Note: salaries are rounded estimates and include all team-controlled years. Rankings from the 2011 Trade Value series in parentheses.
35. (NR) Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco – Signed through 2014 for $15 million.
Every team in baseball is looking for young hitting, and many of them are wondering where all the third baseman with power went. Sandoval is one of the few good young offensive 3Bs in the game — his career line of .306/.356/.499 is good for a 125 wRC+ — as he doesn’t turn 26 for a few more weeks. He’s had problems staying healthy the last couple of years and the Giants only bought out his arbitration years when they signed him to a three year extension, which drive down his value a bit, but his power and contact skills are rare enough that he’d command a strong return if put on the open market.
34. (4) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston – Signed Through 2015 for $36 million.
Pedroia is yet another example of a guy ranked very highly last year who has tumbled due to injury and performance issues. A couple of thumb injuries have landed Pedroia on the DL and contributed to a miserable performance in June, but his overall performance even before the injuries was down a bit from what we’ve come to expect. Still, signed for two more years plus a team option for a third year at $10 million per season, he’s a massive bargain and he was an elite player last year, so there’s no question that there’s still a lot of value to be had. However, the multiple thumb issues and disappearing power put a bit of a damper on his current value, and any team trading for Pedroia would have to be aware of the fact that they’d be taking him away from the Green Monster, where he’s done most of his damage throughout his career.
33. (NR) Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers – Under Team Control Through 2015.
Jackson has enjoyed a breakout 2012 season, already matching his career high in home runs and seeing his walk rate spike as well. The addition of power and patience to a player with good speed have made him an all around performer and one of the best center fielders in the game this season. His track record suggests that the power might be in for a decline, but he’s posted an ISO over .200 in each of the first four months with no discernable drop-off, so there’s a case to be made that the new Jackson is simply a large improvement over the old one. His surge is well-timed, as he’ll be heading to arbitration for the first time this winter, and is probably in line for a lucrative extension if the Tigers decide to buy out his arbitration years. Even with a payday coming, however, Jackson’s performance and athleticism make him a guy that teams would be lining up to bid for.
32. (NR) Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Anaheim – Under Team Control through 2016.
His lack of plate discipline received a lot of attention during his rookie year, but it may have overshadowed the fact that Trumbo is one of the strongest players in baseball, and he’s got the kind of power that allows him to be productive even while swinging at pitches he should probably let pass. Instead of regressing from his rookie season, Trumbo has been one of the most dynamic offensive players in baseball this year, hitting .311/.361/.634, good for a 165 wRC+. Just 26, Trumbo is one of the premier young power hitters in the sport, and he’s athletic enough to not embarrass himself in the outfield. He’s not a perfect player, but his strengths are notably hard to find in the sport these days, and with four more years of team control, he’s an asset that the Angels aren’t likely to part with.
31. (NR) Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox – Under Team Control through 2016.
Sale’s conversion to the rotation couldn’t have gone any better — that is, unless you take away that whole two week blip where the White Sox were moving him back to the bullpen because his arm hurt before changing their minds. That incident has to raise some concern, but it’s still too hard to ignore what Sale has done as a dominant starting pitcher this year. A 77 xFIP- as a starting pitcher in the AL shows just how good he has been even if you regress his BABIP and HR/FB rates, and the White Sox still have another year where they can pay him peanuts before arbitration even kicks in. The drastic loss in velocity and the whole starter-reliever-starter thing would probably serve as red flags for some team, especially given his slender frame, but he’s pitching at a level where you accept some risk in order to get this kind of performance, especially from a 23-year-old making the league minimum.
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