2012 Trade Value: #40-#36

#50-#46
#45-#41

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

40. (NR) Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati – Signed through 2015 for $30 million.

Johnny Cueto is one of two types of pitcher — either one who, year after year, produces peripherals that are likely to lead to a league-average ERA or one who, like Matt Cain, has cracked the secret code of batted-ball suppression. The numbers support either thesis at this point. Each of Cueto’s career component stats — his 18.3% strikeout rate, his 7.6% walk rate, his 44.1% ground-ball rate — is within percentage points of league average, respectively. Cueto’s home runs per fly ball and his strand rate, however, have both improved since his rookie season — and his ERAs relative to the league have followed suit. The good news for the Reds is that even the first type of pitcher is an asset at an approximate average annual value of $8 million.

39. (NR) Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City – Signed through 2015 for $35 million.

It came about four or five years after it was originally expected, but Alex Gordon finally had a star-type season with the Royals in 2011, posting career-bests in basically every offensive category of note and playing an excellent left field, by all accounts. That is, of course, what did happen, while the concern here is with what will happen, or what could be reasonably expected to happen. In many respects, Gordon isn’t a much different player offensively in 2012 than he was in 2007-10. The biggest differences from those earlier years are the change in position (from third base), the level of the expectations placed on Gordon, and BABIP. It’s his improvements in that last category (plus the above-average left-field defense) that have him en route to a five-win season, even in the absence of a double-digit home-run pace.

38. (45) Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore – Signed through 2015 (arbitration 2013-15).

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Wieters follows Gordon on this list: both were high draft picks out of college who were subject to great expectations and both failed to live up to those expectations immediately (even while playing mostly like average major leaguers). Both also had 2012 seasons that confirmed those original expectations. The difference, from the point of view of trade value, is that Wieters is arb-eligible for just the first time this next offseason. On pace now for a four-plus-win season, the switch-hitting catcher will command quite a bit in arbitration — probably more than $15 million over three years. Given recent trends for teams locking up catchers, there’s a great possibility that he’ll reach an extension long before he hits free agency.

37. (NR) Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City – Six-plus years of team control.

If the Royals felt comfortable with Myers’ defense in center field, the clock on his team-controlled years would have started ticking already. They don’t, however, so, as it is now, he’s just your typical 21-year-old minor-league outfielder on pace for 40-plus home runs. Despite a down season by his standards in 2011, Myers still ranked pretty highly on most prospect lists entering 2012 — and that confidence in his abilities seems to have been justified. With the PCL now conquered, the only challenge remaining for Myers is major-league pitching. Well, major-league pitching and Jeff Francoeur‘s mysterious hold over the Royals coaching staff and front office.

36. (22) Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati – Signed through 2017 for $58 million.

Yes, the average is down this year, but Bruce’s is a legitimate power bat (he’s on pace for his second consecutive 30-homer season) in a league that currently has fewer of those than in quite some time. At his current age (25), there are reasons to believe that Bruce still has his best years ahead of him, too. More power, more contact, more walks: an improvement in any of those departments could bump Bruce from above-average piece to star — and that would be a star who’s making about $11 million per year. That’s a risk that a number of teams would be willing to make in a trade. And even if Bruce stays who he is, he’s still likely to provide surplus value year-by-year over what he’d get on the open market.




Print This Post



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

59 Responses to “2012 Trade Value: #40-#36”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Nitram Odarp says:

    Alright, I will officially be disappointed if Simmons doesn’t make the list now that we’ve seen Wil Myers make it.

    -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin P says:

      Assuming you are talking about Adrelton Simmons, it’s pretty much consensus that Myers has a much higher ceiling, not to mention a power hitting skillset that is worth more on the trade market.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Trade value isn’t all about ceiliing. Myers is a much bigger gamble than Simmons whose defense guarantees he’ll be a highly valuable player for the foreseeable future, not to mention that Simmons already made the transition to the majors without missing a beat (including maintaining elite contact rates that portend well for his offensive development). Don’t sell Simmons short on his offensive upside either. The progress he’s made in the past two years since initially being drafted as a pitcher is truly amazing. It is pretty much unheard of for someone to develop this much in this short a period of time.

        -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jpg says:

        Ladies and Gents meet Adrelton Simmons, the 2012 Trade Value version of Yunel Escobar.

        +21 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        To a certain extent, Simmons case reminds me of Pujols in that the prospect rankings never got a chance to catch up with his quick development after being drafted out of a JC. Now I’m not saying Simmons will ever compare to Pujols as a player, just that both are guys who were undersold by prospecters’ rankings.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Not really fair. Escobar was never considered the consensus best defensive SS in baseball, and Simmons is showing better contact rates at 22 than Escobar has ever shown in his entire career.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • kid says:

        Hahaha, jpg just before I got to your comment I was thinking exactly the same thing…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • kid says:

        Martin if you don’t remember last 2011′s TV comments, they included an all out love-affair with both Yunel Escobar’s contract and the Jays’ AA. Jpg isn’t directly comparing the two players, but they do both play SS and they do both have good gloves… plenty of basis for the analogy.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Basically because they play the same position then? Because no one puts Escobar on Simmons level as a defender, he’s never posted contact rates as good, at this age he was still in A ball, and he had only 4 years of team control left compared to 6. If Yunel is borderline then Simmons seem like a pretty obvious no doubt selection.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anon21 says:

        It’s Andrelton, guys.

        And I agree he’s not a top 50 value at this point, given the strong possibility that his bat will falter. If he’s able to keep up the contact rates and flash consistent doubles power, he should easily make next year’s list.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        What reason is there to believe there is a strong possibility his bat will falter? All he’s done since coming out of junior college ~2 years ago is hit despite all the questions that were initially raised about his bat. He posted elite contact rates in the minors and that has carried over to the majors as well (and he’s already at the point where his contact rates should be relatively stabilized based on sample size). Other than the scouting reports from the time he was drafted, there is absolutely no reason to think his bat will falter.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • byron says:

      I think Simmons had a strong case to be on this list. I do not think Simmons has a strong case to be on this list ahead of Wil Myers.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason says:

      Why do you have Martin Prado written backwards as your handle?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. dirtbag says:

    Wil Myers? That opens up a can of worms. Profar has to have more trade value than a corner outfielder who’s 2+ years older and still in the minors, doesn’t he?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • byron says:

      Still in the minors, unlike Profar, who’s been tearing up the major leagues all year?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Well Profar is the #1 rated prospect in baseball, while Myers comes in the the #2-#4 range.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        To be clear: I was just poking fun at dirtbag’s argument. I don’t think Myers is misplaced, nor object to Profar being higher. I don’t see how having a consensus top 5 prospect “opens up a can of worms.”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • dirtbag says:

        “who’s 2+ years older and still in the minors”

        If Profar is still in the minors in 2+ years and is still on this list, then yeah.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • AJS says:

      Dave said earlier Profar is on the list.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Sebastian says:

    People sometimes confuse prospect value with actual baseball value. As another post said, solid D goes along way. And most GMs value SS and C the most because those are the most demanding defensive positions. Myers may be able to hit like the dickens but he’s a converted catcher in search of a position which he can adequately play in the major leagues. A guy like Simmons, who’s already proven he can play elite D at an elite position in the Show and flash a little pop while striking out infrequently, has tremendous value in trades.

    The Braves have a knack for the SS position. Remember, they were the morons who gave up Elvis Andrus (along with Neftali and Harrison) for a futile Mark Teixeira rental.

    Simmons is special. He’s a product of Curacao, where all you do is hang out on the beach and play baseball. As a Braves fan I’ve gotten to see him play a bit, and he has a nose for the big hit/RBI chance which, coupled with one of the best gloves already in the game, makes him pretty exciting. He may not be a highly rated prospect like Myers, but with his athletic build and advanced acumen at just 22, he could end up being more valuable.

    -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. CLogdorp says:

    Wow, I didn’t think Yuniesky Betancourt would make it higher than #36, but I guess I’m wrong!

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. kid says:

    I’m gonna get skewered for this, but given the fact that run prevention is flourishing and run production is dwindling, are we still right to assume that organizations value these defense-first/offense-second guys as highly as they once did?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. BJ says:

    Can’t wait to see where Trout lands on this list.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Marc says:

      #1? The production he’s been putting up as a 20 year old rookie destroys everything we understand about baseball. The kid is special. He is truly, truly special.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KCDaveInLA says:

      A rookie with MVP-like numbers…I’m going out on a limb and guessing that he’ll be #1 (Harper, Strasburg, McCutchen, Stanton or Profar my prediction for the top 5).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ThePartyBird says:

        No way Longoria isn’t in the top 5, even after the injuries.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I would be shocked if Profar was nearly that high. I don’t think anyone considers him to be at the same level as a prospect as guys like Harper and Trout last year, but those guys still only came in at 20 and 21 and Dave specifically mentioned giving more weight to proven, elite production this year then he has in the past. I think a guy like Braun is guaranteed to be ranked ahead of him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TKDC says:

        Profar in top-5 is bat shit crazy. I’d be shocked if his name doesn’t come tomorrow, most likely in the first post.

        Also, I’d like to throw out that I’m a Braves fan that loves Simmons but does not think he will or should be on this list. The Pujols semi-comp is meaningless. If Simmons magically develops way more, that’s great; but right now he is a decent prospect who had a great 40 days in the bigs. Does he have more trade value than Manny Machado? Maybe, but neither makes this list.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anon21 says:

        Goodness, people seem to lose all perspective when they look at exciting prospects. Profar, without a single major league plate appearance, is a top 5 trade value in all of MLB? Listen to yourself, dude.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        TKDC,

        I’m not sure why you think the Pujols comp is meaningless. Both are guys that were severely underrated as prospects because they didn’t spend enough time in the minors to completely overcome their scouting reports from the time they were drafted. I honestly don’t know how you can say he doesn’t deserve a spot in the top 50 when a guy like Alcides Escobar has already made the list. Simmons is younger, has an extra year of team control, doesn’t have a track record of struggling to hit at the MLB level, and is considered a significantly better defender. Unless you think Simmons is doomed to regress to a wRC+ of around 85 long term, I just don’t see a case for leaving him off.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BX says:

        I’d be shocked if Profar was in the top 20. Harper/Trout were ranked 20 and 21 last year, and they were better prospects than Profar.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TKDC says:

        The Pujols comp is meaningless in regard to trade value. Yes, a guy with a very short, great track record maybe has a higher (mostly unknown) ceiling than a guy that has already shown what he is, but he also has a lower floor. I guess it is hard for me to believe that a guy who started the season as a fringe-top-100 prospect could be a top-50 trade piece in baseball by mid season, even with an amazing 40-day debut.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Mark says:

    There’s no way that Alex Gordon is a 20 run defender and unless you believe that’s the case he really doesn’t belong on this list. Even if he’s a true +10 defender he doesn’t belong on this list.

    Your argument for keeping Zobrist so low on the list was because he does things other GMs don’t value as highly – defence and base running. In fact, I’ll just quote what you said on Zobrist:

    ” As a trade commodity, however, Zobrist is slightly less valuable, owing to the fact that his production comes from areas that tend to have less value in the open market: defense, baserunning, and plate discipline.”

    Pretty much sums up Gordon, minus the base running. What skill does Alex Gordon have that other GMs would covet? It certainly isn’t his power (137 ISO) or his bat. A 117 wRC+ isn’t bad, but compared to other LF’s it’s not very impressive.

    For that matter, would anybody give up more for Alex Gordon than they would for any player mentioned in the 40-50 bracket? Outside of Alcides Escobar I can’t think of any player listed to this point who would have less trade value than Gordon.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • todmod says:

      Yeah – Gordon right now has the 2nd highest UZR in all of baseball. It’s a huge impact on his WAR value, he’s not actually playing like a 5 win player like Dave casually states.

      A non-power OF with 3 more years at 11 mil a season is nice to have, but not one of the biggest trade chips in the game.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Jonathan says:

    I think the Alex Gordon piece was totally botched. Even though you are correct that he’s the same offensive player he was before 2011 I think it’s basically all related to having a decent season against LHP last year and his inability to his lefties. He’s always had trouble with lefties and he just had that one season where he didn’t and it made him look much better than he is. Until he can hit LHP with any consistency he’ll be a very good fielding LFer with good offense against RHP but pretty awful against LHP.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Michael Scarn says:

    I’m going to throw this out there since I doubt he’s on the list due to contract – but I highly doubt that the Tigers would trade Miguel Cabrera for Johnny Cueto, or Alcides Escobar for that matter.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Salo says:

      Cabrera is in he is 29 and under team control until 2016 (33 years old season)

      He is locked for his prime and no more.
      Yes he´ll earn more than 20 million, but having a superstar locked for his next four “still in his prime” season is great, generally you have to throw a cuple of 20 millon years that woný be worth that to have an elit hitter, is not the case

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • HerseyChris says:

      They might. Not now they wouldn’t because it would hurt their playoff chances. Lowering payroll wouldn’t help them at all. However, in the off season, it would free up a lot of money which they could then use to sign a FA 3B. You can put it like this, Miguel Cabrera at FMV or David Wright (or some other 3B who’ll probably get around $100+ million) at FMV + Escobar or Cueto at the lower than FMV rates.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. 23553 says:

    Harper, Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Gonzalez should make the list, but I’m wondering about Ian Desmond. I would have put him in before now, so he may not be on the list, but as a young all-star short stop with power, I feel like he has a fair amount of value. I would think that’s it for the Nationals.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matty Brown says:

      Oh, “that’s it”? Your favorite team only gets 5 players in the top 35?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nitram Odarp says:

      I’m not so sure about Zimmerman. He hasn’t been that good in well over a year now and he’s guaranteed 104 MM over the next 7 years. I think a lot of teams would be scared off by those numbers considering his drop in production.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TKDC says:

      You sure you dont want to add Zimmermann, Espinosa, and perhaps Ramos to this list of top 35 trade pieces. I’m pretty sure they all had good half seasons at one point too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon21 says:

      Why do you think Gio Gonzalez should make the list? I feel like if he makes it at all, he’s below 35. As TKDC says–good half season. Round it up to great if you want. Doesn’t change the fact that prior to this year he’s been a league average pitcher and that his walk rate remains a concern.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Will says:

        I don’t think you understand the meaning of league average.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anon21 says:

        What’s consecutive seasons of 3.2 fWAR and 3.5 fWAR to you? Maybe very slightly above league average? There is a margin of error to all this stuff; what we do know is that he was no All Star. Obviously, this year’s campaign is blowing away his previous work, and it’s new data that changes your evaluation. Changes it enough to put him in the top 35 trade values in baseball? I don’t think so.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul Sporer says:

        LOL at league average prior to this year. He’s been WELL above average for 2.5 years now despite the walk issue which is starting to show some improvement this year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Don Draper says:

    Anyone think Michael Pineda will be top 35?

    Nod Repard

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tmorgan1970 says:

      I like that your name backwards almost says “Not Retard”, as if you’re trying to remind us.

      1 is Trout.
      2 is Harper.
      3 is a huge gap to anyone and everyone else.
      My other top tenners… Longoria still, Cutch, and six other position players. I’d love to have great pitchers, but if I’m trading, I’m not trading my stellar position players for them.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. saskatunes says:

    Anyone think if Gordon went to a new team, they might try to stick him back at 3B? Plenty could use help there.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Joncarlos says:

    Gordon and Zobrist … both probably too highly rated because of defense. Yes it’s important. No I don’t think it’s that highly valued.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *