2013 Trade Value: #40 – #36

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

We move away from high salary, high risk players into a group of players on the opposite end of the spectrum. While the players below might not be seen as superstars yet, they all possess significant potential and have some very appealing contracts.

 

#40 Allen Craig (1B/OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
28 381 5.5 % 16.8 % .333 .378 .494 .378 145 0.1 -5.7 2.1

Under Team Control Through 2018: $3 million, $6 million, $9 million, $11 million, $13 million option

Allen Craig is perhaps one of the least exciting good players on the list.  He just turned 28, so he’s not exactly brimming with youth.  From a tools perspective, he’s somewhat lacking, and will never be mistaken for an Olympic athlete.  He’s a first baseman who occasionally plays the outfield, and isn’t all that great at either spot.  He’s not a good baserunner, and he has a history of health problems.  

But Allen Craig can really hit.  In just over 1,200 big league plate appearances, he has a career .310/.357/.508 mark, good for a 138 wRC+.  While you could make a case that he falls into the underpowered corner profile, given that a lot of his extra base hits are doubles and not home runs, Craig makes up for the lack of dingers by hitting for a very high average.  He’s not a pure slugger, but the game is low on guys who can hit .300 and while slugging .500, and Craig is one of the best at this kind of combination.  

What puts him in the Top 50, however, is his contract.  Because he was a late bloomer, the Cardinals basically controlled his entire prime, and then bought out his arbitration years in order to get an option on a free agent year at a discounted price.  If they end up picking the option, the remainder of his contract will work out to $41 million over five years; if they don’t, it’s $28 million for four.  

Getting this kind of offensive production at that price, through his prime years, makes Craig a very valuable piece.  While he might not be the most thrilling player in the league, he is one of the most productive, and his low salary would make him a fit for every team in the league.

 

#39 Carlos Santana (C)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
27 361 14.7 % 17.7 % .275 .382 .466 .367 137 -10.1 -2.8 1.7

Under Team Control Through 2017: $4 million, $6 million, $9 million, $12 million option

There’s a decent argument to be made that Carlos Santana should not be considered a catcher, for the purposes of a list like this. Whether it’s controlling the running game, blocking pitches in the dirt, or pitch framing, Santana regularly rates as one of the worst defenders in the sport, and he’s only getting older. There’s a point at which a catcher is giving back on defense all of the value he gets from position scarcity, and Santana is probably pretty close to that point.

But here’s the good news; even if he’s not viewed as a catcher, Santana is still good enough to be a legitimate building block. At age-27, Santana’s finally showing what kind of hitter he can be when he posts a relatively normal BABIP. For his career, even with a lower than average BABIP, he’s got a 125 wRC+, and that’s while spending most of his games crouched behind the plate. History shows a pretty significant offensive penalty for players who catch, and moving Santana to first base mostly full time may very well allow him to sustain numbers even better than he’s posted so far.

And, like with Craig, the contract is a large part of his value. Including the team option, the Indians control his rights for four more years at a grand total of $30 million; if something goes wrong and they end up declining the option, they’re only on the hook for $18 million over three years. Santana is just now entering his prime, is making the kind of salary you generally expect from a part-time role player, and is already one of the best switch-hitters in baseball. He has the bat to move off catcher and still be highly productive, and at his price, is one of the best return on investments in the sport.

 

#38 Wil Myers (OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
22 112 5.4 % 25.9 % .288 .321 .413 .316 103 0.9 0.9 0.5

Under Team Control Through 2019: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

The fact that Wil Myers was traded, with other prospects, for James Shields and Wade Davis a few months back could be taken as a sign that this is too aggressive of a ranking for a kid with no real Major League track record and some legitimate concern about his future contact rates.  If he develops into the next Jay Bruce, is it worth putting him this high when I left off the original Jay Bruce? 

I think it is, because we can’t overlook the tremendous value that a player provides during his first few seasons in the big leagues.  Wil Myers, right now, is probably something close to a Major League average player, and he’s making the league minimum.  He’ll make something close to that next year too, and the year after that, and the year after that, since the Rays kept him in the minors long enough to avoid Super Two qualification.  And then he’ll have three more years of team control at arbitration prices.  

6+ years of a player, three of them at about as a low of a price as you can pay to fill a roster spot. Myers doesn’t have to be a star in order to justify this ranking, as the quantity of production he’s going to provide for such a low cost has significant value in and of itself.  Teams pay a lot of money for average players, and having a stock of pre-arb players like Myers is how the Rays continue to win on small payrolls.  

And of course, Myers might very well develop into a very good player.  He swings and misses a lot, but he also has a lot of power, and that combination can add up to a lot of value as long as he doesn’t swing and miss so often that it cancels out the power.  Toss in some defensive ability and there’s certainly All-Star potential.  If he lives up to it, he’ll move up the list in a hurry.  If he doesn’t, though, that’s okay, because just having a solid contributor making nothing for multiple years has a lot of value in and of itself. 

 

#37 Anthony Rizzo (1B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
23 396 10.4 % 17.9 % .241 .328 .441 .333 108 5.6 0.4 1.5

Under Team Control Through 2021: $1M, $5M, $5M, $7M, $7M, $11M, $15M option, $15M option

So far, Anthony Rizzo has not been a particularly great Major League player.  He’s a slow-footed first baseman with a career wRC+ of 103 in nearly 1,000 plate appearances, and he hasn’t taken a step forward yet this year.  However, there is a lot of reason for optimism.

For starters, there’s the fact that he’s just 23.  He got to the big leagues young, and has held his own despite the fact that his peers were still toiling away in the minors.  He’s also shown some serious power, as 42% of his career hits have gone for extra bases, and that has risen to 50% this year.  The doubles haven’t yet turned into home runs, but given his age, there are plenty of reasons to think that they will.  

Both ZIPS and Steamer project him to improve in the second half, and he’s basically a small power spike and a slightly higher BABIP away from being one of the better hitters in baseball.  Given normal development, Rizzo looks to be on course to turn into an offensive force.  It’s not a guarantee, of course, but he’s showing all the signs of being an offensive machine, and it may happen in the very near future.

If it does, the Cubs won’t have to worry about his price soaring, because they preemptively locked him up to a seven year contract that gave them two team options, so even after this season, they’ll control his rights for eight more years.  If they pick up his options, their total cost will be somewhere around $65 million depending on incentives; if they don’t, they’re only out $40 million, and still would have gotten seven years of production for that money.  

The upside here is enormous.  If Rizzo becomes a franchise first baseman, the Cubs will have massive cost savings, and there’s not that much downside as long as he stays healthy.  It’s a lot of projection and not as much present value, but for a team looking long term, Rizzo is one of the game’s best values.

 

#36 Salvador Perez (C)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
23 299 3.7 % 12.7 % .284 .314 .396 .311 93 1.3 -1.2 1.4

Under Team Control Through 2019: $2M, $2M, $2M, $4M option, $5M option, $6M option

Perez is in the midst of his worst offensive season, as his power has regressed back closer to where it was in the minor leagues, and since he’s an extremely aggressive hitter, he needs to drive the ball to be successful.  However, Perez is not the kind of player who has to hit to be an asset.  

Perez is, by most accounts, an excellent defensive catcher.  He has a very strong arm, is far more agile than most behind the plate, and comparisons to Yadier Molina have been made.  That’s unfair to the kid, but certainly, it speaks to his skills as a receiver.  Unlike with many other young catchers, we’re not counting down the days until Perez moves to an easier position to save his knees.  He’s almost certainly going to be a catcher for the duration of his career.  

And because the Royals signed him so early in his career, most of that career will likely be spent in Kansas City.  The salaries are significantly deflated because the Royals locked him up so early into his career, but the real value lies in the three team options.  If he develops into a true two-way force behind the plate, the Royals will have him at backup catcher prices during his most productive years.  If his career gets sidetracked by injuries or the bat stagnates, the Royals aren’t committed to paying him any real money.  

He’s perhaps the lowest risk player on this list, simply because of the prices he’s agreed to play for over the next six years.  If he develops, he’s a massive steal.  If he doesn’t, then he’s still a very useful big leaguer making hardly any money.  His floor is exceptionally high, and while his ceiling might be debatable, he’s similar to Myers in that he doesn’t really have to improve to be a big time asset.  If he does hit, this ranking is way too low.  




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


90 Responses to “2013 Trade Value: #40 – #36”

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  1. Timeghoul says:

    Why the f— hasn’t Scott Spezio appeared on this list yet?

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  2. Paul says:

    Count me among those that are excited to see if Rizzo can turn his Mitch Moreland impression into a Brandon Moss or even a Mark Trumbo impression.

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    • Hamba says:

      I’d prefer an impersonation.

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      • Paul says:

        I was going for impression. To impersonate would be to try to become those guys. An impression brings a comedic element to it, allowing the viewer to be in on the gag. As we all can see he is clearly not as good as those guys, I’m assuming we’re supposed to be in on the gag.

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  3. CabreraDeath says:

    Considering that Wil Myers is on this list, I’d be pretty surprised if Starling Marte isn’t on it as well. Much, much better defender, already an above-average hitter, and is 24 years old.

    Should be interesting to see how he’s ranked, or not.

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    • nik says:

      Marte’s BB rate is just nauseatingly bad, and its not like he doesn’t strike out either. Not a lot of guys have sustained success with numbers like his.

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      • CabreraDeath says:

        In general, I’d agree – but, in Marte’s case, I don’t.

        First, he’s striking out only a bit above league-average, low 20′s, depending on how he’s playing at the moment. And, while he hasn’t walked as much as I’d prefer (even 6-7% would be nice), he has gotten beaned a bunch which helps out the OBP (not sure if it’s sustainable, but the book is to pitch him in on the hands, he doesn’t move, so maybe it is?).

        But, more importantly, they guys that you are describing are usually low-power guys that are heavily based on BABIP. Marte has power now, and should have even more going forward. Plus, he’s been pretty much the same dude every year in the Minors and including this year. It works, at least for him.

        Plus, his defense. Enough said.

        I think he’s rather valuable, and, his season thus far is proving his proponents accurate.

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        • John Franco says:

          He has a little bit of a Machado/Profar argument… does the trade value rank take into account the player’s best position? If you traded for Machado could you play him at SS? Could you play Marte in CF? Because he’d be a hell of a good CF.

          (You could argue that he’s the best CF on the Pirates right now)

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        • jg941 says:

          Good point from JFranco – with Gregory polanco also in the wings for th ePirates, there will come a day very soon where McCutchen will have to (reluctantly) agree to step aside in CF and go to a corner.

          He deserves a lot of respect for what he’s done for a sub-standard franchise to date – which is frankly why he is still in CF instead of Marte – but as this team gels, he will have to agree to make the smart overall team move to a corner, and let Marte flex all of his skills in center, where he could end up being the best (defensively) in baseball.

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  4. nik says:

    To me there really isnt much difference between a guy like Rizzo and Eric Hosmer. Neither has really broken out yet and both still have that potential. I’m not really even sure if that Rizzo extension moves the needle at all for me either. I think I’d rather have a guy like Dom Brown that has had the MLB breakout and plays a more premium position.

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    • JT Grace says:

      I think you could add Freddie Freeman in there with Rizzo and Hosmer. IMO, Rizzo’s team friendly contract does bump him up in the trade value ranks though.

      As for Domonic Brown, no one knows yet if he will be a one year wonder or not. He needs to prove this year isn’t a fluke.

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      • nik says:

        Its not like he’s come out of nowhere, he was a highly touted prospect and this list has guys that haven’t had ANY success yet.

        And completely agree on Freeman, although he only has his ARB years remaining. If I’m the Braves he’s a guy I look to extend now.

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        • JT Grace says:

          Yeah, this list is puzzling in some ways. However, you need to figure in their current contract, which adds to the formula quite a bit.

          I agree about Brown. He very well could have just figured it out this season. Alex Gordon and Chris Davis were both high touted prospects who struggled and then busted out. I just need to see a bit more “proof” before I am a full believer in him.

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        • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

          Freeman is a bit frustrating, just in that he hasn’t developed enough power. His hit tool is fantastic, and his approach always seems to be improving. 2011 he’s a patient hitter. 2012 he attacks the first pitch. 2013 he’s back to being a (bit more) patient. If he could turn 15-20 HR power into 30 HR power, you’re talking about a pretty good 1B. But it’s not like he’s waiting to fill out, and it seems like he’s been around forever already. With so-so defense, it’s power or bust for Freeman.

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  5. Rob Moore says:

    Perez’ contract is so freaking cheap I kinda think he’s underrated here.

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    • Guest says:

      Perez – Ya if he develops…. It doesnt sound like the author has ever watched him play.

      Craig- This seems surprising considering all I ever hear on this site is that batting average is a useless stat and so are people that cant defend well

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      • David says:

        re: Craig. Substitute OBP for AVG and Craig still hits plenty. And at 1B he doesn’t need to be much of a defender to stick. He’ll never be an elite 1B, but at his price he doesn’t have to be. Getting a 3-4 WAR player for the cost of a 1.5 WAR player is a bargain any team would love to have

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      • chuckb says:

        If that’s all you hear, you should try cleaning out your ears.

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    • Baltar says:

      Yeah, I literally gasped when I saw his salaries for the next few years. Also, good defensive catchers are way underrated. The position is more important than shortstop, but not seen as such.
      On another note, I can’t see teams standing in line for those first two guys. They’re reasonably priced but not really cheap.
      Myers and Rizzo should be at least this highly rated, maybe higher.

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  6. Dave says:

    I’m not really sold on Craig. He’s about to be 29, hasn’t ever played out a full season, has a low walk rate, and an inflated BABIP for a slower guy. He’s also projected to finish this year, which is quite possibly his peak year at his age, with 2.9 WAR according to ZiPS.

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    • Myran says:

      There is certainly value in a guy who is top 25 in RC+ every year. 17th so far in 2013, 19th in 2012, 10th in 2013 if he qualified. Sometimes you just need some guys who hit the ball well, even if they don’t do much else.

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      • Guest says:

        This is my point. You need guys that can hit the ball to drive in runs. His ba with risp is even higher. I think Craig is extremely valuable, but thats based on logic that people on this site usually denigrate.

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    • ralph says:

      I was surprised Dave didn’t mention that Craig’s AVG and SLG this year are so high because of his .380 BABIP. That’s obviously unsustainable, but Craig does seem like the rare non-speed guy who might be able to keep a relatively high BAPIP thanks to a high LD and low IF rate.

      Also, he showed a lot more over-the-fence power previous years including last year. Regression could help him on the power side while hurting him on the BABIP side of things, maybe even evening out in the end.

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      • zipperz says:

        Have you guys ever watched him hit? Line drives all over the place. And he does change his approach with RISP.. he shortens his swing considerably. One of those guys that never bought into the “chicks dig the long ball” stuff. Just a professional hitter.

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  7. Anon21 says:

    I would have left Rizzo off the list. As Dave says, it’s a projection pick, and I just don’t have all that much confidence in projecting him to take a big step despite his youth. As Dave’s honorable mentions post explored, many of the Next Big Corner Infielders just never really break out.

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    • Cuck city says:

      you should stay anonymous with terrible opinions such as these

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      • Anon21 says:

        Not all of us can be as brave as you, Mr. city. Nor as completely obnoxious and nonsubstantive in our comments (thankfully).

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        • Scott says:

          Assuming Rizzo produces like he has over his last 764 PA’s, and assuming 5 mil per WAR in the free agent market, Rizzo is +31.8 million. Pretty darn valuable.

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        • Anon21 says:

          But apparently less valuable than the money he has coming to him, unless I’m misunderstanding you or misreading Dave’s contract summary.

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        • Dayton Moore says:

          You have to discount back the amount Cubs are paying, especially in later years, and assume some inflation in salaries.

          This brings up an interesting point. The discount rate for future payments should be quite low, given that “riskless” returns are so low (treasury yields). Also, inflation expectations are low (at least per market rates, not saying a lot of folks don’t expect a significant rise in inflation), so should we expect less salary inflation in the past. Baseball may be singular; its salary inflation expectations may be higher than goods in general. What with what the LA teams throw around. :)

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        • AnthonySoprano says:

          And not all of us are inveterate braves’ fans like you. You didn’t bring anything but your inherent biases to the discussion.

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        • Anon21 says:

          What does this have to do with Braves fandom? The Cubs as an organization and Rizzo as a player are super low salience to Braves fans such as myself. I just don’t think he’s done enough at this point to establish himself as a top-50 trade value, and see him as exactly the kind of player who’s ended up being ranked too high on the basis of “potential” in past iterations of the list.

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    • Balthazar says:

      ‘Trade value,’ Anon21; keep repeating that phrase. With less than 1000 PAs, nobody can really tell what Rizzo’s performance curve is going to look like. Though the fact that he’s hitting lefties significantly better than in the past is a very promising sign. But would another GM give up a bundle to get a guy with a power tool like Rizzo’s, his cheap & long team control, and recored of hitting for power in the minors at a very young age? yes. In making this list, there have to be some guys ranked on projection—because the league will value them that way. It does nothing to undercut the present ranking if Rizzo’s future performance doesn’t come close to it. Rizzo could still be traded in relation to that expectation of performance and contract, and that is the quite legitimate basis for the ranking. I haven’t personally been that high on Rizzo, but he is improving, and regardless I don’t disagree with the assessment of his trade value here.

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  8. CabreraDeath says:

    It’s weird to me that most stat-heads (of which I claim to be) prefer guys that walk and take pitches and, in general, have an idea of the strikezone.

    Yet, Allen Craig is considered a darling of said community (he walks 5.5%) and Starling Marte is not, at least offensively speaking. He walks 3.5%. Still lower, and yes he K’s 5% more than Craig, but I think the difference in perspective towards each is quite interesting. Plus, when you consider that those same stat-heads also love good defense, well, that just makes it inconsistent in my eyes. Marte is a beast of a defender, while Craig…is not. Yet, much love for the latter and not as much for the former.

    Watch: DC will have Marte on this list, obviously higher than Craig, and I’ll look like an even bigger idiot than I do now, which is immense.

    CD

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  9. funketown says:

    I’d be curious to see a bottom 10 in the league for trade value (basically worst contracts). Might be Albert Pujols’ only #1 ranking in 2013.

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    • jbhill17 says:

      I would think that Ryan Howard would rank #1 on such a list…

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    • TBH says:

      A-roid and Ryan Howard might have something to say about that.

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    • kmanning says:

      That would be fun, though I don’t see any way that Pujols takes #1 in that contest with Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez’s deals out there.

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    • Baltar says:

      A-Rod beyond any doubt.

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      • funketown says:

        Arod and Pujols both have about $85 million left, but Pujols has around $210 million left. Pujols will probably remain a productive player, but I’m really not sure which way to go on this one.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Matt Kemp. And it won’t be close. Believe me, I’m NOt a fan of Pujols’ contract, and a huge amount of Arte M’s money is going to be wasted (again). But while nothing like what the Angles thought the were getting, or are paying for, Pujols continues to be a reasonably productive player. And may well turn in those results for some years going forward. Kemp may never play effectively again; I don’t think anyone is really taking it that way, but I do. Kemp may never have another productive year; I seriously doubt he ever repeats his 2012. The Dadgahs have a great chance to see upwards of $150m of payout get no return in that guy.

      Howard’s contract was probably the worst, but a lot of the money has already been burned. With Kemp, they’ve only just begun.

      I link these three guys in my mind for another reason too . . . .

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  10. Nick says:

    I think Craig definitely belongs. He’s proven to be a consistently awesome hitter. His defense isn’t great but it’s passable, aka it doesn’t make him into Brad Hawpe. And how many other guys have a Steamer ROS wRC+ of 132? I imagine most of them, if not all, appear on this list.

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    • Theodore says:

      A ton of them are not on the list due to a combination of being too old, making too much money, or being on the verge of free agency, and hence about to be making too much money.

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    • Wobatus says:

      I wouldn’t trade Carpenter for Allen Craig and Carpenter isn’t going to make it.

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      • Nick says:

        I certainly would trade Matt Carpenter for Allen Craig myself, ceteris paribus.

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        • Dayton Moore says:

          I wonder what most people would do. Craig already is locked up in what Dave argues pretty convincingly is a friendly contract. I’m not sure what Carpenter’s contract situation is but he seems to be under team control for a bit more. He isn’t quite the hitter Craig is but he plays 2nd, and a little younger.

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  11. rustydude says:

    Sal Perez’ contract… uhhh, just wow! Does he even have an agent negotiating on his behalf?

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    • Guest says:

      Ivan Rodriguez to Yadier Molina to Salvador Perez. His receiving, game-calling, throwing ability combined with a .300 batting average on that contract… He will be a top ten for years to come on this list

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      • lewish says:

        He can hit, and definitely throw, but do you really feel his other defensive skills merit his inclusion with those two amazing all around catchers. I don’t follow it but does he call a good game, and is his blocking good, and framing? I haven’t checked any kind of stats if there are any we trust, but to the eye does he look good in those other areas of his game that IR and YM are definitely masters of? I’m just curious.

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    • Dayton Moore says:

      Can’t lose’em all!

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    • brendan says:

      he signed before he had much big league experience/track-record, so he gave a big discount for the financial security.

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      • That Guy says:

        He also lacked a big-time prospect record and showed essentially no power in the minors – so far his major league offensive numbers are considerably better than his numbers in the minors. Really, he sort of came out of nowhere in 2011.

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    • Dylan says:

      I’m shocked he isn’t higher. He could be a .5 WAR player, and he’d be underpaid at those prices thanks to his value on defense. And he’s not a .5 WAR player. I honestly think he’s a top 25 guy.

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    • rbt says:

      His agent advised him against signing.

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  12. Kevin says:

    Interesting seeing Myers and Rizzo right next to each other. Is Rizzo’s future offensive production expected to be so enough better then Myers to cover the extra costs of Rizzo’s contract and still have him just ahead on the list?

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  13. Danny says:

    Now I know that Kyle Seager was underrated. He’s pre-arb until after ’14, plays better defense at a more important position and his bat is as good as these guys.

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    • Travis L says:

      Kyle Seager, career 114 wRC+.
      Allen Craig, career 138 wRC+.
      Carlos Santana, career 128 wRC+.

      Agreed on Rizzo, Myers, and Sal Perez. Although Perez probably plays as solid defensively as Seager, and my opinion is that catcher is more important than 3B defensively.

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  14. TKDC says:

    The Rizzo over Freeman is puzzling to me. First, they are the same age and Freeman has been the far better hitter so far in their careers, and with now a fairly good MLB track record. Their closeness in value comes from defense, which I’m not sure very many GMs would buy. I think most GMs think Freeman is a better hitter right now than Rizzo. So basically you have the contract. I think long contracts sometimes are considered to be amazing outright without a second thought about the risk. Sure, $40-$50 spread over several years will surely not cripple many teams, and especially not the Cubs, but there is value in being able to drop a player at any time. Sure, if Rizzo or Freeman tears it up and becomes elite, they will cost a bundle if they were to hit free agency, but that is not the only possible outcome. If things go bad for either player, there is a counter effect, which is that one team can cut bait, while the other is stuck.

    Also, there is a huge part of a player’s trade value that comes from what they have done lately, and Freeman has been the 6th best qualified offensive first baseman this year, and Rizzo clocks in at #21. Teams would view only one of these players as an impact bat you could put into the middle of the order right now.

    And one more thing, because there are still some neanderthal GMs out there – Freeman has absolutely crushed it with men on base. I know this is meaningless, but do all 30 GMs?

    All that said, I think the bigger problem than not having Freeman on the list is that you have Rizzo on it, and not even in one of the last few spots.

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    • AnthonySoprano says:

      Oh great, the other braves’ fanboy just has to chime in.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Myself, I’m with you, TKDC, and I think a shrewd GM would angle for Freeman for these reasons and more. But this is a list in valuing for whom acquiring teams would give up the most. That instroduces an element of ‘market perception.’ And power is definitely something which shapes perception. Rizzo has more of that power than Freeman and always will. Furthermore, Freeman’s performance history works against him in that regard, for while we have a pretty good idea of what his profile is, Rizzo with his much shorter history has more room for projection (or for fantasy, choose your term). And Rizzo is both young and cheap. I don’t doubt that most GMs would trade for Rizzo over Freeman if both were available at a comparable ask.

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    • rccb says:

      There isn’t any trade value “in being able to drop a player at any time”; no one would ever reasonably give up greater value because the return could more easily be discarded.

      Even if Freeman is always the better player, Rizzo is likely to have greater trade value. Freeman is entering arbitration after this season, will likely be more expensive no later than 2015, and is a free agent after 2017.

      Rizzo has 4 more years of team control — 4! — at an extremely affordable rate. Rizzo doesn’t have to be great to be an excellent value. He’s already sufficiently productive to be worth his contract; the reasonable hope of continued development gives him an incredible amount of trade value. It doesn’t matter if you think Freeman is the better player, that isn’t what this list is about.

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      • TKDC says:

        There is a trade off in giving a guy a long term deal. You take on the risk that they do not perform even to the level of the contract, so there must be value in the inverse. Yes, you have risk of having to pay more, but there is a benefit. If you don’t see that, I don’t know what to tell you. Many teams, such as the Braves, have frequently gone year to year with their players, especially players that have a good chance of not being megastars.

        And yes, Rizzo doesn’t need to be great to provide good value, but neither does Freeman, and then if you look at how good they actually are now, Freeman is the much better offensive player.

        Moving off Freeman now (my point was always more about Rizzo); if the Cardinals were out of it, but not in complete rebuild mode, I think they would be nuts to trade Craig (the perceived higher current value) for Rizzo. I think any team in baseball that thinks they have a shot this year or next would rather have Craig than Rizzo. And that is the thing, how many teams are truly in long term rebuilding mode now that 1/3 make the playoffs? Guys who are much better now and similarly cost controlled are more valuable in the trade market. Rizzo might develop into a stud with a ton of excess value, but right now he is the 21st best offensive first baseman in 2013. And the $40 million guaranteed is not all plus no negative, though I think you may be right that most GMs don’t go into deals thinking about what might go horribly wrong (this is actually true of almost all people in almost all contracts – it keeps lawyers’ billables in the stratosphere)

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        • rccb says:

          Of course there is value to the flexibility of being able to move on from a player if it doesn’t work out, but it isn’t the type of value that you would willingly surrender additional assets for – especially when that flexibility is offset by the arbitration system. And more, the relatively annual salary means that, even if he fails to progress, an aquiring team can mitigate its losses (some) by trading him for low-value assets sometime down the road. This is virtually the same value as the flexibility to cut ties with a player you’ve given up good assets for.

          As you say there’s risk in the guaranteed contract, but the risk the club has assumed is reflected in the dollar figure.

          Rizzo-type contracts are well suited for long term contention – not necessarily long term rebuilding. I would expect any team that is a year or two away from genuine contention would probably be willing to risk a substantially better – and substantially older – bat like Craig. It’s an interesting case because Craig looks like such reliable production, and it would be hard to argue that a current contender would make the trade as you point out. But Rizzo is so young and shows promise of excellent production for a cheap rate. A team contending now should prefer Craig; a team looking to future contention should prefer Rizzo. It seems perfectly fair to say these players are roughly of equal value over the course of their guaranteed contracts.

          If Rizzo was any better, he’d probably be much higher. It’s hard to quibble to much over a #37 ranking, because the greater likelihood is the ranking is justified in the future, and if he flames out, he can be dropped from the rankings entirely without embarrassment.

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        • TKDC says:

          I guess the bottom line is that I think guys who are perceived as being able to make an immediate huge impact now that are also fairly cheap would get more than a former big-time prospect who is below average this year for his position offensively.

          I will add that maybe Rizzo does have more room for growth, but I don’t think that translates as much to trade value.

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  15. indyralph says:

    I realize that the list is not saying specifically that player #37, 38, 39 etc. would be traded for player #36. But I feel like I can go all the way down the list to #50 and through the honorable mentions and not find anybody whom I really believe the GM would trade for Perez. I have a hard time imagining that any of the top 20 prospects on Marc Hulet’s list today would be traded straight up for Perez (realizing that some are probably higher than #36). I mean, can’t you say “If he develops, he’s a massive steal” about any of those guys? To put it in another light, if market value for Russell Martin is 2/17, what’s my motivation to trade valuable pieces for Perez?

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    • Wobatus says:

      It depends on the circumstances, but I think teams would trade a top 20 prospect for Perez. For example, suppose Yadi Molina tore his ACL tomorrow. I could see the Cards trading, say, Wacha for Perez (I doubt the Royals would do that).

      Or, not a top 20, but say, but I’d imagine the yanks would trade Gary Perez (34 on Hulet’s list) for Sal Perez. Or maybe not. You did mention Russ martin and the yanks didn’t resign him. But Perez is younger and cheaper.

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    • NM says:

      Well Martin is getting a little more in 2013 than Perez will over the course of the next 3 seasons, and even Perez’s team options at the end are very cheap that cover prime years. Perez has put up a 108 wRC+ so far in his career, through age 23, and is by all indications a fantastic defensive catcher (if not quite Yadier Molina-level, but then again who is).

      If he takes any kind of offensive step forward, which is definitely possible considering his age and offensive production to date, he could be a star locked up for the next 6 years at just $21M total. And if not, he’s still probably a 2-3 win guy, thanks to the glove and current level of offense, getting paid $15M over the next 5 seasons, only $6M of which is guaranteed, which is very valuable.

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  16. lewish says:

    I don’t watch Royals so I have a limited viewing of Perez, but everyone seems to be big on his defense here. Until this post I just assumed he wasn’t more than average defender. He is unorthodox, but tremedous at throwing, but I was under the impression that he wasn’t good a blocking…at all…is there an UZR type metric for catchers defense? Do we feel he really is adequate at blocking the ball, I mean it seems clear his footwork isn’t good, but he is big guy and lots of moving parts, ya,ya,ya…he hits so he is clearly valuable, but I didn’t think I visually saw or in framing stats saw him good at framing for example, though he seems to get the ball to stick in his glove, which Mariners fans would appreciate after what they have had over the years…so long winded and all, is concensus he is an overall good defensive catcher or just a good thrower, that being young may develop into a good all around defensive catcher?

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    • Rauce says:

      “… I was under the impression that he wasn’t good a blocking…at all…”
      Couldn’t be farther from the truth. Royals pitchers routinely throw in the dirt when they are ahead in the count with men on, knowing that Perez will keep it in front.

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    • rbt says:

      He’s an excellent blocker, and I have no clue where you’re getting the “footwork isn’t good” comment. Especially after you admit to limited viewing of him. His framing could use some work, but really, the guy is an elite defender at his position.

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      • lewish says:

        I will look at again. Once again I personally didn’t see anything that made me stop other than some crazy awesome picks and throw outs. I saw throws from his knees, and side arm and what I saw said to me he is quick, and accurate, and powerful but not necessarily good footwork or fundamentally in his movements, but it sounds like maybe I didn’t see a fair representation of his work and I will have to go back and look, because I don’t want to miss an elite defensive catcher. They are just too awesome. Thanks for the heads up.

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  17. Ben Melman says:

    Carlos Santana?

    Anyone ever seen him play?

    I don;t know what the stats show, but like most sports, baseball is a game of momentum – and Carlos Santana changes his teams momentum so often with his poor catching (i.e balls getting past him that should be been blocked), terrible control of the running game (cost stealing is 11%…..11%!), and Bill James had him ranked as the worst baserunner in MOB in 2012. And then there’s him trying to bat in a run producing position – 3, 4 or 5 hole – and being more concerned with hitting foul balls to working a walk then to get a pitch to drive and knock a runner in (a la Alan Craig).

    I do not understand the hype over Carlos Santana. He very possibly has the lowest baseball IQ of anyone currently playing in MLB, and constantly costs his team more than he helps it. The Indians management should have moved him to DH years ago – and as a DH he will prove to be nothing special (he is a terrible 1st baseman….holding onto the ball while opposing runners circle the bases as if it’s little league).

    I’m thinking about starting a website is which baseball is talked about by what a player does on a field to help his team win. And don;t give me WAR – Molina is easily the most valuable player in MLB and his WAR is a joke.

    Carlos Santana. Right. From the same 2 guys that thought they made a killing bringing Trevor Bauer in…..he went from being a slam dunk ace to learning to wind up in Triple-A.

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    • Ben Melman says:

      If Carlos Santana trade value is this high – I’d sell right here!

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      • Ben Melman says:

        Final thought…..

        The Dodgers traded Carlos Santana to the Indians in what is seen as a one-sided trade. But 3B Casey Blake filled a hole, and the Dodgers made the playoff’s both times in his first year-and-a-half there, something they may well not have done without him.

        Meanwhile, the Dodgers are playing AJ Ellis, another catcher from their farm system. Ellis may not hit with as much power as Santana or draw as many walks, but he’s in the ballpark. And when you compare his calling a game, handling a pitching staff, blocking balls and throwing out runners (50%!) to control the running game, there is no comparison to Santana. In 3 years I have never heard an Indians pitcher compliment Santana. The Dodgers pitchers compliment Ellis all the time. I don’t know about “trade value”, but I can guarantee you that the Dodgers would not trade AJ Ellis even up for Carlos Santana under any circumstances. Of course, the Dodgers try to win, while the Indians front office is committed to developing players (for other ML teams) and tries to conform to this years sexy stats. Under that lens one can see why Santana is a perfect fit for the Indians and why Ellis is a guy that the Dodgers front office, management coaches and players love and respect.

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