2013 Trade Value: #35 – #31

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36

As we get towards the middle of the pack, we start to find players who have been among baseball’s best performers in 2013. While the last section was littered with potential, this section is more about realized potential, at least in 2013. These guys are highly talented players having terrific seasons, and as usual, their contract status is also adding value.

 

#35 Jose Bautista (3B/OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
32 390 13.1 % 17.7 % .254 .351 .493 .365 129 5.6 0.8 3.0

Under Team Control Through 2016: $14 million, $14 million, $14 million option

$14 million for a player of Bautista’s quality is a serious bargain. That said, his isolated slugging percentages for the past four years: .357, .306, .286, .239. Now 32, it’s probably unrealistic to expect Bautista to resume dominating the sport like he did a couple of years ago. He’s still a tremendous hitter, one of the best right-handed sluggers in the game, but he doesn’t appear to be other worldly anymore.

So, Bautista would be a short term value play for contenders looking to put themselves over the top. I’m not sure sure it’s a given that his 2016 option gets picked up, depending on how he ages over the next couple of years, so it’s probably best to look at this as 2/28 with the possibility of being 3/42. You’re getting elite performance for a few years at a significant discount, but there’s not a lot of long term value.

Still, if the Blue Jays did decide to blow things up and put Bautista on the block, the bidding war would get intense. He still projects as a +4 to +5 WAR player, and even mid market teams could afford his salary, giving them a shot at a legitimate star in order to make a deep playoff run. Toronto seems likely to hang onto him, but he’d be a fascinating trade chip if they did decide to get a little younger.

 

#34 Ian Desmond (SS)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
27 389 6.4 % 22.6 % .281 .328 .486 .349 122 3.9 2.8 3.5

Under Team Control Through 2015: Arbitration

Since the start of last season, Desmond has racked up +8.4 WAR, nearly three wins more than the next best shortstop; only Robinson Cano and Mike Trout have larger leads over their closest competition during that span. His error problem has basically disappeared, allowing him to solidify himself as a true shortstop, and he’s settled in as a 125 wRC+ hitter thanks to his power. His approach at the plate could use some work, but really, that’s nitpicking at a position where there aren’t any perfect players.

The downside here is the contract status, and Desmond is headed for his second round of arbitration and will be a free agent after the next two years are up. Given his recent success and the lack of quality shortstops, he’s in line for a significant payday. But, he’s just 27 now, so anyone acquiring him might still have time to get him signed to a long term deal that keeps him away from his mid-30s, and his spotty performance earlier might prove to keep his price reasonable. Still, without that kind of long term control, it’s difficult to place him any higher than this.

But during the next two years and change that the Nationals hold his rights, Desmond seems likely to be one of baseball’s most valuable pieces. A durable shortstop who can hit, and whose salaries are held down by the arbitration process, is a big time building block.

 

#33 Carlos Gomez (OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
27 362 4.4 % 23.2 % .296 .338 .534 .371 136 12.3 4.0 4.6

Under Team Control Through 2016: $7 million, $8 million, $9 million

And the best decision of the year goes to Doug Melvin, for deciding to buy Gomez’s first three free agent seasons for a grand total of $24 million. Had the Brewers let him hit free agency after this kind of age-27 breakout, he’d have been looking for a $100 million deal and maybe more. Instead, they now control one of the game’s more dynamic center fielders for the price of a decent platoon player.

It should be noted that Gomez almost certainly won’t keep up his current level of production. His .354 BABIP is 51 points higher than his own career average prior to 2013, and while he’s an excellent defensive outfielder, he’s not going to keep running a UZR that grades him out as +20 runs better than the average center fielder. Regression is coming.

But even a regressed version of Carlos Gomez is still pretty terrific. ZIPS and Steamer project him as a roughly a +4 WAR player going forward, and he’s entering the years that often result in peak performance. Like Desmond, he doesn’t draw walks but does everything else well, resulting in a fantastic player even if he gets there in an unconventional manner. Toss in a contract extension that looks like one of Scott Boras’ rare misses, and Gomez is a terrific asset for the Brewers.

 

#32 Shelby Miller (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
22 104.2 9.63 2.49 36.7 % 2.92 3.08 3.39 2.4 2.0

Under Team Control Through 2018: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

A year ago, Shelby Miller was battling a long ball problem in Triple-A, but what he’s done in the big leagues since then has put to rest any questions about his status as one of the game’s best young pitchers. He’s only got 118 innings under his belt as a Major Leaguer, but there’s nothing to quibble with: he throws hard, has a knockout curveball, pounds the strike zone, and misses bats in the process. If you want to pick nits, you could complain about his lack of a third pitch, except his curveball works just fine as an out-pitch against both RHBs and LHBs, so there’s no large platoon split to worry about.

That he’s this low essentially reflects the risks associated with pitchers in general, and some lingering question about whether he’d be able to succeed at the same level without Yadier Molina. While no one that I’ve talked to has come right out and said that they devalue pitchers after they leave St. Louis, I have had several friends in the game mention that they think a lot of the STL pitchers benefit tremendously from Molina’s work. If a team really believes that Molina is a driving force behind that pitching staff’s success, they might be somewhat less willing to pay a premium to experiment with how well that pitcher would do throwing to another catcher.

But, of course, Miller was a very good prospect coming up through the minors, and Molina wasn’t him catching him then. I doubt he’d fall apart simply because he changed teams, and there would certainly be a line of teams that would love to see him prove this theory wrong on their squads. But, if you’re wondering why a 22-year-old who is dominating Major League hitters and comes with five more years of team control is this low, that’s basically the reason. Pitchers break, the track record is short, and the Molina factor might hurt his trade value a little bit.

Thankfully, though, he probably doesn’t have to worry about what he’d do throwing to someone else, because I don’t see any scenario where the Cardinals give him up.

 

#31 Starling Marte (OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
24 401 3.5 % 22.2 % .291 .342 .462 .349 125 8.9 5.4 3.6

Under Team Control Through 2018: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

It’s not entirely fair to call Marte a young Carlos Gomez, but beyond Gomez’s six additional home runs, their 2013 lines look much the same. Marte opened a lot of eyes with his fantastic early season play, and give his combination of athleticism and broad base of skills, he can regress and still be a terrific player.

As with Gomez, there are concerns about his approach at the plate, and whether pitchers will start exploiting his swing-at-everything plan. Like with Gomez, a lot of his 2013 value is tied up in defensive metrics and a probably unsustainable high BABIP. I don’t want to belabor the comparison, but they are very similar types of players having the same type of season. Only with Marte, you get two additional years of team control, both at near minimum salaries.

In some ways, I think I’m underselling his value by placing him here, but on the other hand, teams have shown that they’re not as willing to pay for speed-and-defense in the corners. Marte could certainly handle a move to center field, but his defensive value isn’t going to be as appreciated while he’s playing next to Andrew McCutchen, and the things he does well aren’t quite as sexy as launching balls into the upper deck. Like many young players with this set of skills, Marte’s actual value is likely higher than his trade value.

But there are enough teams out there who would love to make Marte their center fielder that Pittsburgh would have no shortage of suitors if they decided to make him available. Which they won’t, because he’s one of the primary reasons the Pirates are finally good.




Print This Post



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


73 Responses to “2013 Trade Value: #35 – #31”

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

    Where’s my boy Ryan ‘The Big Piece’ Howard?

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jake says:

      You forgot a couple words after “Piece” there.

      +122 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wobatus says:

        And you forget one between “couple” and “words”. Just kidding (and I +d your post). It seems like “of” is optional there these days anyway. Kinda like how “lose” is evidently now spelled “loose”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Well-Beered Englishman says:

          Because I’m at the office after hours waiting for a train.

          From Garner’s American Usage, Third Edition:

          of. However innocuous it may appear, the word of is, in anything other than small doses, among the surest indications of flabby writing….The word of often intrudes where it doesn’t idiomatically belong, as in ‘not that big of a deal,’ ‘not too smart of a student,’ ‘somewhat of an abstract idea,’ etc. [Garner stars each of these, denoting “invariable inferiority”.] For the opposite tendency, see ‘couple’.”

          Flip to “couple” and…

          “The traditional use of couple has been as a noun. As a noun, it requires the preposition of to link it to another noun: ‘a couple of dollars.’ Using couple as an adjective directly before the noun is unidiomatic and awkward. But the clipped phrasing [see CASUALISM] does surface in print.”

          Point to Wobatus, you are correct!

          When’s my damn train.

          +34 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Wobatus says:

          I got abused by my brother-in-law for using “of” improperly in casual conversation. Something like “I’m not that good of a ____.”

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • bookbook says:

          You’re quite right. It makes me loose my mind every time I see it, even from some pretty good righters.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Julian says:

          You’re waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure. But it doesn’t matter. How can it not matter to you where that train will take you?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason Tyner says:

      This joke will only be funny for 6 more articles.

      +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phillies boy says:

        Howard being one of the greatest Phillies of all time is no joke.

        -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Preston says:

          No it’s not, he’s in the top 30 for WAR in team history. And his short peak, 2006-2009, yeilded two WS appearances and one trophy. So you could reason that he leapfrogs into top 10-20 range, maybe higher. I’m sure most Philly fans have fonder memories of Howard than Bobby Abreu who is ranked #6 in WAR.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Phillies boy says:

          Dude, RH hit 48 HR with 146 RBI and lead Philly to a world series.

          He’s easily one of the greatest Phillies ever.

          -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • PackBob says:

          At least he’s one of *your* greatest Phillies ever.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • David says:

          What’s an “RBI”? I’ve never seen that acronym used in a FanGraphs forum before. Whatever it is, I bet it’s worth $125 million.

          +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Rippers says:

    It’s been amazing to see Martie emerge and turn into a valuable player.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Slats says:

    Is Carlos Gomez the best defensive OFer in the game today?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scott says:

      From 2011-2013, his UZR/150 ranks right up there, only eclipsed in CF by Craig Gentry and Lorenzo Cain (min innings = 1000). Not sure other data/reports rank Gomez.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Slats says:

        I know Gomez was leading the league in both DRS & UZR a few weeks ago. I assume he still leads both, but I’ll have to look it up!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hildebeast21 says:

      Gomez or Brett Gardner or maybe even (don’t laugh) Jason Heyward? Chris Young is no slouch, either. And Ellsbury. And Bourn. And Reddick. And Span. And Victorino.

      But Gomez is probably the best when you combine fielding and positional value over the last 2-3 years.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anon21 says:

        Heyward is outstanding in right, but I doubt he would grade out as exceptional when compared to center fielders. Depending on how the Braves decide to do things, he might see a decent amount of playing time in center until B.J. Upton comes off the DL, and if so, I’ll be interested to see how he holds up.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      Perhaps, but he needs a nickname. Hey, how about “Cargo.”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. White Blood Cells says:

    The “Molina Factor” is one of the most fascinating mysteries in the game right now. How much is Molina’s catching skills affecting the pitching staff? I’m starting to think the answer is “a whole hell of a lot”. WAR might be grossly underrating him if he’s a major reason why Cardinals pitchers are so good. I don’t think there’s any study that can truly quantify what he brings to the table, but he might actually be the most valuable player in the game.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scott says:

      I wonder if there’s even seminal catcher value research to be done ever. It’s pretty hard to isolate their value. But yes, the value of Mauer, Molina, Posey, etc, could be grossly underestimated.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      Remove the “might” and I’ll agree.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anon21 says:

        Without “might,” that sentence is a syntactical wreck. (“he actually be the most valuable player in the game.”) I think you’ll need to make additional changes before you go agreeing.

        +26 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Joe says:

          way to be so pedantic that you miss the point Anon.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Andrew says:

          Somehow I think he got the point

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • SKob says:

          If the premise of your joke is that you can’t agree to a point if it’s written in poor english, I disagree! I am perfectly fine agreeing with a statment that is written as a ‘syntactical wreck’. Very amusing though.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • ConservativeWoodsman says:

          It’s awesome that 70% of the threads on this site eventually devolve into a critique of grammar and/or spelling. That’s what I come to FanGraphs for. Three cheers for pedants!

          It may actually be this website’s own special version of Godwin’s Law.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Balthazar says:

      This is, of course, what ‘conventional wisdom’ routinely was regarding catcher performance through most of the 20th century: certain guys really understood how to ‘call the game’ and ‘work with what pitchers had’ and so improve their results. This contention was exactly what early stat investigations failed to substantiate, leading to many rather snide remarks on said conventional wisdom, which all peaked say seven or eight years ago.

      And now we encounter again the surmise that there’s something to it; hmmm. I’ve always thought that there was something to this argument, but that only very few catchers brought that kind of impact into game play. It would be interesting indeed if finer grained analysis and some astute modeling teased out just what factor is in play, if any.

      That all said, Shelby Miller has real talent, and his success this year has been good to see. So many young pitchers get hurt or struggle; the attrit rate upon hitting the majors is fierce. So to see one guy come up and knock ‘em on down is a pleasure . . . even if it hadda be the Cards who did it. But hey, that organization has had some kind of inside baseball going on with pitcher usage for a long time now. It used to be Dave Duncan got all that credit, and maybe he deserved that. But he’s gone, and now it’s Molina who’s getting the kudos. Maybe we _all_ should take a closer look at ‘the St. Louis Way’ or whatever it is. . . . Probabaly just luck, is what it probably is.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • olethros says:

      Most of the tendency of ex-Cardinal pitchers to decline post-StL is down to Dave Duncan (and his successors, who are basically playing from his sheet music) more so than Molina. No doubt Molina makes the pitchers better, but not as much as the pitching philosophy of the team the past two decades.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. rustydude says:

    Dave Cameron has mentioned in chats that he suspects that WAR under-rates Molina, and perhaps by a considerable amount. If what Dave’s contacts are suggesting here… that Yadier makes all of their pitchers significantly better, wouldn’t it be a wise gamble to go hard after Molina.

    In fact, perhaps Molina is #1 in trade value. If the guy can make all your pitchers that much better, what other player has that ability? Of course you gotta figure the St Louis GM would immediately get suspicious if the Angels started floating proposals that started with Trout.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hildebeast21 says:

      there has been a lot of really compelling research about pitch framing. molina grades out very highly. my guess is that game management, the calling for x pitch in y location by the catcher, is far less of a factor in a catcher’s value. the pitcher still has to hit his spots and have good stuff.
      anyway, pitch framing research has come a long way. there have been many articles written on this site and several others, too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Baltar says:

        IMO even the standard catcher skills are vastly underrated. This was understood better in days of yore when “the battery” was considered a big deal, not just the SP.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mr Baseball says:

        I remember it was just 10 or so years ago, the stat geek community sneered at the idea catchers meant anything on D. Interchangeable parts they said. Then they saw the light on the running game, but still denied any effect on pitchers.

        Of course the people that actually played the game disagreed and said certain catchers were great to pitch to and others were not.

        This should be a lesson for the stat geeks to tone down the blowhard act when the data hasn’t yet discovered certain things that players and coaches have experienced and observed.

        -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • TheHoustonian says:

          Which stat geek community was that?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • buddaley says:

          On the contrary, the lesson is that the skepticism at the root of a stat approach enhances our understanding of the game. Whereas what players and coaches have experienced leads to ossified views and unsupported assertions that calcify with repetition, the questioning of those views leads to more research. That research may confirm, deny or raise more questions about issues.

          What it does not do is establish orthodoxies. It is the traditional approach that establishes arrogant assertions, as if what John McGraw said in 1911 holds true everywhere in every situation because it has been enshrined by repetition.

          No doubt, some individuals will react to a particular bit of sabermetric research as if it is the “final word”. But the approach itself is the antithesis of such a claim.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • olethros says:

          Obvious troll is obvious.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Yinka Double Daer says:

          It wasn’t that catcher D was sneered at, it was that no one had a damn clue how to measure it. And we still really don’t, although the studies on framing and such are moving us in that direction.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. cass says:

    When the Expos came to Washington, Jim Bowden touted Ian Desmond as the next Derek Jeter and made it sound as if he’d soon be one of the best shortstops in the game. It took awhile, but eventually everything the scouts said about Desmond turned out to be true. We love him here in DC and hope he gets locked up soon. Although they never played for the big league club in Montreal, Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond are essentially the last Expos, having both been signed by the club before the move to DC.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Balthazar says:

      If that’s what Desmond is worth now, it’s a thrill to think about what Brad Miller will be worth in a couple of years. Pretty similar players except Miller’s peripherals have always been a bit better. And having follwed Brad make adjustments level by level in the minors, I don’t think it’ll take him until his age 27 season to put it together.

      Desmond would fetch a package, but the Nats aren’t the kind of smart-stupid to trade him. There’s going to be a lot of turnover on that squad in the next 1-2 years, but Desmond and Harper are going to the the bookends.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. matthewcdolter says:

    In pnc park you need a centerfielder in left as well. the park is huge to left field

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Scott says:

    Seems Chris Davis should fall in this range, no? Similar WAR to Gomez, same age- limited track record, with one less year of control… Offset by the fact that offensive stats are more reliable. Very similar to Desmond in that regard too.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. kwk9 says:

    If .360 BABIP Starling Marte is #31, I don’t see how Seager’s not in the top 50. Kyle’s a year older, but he’s hit just as well as Marte and done it with a sustainable BABIP. Plus Seager has infield positional flexibility. Dave, if you were GM of the Mariners, would you trade Seager straight up for Marte?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cliff says:

      Without hesitation.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • szielinski says:

      Marte has always produced high BABIP. Eventually, he’ll stop doing this. But that may happen after his peak. Marte is akin to Carl Crawford, although Crawford drew more walks and struck out less during his prime years than Marte likely will.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      Is “positional flexibility” more important than being an elite defender at the position you actually play? Marte is one of the best corner OFs defensively and like materially above average in center as well. Moreover, he adds significant value on the basepaths that Seager does not.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Baltar says:

    Bautista should perhaps be higher, even with the negatives Dave correctly listed. If the Giants and Phillies were just a few games better and Bautista were available, they would conduct a knock-down-dragout fight for him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Cardsfan says:

    Where’s Trevor Rosenthal? He’s Kimbrel, with a decent shot to start, with six years of control. 45 innings, 1.5 WAR.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Shoeless says:

    Desmond should be way higher than this. Dave goes on to say he’s heads and tails above the next SS and is a great cornerstone for a franchise, and he’s only #34? Two more years plus the ability to sign for long-term right now through his prime seems like a no-brainer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. TKay says:

    Marc Hulet never liked Marte. Didn’t put him on his top 100 prospects last year. Put him behind Robbie Grossman on the Pirates top 15. Who’s stupid now, MARC! (I really like Marc Hulet’s analyses and everyone misses things sometimes)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. astrostl says:

    “His approach at the plate could use some work, but really, that’s nitpicking at a position where there aren’t any perfect players.”

    When healthy, I’d say that Tulo is pretty damned close.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. AJ says:

    I understand your point about Molina, but I think I’d take Shelby Miller over Matt Moore at this point.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. harry nutbag says:

    Understanding it is your list & your opinions. How can you have a list like this and Joe Mauer not be on it?

    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>