2012 Trade Value: #30-#26

#50-#46
#45-#41
#40-#36
#35-#31

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

30. (NR) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland – Under Team Control through 2017

When the Indians drafted Kipnis out of Arizona State, he was seen as a tweener outfielder without the speed to play center or the power to play left. So, a few months after selecting him in the third round, the Indians moved him to second base, and are now being rewarded for their foresight. Kipnis has gotten a lot better at second in a hurry, and now profiles as an average to above average defender at an up-the-middle position, and provides the kind of offense (122 wRC+ over 541 MLB plate appearances) you don’t often get from a player at the keystone. Kinpis is a classic good-across-the-board guy, combining gap power with walks and improving contact rates while also being a highly efficient baserunner. In many ways, he profiles as the new Ian Kinsler, and as a 25-year-old with five more seasons of team control, the Indians will be able to get a lot of value from Kipnis without paying a high price to do so.

29. (NR) Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay – Signed through 2019 for $36 million

On the field, Moore has been a pretty big disappointment this year, struggling with command problems and showing that he wasn’t quite as polished as he looked down the stretch last year. However, he’s still a lefty with a mid-90s fastball who can miss bats, and teams haven’t forgotten how dominant he was in 2011, so a disappointing rookie season hasn’t shattered his value yet. And then, there’s the contract. In typical Rays fashion, they signed Moore extremely early in exchange for getting team options on his final arbitration year and his first two free agent years, so they’re only on the hook for about $15 million if he never develops. If he does, they’ve essentially got him locked up through age 30 at bargain rates (though there are a lot of incentives built into the deal, so knowing the precise amount ahead of time is impossible). He’s a higher risk guy without the performance track record of many others around him, but he also comes with extremely high reward due to the financial limitations he’s agreed to. If he does turn into an ace, he could end up near the very top of this list in a few years.

28. (5) Justin Upton, OF, Arizona – Signed through 2015 for $42 million.

This ranking is about to be put to the test, as everyone is aware that the Diamondbacks are currently shopping Upton around baseball and will likely trade him at some point in 2012. A year ago, it seemed hard to imagine the D’Backs giving up on their star right fielder, but another mediocre season has made Upton seem like an underachiever once again, so any team acquiring him would be making a bet on a big comeback after changing teams. The talent is certainly there, but he’s no longer all that cheap — the last three years of his contract total $39 million — and has a spotty record hitting away from Chase Field. There’s a lot of risk to be absorbed by any acquiring team, but potential franchise players aren’t moved in their mid-20s too often, especially when they’re not close to free agency. Whether Upton will command a star player’s return or will be shipped off for less than his talent would suggest remains to be seen, but we should have a better idea of how baseball views Upton later this year.

27. (NR) Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City – Under Team Control through 2017

Moustakas was awful during the early part of his rookie season last year, but found his power stroke late in the season and hasn’t slowed down in 2012. He’s still not a finished product, but he’s flashing a combination of above average offense and terrific defense at age 23, and has shown very good contact skills in prior years as well. If he can get back to those lower strikeout rates while sustaining his power output, he may very well may be the new Adrian Beltre, or at least a player of similar value. Because of when he was called up last season, Moustakas may end up as a Super Two, qualifying for arbitration four times and accelerating his pay schedule, but the Royals still control his rights for five more years and have a young star in place at third. Even if he doesn’t remain overly cheap for more than a year or two, he’s still a highly valuable commodity.

26. (NR) Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington – Signed through 2018 for $65 million

I wasn’t a big fan of the Gio Gonzalez trade for the Nationals, but kudos to Mike Rizzo and his staff for anticipating the breakout pitching star of 2012 and getting him while they still could. Gio’s velocity is up and he’s throwing first pitch strikes, which has led to a huge spike in strikeout rate and a reduction in walks, and the overall package has seen Gio pitch like a legitimate ace. His command is still not fantastic, and previous history suggests that he may not be able to keep this up forever, but Gonzalez looks like a better pitcher than I gave him credit for over the winter. To boot, the contract Washington signed him to now looks like a pretty big steal, as he would have been in for a hefty raise via arbitration, but is now looking at a salary of just $6 million in 2013 with manageable raises for the following three seasons, and then two team options at the end of that. There’s room for Gonzalez to regress and still be worth the contract, and if he keeps pitching like he is right now, he’ll be a huge steal for years to come.




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


53 Responses to “2012 Trade Value: #30-#26”

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  1. Julian says:

    Gio’s contract has team options through 2018, not 2016. It’s 40something million until 2016.

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    • Thomas Grantham says:

      Really it is 2017 that should be evaluated to. That is a club option while 2018 is a player option.

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  2. TKDC says:

    For guys like Stanton and Longoria, can you please say where you would rank them if they were currently healthy?

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    • philosofool says:

      I expect we will find out soon enough. Stanton’s current health issues aren’t really a barrier to his value–which probably lands him in the top ten. Longoria’s contract continues to be great, so he is also a very valuable piece, I expect him to show up in the top ten as well.

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  3. everdiso says:

    It looks like Edwin Encarnacion will again be omitted. What a joke.

    -39 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      30 years old, no defensive skill set and a history of being a good, not great hitter. You can make the case that his current production is illusory and most GMs will probably agree.

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      • CabreraDeath says:

        I think his changes – both in his swing and plate discipline – are real and, contrary to your opinion, I would think most GMs would agree.

        That doesn’t mean he should be on this list, but I do feel that the Jays contracted with him in anticipation that this first half is legit.

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    • jim says:

      meg, who let you back in the house?

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    • BookWorm says:

      I see a trend: Everdiso only shows up in threads to provide single-sentence commentaries, followed by a scoffing remark like “Pathetic.” or “What a joke.” (See: 50-46 for another example)/

      Having now seen 50% of the list,you’re prepared to declare the whole thing worthless? Because one player may or may not be missing?

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    • everdiso says:

      nah, that ain’t me.

      that’s a troll.

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  4. CLogdorp says:

    Ok now you’ve really got me surprised.
    When you first started this list I did my own, homeade calculations. For the most part they’ve come back about the same as what you’ve got here.
    But I had a certain Betancourt, Yuniesky at about #36, although I could see him rising to maybe a bit higher, because that $2M contract for the year is looking like a steal, considering he’s thriving at the 5 spot for a potent Kansas City lineup.
    Dayton Moore, ladies and gentlemen!
    But he’s got no club options and he’s gonna be able to test the rocky waters that are the Free Agent market. So, here I am, lying down in my yurt, completely befuddled by the value you’re placing on a rental player, even one of Mr. Betancourt’s skill, grit and natural ability.
    Mr. Cameron, you truly are an enigma.

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    • Choo says:

      After studying Yuni for an entire PA a couple of nights ago, my 6-year old gave me his official scouting report: “That guy looks like a giant gummy bear.”

      Needless to say, pride welled in my chest for my eldest son who was born with the scout’s eye.

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  5. Brian S. says:

    Kipnis is so underrated. Glad to see him ranked this high.

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  6. Anon21 says:

    I’d been assuming Brian McCann wouldn’t drop from #17 to unranked, even given a down year offensively and his being one year closer to free agency. But this range is about where I would have expected to find him. Maybe 20-25.

    Looking back, though, I don’t see any guys signed only through 2013. And with his recent performance not really making the case… hmm. In that case, I guess the Braves will only have Heyward on this list.

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  7. Michael Scarn says:

    So safe to assume no Hosmer…interesting.

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    • KCDaveInLA says:

      Interesting thoughts from KC Star’s Sam Mellinger’s weekly Twitter round-up to follow. I’m in agreement that we need to stop chalking everything up to bad-luck BABIP.

      @tdbest is it Hosmer’s 0.292 OBP keeping him in big leagues or his bobblehead night on 8/18? Or his face on billboards?#Royals #marketing

      Eric Hosmer’s struggles — we’re past the point of small sample size, and he’s hitting .225 with .297 on-base and .359 slugging percentages — are the most pressing immediate issue the Royals face.
      Long-term, it is still far more important that David Glass take his increased support of the Royals to the next level and that the franchise somehow navigate perhaps the worst TV deal in baseball. But in the short-term, it is more important to fix Hosmer than it is to maximize Jonathan Broxton’s trade value or Jonathan Sanchez’s historical suckitude or even find a trade partner interested in Jeff Francoeur, so the Royals can save at least most of the $10 million or so he’s owed and see what Wil Myers can do.
      There is still too much talent here for me to believe he’s not more Carlos Beltran than Bob Hamelin, but there is too much struggle this season to trust this will just work itself out. He is no longer hitting balls hard and just running into bad luck^.
      ^ Though his batting average on balls in play still indicates some bad luck, and his strikeouts are slightly down and walks slightly up. He’s hitting significantly fewer line drives, and hitting for significantly less power.
      There’s nothing to suggest his plate discipline has fallen off too far, he’s just not squaring balls up.
      Maybe this is one of those things that you can find if you look hard enough, but it seems like you can see the struggles in his body language in a way that didn’t exist earlier in the season. Sounds crazy, but it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to test out how well that Lasik surgery is holding up.
      The Royals can fulfill their hopes without Hosmer becoming an All-Star, but it would be a major blow. Might even get Kevin Seitzer fired. They’ve got to get this figured out.

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  8. Walker Stropper says:

    While Andrelton Simmons is sure to be omitted this year, I would like to officially go on record and say he will be top 25 next year.

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      I’m assuming Sal Perez is omitted as well, although he did sign a very team-friendly contract. There’s no way someone that unproven is top 25, right?

      Big Sal is another potential huge jumper next year. It’s fun watching the guy swing at everything and hit most of it hard.

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      • Everett says:

        I think Dave said somewhere, maybe the chat, that he had Salvador under consideration for the list and he just missed.

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      • ralph says:

        Yeah, here’s Dave’s reply in the chat:

        12:37 Dave Cameron:
        [Salvador Perez] was in the 50-60 group. Just too much uncertainty about him right now.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I think that’s a good bet. Obviously, anything can happen, but the glove is for real, and I for one expect the contact rates to stay high (although I think it’s completely reasonable to adopt a wait-and-see approach on the bat for a series like this one).

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Yeah, I understand taking a wait and see approach on his bat (even if I disagree that it is necessary). What I don’t understand is whatever the approach was that allowed for a guy like Alcides Escobar, who has sucked across the board offensively for 1000+ MLB PA, to somehow get past the wait and see requirement that Andrelton Simmons failed.

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      He’d get more pub if he changed his name to Vladimir Perez.

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    • cs3 says:

      looks like Nitram Odarp changed his name

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Nope not me. Why would I create another post just to say that. I’m pretty sure I already said I was predicting top 15 on this list next year. If not, I’ll go on record right now. I think Simmons will be a top 15 selection on this next year

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    • Jack says:

      I am going to go officially on record and say that Fangraphs cease to exist after Andrelton Simmons vanquishes Dave Cameron and the majority of the Saber-community after failing to realize that he is not only one of the 50 most valuable players in baseball, but also Hercules and Achilles reincarnated into the same body..

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  9. Tim says:

    So it looks like Profar is one of the 25 most valuable assets in baseball? He’s a good prospect playing a premium position, but the top 25 highest trade values seems pretty high for someone who hasn’t made it past AA yet. Good work on this though Dave, some interesting names on here, but you do a good job stating the case for everyone on the list.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Yeah, as far as I can tell, no one has ever talked about Profar as being on a similar level to Harper and Trout, who “only” came in at 20 and 21 last year. I see him more as a 30-35 type guy on a list like this.

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      • Tim says:

        But Harper and Trout are proving that they probably should have been higher on last years list – Possibly they should have been seen as deserving 10-15 range, and Profar can fall in the 15-25 range as being a lesser prospect.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        That’s not really how the series is supposed to work. Just because those guys have played well and moved up the list doesn’t mean they were ranked too low. They’ve just further proven themselves since then which has significantly increased their trade value. Teams are always going to discount the prospect that’s unproven against major leaguers compared to the guys who are already successful in the show.

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    • BX says:

      Middle infielder who can probably stick at SS.

      Even if he’s not a better prospect than Trout/Harper, he gets trade value points on that point alone because SS prospects who can hit AND field are essentially nonexistent.

      Still if I had to guess then 20 tops.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I see what your saying, but Trout and Harper are guys with best player in the game upside which is something I’m not sure people really see in Profar. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an incredibly advanced player for his age and he’s almost a sure bet to be a good starting SS, but the tools just aren’t Trout/Harper level good.

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      • John Franco says:

        A lesser hitter, sure, but he does play a premium position. At worst, Profar’s downside is Kipnis at SS. And we see where Kipnis is ranked.

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      • Rudy says:

        Profar’s defense is plus+Plus+PLUS. His defense now is better than Trout’s and Harper’s put together when fully matured. SS play because of their defense 1st and bat 2nd. You can’t just put some guy in there that hits 30+ HR a season and sucks on defense. That’s what LF and 1B are for (Adam Dunn–I rest my case.)

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      • Rudy says:

        And Lindor’s D might even be better!

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      • TKDC says:

        At worst, Profar is a bust that never does shit, just like every other A-baller “at worst.”

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      • Simon says:

        Some of the comments about Profar are ridiculous. His defence is very competent, but hardly plus-plus-plus, or better than exceptional CF Mike Trout combined with Harper. Also, saying his downside is Kipnis at SS is way optimistic.

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      • kid says:

        HOW DARE YOU CLAIM PROFAR’S DEFENSE AS SUPERIOR TO SIMMONS’.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Is plus-Plus-PLUS superior to plus-plus-plus? Does the former imply that it is so good that scouts actually start speaking louder as they give him the grade because they get so aroused by the thought of Profar’s defense? These are questions that we must have answered.

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      • ppabich says:

        The guy is good enough that people suggest that he will move the best SS in the AL off his position. What more needs to be said about him as a prospect? Yes, he is more valuable than Simmons, Profar is just a much better hitter. He is not as good of a defender, but who is?

        If Profar was in the Braves system and had to compete with Pastornicky rather than Andrus, there is a resonable possibility that he would be starting at SS for the Braves right now.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I don’t think the people who suggest he will move Andrus off SS really no what they’re talking about. He may make the Rangers willing to move Andrus in a trade, but if they’re both on the team at the same time Andrus is going to be the one manning SS.

        It should also be noted that in terms of their current hitting abilities, Simmons and Profar are at roughly similar levels. Obviously that’s a point in Profar’s favor since he’s so much younger, but it doesn’t make him a much better hitter right now. It just makes people feel more comfortable projecting improvement for him going forward. While I still give Profar the nod offensively, I think you’re overselling the difference considering the fact that the tools are similar and Profar actually has more professional experience.

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  10. evil kevin towers says:

    no chase headley? he’s a top-20 player in terms of WAR, behind only Miggy and David Wright at 3B and he’s under team control through 2014 at a relatively small price because he doesn’t have good baseball card stats.

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  11. Bookbook says:

    No Miguel Olivo?

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  12. Jovins says:

    I think it would be fascinating to see a reverse trade-value post. As in, what players are the most untradeable “assets” in the majors.

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    • mcgatman says:

      Psst. They’re all Yankees (and I say that as a Yankee fan)

      Actually someone on the staff did that post last year. Arod, Tex, Jeter, Ryan Howard, maybe Mauer, will all show up on that list (although Mauer has rebounded somewhat).

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