numbers aren’t much different than right where he’s been in his Tiger career. For some reason, his BB% has declined, and that’s about it. That’s why I can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with Fielder and Leyland.

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  7. Mark says:

    DAVE! Please explain how my M’s can have the most away team runs in baseball!!!! Is their current offense legitimate? Is Safeco really that difficult to score runs at? Does that mean our young players are actually something we can build a playoff team around? Can I still have hope?

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    • TKP says:

      I would look at away runs per game instead of the total? I have no clue but maybe they have just played a lot more away games then everyone else? Doubtful and regardless your point will probably still stand in terms of their current offense.

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    • Matt says:

      Scoring 21 runs in one game kinda skews things a bit.

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  8. CircleChange11 says:

    It appears David Wright didn’t make the list. Don’t see him as top 15.

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  9. Thomas Grantham says:

    David Wright is a FA after 2013, definitely not on the list. Desmond Jennings is not very good, definitely not on the list. To the person that guessed Carlos Ruiz and Anthony Rizzo, nice trolling.

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  10. Tim says:

    1)Trout
    2)Harper
    3)Longoria
    4)Mccutchen
    5)Kemp
    6)Braun
    7)Verlander
    8)Bautista
    9)Stanton
    10)Strasburg
    11)Tulowitzki
    12)Heyward
    13)Sabathia
    14)Posey
    15)Lawrie (maybe he’s not even on the list?)

    Just my random guess, im sure im quite a bit off

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  11. garett68 says:

    are you people serious? Did brett lawrie come into your homes and drug you? he is an ok young player but he simply isn’t that good yet, nor in my mind does he project to be anywhere on this list. I was going to go into the stat side of it, but instead why don’t one of you tell me why he should be in the top 50 statistically speaking. I hope it isnt because he had some good numbers in 150 AB’s last year

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    • TKP says:

      This is where this project becomes a bit weird. There have been minor leaguers listed (including Bundy who hasn’t hit AA yet) ahead of guys who have already had success at the big league level. The big issue becomes how much is a big league track record valued? In Bundy and Profars cases Dave seems to think it does not matter because they are incredible prospects. Getting to your point on Lawrie, he has put up 5.1 WAR in 150 total games. That is more than any minor leaguer on this list. DO you have a problem with them being included as well?

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    • TtD says:

      He combines above average offense with top-3 defensive value at his position, he’s still very young and has got room to improve, and he’s making league minimum. As the best young player at his position in baseball he’s going to be on this list, ranking so high is debateable of course, but his placing on this list, given it’s qualifiers is easily justified.

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      • Colin says:

        Giving him credit for that kind of defensive value with the amount of a sample you currently have is a bit absurd given how long it takes for defense to normalize.

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      • TtD says:

        Perhaps Colin, but he passes the eye test, rough with some of the more timing based plays (as you’d expect of someone relatively new to the position), but with exceptional range and reactions and with the armstrength to bail himself out on occasion. You can attribute some of the stats results this year to the Jays positioning skill, but it’s not like you look at him and see a lead-footed clutz.

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    • mrauscher says:

      Considering where guys like Kipnis and Moustakas were, I don’t think it’s crazy for Lawrie to be somewhere in the #13-15 range. He’s at least a good defender at third (although a lot of stats may be overrating him), he was very well-regarded as a prospect, and he’s under team control for a long time still.

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    • chuckb says:

      I’ll bite.

      Let’s begin with the fact that he’s been in the big leagues less than 1 full season and has already been worth more than 5 wins. Then, I’ll mention that he’s just 22, is dirt cheap, and has 5 years of team control left.

      Or maybe I was just drugged into believing all that.

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  12. kid says:

    Mariners need to cash in on Felix and start from scratch. I mean, Jack Z’s “plan” about building around Smoak and Ackley… well, it ain’t gonna work.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. kid says:

    For those of you playing the “Cameron mentions Felix’ changeup” drinking game at home – bottoms up!

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  14. Keysersoze3421 says:

    Jered Weaver still hasn’t made an appearance.

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    • Tim says:

      good point, no one has mentioned him yet.

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    • ppabich says:

      I love weav, but I don’t he’s top 15 (same with Sabathia) They are both in the middle of their prime, and the back end coming up. And although you can make the case they both get paid fairly, it will be a lot to pay during the downswing. But as an Angel fan I hope he’s on the list.

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    • BJ says:

      That was the name that kept jumping out on me. He definitely deserves to be on the list … somewhere in the 30′s-40′s seems reasonable given his age/contract. To leave him off altogether just doesn’t feel right.

      The guy is just 30, had back to back 5+ WAR seasons. Is on a similar pace this year (injury aside). He has to pitch like a 3.5 WAR pitcher to justify his contract. Pretty safe bet to generate at least 2 WAR above his pay grade for the next 2-3 years.

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  15. Don Draper says:

    What do people see in Evan longoria? I’ve never thought he was that great

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  16. rogue_actuary says:

    What about Aroldis Chapman? After spending this season putting hitters through a meat grinder, he’s not that expensive and he probably offers a lot of surplus value as a starter through. Even as a dominating RP, his bonus has been paid already, so he’s only earning a total of $10M for 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Nope, no relievers. You could theoretically convert a lot of guys and speculate about how well they’d do in the rotation, but Chapman doesn’t get extra credit because the Reds originally planned to start him and then abandoned that plan.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      His contract is actually more complicated than that. He should qualify for arbitration after 2013, which means the $3 MM salary gets converted to a bonus and he starts going through arbitration. He’s also under team control past 2015, as he still won’t have 6+ years of service time, but its going to be pretty expensive and he’s still never shown he can be a SP. You just can’t make the case for a pitcher that’s unproven as a starter as among the 50 most valuable trade chips in baseball.

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    • mrauscher says:

      I thought Chapman would have made sense somewhere on the list — like you alluded to, even as a reliever his value should exceed the cost of his remaining contract, with some upside in case he worked out as a SP.

      But it’s gotten too high for him to show up now…I would have put him somewhere around 40…

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      • Anon21 says:

        If Chapman showed up, Kimbrel would probably need to be on here too. Better money situation, extremely similar results, both absolutely filthy. I’m not sure where I land on the decision to exclude both of them. On the one hand, we know GMs overvalue closers, and both of them rack up saves while posting mind-boggling peripherals. On the other hand, they’re not really as valuable as all that, given usage patterns

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  17. DRS2Impress says:

    JOSH REDDICK JOSH REDDICK JOSH REDDICK, how no one mentions him, why he is constantly undervalued / seen as a scrub is something I never understand, team controlled until 2017………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… lol Brett Lawrie made it………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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  18. CLogdorp says:

    Hey you guys, it’s me, CLogdorp.
    I’m having a really hard time right now, you guys.
    It’s been a pretty rough day. Ugh. There’s really only one thing to get me through this…………
    TOGETHER NOW!

    Y-U-N-I-E-he never hits popups in the S-K-Y
    when you go to Vegas you lay down a B-E-T, then there’s an A-N, his defensive skills are illegal, they’ll see you in C-O-U-R-T.

    What does that spell?
    The name of a man who is in the top 15 most valuable trade assets.

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  19. monkey business says:

    I’m super pumped that Cuddyer will be in the top 15 this year!

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    • chuckb says:

      That makes it all the more ridiculous that Dan O’Dowd won’t consider trading him, considering all the value he’ll return.

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  20. Jeff says:

    I’m confused as to why Cabrera is ranked #18 this year but was unranked last year, especially since, as noted, his offensive production has declined slightly. At this time last year he was owed about $96 million and now he’s owed about $75 million, but that difference doesn’t seem large enough to justify a jump from unranked to #18. I don’t disagree with the #18 ranking now, but it seems an admission that it was a mistake to leave him off last year’s list.

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    • Josh says:

      My guess is that his contract suddenly looks almost team-friendly after the huge contracts given out this offseason, the great second half he had last year, and the fact that’s he’s played (mostly) passable third base this year. In the last 12 months, he’s improved his stock, even with the slight step back in offense this season. I don’t think he belongs at #18, but he definitely deserved to make the list.

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    • HerseyChris says:

      Per Dave Cameron in the 25-29 thread:

      “3. I talked about this in the “What I Learned” post, but based on feedback from some folks in the game, I’ve adjusted the penalty applied to good players with big contracts. With the explosion of new revenue from TV deals, a lot of these contracts look better in a few years than they do when they get signed, which is why you see expensive other expensive guys like Carlos Gonzalez climbing the list and Kinsler not dropping even after he gets his $75 million deal. ”

      And then from the “What I learned from” piece:
      “Pretty much any quality player eligible for arbitration is always on the verge of receiving a significant amount of guaranteed money, so having several years of club control at undefined prices is probably less valuable than I’ve given it credit for in prior years. As such, supremely talented players with big contracts — the Kemps, Brauns, and Verlanders of the world — will be penalized less for making a lot of money on this year’s list than they probably would have been in the past. They might not be the best value in terms of production to salary ratio, but premium players locked up for several years at reasonable salaries are still highly coveted players, and I’ve been convinced that teams would still pay a high price to obtain a star player even if that guy is being paid like a star player. “

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  21. Paul says:

    Im just blown away that Vernon Wells has not been mentioned for one of the remaining 15 spots

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  22. Don Draper says:

    Wondering if Hankey Ramirez makes the list…

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  23. Joshua says:

    No.1 definetely has to be Shawn Figgins

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  24. Anthony says:

    Wonder if there would be any changes to the worst 5-10 contracts.

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  25. Derrick says:

    anybody who thinks Kemp will not be on this list is crazy. under contract for another 7 years at a relatively team friendly price compared to other big deals, contract only takes him to his mid 30′s (not late 30′s), AND he is good on defense.

    o yea and he has already blasted 2 homeruns since coming back (one was a walk off) and a triple, i think the hammy is fine.

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