2014 Trade Value: #40 – #31

Welcome to the second part of this year’s Trade Value series. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another. And then read the first ten entries on the list from yesterday.

There will be a couple of formatting changes this year. Instead of doing two posts per day, with five players in each post, I’m consolidating those posts into one longer list per day. Additionally, instead of having a player listed and then some paragraphs about his ranking, I’m going to list all ten players in a table at the top of the post, and then write about all ten in more of an article style than a selection of blurbs. Having all of the names available in a single table makes for easier comparison of some relevant facts, and in past years, the player capsules started to feel pretty repetitive by the end. Hopefully, this cuts down on some of the redundant text. We’ll find out, I guess.

A few quick notes on the columns in the table. After the normal biographical information, I’ve listed Projected WAR, which is essentially a combination of ZIPS and Steamer’s current rest-of-season forecasts extrapolated out to a full-season’s worth of playing time. For non-catcher position players, this is 600 plate appearances; catchers are extrapolated to 450 PAs. For pitchers, this is extrapolated to 200 innings. It is not their 2014 WAR, or their last calendar year WAR; it is a rough estimate of what we might expect them to do over a full-season, based on the information we have now.

The two columns to the right of that give you an idea of the player’s contract status. “Controlled Through” includes all years before a player accumulates enough time to be eligible for free agency, all guaranteed years of a contract already signed, and any years covered by team options that could be exercised in the future. Player options and mutual options are not included, as the assumption is that players of this caliber will generally opt-out of their current contracts if given the chance.

The “Contract Dollars” column includes the base salaries of each player in the controlled years going forward, starting from 2015 — the 40% of 2014 salary remaining is not included in the calculation — including the value of team options, since we’re assuming that they will be picked up. In many cases, players have incentives for various accomplishments that affect the base salaries, but those are not accounted for here, simply because of the tedious work of calculating all those incentive prices and the fact that $100,000 for an All-Star appearance or $500,000 for an MVP-finish there aren’t going to change the overall calculations. This column is not an exact representation of their future earnings, but should be close enough for our purposes.

For players who are under team control but not under guaranteed contract, I’ve listed out which arbitration years they still have remaining. There are a few players who have both guaranteed contracts and arbitration eligibility remaining, but we’ll deal with those cases in the article when a simple line in the chart doesn’t explain their situation perfectly.

Finally, “Last Year” notes where a player was ranked on this list last year, or if he wasn’t on the 2013 Trade Value series, then he is denoted as unranked. As you can imagine, there’s a lot more turnover at the end of the list than the beginning.

Alright, enough fooling around; let’s get to the list. For reference, I’m going to include the entire list up to this point.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Contract Dollars Last Year
50 Yan Gomes 26 CLE C 3.4 2021 $40,950,000 Unranked
49 Starling Marte 25 PIT OF 3.0 2021 $52,500,000 31
48 Kyle Seager 26 SEA 3B 3.4 2017 Arb1 – Arb3 Unranked
47 Alex Cobb 26 TB SP 3.1 2017 Arb1 – Arb3 Unranked
46 Edwin Encarnacion 31 TOR DH 3.7 2016 $20,000,000 45
45 Julio Teheran 23 ATL SP 2.3 2020 $41,600,000 Unranked
44 Chris Archer 25 TB SP 2.4 2021 $42,250,000 Unranked
43 Devin Mesoraco 26 CIN C 3.0 2017 Arb1 – Arb3 Unranked
42 Corey Kluber 28 CLE SP 3.8 2018 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked
41 Michael Brantley 27 CLE OF 2.6 2018 $30,000,000 Unranked
40 David Wright 31 NYM 3B 4.1 2020 $107,000,000 21
39 Dustin Pedroia 30 BOS 2B 4.2 2021 $107,500,000 25
38 Byron Buxton 20 MIN OF 1.2 TBD Pre-Arb – Arb3 28
37 Jose Quintana 25 CHW SP 3.3 2020 $40,650,000 Unranked
36 Billy Hamilton 23 CIN OF 2.7 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked
35 Matt Carpenter 28 STL 3B 3.9 2020 $66,000,000 Unranked
34 Jose Fernandez 21 MIA SP 4.8 2018 Pre-Arb – Arb3 17
33 Carlos Gomez 28 MIL OF 4.8 2016 $17,000,000 33
32 Yordano Ventura 23 KC SP 2.8 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked
31 Sonny Gray 24 OAK SP 3.0 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked

Yesterday, I noted that the average age for the last ten in was 26 and their average forecast WAR was just a tick over 3.0, noting that it was a group of guys already close to their prime who probably weren’t going to become franchise cornerstones. This group is entirely different. Even though it includes both Wright and Pedroia, the average age is a full year younger. Even though it includes a not-ready-for-MLB Byron Buxton, the average forecast WAR is 3.5. This is a group of players who either have top-line potential, or have recently been elite MLB performers.

Let’s start with the two guys who probably have peaked as MLB players, and whose value comes from attempting to remain where they are for as long as possible. Wright and Pedroia both took hometown discounts to re-sign with their current organizations, and while both are having disappointing 2014 seasons, they’re significantly underpaid relative to other +4 WAR players in the game. Even though these contracts carry well into the decline phase of each player’s career, there is substantial short-term value in acquiring star-level players at highly discounted rates, and the costs at the end of the deal are not so high as to offset that value.

One could make an argument that Matt Carpenter is in a similar stage, even though he’s a couple of years younger than both Wright and Pedroia. Even with the move back to third base and some expected offensive regression, Carpenter is still a very valuable player, though the lack of power limits his upside to some degree. It’s unlikely Carpenter is going to develop much more power at this point, so for him, the question is how long he can maintain elite line drive rates and avoid weak contact; his seven career infield flies is Votto-esque, and one of the reasons why he has a career .346 BABIP.

It’s a bit of a unique skillset, and not one that teams traditionally pay as much for as they do for power or speed, but Carpenter has 1,500 plate appearances and a 132 wRC+ in the big leagues. Given the lack of offense in the game and the guaranteed minimal salaries he will earn over the length of his deal, there would be significant interest in Carpenter’s services if the Cardinals put him on the block.

But maybe not as much as if the Brewers put Carlos Gomez on the block. Gomez is this section’s Edwin Encarnacion; a player with only two years left on his contract, but a present value/low salary combination that is ridiculously slanted in the team’s favor, and makes up for the lack of years of team control. Since making the transition into a legitimate power hitter, Gomez has blossomed into a true superstar. He’s not going to repeat last year’s UZR-driven +7.5 WAR season, but he’s on pace for a +6 WAR season that might be seen as even more reliable, given that it is being compiled on the back of a 145 wRC+ instead of a +25 UZR.

Realistically, Gomez is worth something in the neighborhood of $30 to $35 million per season right now; he will make $8 million next year and $9 million the year after. He’s unlikely to accept another team-friendly extension after giving away three free agent years right before he turned into a superstar, so any acquiring team would have to look at this as a two year rental before a market price correction kicked in, but those are two absurdly valuable seasons.

Beyond Pedroia, Wright, Carpenter, and Gomez, though, the rest of the players on this section of the list are brimming with future value. Buxton was widely viewed as the best prospect in baseball before the season, drawing (unrealistic) comparisons to Mike Trout based on his overall package of tools. 2014 has been a lost season to date, but those tools are still there, and scouts are still convinced that Buxton has the ability to eventually become a legitimate superstar. He offers little in the way of short-term value, and probably won’t be big league ready for a few years, but for teams with the patience to wait, the payoff could be dramatic.

But perhaps the biggest upside play here is already a big leaguer. Before his elbow exploded, Jose Fernandez was making a legitimate run at Clayton Kershaw‘s title for best pitcher in baseball, and even if he’s out for all of the 2015 season as well, he’d still be looking at a full recovery for 2016 as a 23 year old.

Yes, he’ll have burned through all of his pre-arbitration years by that point, but the injury is also going to limit his earnings in arbitration, so any team paying for Fernandez’s rehab would get Fernandez’s age-23 through age-25 seasons at highly discounted rates. Given the success rates of Tommy John surgery and Fernandez’s ridiculous performances before the injury, the lack of value for the next 18 months wouldn’t dissuade teams from aggressively pursuing his long-term value.

Of course, if a team didn’t want to wait for 2016 to upgrade their rotation, you could do a lot worse than choosing between Quintana, Ventura, and Gray. In his third year in the big leagues, Quintana is the seasoned veteran of the three, but has quietly developed into one of the best young starting pitchers in the game today. And because the White Sox had the foresight to sign him to a long-term deal before last season, he’ll make a grand total of $20 million over the next four years, and then the White Sox hold a pair of $10 million options if he stays healthy and keeps pitching well.

Ventura and Gray haven’t signed long-term deals yet, but since both are in their first full seasons in the majors, each have five more years of team-control, including a pair of pre-arbitration seasons that will see them make something close to the league minimum. Gray and Ventura rank a bit higher than Quintana mostly for upside reasons, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the three. These are three of the most valuable young arms in baseball, and they only rank this low because pitchers break.

That leaves us with just one player left to discuss, and the guy who doesn’t fit into any other mold. Billy Hamilton is his own guy, a legitimately unique player whose value is exceedingly difficult to narrow down. On the one hand, I still know a lot of smart people in the game who don’t think Hamilton is going to sustain enough offense to be more than steals-and-defense specialist. On the other hand, Hamilton already has 30 extra base hits this year, and the Ben Revere comparisons look outdated at this point.

Here’s what we’re pretty sure we know; Hamilton is among the game’s most valuable baserunners, and his defense in center field has been even better than the most optimistic forecast. If Hamilton maxes out as an average hitter in the big leagues, then he’s Jacoby Ellsbury with perhaps even better defense. But Hamilton’s already exceeding expectations at the plate, and has a career 107 wRC+ in 381 big league plate appearances. His Triple-A performance remains worrisome and can’t just be discarded, but Hamilton’s base from which to grow as a hitter appears higher than he was given credit for.

Hamilton’s probably never going to be a good hitter, but the surprising power has put away any thought that he might not play as an everyday regular. Now, the question is more of how much higher he can go from here. If he sustains offensive performance even close to where he’s at now, then he’s a legitimate star in the making.




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


114 Responses to “2014 Trade Value: #40 – #31”

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  1. southie says:

    Still have to quibble about the formatting. While the player capsules might have sounded repetitive they really didn’t read that way. Especially when everyone is looking to read about their favorite player anyway, they loved anything that Mr. Cameron has to say about their star.

    I strongly prefer the other format. This is actually takes quite a bit away from the content IMO.

    +92 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Yes, under the player capsule format, people can skip over all the rest of the content and just read a 150 word blurb about their favorite player. However, because they skip over all the rest of the content, they don’t get any of the context for why their favorite player was ranked where he ended up. Writing it in article format makes it more difficult for people to skim the post, but from my perspective, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because they’re gaining more information than they would have by just scrolling down until they found the guy they wanted to read about. And it allows me to explain the rankings in a way that I can’t in blurb format.

      It’s a bit of an experiment, and I might go back to the other format next year, but I think there’s an argument to be made that the article style making people read more of the post is a feature and not a bug.

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      • Mike says:

        Not really, just makes me use the search bar to filter through the article for any tidbits that apply to players I care about. Meh, its your column, write it the way you want.

        +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mettle says:

        Even still, this format requires you to scroll back and forth between the text and the chart if you want to look at the stats of the players you’re talking about. That got really annoying by the time Billy Hamilton came around.

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        • peopletocakeratio says:

          is there a way to freeze the table at the top of the browser window when you scroll past it? granted, it would probably work better if there are only 10 players in the table, but it would solve the issue of jumping back and forth between the text and the table itself.

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      • Mark says:

        If someone isn’t reading the entire article under the old format that’s their own loss. I don’t know if you should cater to people who aren’t necessarily willing to read your article, especially over the people who did read the previous article and enjoy it far more than this style/format.

        I enjoy the series, but I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more with the individual player blurbs as opposed to the new format.

        +34 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Elias says:

        Totally agree with Dave on this one. The new format allows deeper analysis and more interesting framing.

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        • PBMax says:

          The first post I thought, I don’t like this(like a lot of other people), but after this post I liked this better, and have a good feeling going forward.

          Keep up the good work Dave, it’s most appreciated!

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      • Salty Dog says:

        I like the article format since it allows you to discuss groupings of similar players (Wright and Pedroia from this article, Kluber/Marte/Teheran/Archer in the first article, etc), but I really miss the “surprise factor” of being able to scroll down the list one by one and see who’s next. There isn’t nearly as much excitement when they’re all in a list at the beginning. It’d be nice to blend them somehow so that the reader doesn’t see everything at once.

        One idea would be to include the rankings and data in-line with the article, e.g.

        49 Starling Marte 25 OF 3.0 2021 $52,500,000 31
        45 Julio Teheran 23 SP 2.3 2020 $41,600,000 Unranked
        44 Chris Archer 25 SP 2.4 2021 $42,250,000 Unranked
        42 Corey Kluber 28 SP 3.8 2018 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked

        46 Edwin Encarnacion 31 DH 3.7 2016 $20,000,000 45

        50 Yan Gomes 26 C 3.4 2021 $40,950,000 Unranked
        43 Devin Mesoraco 26 C 3.0 2017 Arb1 – Arb3 Unranked

        … etc.

        It wouldn’t present them in order as is normally done, but you could always put the ordered list at the bottom. That would preserve some of the mystery factor since you wouldn’t see everyone at once while allowing the writing to be in article format rather than countdown blurb format.

        Or maybe that’s a terrible idea. It’s just a buzzkill for me to see them all up front and I would love to see a format that preserves some of the mystery of who’s ranked where.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Salty Dog says:

          Oops. Just for posterity, there were supposed to be tags that indicated an intro before everything and then text about that group of players for each group. They were removed since they used a similar format to HTML tags.

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      • cass says:

        I’ve generally read all of these articles in previous years. This new format looks like a table followed by a wall of text. I haven’t read either one. I instead skipped to the comment to see if others felt the same.

        There is no suspense. There is no organization. This doesn’t look fun to read at all.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Dave, you’re a smart guy and it’s your column, so you should write it however you want.

        But it seems that you’re not making anyone happy with the change (both those who were happy reading the entire article under the old format, and those you don’t want to be forced to read the portions they’re not interested in).

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      • nomoredevil says:

        “Dave Cameron doesn’t want me to read his stuff.”

        That’s what I got out of this.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Randy says:

        Instead of reading the content about the individual player I was interested in, I just skipped ALL of the content. Unintended consequence of reformatting = not reading at all. I only have time to skim articles on here anyway.

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    • Esoteric says:

      Yeah, count me alongside everyone else here: this format change was a terrible, terrible mistake. Almost destroys the value of this series entirely. I used to read every entry with anticipation, looking to learn about players who had slipped under my radar, and looking forward to the appearance of old favorites. Now I can barely focus on finishing the entire article, and the new structure is dissolute and permits some players to be dismissed in a sentence (or even a sentence fragment), which is not what they deserve.

      It’s not too late to switch back to the old format for the rest of these entries, Dave. Please — think about it, seriously. It’s not too late.

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    • Tim says:

      I just noticed this thread and am a little surprised. This was a great article. I can find an interesting sentence or two about Billy Hamilton anywhere, but the context and analysis are invaluable.

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  2. Dave Cameron says:

    Guys; stop replying to “Urbanman”. People are just trolling the comments for fun; it’s not even the same guy. Just ignore the obvious troll and it will go away.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Honestly I saw his comment and it was nothing over the top, he just didn’t agree with Gray’s ranking. Just came across as a guy disagreeing with your ranking system, even if in an unfriendly way. Deleting seemed wholly unnecessary, IMHO.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dave Cameron says:

        You clearly have missed the “urbanman” meme around here for the last few weeks. It wasn’t a legitimate comment; it was a guy trying to draw attention to himself in the comments by pretending to post under the name of someone else.

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        • Holland says:

          I find your complaints about this fangraphs ‘troll’ ironic given how you troll MLB GM’s with every one of your reports but you never go away even though they won’t hire you. In fact, they apparently ignore you.

          Some trolls, like you, never leave.

          -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Dave Cameron says:

          I’m not sure I agree with that.

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    • Cubs017 says:

      I certainly agree. I understand that a different approach is worth trying, but I don’t think that there was anything that really needed to be changed. As far as the repetition goes, I’m sure that it was more repetitive to have to write the player capsules than it was for the readers to actually read them. I don’t recall anyone complaining about them in the past.

      Of course, this is still a well-written and interesting series. I am not complaining as much as I am recognizing that I found the format used in previous years to be more effective, visually appealing, and interesting.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ruralman says:

      I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave. You see, you can try to detroll the internet, but it will always produce more trolls than you can delete. A new challenger is soon to appear.

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  3. Slugger27 says:

    Comment section acting up. Apparently Dave’s been deleting comments that disagree with the rankings…? If true, an all time low for the site.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      No, I blocked the troll/parody account making fun of the guy who posts here as Urbanman, but because a lot of people responded to his missing post, they made no sense without the context and were removed for clarity’s sake. No post disagreeing with the rankings has been removed.

      +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Los says:

    Would imagine the royals would trade Ventura in an instant for most of the other players on this list.

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    • Another Lame Royals Fan says:

      I thought the same thing too. I like Ventura, and he’s fun, but the other guys on this list, so far, are obvious targets. Byron Buxton? Yes, please.

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  5. TKDC says:

    Dave, how much are you factoring in No Trade clauses? If a player is open to being traded, they don’t really matter. However, if not, their trade value diminishes as concessions have to be made to the player. Just curious if you were making assumptions one way or another in that regard.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Matt says:

    As for the list, I have to imagine all 20 guys so far could basically be shuffled and spit out in any order, and it would be hard to argue with. Will be interesting to see how far we go until we get the first player who is nearly un-arguably better than everyone behind them on the list.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Quick Quiz says:

    Billy Hamilton ranks #1 in the NL over the last 30 days in both WAR and RBIs.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Snips says:

      Look out, Miggy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sandy says:

      #ArbitraryEndPoints

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalajeter says:

        The last 30 days ends today. How is today arbitrary? There may be an arbitrary starting point, but the end point seems fine to me.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ted says:

          If you start from today and move backwards, 30 days ago becomes an end point.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          you have to have some end point or break points, arbitrary or not doesn’t really matter. What really matters is if its a large enough sample to be convincing 30 days is not. If you told me player X has the best WAR over the last 532 days, you shouldn’t care how that 532 was arrived at as much as is 537 enough to show what you’re trying to show. Maybe you get a different player if it was 531 or 533, but its enough to prove player X is damned freaken good.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Charlie Blackmon, All-Star says:

          Some sets of points are more important than others

          +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Kris says:

    Byron Buxton was not unranked last year. He was ranked 28th…

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  9. Sleight of Hand Pro says:

    Am I the only one who finds Buxton’s ranking to be insanely high? He’s in A ball. His trade value is higher than Corey Kluber’s and comparable to Carlos Gomez???

    +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bdsparty32 says:

      yes

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

        Why? He’s not only never played in AA, he’s coming off a wrist injury, which tend to linger. He’s a good prospect, but he’s ahead of not just productive, but good and very talented major league players signed cheaply for multiple years. I don’t understand that.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Costanza says:

          potential ceiling. if he becomes a star,you have 6+ years of team control, too.

          his wrist injury isnt that concerning b/c unlike jose fernandez, you arent burning service time.

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        • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

          The guy has potential ceiling sure, but I just don’t think MLB teams would be willing to trade as many assets to bet on that ceiling as these other players.

          I mean, Buxton is in the 2nd group of 10, and George Springer didn’t make the list? Springer crushed A ball much like Buxton did last year, except Springer then crushed AA, AAA, and is currently crushing MLB as a 24 year old. He’s got less trade value than Buxton? I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

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    • Elias says:

      I’d trade two years of Gomez for several cost-controlled years of Buxton without having to think too hard about it. Yeah there is risk in Buxton panning out, but Gomez could stink next year, too. Aside from his injury, I think there was general agreement that Buxton would be MLB-ready by the end of the year.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cody Vanghel says:

        He’s in A ball and has been hurt all season. I think having him ahead of a lot of these guys is pretty insane. I don’t even know if I’d have him ahead of Altuve. I remember when Dominic Brown and Colby Erasmus were supposed to be cornerstones too.

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        • Jason B says:

          Colby Erasmus = the love child of Colby Rasmus and Erasmo Ramirez

          +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • francis says:

          Colby Erasmus: lesser-known brother of Desiderius Erasmus and author of “In Praise of Jolly”

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Bill says:

          Son of the head of the working mothers support group Erasmus Bedragon?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Shut up, bat sixth and get your arse in left says:

          @JasonB- you just broke my….I don’t know what bot something. I now have this picture of Erasmo Ramirez and Colby Rasmus breeching his relgous values in my head. Not pleasant. My mind is wrestling over who is standing on knees and who is on all fours with a “mangina” and fertile eggs.

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  10. Joe says:

    I think Wright has negative value at this point. If he finishes at 3.6 WAR…

    and then goes 3.1 2.6 2.1 1.6 1.1 .6, you’re looking at a much worse contract than sorianos. I’m not sure how that adds up to over 100Mil.

    I’d rather have Luis Valbuena year to year until I get something else.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • indyralph says:

      And if he finishes and 4.5 and goes 5.0, 4.5, 4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 2.5 you are looking at a guy worth an Ellsbury or Choo contract at least. Is that projection so hard to believe for a guy who has +15 WAR over the last 2.5 years?

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      • Shut up, bat sixth and get your arse in left says:

        A little bit simply because David Wright has alreadt exceeded his aging curve a couple times. Without the thirty homerun power and subsiding defense, it’s hard for me to see but then again I am not god. I just don’t know where he breaks out for extra WAR at this point.

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        • Joe says:

          Ortiz is going year to year because his continued production has been unlikely in the eyes of the red sox. Wright has like 6 years left.

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      • Joe says:

        yes it is hard to believe. I don’t think he’ll finish with 4.5 WAR.

        It’s likely he put up at least one zero WAR year due to injuries.

        If he goes 10, 10, 10, 10, 10 he’ll be awesome but you can’t just make up numbers. ZIPS ROS gives him 3.6 this year, and according to Cameron, we should trust the projections.

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        • indyralph says:

          The Zips ROS projection is 1.7 WAR in 55 games. Which is 4.9 WAR over 160. Steamer is 2.0 WAR in 60 games, or 5.3 WAR over 160. That’s 4.6 – 5.0 WAR over 150 games if you want to account for some injury time. It’s not pulled from nowhere.

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      • Joe says:

        lol – 5 WAR is his career norm. I don’t know why you’d expect that at an advanced age.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • indyralph says:

          He’s 31, that’s not an advanced age. It’s slightly post-peak, and it is an elite peak. For a player that’s posted four +6 WAR seasons – including last year 4.5 to 5.0 WAR – is not a crazy project. His median Zips was 4.4 coming into the season. The 3.6 ROS already accounts for the dismal two months. Wright’s history puts him significantly above Ellsbury or Choo, and pretty darn close to Robinson Cano. That is a $150 – $200M player in the current market.

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    • TKDC says:

      I’m not going to quibble with your main point, but you are doing the whole subtract half a win each year thing wrong. You have to start with a projection, which is not just “what happened last year.” I’m guessing you are using the updated Zips projection for 2014, but that is a hybrid of a projection and something that has already happened, so it is not really a 2014 projection in the way you think of when doing this type of decline analysis. If you use 4.1, which is what Dave used, he’s still at least an average player for the next 4 years, and then is a below average, but still useful player for the last 2.

      At the same time, you’re still looking at a projection of around 15-17 WAR for Wright over the next 6.5 years and that doesn’t seem all that great for 107.5 million dollars.

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    • indyralph says:

      Since the start of 2012, Wright has the same per game WAR as Robinson Cano, who just signed for $240M. The only players higher are Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout. You are so incredibly underestimating David Wright based on two rough months.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      Hasn’t he played with a sore shoulder this year? After his phenomenal performance over the last two years, I’d need to see more before I consider him a negative. I highly doubt he just lost his ability overnight.

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  11. Joe says:

    Billy Hamilton never a good hitter? He’s above average for his career, but I guess good is an opinion based word so I can’t argue.

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    • Ben Hall says:

      “Hamilton’s probably never going to be a good hitter…”

      He’s above average for his major league career, largely because he’s hit five home runs in less than 400 plate appearances. In his minor league career he had 13 home runs over in close to 2300 plate appearances. If he’s able to maintain the power, then maybe. If not, and given his minor league numbers over the much larger sample, that seems more likely, it’s hard to see him as a good hitter.

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      • Steven says:

        Agreed. He is also not a true talent .290 hitter and he is not drawing walks. He’s looking closer to a .270/.310/.380 hitter with excellent defense and base running. That’s still a 3-4 WAR player, but he is not going to keep up his WAR pace.

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        • tz says:

          His power surge this year might come from pitchers just firing strikes at him, given his reputation for low power and his awful start this year.

          He did have a .400+ OBP in 2012 with 80+ walks, so he has shown plate discipline in the minors. If Hamilton can work some walks once pitchers adjust and pitch him more towards the edges of the zone, he might become a .280/.350/.380 hitter with excellent defense and baserunning.

          And with his speed, a .350 OBP would make the Reds very very happy.

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  12. Bubba says:

    Am I the only one that likes the new format? With the list, you can see all 20 (and presumably, later on all 50) players without looking at different pages.

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  13. Jim says:

    I’m not sure Wright or Pedroia should be ranked this high. They are both still solid players but both are clearly in their decline phases and still owed over $100M each. I’m almost certain Altuve would bring back more in return than Pedroia at this point. They are both in the first year of their contracts. Neither one of them has any power at this point. Pedroia is the better defender, however, Altuve is clearly the superior base runner. The difference is Atuve is just entering his peak while Pedroia is just entering his decline phase and the Altuve’s contract is way more favorable. Altuve is 24 and just signed a four year $12.5M contract with two team options. Pedroia is 30 and just signed an 8 year $110M contract. Altuve may not consistently be a 5 win player like he is on pace to be this year but I think he is a consistent 2-3 win player going forward with upside. Given Pedroia’s injury history, continually declining offensive #s, age and contract Altuve is clearly the more valuable asset right now.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Altuve put up WAR of 1.5 and 1.2 in his prior two full seasons. You can’t assume he’s going to be a better player than Pedroia (Who has never put up even half a season as low as Altuve’s first two years) based on one good year so far.

      Pedroia may be in a decline phase (Though I doubt it, 30 isn’t exactly decline phase material), but even still it’s highly unlikely to be so steep a decline that his numbers fall completely off the table. Even down year Pedroia is still a 5+ WAR player. His worst year has outpaced Altuve’s best year so far and he’s still got a few seasons left before probable realistic decline phase.

      Everyone was calling last year a “bad year” for Pedroia. He still played 160 games and put up a 5.5 WAR. Unless I’m a complete bottom market, I take that at below market value over Altuve, he of the one good year so far.

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      • Jim says:

        Pedroia turns 31 next month. This year is the fourth straight year his SLG has declined. He has also struck out at a higher rate this year than at any time in his career. He’s aging, has completely lost all power and now his Ks are climbing. When you add in the fact that this is only the first year of his right year 100M plus contract I can’t see but mainly a handful of teams even taking that contract and they sure wouldn’t part with top prospects if they did. Regarding Altuve’s back to back 1.5 WAR seasons you mentioned those were his age 22-23 seasons. There is no reason to suspect this breakout in his age 24 season isn’t sustainable. As I mentioned in my last post I think annual 3 win seasons are a reasonable floor going forward even if you don’t trust that this 5 win season is sustainable. When you factor in how ridiculously team friendly his contract is all 29 other teams would fall over themselves to trade for Altuve.

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        • Jonathan says:

          The argument I’m saying is that Pedroia’s probable floor going forward, even with his recent declining slugging, his floor is probably 4-4.5 WAR over the next four years (He’s underperforming now compared to usual, but he’s still on a close to 5 WAR pace). The latter four of his contract is probably around a 3 WAR or so.

          There is no more reason to cry doom for Pedroia based off of a season and a half’s worth of poor power numbers hindered by a thumb injury than there is to assume that a team is going to clamor for a 3 WAR player.

          Basically, the argument is that most GM’s would probably sooner take a 3-4 WAR player with a 6 WAR season than a 2-3 WAR player with a 4-5 WAR ceiling, even including the money. Basically, I’d sooner trade for Pedroia over Altuve (Again, assuming anything but a very small market team) because of the difference in floors and ceilings, both are higher for the former.

          Same as with Kinsler, I’m not saying there’s no argument for Altuve, but there’s nothing outrageous or unreasonable about picking Pedroia over him. Known quantities pretty much always draw more in trade.

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        • Jason B says:

          “his floor is probably 4-4.5 WAR”

          No. His floor is most assuredly lower than 4 WAR over a 4-year horizon well into his already-started decline phase.

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        • indyralph says:

          “There is no reason to suspect this breakout in his age 24 season isn’t sustainable.”

          What about the .355 BABIP and 6.9% K rate? There’s very little reason to think those are real, and it is almost entirely the difference between 2014 and 2012 for Altuve. Not to mention he is already a below average defender at a position that will not allow him to move elsewhere.

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      • TKDC says:

        Dude, 30 IS decline phase material.

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  14. gandriole says:

    I’m surprised to see Pedroia ranked. His value is probably lower than Kinsler’s considering their contracts.

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    • Ryan says:

      Agreed, I’m surprised too. I’m a Sox fan but I just can’t see Pedroia being in the top 50 anymore with the way that his bat has declined over the last year or so. He still gives excellent defense and he’s not horrendous at the plate but his power has completely evaporated.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Kinsler is older and has displayed more struggles in the long term lately than Pedroia. Pedroia’s still been a top 5 2B in his down years, Kinsler has been a roughly average player in three of his last four.

        How is it reasonable to assume that Pedroia is declining at age 30 when Kinsler is putting up career numbers at age 32?

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        • Costanza says:

          because 30 yrs is in the decline phase, and kinsler having an outlier half-season doesnt change that

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        • Jonathan says:

          A fair point, but that in mind, what makes one say that Kinsler is more valuable in trade than Pedroia? If both are declining, but Pedroia is declining more slowly, how is Kinsler more valuable?

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      • Catoblepas says:

        … and he’s still projected for 4.5 WAR this year. If 4.2 (the number Dave gives above) is a reasonable 2015 projection, the standard half-win decline has him producing about 20 wins over the lifespan of a $110 million contract. That is excellent value, especially if you think that by 2021 win prices will have continued to rise. He is, at worst, a league-average hitter with excellent defense at a middle infield position on an extremely team-friendly contract. This isn’t a head-scratcher.

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        • Jonathan says:

          I mean, I won’t say there isn’t an argument, but it’s not like it’s some kind of insane decision. It’s entirely justifiable. With regards to his comparison to Kinsler, it’s about which you figure is more likely to happen: Kinsler not regressing to his last few seasons or Pedroia bouncing back. I personally find the latter more likely.

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        • Jim says:

          Most of Pedroia’s value is tied up in defense and he turns 31 next month. Defense at the keystone doesn’t usually age well. Also, that wrist injury has been an issue for two years now. Rest and surgery haven’t helped it. Some players break down quicker than others. Pujols is another guy that started breaking down in his 30s and his decline was mucher quicker than 1/2 win a year. That’s why I think Pedroia’s floor in my opinion is much lower than 4 WAR a year over the next 4-5 years. He’s still a solid player and a leader and his 8 year 110M contract won’t hamstring a team like the Ref Sox, however, there aren’t many teams that would trade for that contract right now so he has no business being ranked this high.

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        • Jonathan says:

          It’s a thumb injury and you’re mistaken about his rehab for it.

          He never really rested it. He played literally an entire season and playoffs with that injury, taking only two games off over the course of the regular season. It occurred in the first series of the season and he played straight through the playoffs with it.

          He didn’t get the surgery until two weeks after the World Series. He’s not even a year removed from it and a UCL injury takes a while to fully recover from.

          Sure, it’s possible he’s in decline, but considering the fact he’s less than a year removed from thumb surgery, there’s also very good odds that that’s causing much of his issue.

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  15. Mattyboy says:

    Love the new format!

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  16. Mike says:

    In regards to Jose Fernandez’s value after his Tommy John’s surgery I remain bullish. Tommy John’s surgery has a success rate so high I think fans tend to undersell the risks. Even if he does make a completely recovery returning to his previous form, you still have a pitcher that managed to blow out his elbow during his age 21 season. Unless Fernandez significantly alters his approach or mechanics it is reasonable to assume that the same stresses that caused his elbow to fail the first time will still be present and continue to act on his surgically repaired elbow. Unless something changes, I just see him falling to elbow and shoulder injuries again before his age 26 season.

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  17. Harry says:

    Dave,

    Thanks for including the teams of the players!

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  18. RMR says:

    Even though you’re including the full list in each post, I would encourage you to update each post with links to the other 4 posts as those are released. These types of serialized posts are often challenging to navigate in the order they are released, because they only link to previous articles.

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  19. tct says:

    I’m a reds fan and I pull for Billy Hamilton because he plays for my team. But I am not ridiculously high on him or anything. I had questions going into the season, and I still have a few even though he’s been amazing for the last 2 months. But I was really surprised at how much negativity was being shown towards hamilton on this site in the off season. It was like he was a guaranteed bust or something. I remember when they had that series of columns with ten predictions from a different writer each time, and every time hamilton was mentioned it was in a negative light. One writer even predicted that he would be in the minors by May 1 which was absurd if you knew anything about the reds centerfield situation.

    I think a lot of it was based on something I have felt people do way too much when evaluating players, especially prospects, and that is they give too much weight to the most recent statistics. He struggled in aaa, that’s true, but he was great in aa and high a and pretty good in a ball as a 20 year old. He also started his age 19 season in rookie league as a right handed hitting shortstop and by 22 he was a switch hitting centerfielder in aaa, which is amazing.

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  20. y54y45y says:

    No nerd scores for today??????

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  21. robb says:

    So far my biggest problem with this, is that I think there are people behind Hamiliton that if the reds would trade Hamiliton they would have to add players with to acquire. If we are talking about trade value. its hard to rank players above players they couldnt bring back one for one. In theory, trading 35 for 45 should feel like a steal for the team who had 45.

    I also believe the list should be limited to players with MLB experience. While i understand how high Buxton’s value is that does not really fall into a statistical equivalent. Brandon Wood would have had great value when he was in the minors too at one point.

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    • Jason B says:

      Not a steal, though…45 and 35 are close enough in value that some teams may prefer 45, some teams may prefer 35. It’s like trying to decide between a player with 1.9 WAR and one with 2.1; the error bars are likely big enough that some will prefer one or the other depending on their unique team needs and roster construction.

      Now if you’re talking player 8 versus player 48 (for example) then yes, the team acquiring number 8 in a straight-up, one-for-one deal should likely feel they got a “steal”. That would be more akin to acquiring a 4 WAR player for a 2 WAR player, where the difference is more clear-cut and decidedly in one player’s favor.

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  22. David Bruno says:

    I find Buxton’s trade value extremely low. Based on this table alone, you wouldn’t trade Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray, or Yordano Venture straight up for Buxton? Obviously there are a number of other factors at play, but I’m guessing Rick Hahn and Dayton Moore would take Bryon Buxton for Jose Quintana or Yordano Ventura, respectively, in a blink of an eye.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      I’m not sure in either case, honestly. Both teams are in the midst of clawing back up to relevance, and we’re talking about pre-prime above average ML contributors. They essentially already are part of the “core,” and in Quintana’s case, has already signed a team-friendly extension. Those guys are exatly what you hope prospects become.

      Maybe they’d still make the deal, because Buxton’s upside is obviously higher, but I’m not sure it’s an easy deal to make. It would be like trading a winning lottery ticket for another lottery ticket of higher value. There’s a ton of value to the bird in the hand, especially given where those two franchises sit on the win curve.

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  23. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

    Question: Is this what the Fangraphs writers think that trade value SHOULD be or is this suppose to reflect what the trade market actually is? In the intro it says the point is to find “which players would bring the most return in trade if they were made available by their current clubs”.

    I find it hard to believe that Byron Buxton would bring in a bigger haul than anyone on the list right now. Especially seeing as whoever has him is going to have to keep him in the minors until 2016 (maybe mid 2015). David Wright and Dustin Pedroia could get a pretty decent prospect haul, but who is going to trade multiple quality prospects for another prospect? What team would do that? Is there even any precedent for that?

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    • Slugger27 says:

      I find it hard to believe that Byron Buxton would bring in a bigger haul than anyone on the list right now

      he wouldn’t. he wouldn’t even get a bigger haul than the guys on the “just missed” list

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    • Hank says:

      While I agree with your general point, trade value doesn’t have to mean getting prospects back. Buxton (or a package featuring Buxton) could get a young cost controlled MLB pitcher or hitter.

      That said I’m not sure he has as much trade value as the players around him.

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  24. JV says:

    Carlos Gomez 33 two years in a row!!!!

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  25. Roto Wizard says:

    Umm, David Wright? Dude is 31 and signed through 2020 with over 100 million remaining. I mean he’s a decent enough player but there’s no way he’s more valuable than most of the names behind him.

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  26. vivalajeter says:

    In 2012 he put up 7.5 WAR. Last year he put up 6 WAR in 112 games. He’s not merely ‘decent enough’ unless you don’t look beyond the last three months.

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    • Roto Wizard says:

      Actually, I was referring to the fact that when you include this year, in 3 of the last 5 seasons he’s been worth 3.5 WAR or less. So yea, I’m sure everyone will be thrilled to pay 20 mil a year to a 35 year old 3B. Not to mention the 2 additional years after that. Plus he’d be a below average career defender if he hadn’t pulled a 17 DRS out of his butt in 2012.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Those were also the first 3 years in your timeline, and it was clear that he didn’t adapt to his new ballpark well. He signed his contract after those years had already occurred, and people still considered it a hometown discount. That was before putting up 6 WAR last year.

        If he doesn’t have a big rebound in the second half and he hits his ZIPS projection of 3.6 WAR this year, then he will have averaged 5.7 WAR over the last 3 years. There’s plenty of a market for that.

        If he was signed through his age-40 season, there’d be a lot more potential for things to go bad. But as it stands, there shouldn’t be any albatross years in the contract unless he has a horrible injury.

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  27. Nostress says:

    When there are people who value a player both higher and lower than Dave’s rank, it probably means that the ranks are pretty objective.

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    • Dayton Moore says:

      Good to know! Some people seem to value Mike Moustakas less than I do, and some people seem to value Wil Myers more than I do, so I must be doing something right!

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      • Ruben Amaro says:

        Same here, bud! Some people think Ryan Howard isn’t a top 10 player in the majors right now, and some people think Cole Hamels and his 3-5 record is having a good year! Hooray for us!

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  28. Weston Taylor says:

    regarding the format, I feel like this post was supposed to highlight the value of ten players, and, although I read the whole thing, I feel like I just read an article about why Billy Hamilton might be better than everyone thinks. Also, Wright and Pedroia are old but have value.

    That’s kind of all I got from this.

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  29. I enjoy these write-ups (never read last year’s so I can’t comment on the change), and as a Cardinals fan was interested to see Matt Carpenter on this list.

    I think it’d be properly earth-shaking stuff if they traded Carpenter. There aren’t a ton of 3B guys who are better than him, and even fewer at a comparable price, so while he may have trade value, there’s no way he leaves St. Louis for at least a few years.

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  30. grant says:

    Agree with the comments above re Pedroia, very surprised to see him on here. I would have thought the Sox might even need to eat some money to trade him, $110M is a lot to owe to a player who looks like he’s at best above average right now, and sliding quickly.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      I dislike Pedroia. I can’t stand his face or his demeanor, the way I can’t stand Papelbon or Youkilis. With that out of the way, it’s silly to say he’s “at best above average right now”. He put up 5.5 WAR last year, and 4.4 WAR in 2012. That was after a monster 2011 season.

      As for the ‘right now’ part, he’s at 2.6 WAR in less than 100 games this year. ZIPS pegs him at 4.6 by year-end.

      I’d love to see him fall apart, but I just don’t see it happening.

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  31. Bomok says:

    If Jose Fernandez makes the list, then Harvey who is 1)closer to returning from TJ. and 2) The perfect pitcher. had better be up there somewhere!

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  32. phoenix2042 says:

    I think that Matt Harvey is similar to Jose Fernandez. He was an absolutely elite, young, starting pitcher with overpowering stuff who us out with Tommy john surgery, but about a year ahead of Fernandez. How is he not listed right next to him?

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    • vivalajeter says:

      Because, as you said, he’s about a year ahead of Fernandez. That should give him a good deal more trade value.

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