We continue on with the 2013 Trade Value list, starting out with a pretty safe bet for short term value, then moving on to four high risk/high reward players who could either be franchise building blocks or reminders of the unpredictability of developing talent. At this part of the list, there are trade-offs to be made, and each of these players comes with some flaws, but enough value to demand a serious haul in order to even make their current teams consider parting ways with this kind of talent.
|30||399||11.5 %||11.3 %||.264||.353||.532||.380||140||-1.2||1.4||2.7|
Under Team Control Through 2016: $9 million, $10 million, $10 million option
Encarnacion’s breakout 2012 season has carried over into 2013, as the Blue Jays first baseman has proven himself as one of the game’s premier power hitters, and has actually even lowered his strikeout rate again this season. Encarnacion’s combination of power and contact are extremely rare, and serve to make him a highly valuable player even though he’s a defensive liability who doesn’t do much besides hit.
There are other good sluggers who won’t be on this list, though. Encarnacion is here primarily because of the Blue Jays decision to lock him up last summer. That contract has turned out to be a fantastic decision, and even after this season, the Blue Jays will still control his rights for three more years at a total cost of $29 million. Guys who signed similar contracts as free agents last winter: Cody Ross, Jeremy Guthrie, Jonathan Broxton. Yeah, I think Encarnacion is underpaid.
His skillset isn’t one that generally ages that well, and his success record is still on the shorter side, but Encarnacion is an elite slugger in his prime signed to an absurdly team friendly deal. He might not be a household name, but there aren’t many players in baseball providing this kind of power at a reasonable cost.
|23||177||7.3 %||18.1 %||.301||.352||.460||.354||127||-1.3||0.5||1.1|
Under Team Control Through 2019: Pre-Arb, Arbitration
On upside, Rendon could probably be in the top ten. So far, he’s showing signs that he can make a successful conversion to second base, and his bat could be really special relative to other second baseman. The Nationals control his rights for six more seasons after this one, including several at the league minimum. He’s a quality performer with the chance to become a star.
But, at the same time, the track record is just too short to promote him any higher. The injury questions that haunted him in college followed him to the minors, and he’ll need to play 150 games for several years in a row before we know whether he can actually hold up to that kind of schedule. Moving him to second base might exacerbate his health issues, so there’s an argument to be made that the value added from the position change could also be a detriment long term.
Rendon is a big risk/big reward guy, and that’s why he’s near the bottom of the list. In a year, he’ll probably either be much higher or not on the list, depending on how his first full year as a big leaguer goes. If he stays at second base and avoids the DL, he might just end up in the top 10, but that’s hardly a given, and the unpredictability limits his trade value, despite the obvious upside.
|23||289||10.4 %||17.0 %||.227||.324||.371||.312||98||9.3||0.6||1.6|
Under Team Control Through 2015: Arbitration
Last year, I put Heyward at #9, as he reminded everyone of the player he could be, and again looked like a star in the making. He’s followed up a fantastic all around season by once again losing his power stroke, and while he’s just 23, the inconsistency is doing a number on his value. There’s only so long that teams will keep paying for potential, and his dwindling years of team control exacerbate the problem.
Despite his youth, the Braves only control Heyward’s rights for two more seasons after this one. He may very well bounce back and once again show that he can be a franchise building block, but by the time he put his inconsistency behind him, he’d be a free agent. Right now, Heyward finds himself in the slightly awkward position where both his present value and his future value have been diminished.
All that said, we’re still talking about a 23-year-old who already has accumulated +15 WAR in his career, and projects as a +4 win player going forward. Guys who can hit Major League pitching their early twenties often go on to become superstars. Heyward’s defense and baserunning give him a high floor even if the bat never does develop the way it looked like it might have earlier on, and if it does, then he’s got a shot at being one of the most complete players in the sport. But there’s just so many ifs here. Heyward would be a popular trade choice, but he probably wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice, either for winning now or winning later.
|23||397||4.3 %||12.1 %||.325||.363||.487||.367||134||-2.4||0.8||3.2|
Under Team Control Through 2018: Pre-Arb, Arbitration
I will openly admit to having some hesitation about this rating. Segura’s first half bears some pretty strong resemblances to what Alcides Escobar did in the first half last year, earning his way onto the bottom of the list before he decided to remind us that he’s kind of a terrible hitter. Segura has more power than Escobar, but his defensive reputation isn’t as strong, and it wouldn’t be that surprising if he fell apart in the second half, making this ranking look silly in retrospect.
But, if you haven’t looked around at the current crop of shortstops lately, it’s not a very pretty sight. There just aren’t that many guys who can play the position and provide significant offensive value, and while Segura’s track record basically boils down to two good months at this point, he looks like the rare young shortstop who can hit.
And, as with all players with his experience level, the price is right. He’s got two more league minimum years before he gets to arbitration, and the Brewers control his rights for five more seasons after one. If Segura establishes himself as one of the better hitting shortstops in baseball, he’s going to be absurdly valuable based on his production and cost. It’s not a sure thing, but given the lack of quality offensive shortstops in baseball right now, there’d be a long line to take a shot at Segura if the Brewers put him on the block.
Under Team Control Through 2015: Arbitration
By ERA, Jeff Samardzija has been pretty average this year, and hasn’t really established himself as a true front line pitcher. By metrics other than ERA, Samardzija is one of the best power pitchers in baseball. If the Cubs decided to sell on Samardzija, there would certainly be some teams scared off by the runs he’s allowed, but there’d be a long line ready to make him their future ace as well.
Samardzija’s a bit older than most of the guys without long track records of success, but his football background gives him a bit of a pass, and age isn’t as important for pitchers as it is for hitters. Samardzija’s been very good since his fastball started sitting in the mid-90s, and he’s posted identical 3.38 xFIPs over the last two years. There are a lot of reasons for optimism about his future.
Like Price, he’s an arbitration eligible pitcher only under control for two more years after this season. Unlike Price, though, his arbitration payouts are fairly modest, and his inflated ERA may just help them stay that way. Samardzija’s lack of accolades should help keep an extension cost out of the stratosphere, and acquiring him now in order to buy out his free agent years at a discount wouldn’t be a bad strategy. Of course, that’s also why the Cubs won’t trade him.
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