2014 Trade Value: The Top 10

Welcome to the final section of this year’s Trade Value series, the top 10. 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. You can see all the posts in the series here.

A few quick notes on the columns listed for each player. 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.

For contract status, we have two pieces of information. “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.

Now, for the cream of the crop; the most valuable players in the game.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
10 Jose Abreu 27 CHW 1B 3.9 2019 $51,000,000 Unranked

Yes, this is an aggressive ranking for what amounts to half a season of performance. Yes, this might very well look bad in a year if Abreu is this year’s Chris Davis. But, unlike with Davis, we’ve never seen Abreu not hit like this. The models that attempt to translate Cuban statistics to MLB equivalents projected Abreu as a monster even before the season began. Dan Farnsworth wrote up a glowing report on his swing last October. There are reasons beyond just 400 good plate appearances to think this is what Abreu is.

And that makes him, essentially, an older version of Giancarlo Stanton. This is top-of-the-scale power, and 29 teams are likely looking back and kicking themselves that they didn’t bid more for Abreu last winter. If Abreu were made a free agent after this season, I would guess that the bidding would climb over $200 million; after all, he projects to be a similar caliber of player as Prince Fielder did when he hit the market, and Fielder got $216 million two years ago.

Instead, Abreu will not free agency for another five years, and he’ll make an average of $10 million per year for the remainder of the contract. The White Sox are going to essentially be enjoying the prime years of one of the game’s best hitters for about 40 percent of his market salary. The deal doesn’t come with any long-term risk, really; even if Abreu regresses heavily, he’ll still be worth the contract unless he gets injured. Kudos to Rick Hahn for aggressively pursuing Abreu last winter, as Abreu’s signing breathed life into an organization that badly needed it.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
9 Evan Longoria 28 TB 3B 5.1 2023 $152,600,000 5

The former king of this exercise, Longoria’s slide continues, as he falls out of the top five for the first time since signing his original contract back in 2008. In order to keep him in Tampa, the Rays had to guarantee him real money this time around, and Longoria is having the worst offensive season of his career, so the two factors that drive trade value are both trending the wrong way.

However, let’s not overstate the decline here; a down year from Longoria is still going to result in a +3 WAR season, and there’s no reason to think this is his new level of production going forward. And that more expensive contract? He still won’t make more than $15 million in a year until 2021. Longoria remains one of the game’s best players and most underpaid players, and while he might not be as good or as underpaid as he used to be, he’s still a massive bargain compared to everyone else in baseball.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
8 Manny Machado 21 BAL 3B 4.2 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 3

Since Machado ranked third on this list a year ago, he blew out his knee, had surgery, has failed to take a step forward offensively from where he was last year, and threw a bat at an opposing player. I know it’s tempting to have a negative view on Machado right now, but let’s keep some perspective here; Machado just turned 22 years old. He’s six months younger than Kris Bryant and 10 months younger than Gregory Polanco. Machado would be age-appropriate in Double-A, and young for the league in Triple-A. Instead, he’s a big leaguer who is pushing +10 WAR for his career.

Yes, that’s because defensive metrics love his performance in the field, but it’s not like that’s an outlandish claim; everyone who watches him loves the defense as well, and if the Orioles did make him available for trade, nearly every suitor would likely plan on moving him back to shortstop. And there just aren’t that many shortstops who can be league average big league hitters before they can legally drink.

Guys who can hit like in the big leagues at this age often turn into monster offensive performers as they get older, and Machado projects to be something not too different from what Evan Longoria was in his prime if he stays at third base. If he moves back to shortstop and shows above average range there? The sky is the limit. Don’t let the last few months distract from what Machado has done to date, and what that performance says about his future.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
7 Salvador Perez 24 KC C 4.0 2019 $18,500,000 36

If there’s one piece of feedback I got more clearly than any other last year, it was that I was too low on Salvador Perez. I had one friend in the game tell me should have been in the top five, and I had him at 36. My bad, Kansas City. Consider this a mea culpa.

Perez might not yet be the best catcher in baseball, but there are a lot of people convinced that he’s going to be in the near future. He’s basically a power spike away from being Jonathan Lucroy, only he’s four years younger than Milwaukee’s backstop, and at a point where many catchers are still honing their craft in the minors. And while framing metrics don’t love him the same way they do Lucroy, his defensive reputation is still stellar, as he shuts down the running game as well as anyone.

And then there’s the contract. Because the Royals locked up Perez after just 39 big league games, he’s set to make $2 million each of the next two years, and then they have team options for three additional years at $4 million, $5 million, and $6 million respectively. It’s $19 million over five seasons, or an average of $4 million per year. The best catcher in the American league is signed to the kind of deal you give a decent middle reliever.

Perez doesn’t even have to get any better to be one of the biggest steals in baseball. If he does improve, though, he might eventually challenge for the top spot on this list.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
6 Troy Tulowitzki 29 COL SS 6.4 2021 $129,000,000 13

For the most part, the top half of this list is full of guys whose trade value is basically unknowable, because they’re just too valuable to get traded. Guys this good, on contracts this reasonable, don’t get moved. Depending on what the Rockies decide to do this winter, though, we might just find out what the trade value of the game’s second best player really is.

It’s going to take a ridiculous haul to get him out of Colorado, though, and rightfully so. Even with $130 million left on his deal, Tulowitzki is making about a little more than half of his market value. As a six win player, Tulo is worth something in the range of $35 to $40 million to per year, so while he might not be cheap, he’s still an amazing value, even while making $20 million per season.

It’s legitimately difficult to imagine what a package for Tulowitzki might cost an acquiring team. There’s basically no such thing as an off-limits player in that kind of deal. If Colorado decides to move him, we might end up seeing baseball’s version of the Herschel Walker trade.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
5 Yasiel Puig 23 LAD OF 4.4 2018 Arb2 – Arb3 24

This is another instance where the table doesn’t adequately explain the contract. Puig has four years left on the seven year, $42 million contract he originally signed with the Dodgers, and will $5 million next year and $6 million the year after that. However, the contract gives him the right to opt into arbitration after three years of Major League service, and he’ll almost certainly void the final two years of his deal and receive arbitration salaries rather than $14 million combined he’s slated to make in the last two years of his contract.

Assuming Puig keeps playing well, he could easily land $30 million in arbitration in those two years, so his total cost over the next four seasons is probably closer to $40 million than the $24 million he’s scheduled to make under his contract. But $24 million, $40 million, it’s all just peanuts compared to what Puig does on the field.

Even with a recent slump, Puig’s wRC+ is down to just 160, matching the same number he put up last year. And he’s doing it without fully developed power yet; he still hits the ball on the ground too frequently, and only 13% of his fly balls have gone over the wall this season. Puig’s obviously filled out physically, but as he learns to adapt his swing to take more advantage of the value of getting the ball in the air, there’s room for even more power than he’s showing right now.

He might not be the all around force that some players are, but offensively, there are few better young hitters in baseball than the Dodgers right fielder. And even with the potential for two arbitration salaries down the line, he’s still going to remain a ridiculous bargain.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
4 Bryce Harper 21 WAS OF 4.0 2018 Arb1 – Arb3 2

Like with Machado, it’s important to take a bigger picture view than focusing solely on the last couple of months. Harper is actually even younger than Machado, in fact, and even with his 2014 slump, he owns a career 124 wRC+ despite playing in the big leagues at ages when most players are fighting their way through A-ball. Yes, there are injury and maturity questions with Harper, but he remains a generational talent, and one who has established a track record that tells us more than a bad couple of months.

Going forward, there are few hitters in baseball you’d rather have than Harper. He might not be a premium defender or a great baserunner, but the bat is still a potential Hall-of-Fame tool. As a reminder, Miguel Cabrera‘s career wrC+ through age 21 was 121. Hank Aaron was at 127. We’ve been spoiled by the greatest performance of a young player in the history of the game, and Harper has been overshadowed by the player he came up with, but let’s not forget that what Harper has done to this point is an historical rarity as well.

He’s had a rough couple of months, but he’s still a franchise player, and the struggles will also serve to reduce his arbitration costs. Harper is still a fantastically valuable asset with remarkable upside, and that’s what teams would focus on if the Nationals ever made him available.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
3 Paul Goldschmidt 26 ARI 1B 4.1 2019 $43,000,000 9

Goldschmidt’s place here is a reminder of just how hard it is to scout hitting talent. He was an 8th round selection in the 2009 draft. Baseball America never even ranked him as one of the Diamondbacks 10 best prospects, much less considering him for their Top 100. In their final scouting report on him from before the 2011 season, they wrote that “some scouts see (the strikeouts) as an indication that he may struggle against better pitching as he moves higher in the system.”

This isn’t a knock on BA. They were reporting what they were being told by the professionals. The same ones who didn’t see him as a serious prospect out of college. And now, he might be the best hitter in the National League.

And yet, he’ll make a grand total of $43 million over the next five years. $8 million per year. It’s enough money to live on, certainly, but it’s probably about 25%-30% of his market value. There are a lot of things wrong in Arizona, but drafting, developing, and extending Paul Goldschmidt covers a multitude of sins. They might need to make some serious changes, but at least they have a franchise first baseman to build around.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
2 Andrew McCutchen 27 PIT OF 5.7 2018 $51,500,000 4

There’s an argument to be made for McCutchen to take the top spot on this list. He’s not the best player in baseball, but at just $52 million for the next four years, he’s a remarkable value. From the beginning of next season through the end of his deal, McCutchen’s remaining contract will pay him what the Cubs gave Edwin Jackson as a free agent a couple of years ago. Yeah.

That said, when comparing McCutchen to the guy who we all know is coming next, we have to factor in the fact that he “only” has four years left of team control, and the next contract for McCutchen isn’t going to come so cheaply. He gave the Pirates a huge discount on his first deal, and they probably can’t count on getting another steal next time.

Enjoy him, Pittsburgh. He might not stick around forever, but appreciate him while he’s there. McCutchen is truly one of the game’s very best players.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through Contract Dollars Last Year
1 Mike Trout 22 LAA OF 7.6 2020 $139,500,000 1

I guess this was probably obvious, given the title of the post I wrote when he signed his long-term deal with the Angels. To be honest, I tried to talk myself into ranking McCutchen or Goldschmidt #1, because the list is less interesting when it’s the same guy at the top every single year. I tried to see if there was a way to argue that the reduced cost made either one more valuable, given the savings that could then be reinvested back into the roster.

The math just doesn’t work, though. Over the next six years, Trout projects to be worth something like +50 WAR, and he’ll earn $140 million for that production. Even if you don’t start aging McCutchen for a few more years, he projects at around +30 WAR over those same six years, two of which he isn’t under contract for. Even if we conservatively estimate that he’ll earn $30 million per year in those two years — ignoring the rest of the contract that would be required to get those two seasons in the first place — then he’d make about $110 million for that +30 WAR. In other words, having McCutchen instead of Trout might save you $30 million but cost you +20 WAR in the process. Good luck buying a +3 WAR player at $1.5 million per win in order to make up the gap.

Whether it’s boring or not, Trout is just on another level. He’s our generation’s Mickey Mantle. He’s the best young player we’ve ever seen. And when it came time to get paid, he gave the Angels a significant discount anyway.

Eventually, baseball will give us an alternative at the top of this list. He’ll get more expensive, and maybe he’ll get worse — though, again, he’s only six months older than Kris Bryant — and some other great young player will come around and offer more years of team control at lower prices. Trout won’t be a despot, ruling over the Trade Value list until he dies.

But it’s going to be a while before he gets dethroned. Andrew McCutchen is amazing and insanely cheap. Paul Goldschmidt is incredible, and signed a ridiculously team friendly contract. And neither one can even make a validargument for the top spot. It’s Trout, and then 49 guys fighting for #2. All hail the King of Trade Value.

And now, for the list in its entirety.

Rank Name Age Team Position Projected WAR Controlled Through 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 Unranked
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
30 Gregory Polanco 22 PIT OF 1.5 2020 Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked
29 Kris Bryant 22 CHC 3B 2.8 TBD Pre-Arb – Arb3 Unranked
28 Andrelton Simmons 24 ATL SS 3.8 2020 $56,000,000 Unranked
27 Jose Bautista 33 TOR OF 4.8 2016 $28,000,000 35
26 Stephen Strasburg 25 WAS SP 4.4 2016 Arb2 – Arb3 14
25 Matt Harvey 25 NYM SP 3.8 2018 Pre-Arb – Arb3 7
24 Freddie Freeman 24 ATL 1B 3.7 2021 $123,500,000 Unranked
23 Xander Bogaerts 21 BOS SS 2.0 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 29
22 Yadier Molina 31 STL C 4.5 2017 $43,000,000 11
21 Buster Posey 27 SF C 4.9 2022 $165,500,000 6
20 Adam Wainwright 32 STL SP 3.9 2018 $78,000,000 23
19 Felix Hernandez 28 SEA SP 5.7 2019 $129,000,000 22
18 Madison Bumgarner 24 SF SP 3.3 2019 $52,000,000 19
17 Josh Donaldson 28 OAK 3B 4.5 2018 Arb1 – Arb4 Unranked
16 Yu Darvish 27 TEX SP 5.1 2016 $20,000,000 20
15 Giancarlo Stanton 24 MIA OF 5.0 2016 Arb2 – Arb3 8
14 Jonathan Lucroy 28 MIL C 3.9 2017 $12,250,000 Unranked
13 Anthony Rendon 24 WAS 2B 3.5 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 44
12 Anthony Rizzo 24 CHC 1B 3.3 2021 $64,000,000 37
11 Chris Sale 25 CHW SP 5.0 2019 $53,150,000 16
10 Jose Abreu 27 CHW 1B 3.9 2019 $51,000,000 Unranked
9 Evan Longoria 28 TB 3B 5.1 2023 $152,600,000 5
8 Manny Machado 21 BAL 3B 4.2 2019 Pre-Arb – Arb3 3
7 Salvador Perez 24 KC C 4.0 2019 $18,500,000 36
6 Troy Tulowitzki 29 COL SS 6.4 2021 $129,000,000 13
5 Yasiel Puig 23 LAD OF 4.4 2018 Arb2 – Arb3 24
4 Bryce Harper 21 WAS OF 4.0 2018 Arb1 – Arb3 2
3 Paul Goldschmidt 26 ARI 1B 4.1 2019 $43,000,000 9
2 Andrew McCutchen 27 PIT OF 5.7 2018 $51,500,000 4
1 Mike Trout 22 LAA OF 7.6 2020 $139,500,000 1

Thanks for tolerating my experiment early in the week, and for enjoying this series every summer. We’ll do it again next year. Trout will probably be #1 then too.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
hscer
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

[Decent player with a decent contract on my favorite team] didn’t make the list at all? You biased prick!

Table
Guest
Table
1 year 10 months ago

Have we reached the point where these comments suck yet? imo yes

MDL
Member
MDL
1 year 10 months ago

Still better than the overused and unimaginative Ruben Amaro Jr and Kevin Towers posts.

Jack Zdureincik
Guest
Jack Zdureincik
1 year 10 months ago

No love for me?

Brian Sabean
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Hey, I’m here too!

Uncle Ned
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Hi !!

Jon Snow
Guest
Jon Snow
1 year 10 months ago

Uncle Ned!

a eskpert
Guest
a eskpert
1 year 10 months ago

I thought the same, until Ruben Amaro publicly reaffirmed his baseball ignorance by being unaware of the difference between a Plate appearance and an At Bat.

rustydude
Member
rustydude
1 year 10 months ago

Uncle? Isn’t Ned your daddy?

John Elway
Member
1 year 10 months ago

no comment.

Jon Snow
Guest
Jon Snow
1 year 10 months ago

No, Rhaegar Targaryen is my dad, I just haven’t found out yet

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

I don’t think that’s really the problem. I think that the problem is that this is exercise is almost 100% subjective with next to no formal structure. This means that there’s no way to have an actual discussion about the list. No way to know what his assumptions were in making the list so that we can debate some of those assumptions.

As it stands, this is nothing more than Dave Cameron’s personal opinion on what different guys trade value might be in some theoretical world where he is essentially trading with himself. I think anyone has the right to disagree with it however they like, because it’s a completely unscientific list that seems to have been compiled in a completely unscientific way.

At least having an actual model that returns a value for each player would give us a starting point. Expected WAR/expected cost with some adjustment for free agency, for certainty vs. variability, and whatever else. Then Cameron could explain where his personal rankings deviate from the model and what assumptions underlie those deviations. Then other people could agree or disagree, knowing what they are actually agreeing or disagreeing with.

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

Basically, it’s easy to blame the masses of commenters. Ultimate responsibility for the problem you highlight, though, may actually be with the author for the information he fed them. You give a totally subjective list, you’re going to get totally subjective responses. Give an analytically rigorous list and you can at least separate out the rabid fans from the intelligent discussion. As is, what else am I going to say besides some variation of “Well, I disagree…?” I don’t really know what I’m disagreeing with exactly besides a subjective order of how Dave views these players contribution in relation to their contract.

Reminds me a little of an old story Doc Rivers tells about Magic Johnson. Basically, Doc complained to Magic that Dominique Wilkins wan’t converting enough shots. Magic said that Worthy (or whoever) wouldn’t be either if Magic was giving him the ball where Doc was giving Nique the ball.

Luke
Guest
Luke
1 year 10 months ago

Ted Nelson’s comments are rude and asinine. The fact that Dave didn’t build a super-fancy model that condenses the whole question of trade value down to one number does NOT mean his approach is “unscientific” or subjective. Did Ted Nelson try actually reading Dave’s explanations for each player?

It is clear that Dave’s rankings are based on facts, and that makes them objective. There is room for disagreement, sure, but that doesn’t make the approach non-objective. When you’re talking about ranking human beings, if you want to do it well, you HAVE to combine both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Ignoring the qualitative aspects and just letting a computer model spit out all the answers for you would be unscientific.

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

How was my comment in any way rude? I expressed my opinion that a more analytical approach would be preferable, and the approach is part of what leads to so many comments about disagreement. In fact, Dave’s explanation of the list specifically says for anyone to feel free to disagree and they may be more correct than him. So, the observation the commenter I responded to made is, in Dave’s own explanation, linked to the process of assembling the list.

You don’t seem to understand what objective and subjective mean. That’s not meant to be rude, you are just misusing them. Using facts as the basis for your opinion does not make something objective. If you had read Dave’s explanation you would see that he says they are completely subjective. Please stop throwing rocks from your glass house. If anyone is being rude it is you and if anyone didn’t read the explanation it is you.

You also seem to have ignored or misunderstood my explanation. I did not say to ignore the qualitative. I said to layer it on top of the quantitative: use the model as a baseline and then let us know what assumptions you made to come to your personal rankings.

Good day.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

I don’t know why this is being downvoted. You’re correct. The main thing I would say in response is that the exercise is meant more for fun than anything else, so perhaps you just want him to take it more seriously than he did.

I see no good reason why someone else shouldn’t set out to actually create a model that approximates a player’s trade value though.

Mariano Rivera
Guest
Mariano Rivera
1 year 10 months ago

Down vote mafia. Bunch of DC apologists. Jesus people. Fuck off with your down votes.

Careless
Guest
Careless
1 year 10 months ago

“It is clear that Dave’s rankings are based on facts, and that makes them objective. ”

I like pizza better than paella. Pizza is a better food than paella. You can’t argue with it, it’s based on facts so it’s objective!

Bobby Bonilla
Guest
Bobby Bonilla
1 year 10 months ago

Or you know… we can read Dave’s expert thoughts. I’d much rather hear his than yours. You’re still an idiot and have not improved at all since I last called your an idiot on IIATMS.

Idiot.

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

I have no idea who you are or why you feel the need to stalk and insult me online.

Paul Sorrento
Guest
Paul Sorrento
1 year 10 months ago

He’s Bobby Bonilla

LK
Guest
LK
1 year 10 months ago

Do you have any idea the amount of work it would take to create the model you’re talking about? You’re basically saying that Dave should spend untold hours working on a proprietary system, then should share all aspects of that system publicly for free, all so that a column he publishes once a year for fun can be picked over more rigorously in the comments. Why in God’s name would he do that?

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

Almost no work. Dave could probably do a simple version in a few hours. A more robust model might take a couple of days.

He literally has data on every single player’s projected WAR and future salaries. It’s a pretty simple discounted cash flow model, where you calculate expected value in each season then discount it back to present by some factor that reflects the increased value immediate production. (Or… it’s exactly what Dave is doing in his head in a model… which means it is less susceptible to human error. If nothing else, it allows you to check your own mental assumptions.)

I don’t think he should publish it once a year. I think it should appear as part of every player’s individual fangraphs page. Would be a very useful stats for fans to be able to reference. Give us an important data point in discussion trades, which seems to be some of the most popular threads on any MLB blog. A stat reflecting trade value could drive traffic to fangraphs and put money in Dave’s pocket.

I don’t think the proprietary nature of it matters. I don’t see value in them protecting any of their stats. I think open source would be much better for fangraphs, in fact, as either people could better understand why their’s are the best stats or could help them improve any weaknesses in their models. I don’t think fangraphs’ value comes from proprietary stats, but rather from being a platform that houses the most robust set of stats plus tons of other content.

Just ask instead of assuming and attacking.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

@Ted Nelson

This is a good suggestion. So much of fan discussion is spent speculating about trades. Why not have a statistic that approximates trade value? The first attempt would probably be terrible and not at all representative of how the market actually values players, but if it’s open to the public it could be gradually improved into something that could really help a discourse which nowadays more often than not ventures into the ridiculous.

LK
Guest
LK
1 year 10 months ago

Ted, if it’s “[a]lmost no work,” I’d encourage you to do it yourself, and report back to us with the results.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 10 months ago

…And then you’d complain that the system were too simple. I work in customer service, and I meet a lot of reasonably frustrated people. But there are also folks like you who legitimately will never be happy. I’m not sure why we at my work take folks like you seriously. And I’m not sure why Dave should take you seriously.

SurprMan
Member
SurprMan
1 year 10 months ago

@ Bip, Ted Nelson

I’ve done some thinking on this before- the problem with developing a statistic that approximates trade value is that no player has ONE SINGLE trade value that is consistent among across teams b/c of differences in positional need/budget/minor league alternatives/short- and long- term planning, play-off odds, etc. among teams.

Therefore, each player would have to have 30 different trade values, one for each team, built partly from these often extremely difficult-to-quantify factors in addition to all the player-specific factors that Dave focuses on here.

From there, one could try to figure out a way to turn those 30 trade values into one aggregate value, but then you’d have to question if an aggregate value means anything at all since the aggregate value means nothing to any individual team, et cetera, et cetera…

In short, it’s a much more complex analysis than you’re assuming it would be.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

@SurprMan

What you’re saying sounds to me like saying that we can’t create a single, universal offensive statistic because there are 30 different ballparks and they all play differently, so there is no neutral park to use as baseline. Despite this difficulty, we still have means of finding such a statistic. I get that we only ever see one completed trade, not every single trade with every team interested, but that doesn’t make the information useless or the task impossible.

The way I see it, this is a common problem in statistics. We have a result variable, trade value, and it is caused by a variety of input variables. Two of them are the quality of the player and the value of the contract. Another variable is the needs of the interested team. Let’s say the quality of the player and the value of the contract explain only half of the variation in how players are valued, and the rest is explained by the circumstances of the selling and buying teams. If we create a formula that models just the former, it is still a useful model.

In other words, I’m not proposing Dave or anyone else take this idea to its most expansive implementation. But, as Ted says, since Dave surely already has some manner of player-value+contract-value-based formula in his head, it shouldn’t be that much more effort to just try to express it formally. Then, once it is out there, this series becomes an open forum to discuss and improve it. Instead of having a fun but static series which is just Dave’s opinion every year, we would have an evolving model that in a few years could turn out to actually be useful.

Dave himself points out how his own methodology has changed: He said, I think in the introductory post, how he has stopped ranking pitchers quite as high, and he has learned that teams value immediate MLB contribution more than he figured originally. If we had a formula throughout this series, this knowledge could have been incorporated into something that exists and propagates outside of an annual series on fangraphs.

SocraticGadfly
Guest
1 year 1 month ago

I agree. The list overall isn’t bad, but Tulo is a HUGE clunker. He’s been somewhere in the 5-6 WAR range the last two years, yes, but last year only because a career year offset major injury downtime.

Between injuries and a likely peak, I expect him to be more in the 3.5-4 WAR range for the next couple of years, and with a contract that runs through 2020, no, he wouldn’t be on my top 10 trade value list, or close.

Nelson S.
Member
Nelson S.
1 year 10 months ago

As a Met fan, I think we can easily get Tulo for Niese, Daniel Murphy, and Flores. And thats probably giving up too much.

Dan O'Dowd
Guest
Dan O'Dowd
1 year 10 months ago

Good luck with that.

MustBunique
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

His name is “Jabronies.” You’re now a Jabronie too, Danny boy.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
1 year 10 months ago

Throw in Matt Den Dekker and maybe they’d throw back Cargo with Tulo.

Thomas Adamski
Guest
Thomas Adamski
1 year 10 months ago

You’d have to give Syndegaard, Montero, Plawecki, and a filler to even sniff close to Tulo.

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 10 months ago

Unless that filler is Matt Harvey, I thing you are still a ways away from sniffing. Syndegaard, Montero, Plawecki is pretty similar to what Oakland just gave up for Samardzija and Hammel.

attgig
Member
attgig
1 year 10 months ago

As a Met fan, you’re ridiculous. Tulo for Wheeler, Thor, and Cecchini would get it done… that’s definitely giving up to much, but that’s what it would take… (and … maybe cecchini may not do it…)

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 10 months ago

Sarcasm detector fail!

The preface “as a Mets fan” was a clue …

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
1 year 10 months ago

You guys might want to take a look at his name and rethink how serious he is.

Sandy Has Nothing But Time
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Trading Cecchini away in any deal is an added bonus.

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
1 year 10 months ago

you must be trolling… right?

isasson
Member
1 year 3 months ago

dude what are you, high? We should be getting Tulo, CarGo, Blackmon and Arenado for Flores by himself. Flores is going to be a 25WAR player next season with 78HR’s. We can throw in anthony decker if necessary

dtpollitt
Member
Member
dtpollitt
1 year 10 months ago

Great list, Dave, super fun exercise.

Surprised not to see Castro anywhere.

nsacpi
Guest
nsacpi
1 year 10 months ago

Gattis should be on this list.

Beaucoup Bucks
Guest
Beaucoup Bucks
1 year 10 months ago

Why? He’s on a contract year. A player’s contract situation is a huge factor in trade value.

Teej
Guest
Teej
1 year 10 months ago

Contract year?

Vslyke
Guest
Vslyke
1 year 10 months ago

No he’s not. He’s in his second season in the bigs and is under team control until the end of the 2018 season.

ReuschelCakes
Guest
ReuschelCakes
1 year 10 months ago

no way. 2 obvious comps here: Gomes and the other Pre-Arb1 guys (e.g., Kluber)…

Gomes projects below $2m a win for longer than Gattis (owing to his younger age)

The Pre-Arb and Arb1 guys are all 3-4 win players and are younger (i.e., lower decline risk)

If you want to put Gattis in here, you need to assume he is much better than he currently projects – whcih despite his strong 2014 is still as a 2-3 WAR today on the wrong side of the curve…

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 10 months ago

Gattis suffers from way to small a sample size. We know he has power, but we don’t know how he will begin to adjust to pitchers adjusting to him. From the limited sample his peripherals appear to be trending in the right direction. But, as some have noted, there are doubts regarding him as a Major League catcher. If he keeps progressing on his current path, he will make the list eventually.

nsacpi
Guest
nsacpi
1 year 10 months ago

Career ML plate appearances:

Gattis 625

Abreu 351

Bryant 0

Mike Trout
Guest
Mike Trout
1 year 10 months ago

Dave,

Thanks for going back to giving separate blurbs for each player.

Love,
Mike

Ruben Amaro Jr
Guest
Ruben Amaro Jr
1 year 10 months ago

Hey guys, you must have forgotten my team in this here fancy list of yours.

Jackie T.
Member
Member
Jackie T.
1 year 9 months ago

Give it a rest, man.

Jon
Guest
Jon
1 year 10 months ago

Mike Trout > Pirates OF > your OF

Iron
Guest
Iron
1 year 10 months ago

The Pirates OF is currently worth 7.9 WAR, good for 7th place.

Johnston
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

At 10.5 WAR last year, Trout is better than the entire Pirate outfield by a significant margin.

bob
Guest
bob
1 year 10 months ago

The 7.9 WAR isn’t for the full season.

Iron
Guest
Iron
1 year 10 months ago

MIke Trout is currently worth 5.5 WAR. He would be worth more than 17 of the 30 outfields by himself this year, as of now.

Amoc
Guest
Amoc
1 year 10 months ago

Trout was worth 10.5 WAR in ’13.

The entire Pirates outfield was worth 13 WAR in ’13.

Just for reference, the entire Angels outfield was worth 15.4 WAR for ’13.

All stats taken from Fangraphs.com.©

pitnick
Guest
pitnick
1 year 10 months ago

That includes 300+ appearances from Travis Snider and Jose Tabata. And bizarrely awful defensive marks that don’t really pass the sniff test.

Anyway, the Pirates outfield is more about projection than current value. Marte and Polanco are just useful pieces right now, not superstars.

pitnick
Guest
pitnick
1 year 10 months ago

Looks like the Fangraphs team OF numbers aren’t real exact either. The Orioles’ OF, for example, is getting credit for all of Nelson Cruz’s 2.5 WAR even though he’s played fewer than half his games in the outfield.

Levi
Guest
Levi
1 year 10 months ago

Interesting how Jose Altuve’s great half season performance plus his 2 previous OK years at a really young age and great minor league track record (also at a really young age for every level) are not good enough for him to even make the top 50, but Jose Abreu’s half a season of performance plus “models that attempt to translate Cuban statistics to MLB” are good enough to place Abreu in the top 10. Wow is all I can say

Nick
Guest
Nick
1 year 10 months ago

Last year his wRC+ was 85. He’s somehow (perhaps magically) halved his strikeout rate despite still having poor plate discipline, his defense is questionable and he has no power. A slight drop in BABIP and/or uptick in K rate and he goes back to being league average or worse. I agree there’s value mostly because of his contract but its not a crime that he doesn’t appear on this list.

noonespecial
Guest
noonespecial
1 year 10 months ago

Kinda surprised that Brett Gardner did not make the list. He is consistently a 4+bWar player on a very reasonable $52 million contract through 2018 with a team option for 2019. Difficult to find 4-win players – especially at $13 million per year.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
1 year 10 months ago

Likely because using zips and steamer ros projections at a full season pace makes him more an fWAR 3 to 3.5 guy, aged 30, and much of his value comes from his glove, which isn’t valued as highly. Although his bat has come on this year. But it’s a good point, that’s pretty cheap still for what he offers.

Nick
Guest
Nick
1 year 10 months ago

See Altuve, Jose only older and more expensive

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 10 months ago

Gardner is a plus defender with excellent plate discipline while Altuve is a poor defender who is having his first above average season and basically no room for improvement despite being younger. They are very different players.

Nick
Guest
Nick
1 year 10 months ago

I meant in the sense that they both have no power and rely heavily on BABIP. Better plate discipline but a worse K rate. Plus defender when he was 26 maybe.

This is very likely Gardner’s peak at almost 31; even if he does put up +10 WAR over the next 4 years, he’ll essentially be getting paid market value and there’s a ton of downside risk (see Bourn, Michael)

sdagi
Guest
sdagi
1 year 10 months ago

Gardner 3/4 years ago might have had altuve-esque power but he’s been hitting for more the past couple years. At this point he’s carrying an iso bewteen .140-.145 – not a huge number but enough to be projected for 13 hrs this year which means he’s actually got some pop.

With solid defense at a position next to a guy who’s locked in at cf and a profile which is less speed dependent (which is the skill you’d expect deteriorate more quickly) I think +10 war is probably a slightly pessimistic assumption. If you assume he has a 3.5-4 war season next year all you’ll need is 6-6.5 out of the remaining three – something I’d take the over on for sure.

Ted Nelson
Guest
Ted Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-slow-decline-of-speedy-outfielders/

I’m not sure that Altuve is particularly relevant, and I don’t think speed ages as poorly as you might believe it does when attached to a good hitter. Gardner has also been more of a 24-30 steal guy the last season season and still at least as valuable as Altuve.

I also don’t know that Gardner is a top 50 trade value guy, just replying to your comment.

Ben
Guest
Ben
1 year 10 months ago

Could a case be made for Salvy being higher? His defensive value with his arm is already just as good, if not better, than Yadi’s, and his offensive production has been better at this point than Yadi was. Plus he’s getting paid half per year than Goldschmidt.

KK-Swizzle
Guest
KK-Swizzle
1 year 10 months ago

Its probably not a good idea to project Yadi’s career arc onto Salvy. That sort of steady improvement over such a long time is very, very rare. Expect a more normal progression: increase in power/plate discipline, somewhat offset by decrease in defensive excellence

dom
Guest
dom
10 months 11 days ago

He’s an upside target, I think there’s not a lot of performance certainty with him. He could hit or continue to get on base at .270 clip, at which point I wouldn’t care how good his arm and receiving is he’s not top 50 material.

dang
Guest
dang
1 year 10 months ago

Not surprised at all to see the list devoid of any phillies.

But depressing nonetheless.

Doug Lampert
Guest
Doug Lampert
1 year 10 months ago

I count 25 teams with at least one player listed.
Detroit, Houston, Yankees, Philly, and San Diego all are absent.

So you are not alone.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

Detroit (Cabrera) and Houston (Springer) at least got honorable mention.

bill
Guest
bill
1 year 10 months ago

The Yankees may be here (in the forties maybe) if Tanaka didn’t get hurt.

Doug Lampert
Guest
Doug Lampert
1 year 10 months ago

I doubt it, that opt-out was horrible for a pitcher even before the injury.

The fact that if he produces surplus value he opts out halfway through the deal makes it horribly risky with limited upside.

I can see why the Yankees signed the deal, but I can’t see that anyone else would have been eager to take it off their hands.

bill
Guest
bill
1 year 10 months ago

It could be worse. Mr. Amaro could have seen this last year and decided to sign Domonic Brown (27 HRs!) or Darin Ruff (14 Homers in 73 games!) to long term deals.

BourbonMan
Guest
BourbonMan
1 year 10 months ago

Where’s Nelson Cruz, you hack?

Plucky
Guest
Plucky
1 year 10 months ago

You mean the guy on a 1-year deal, who if traded would not give his new team a draft pick when he walks?

Boris Chinchilla
Guest
Boris Chinchilla
1 year 10 months ago

Yes, dumbass! THAT ONE

Paul Sorrento
Guest
Paul Sorrento
1 year 10 months ago

Nelson Cruz is in Oakland, CA as of this writing. Given the emotional fervor of your post I surely hope he is OK!

Cody
Guest
Cody
1 year 10 months ago

I love this reading this exercise of yours every year Dave. Thanks again for the free content.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 10 months ago

Well, what if Trout turns into the next Cesar Cedeno instead of Mickey Mantle, huh?

And what if we DON’T get any more salary inflation, so don’t go increasing that $6 million per win, huh?

Cedeno had a mere 22.8 WAR in his age 23-28 seasons, so let’s see:

22.8 WAR x $6M/win = $137M vs. the $139.5M Trout will get beginning in 2015.

I give up. Angels fans should say thanks daily.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

To be fair, it doesn’t make sense to impose free agent pricing when considering whether the Angels will get a good deal on Trout because they didn’t sign him as a free agent. So they should expect to get him for better than the market value, since their alternative to signing him would have gotten them Trout for below-market value for the next 4 years anyway.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 10 months ago

For trade value, if you go by what how the acquiring team is thinking your alternative to a trade is basically the free-agent marketplace, so using free agent pricing actually makes sense.

But for the Angels actual extension for Trout, I agree that free-agent pricing wouldn’t be the right benchmark since you already have Trout. If you’re managing your team’s roster construction, you should really be looking at average $/WAR for all players, which is more like $4m/win. That’s how the Angels should be viewing the excess value they have on Trout, because in this case the alternative was to just hang on to him and pay him the arbitration-based salary while under control, like you said.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

It seemed to me he was talking about Trout’s value to the Angels. If Trout fell apart to the point that he was producing at the free-agent $/WAR rate on his contract, the Angels would be getting negative value on the contract, like you said.

Mr Scout
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Betences is missing

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
1 year 10 months ago

So is any other RP; they don’t have much trade value at all, much less one who has all of 55 quality innings at the MLB and a long history of inconsistency in the minors.

Brandon Warne
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

More of a police issue than a Cameron issue; contact your local authorities

Jorge Fabregas
Guest
Jorge Fabregas
1 year 10 months ago
TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

Yes, and you’d think that fact would make him a worse trade trip than Anthony Rizzo, who will be paid less through 2021 than Abreu will be paid through 2019 (unless it turns out Abreu sucks).

And you know what that means, right? That means Dave has to put Chris Sale in his top 10!

Do it, Dave. I know you said you wouldn’t, but with this new information you have to admit Abreu is not as valuable as Rizzo.

Sean
Guest
Sean
1 year 10 months ago

That said, if we suppose Abreu would earn an average of $20M in his three arbitration years (assuming he is good enough to manage that), that would take him from 35M to 60M in those three years, taking the total contract dollars from 51M to 76M; and this assumes he is producing well enough throughout to get those salaries. So I think it probably changes little that he has that option.

ray fosse
Guest
ray fosse
1 year 10 months ago

Hey Dave,

Great list overall. I’m always a big fan of lists. Apart from that, I’m trying not to read into the particular order of the rankings too much, especially near the top. That said, I would think Jonathan Lucroy would possibly outrank Salvador Perez and quite a few others on this list because of his framing skill and cheap contract. Lucroy is no slouch with the bat, and his framing is almost certainly top three, whereas Perez grades out to be average or slightly below average (going off of brooks baseball here which doesn’t seem to be updated yet for 2014). Am I maybe overrating framing stats, or was it something you didn’t really include in formulating this list?

John Stamos
Member
John Stamos
1 year 10 months ago

I’d read the Lucroy blurb again. He mentions that while framing has value, teams have not shown any intent on paying for pitch framing. So while the value is real, it does not translate to trade value.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
1 year 10 months ago

Whoa there. I’ve been told that Lucroy is awful at framing and that was the one and only reason Adam Wainright pitched poorly at the ASG.

Twitter told me so!

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 10 months ago

I’m surprised to find out Mike Matheny has a twitter account.

Nate
Guest
Nate
1 year 10 months ago

Isn’t Machado controlled through 2018, and not 2019? With last year being his first full season, that would make 2018 his sixth season, correct?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

Yes, BR confirms this is correct, too.

tyke
Guest
tyke
1 year 10 months ago

“an historical”

goddamnit

Jason Bourne
Guest
Jason Bourne
1 year 10 months ago

I’m pretty sure that’s actually grammatically correct.

Teej
Guest
Teej
1 year 10 months ago

It’s not. But it’s such a minor, common thing that there’s no sense getting worked up one way or the other. I’m sighing loudly at myself just for writing this response.

JosephK
Guest
JosephK
1 year 10 months ago

Maybe he’s using the British pronunciation.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
1 year 10 months ago

Which is still grammatically incorrect. It’s a minor thing, but I share the pet peeve.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
1 year 10 months ago

The grammatical rule for “a” or “an” depends on the aspiration of the consonant or vowel of the next word. Believe it or not, not aspirating the “h” on historical is a perfectly acceptable pronunciation. Both a historical and an historical are correct depending on the pronunciation.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 10 months ago

At worst, it’s just a honest mistake.

Paul Sorrento
Guest
Paul Sorrento
1 year 10 months ago

That is an horrific sentence.

Mike Green
Guest
Mike Green
1 year 10 months ago

I like the McCutchen vs. Trout analysis. The only thing to add is that Trout can, on average, be expected to improve (as Mantle did) during the life of his contract- 50 WAR over the life of Trout’s contract is, if anything, a modest account of expectations.

Random fact about Trout- you wouldn’t think that a kid from New Jersey would do better in the California summer than in the shoulder seasons, but he has.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 10 months ago

I dunno that Trout can be reasonably expected to improve over the life of his contract. When you’re at, like, the 99th percentile and up, there’s a lot more room in the part of the curve behind you than ahead of you…

Pumpsie Green
Guest
Pumpsie Green
1 year 10 months ago

Not that he’s like most players, but most players add power and lose speed as they age. I think there is room to grow on the power side, and a little on the plate discipline (some teams are throwing him high, inside heat and he’s been missing) side, too. Plus, he’s made a few rookie-type mistakes on the bases (understandable, as he is younger than most rookies). As far as trade value goes, though, teams will pay more for power than speed – his trade value is likely to increase as he powers up, I’d say, and the gap between 1 and 2 will widen. The Angels should win front office of the year in every year of – oh, Pujols.

Josh Hamilton
Guest
Josh Hamilton
1 year 10 months ago

Don’t forget about me!

Matthew
Guest
Matthew
1 year 10 months ago

“There’s an argument to be made for McCutchen to take the top spot on this list.”

“And neither one (McCutchen and Goldschmidt) can even make an argument for the top spot.”

So, it’s okay for someone else to make the argument for McCutchen to take the top spot, but he can’t make it for himself?

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
1 year 10 months ago

Precisely

Nick
Guest
Nick
1 year 10 months ago

If there’s one guy I’m selling high, its Brantley. 197 ISO kinda came out of nowhere and its the reason he shows up on this list.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

Isn’t Puig controlled by the Dodgers through 2019? He came up in 2013, but not for the full season, so his 6 years should be 2014-1019. If this is true, I’d think he’d rank ahead of Harper, since they are very similar players at likely very similar costs, and you’d basically just be getting one more prime year out of Puig.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

And BR confirms I am right about this. Puig has arbitration eligibility 2019.

Dead Serious
Guest
Dead Serious
1 year 10 months ago

Dude, are you really questioning 1 spot?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

Near the top the difference in value is huge as these guys have huge excess value. The difference in excess value between Trout and McCutchen in likely more than the difference between numbers 25 and 40.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 10 months ago

And yes, I am. So what?

Johnston
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Question everything and everyone.

munchtime
Guest
munchtime
1 year 10 months ago

Puig isn’t bound to the same arbitration rules as most players, due to the way he came into the league.

AL Eastbound
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Dave, more concerned with Profar’s injury history or worries about a reduced ceiling?

zurzles
Guest
zurzles
1 year 10 months ago

sample sizes are small, but manny’s only really been bad with the bat his first month back.

WRC+
May: 54
June: 112
July: 262

and he’s been oddly terrible against lefties, which will hopefully regress. as an o’s fan it’s easy to say he was rusty at first or “it was spring training for him” but it’s a bit inaccurate to say the last few months have been bad for him.

CarlosBaerga
Guest
CarlosBaerga
1 year 10 months ago

As a TxSt alum who watched Goldschmidt all the time in college, I still can’t believe he wasn’t taken until the 8th round. I wonder if scouting has increased in the Southland Conference since he became a superstar.

rzt101
Guest
rzt101
1 year 10 months ago

So if hypothetically, the angels get offered Cutch and GoldSchmidt for Trout, do they reject? Dont know the yearly breakout of each of these guys contract, but they may actually be saving money.

Dead Serious
Guest
Dead Serious
1 year 10 months ago

I’m pretty sure they say yes before the question is even finished.

nickolai
Guest
nickolai
1 year 10 months ago

If I’m the angels I say yes. But hard to say on the other side, not knowing which team gets Trout’s legs and which one gets everything north of the belt.

Or does each team get him for 1/2 a season?

David B
Member
David B
1 year 10 months ago

Here is the flaw with this list: the fact is that there are a number of teams who are unable (or unwilling) to assume the contracts of certain players. Looking at Mike Trout as an example, probably one-third of the league wouldn’t be willing or able to assume a $140 million contract. Regardless of how $/WAR plays into the equation, certain players’ trade value is reduced because their trade market is much more limited given their contract liability. Call it a discount for lack of marketability. Factor in the discount, and you’d likely see very different rankings.

Pale Hose
Guest
Pale Hose
1 year 10 months ago

I disagree. Every team would find a way to make it happen if given the opportunity to take on Trout’s contact.

piratesbreak500
Guest
piratesbreak500
1 year 10 months ago

The other thing is the length of the 130 million dollar contract. A 130 million contract over 5 years is different than one over 7 or 10.

Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 10 months ago

Kevin Gausman seems like a player who should be considered. Just wondering where you think he would have fallen?

batpig
Member
batpig
1 year 10 months ago

Yeah…. No.

Gausman is a good, not great pitching prospect. Notice how many pitching prospects made the list (zero) and that the intrinstic risk in pitchers has basically caused Dave to refuse to rank any pitcher in the Top 10 anymore. The only guys with limited experience who made the list are Gray and Ventura who have established high levels of major league performance.

You’d basically have to be a “birthed from the forehead of Zeuss fully formed” generational pitching prospect like Strasburg or Prior to make the list.

bill
Guest
bill
1 year 10 months ago

And neither of them would have been on the list for long.

Ben
Guest
Ben
1 year 10 months ago

Are we really believing Abreu can sustain a 35% HR/FB rate? I know he’s powerful, but having a HR/FB rate that is over 1.5X greater than Mike Trout, Edwin Encarnacion, and Giancarlo Stanton seems pretty unsustainable to me. And the problem is that even if that rate falls to, say, 27% (which would still lead the league), which drops his iso to something in the neighborhood of .260, his value is greatly reduced, since his K and BB rates are not impressive and he adds no defensive value. Just seems to be a pretty aggressive ranking to me.

Pale Hose
Guest
Pale Hose
1 year 10 months ago

If you drop his hr/fb to .27 and assume those home runs turn into outs then his wOBA is .368 or 18% better than average. Assuming a .2 hr/fb still leaves s wOBA 6% better than average. He has a long way to fall to make that contract look bad. Maybe the ranking is a tad aggressive but it can’t be far off.

Ben
Guest
Ben
1 year 10 months ago

Not trying to say the contract would look bad. You are certainly right there, I doubt it ever will. But when you are talking about a first baseman who adds no defensive value and provides an average OBP, I would rather take pretty much everyone on the list down to about 25 over Abreu rather than gamble on HR/FB.

batpig
Member
batpig
1 year 10 months ago

Remember this is a TRADE VALUE list and teams still pay more for power. Abreu looks like, at worst, a perennial 30-35 HR right-handed bat at 1B. Signed for $10M/yr.

Making only $10M/yr forgives a lot of sins when you are a right-handed homer bashing machine. Teams would be lining up to trade for him.

The lorax
Guest
The lorax
1 year 10 months ago

Abreu’s contract allows him to go through arbitration instead of the current structure, I wonder how much more he could make?

Prince Fielder
Guest
Prince Fielder
1 year 10 months ago

What about me? I thought I was top ten material

mike wants wins
Guest
mike wants wins
1 year 10 months ago

Dave, I love this every year. Thank you for doing this. Very entertaining, this is entertainment, right?

Marco
Guest
Marco
1 year 10 months ago

Dave, with all of the new people on the list a fun article might be to review the people they displaced.

Andrew Burnham
Guest
Andrew Burnham
1 year 10 months ago

Surprised no discussion of Braun and his post PED bust season. Thought he’d at least make the top 50 even though he’s looking more like a 4 win player than his prime 2011 and 2012 numbers.

Devin
Guest
Devin
1 year 10 months ago

Perez contract is insane. KC rolled the dice giving him money after 39 AB’s, but it secured him for life and now saved KC 100 million dollars if her ends up being what everybody thinks he will be. Hell, he is already a 2x all star… if he stays the same its still the best contract in MLB.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
1 year 10 months ago

Is it really rolling the dice on a contract this cheap?

Near
Guest
Near
1 year 10 months ago

The mistakes on Goldschmidt are partly due to non-scoutable features. Scouts can’t evaluate a hitter’s dedication or intelligence, and I believe the Diamondbacks reporters published a story in 2012 that profiled Goldschmidt as very studious, watching videotape footage of pitchers before and after games and tendencies for him to take advantage of during an at-bat.

The subset of MLB players who actually use replay like a good student would use a study guide is very small, players might look at replay but not really utilize it. It would be akin to looking at a wrong answer on a test, getting the right answer, but not reflecting over it. The subset of players who use replay footage and are actually good at transforming it into positive outcomes are probably even fewer, although there would be a survivorship bias in those who continue to use it over long periods continue to do so, while those who find it ineffective are more likely to drop use.

Video footage has helped Goldschmidt close a lot of his weaknesses, and given him the intuition to apply what he’s learned in unfamiliar situations as well. It isn’t a student who studies exclusively for one subject, he’s learned how to study and how to take tests, and so that kind of exercise has worked to help him mature as a hitter.

I would not be surprised if more hitters appear like Goldschmidt as sabrmetrics and new technologies work their way through high schools, the minor leagues and into MLB. The onus is on the teams then, to embrace both rather than stubbornly hold on to traditions. In 2011, I would have sworn Goldschmidt and Brandon Belt would have been equally dominating hitters in a few years time, but the slow development of Belt is undoubtedly due to the close-minded culture of the Giants rather than a lack of talent on the player’s part.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
1 year 10 months ago

Since my favorite team sucks and doesn’t have anyone on this list, I’m choosing to be happy that my money league team has 10 of these 50 players on its roster and only one (Tulo) will definitely be too expensive to keep next year.

Bad beat story guy
Guest
Bad beat story guy
1 year 10 months ago

And then this one time, this guy stayed around with Ace-trey and beat my kings! I mean, Ace-trey! What gives?!?!?!

jdbolick
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

Guys who can hit like in the big leagues at this age often turn into monster offensive performers as they get older

What exactly is this claim based on? Eno already showed on FanGraphs that ISO typically declines with age. Machado’s K% and BB% could improve such that he becomes a more well-rounded offensive player, but wouldn’t a future “monster offensive performer” require more power and patience already? I’m an Orioles fan, but I don’t see how Manny ever becomes “a monster offensive performer.” I don’t get the Evan Longoria comparison at all either, unless you were just talking about comparable WAR.

Hieronymous
Guest
Hieronymous
1 year 10 months ago

The list of qualified players since 1950 with a wRC+ within 10 of Machado’s current career value of 102 by age 21:

Rusty Staub
Bob Bailey
Buddy Bell
Ruben Sierra
Gary Sheffield
Adrian Beltre
Andruw Jones
Butch Wynegar
Starlin Castro
Boog Powell
Claudell Washington
Roberto Alomar

So it’s not a given that he’ll be a “monster offensive performer” but there are a lot of guys in that list for whom that label would be correct.

jdbolick
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

If you’re using Machado’s current wRC+ then you should be going to age 22, where the list becomes less impressive. I also think a ten point swing is rather too large a range. Regardless, I’m simply not optimistic about the kind of power growth that the great names on that list demonstrated.

Hieronymous
Guest
Hieronymous
1 year 10 months ago

Except 2014 is technically still Machado’s age 21 season, so no, you shouldn’t be going to age 22. And even if you don’t want to count this year’s stats, the list is the exact same.

And changing the 10 point swing (which actually should also include Ron Santo, Rick Manning, and Justin Upton) to less doesn’t make the outcome look much more negative for Machado. Make it 5 points, and the list is “only” Bell, Sierra, Sheffield, Beltre, Jones, Wynegar, Castro, and Powell. In other words, still very encouraging.

As for power, Machado has already shown better power than half the guys on that list at the same age (and similar power to most of the others). It makes a lot more sense to worry about his plate discipline.

batpig
Member
batpig
1 year 10 months ago

Aggregate aging curves are just that… aggregate. The track record of guys who can perform in the majors at age 20-21 is pretty darn good.

jdbolick
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

Sure, but the question isn’t about Machado’s overall value, it’s specifically the notion that he’s likely to become a “monster offensive performer.” I don’t see it.

Enkidu
Member
Enkidu
1 year 10 months ago

He showed that ISO peaks at 24-25. Machado is barely 22. Many players, even future stars, aren’t in the MLB at that age.

Stringer Bell
Guest
Stringer Bell
1 year 10 months ago

Yeah, still utterly confused as to how Alex Cobb made this list over guys like Springer, Altuve, Walker, Garrett Richards, etc.

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
1 year 10 months ago

I was looking for Garrett Richards, too.

batpig
Member
batpig
1 year 10 months ago

Read the intro. There isn’t much difference between the guys in the bottom 10 and the next 20-30 guys. Richards, Altuve and Springer were all mentioned. I’ll even quote it for you:

“There’s nothing wrong with these guys. In fact, all of them made a preliminary version of the list at some point during the compiling of the final version. The margin between the guys at the end and the guys not listed is so small that it’s basically inconsequential. You could realistically argue for any of about 20 or 25 guys to fill the last 10 spots and not get much of an argument from me. At the end of the day, though, I had to pick 50, which leaves a few very good players on very reasonable contracts out in the cold.”

Stringer Bell
Guest
Stringer Bell
1 year 10 months ago

I don’t think Cobb even belongs in the next 20-30

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
1 year 10 months ago

First, thank you for the series, Dave. This is a great read every year and I enjoy it a lot.

With respect to the top 10, I might even put Jose Abreu ahead of Longoria. He’s under control for 4 less seasons, but he saves you $100 million and those 4 seasons are ages 34 – 37 for Longo. I really feel like Longoria will not age all that well having played his whole career on turf in TB.

BobbyJohn
Guest
BobbyJohn
1 year 10 months ago

Here’s hoping Nolan Arenado can put in a full, healthy season next year. If he does, I am pretty confident we’ll see him listed here.

companion cube
Guest
companion cube
1 year 10 months ago

How did Dan Uggla not make this list? With a dominant .472 OPS this year,a reputation as a plus defender, and a team friendly contract guarenteeing him only $13 million a year all the way through 2015? And only 34 years old! With those numbers and contract status, I would put him somewhere between Yu Darvish and Jose Abreau. Also, while we’re talking about snubbed Braves, how is B.J. Upton, with the same age and similar production as Carlos Gomez for $5 mil a year cheaper not on this list?

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
1 year 10 months ago

I’ll trade a warm six pack of Pabst for either player, right now, straight up.

Matthew
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

Also, I’m going to throw this out there. It is insane that Gerrit Cole isn’t on this list.

*Under team control until 2020.
*Fastball averages 97 and hits over 100.
*Three excellent pitches along with a decent changeup
*Excellent ground-ball rate
*Former #1 prospect.
*No injury history prior to lat strain and a “durable build” with “favorable mechanics”

I suppose my criticism is that I’ll ask you to do this Dave. Call up all your contacts in the industry. Ask everyone of them if they would rather have Gerrit Cole or Yordano Ventura. I bet over 90% would rather have Cole. Previous injuries don’t seem to matter, but a current minor injury does?

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
1 year 10 months ago

I’m with you, Monster. Gerrit Cole needs to be here somewhere. You can debate vs Yordano Ventura and I won’t quibble . . . for me Cole is ahead of Wright / Pedroia / Quintana so I’d put him in the ~ 35 range or better.

a eskpert
Guest
a eskpert
1 year 10 months ago

The only, and the inevitable comparison that needs to be made with Manny Machado, is to Brooks Robinson. Absurd defense at 3B, an Oriole, good power in late 20s (potentially for manny), mostly bad walk rates, and relatively low strikeout rates.

bill
Guest
bill
1 year 10 months ago

Agreed, now the Orioles just need to make a trade with the Reds to get a former MVP and we can watch the titles roll in.

Doug
Guest
Doug
1 year 10 months ago

John Lackey deserves a spot in the honorable mentions. Due to his injury and the contract he signed, he will be making $500,000 next year. That’s something that all 30 teams would definitely be interested in.

HawaiiFO
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Curious about Sean Doolittle.
The A’s signed him to a six year extension (2015-2020) for $22 million dollars.
RP $/WAR isn’t the same as other players but they shouldn’t be discounted completely because of it even if 2-3 WAR a year is their ceiling. On the open market, a shutdown closer is worth at least $10 million a year and up to $15 million a year.
That’s $40 million+ in excess “value” for the A’s.
Thoughts?

A top ten RP trade value would be cool..

Paul Sorrento
Guest
Paul Sorrento
1 year 10 months ago

I like this line of thinking. Teams generally overpay for “closers”. The bias of FanGraphs advanced metrics reflecting the reality that RP simply are not very valuable eliminates the consideration that even “smart” teams have been shown to use large resources on backend bullpen assets. RP are volatile, but having Doolittle at that amount saves the A’s from having to spend $10 million/season on a guy like Jim Johnson again.

Bruce Chen
Guest
Bruce Chen
1 year 10 months ago

I guess you just couldn’t bring yourself to bring down your faverite Mike Trout. I’m #0.1 When does the list 1-0 come out?

LantermanC
Guest
LantermanC
1 year 10 months ago

Like most of Dave Cameron’s work, not much to harp on, however I would say that unless there’s something odd about Ryu’s contract, he should be on here.
4.6 years to go at $6m per year and he’s averaging 3 wins a season? Seems like a pretty valuable contract to me.

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
1 year 10 months ago

This is a great list. I agree with nearly all of it. But I really don’t see how evan longoria is in the top 10. I think he has always been kinda overrated and keeps getting worse.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

Guess who’s number 1 in WAR in baseball since 2008.

???

Enkidu
Member
Enkidu
1 year 10 months ago

Ryan Howard?

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
1 year 10 months ago

With all respect, it doesn’t matter if Longoria is #1 in WAR since 2008. Numbers from 2008, 09, 10, 11 are pretty meaningless now, and even 2012 should be highly regressed. We have to think about the next 9 years and $152 million and make our judgment about where the player is going.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

The comment was mainly just in response to the idea that Evan Longoria is overrated. Overrated? The guy is exactly whatever the opposite of overrated is. Underrated? Yeah, that.

The 9th year is a team option, so you can basically throw it out. Aside from that, he’s being paid to be just an average player over the contract. He was worth nearly 7 wins as recently as last year. I wouldn’t worry about him.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 10 months ago

I definitely think Abreu is way too high, but I understand the ranking if Dave is basically trying to account for the fact that power alone is what gets players the big bucks. I can’t imagine he would be ranked this high if this was a list of who should have the most trade value.

:syas piB Bip
Guest
:syas piB Bip
1 year 10 months ago

I definitely think Abreu is way too low, but I don’t understand the ranking if Dave is basically trying to account for the fact that power alone is what gets players the big bucks. I can imagine he would be ranked this high if this was a list of who should have the most trade value.

Grant
Guest
Grant
1 year 10 months ago

I’m suprised Christian Yelich isn’t on this list. Given his hitting (.344 wOBA), overall production(118 wRC+, 3.8 WAR), service time (the stats are based on his 138 games played), age (22) , and pedigree (top 10 prospect). I think he should be on this list.

Jim
Guest
Jim
1 year 10 months ago

If the Cards picked up all of Tulo’s contract do you think a package of Tavares, Wong and a pitcher out of Gonzalez, Cooney or Miller would get it done?

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 10 months ago

Sure, trade away most of our best young players and play Peralta out of position to take on a contract we can’t afford. That makes perfect sense. With Wong now securing 2nd base, there’s no need to trade for an infielder anymore, anyway.

Mike Stanton
Guest
Mike Stanton
1 year 10 months ago

Mike, Giancarlo…name changes are confusing, I know, but no top ten mention?

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
1 year 10 months ago

I believe that Stanton just does not have enough years of service remaining to warrant a top spot. He’s got 2 years left after this one before free agency. There’s nobody ahead of him with that same window, and only Lucroy is a FA after 2017. Everyone else is 2018 or later for free agency.

Dave
Guest
Dave
1 year 10 months ago

What about Kevin Kiermaier? If Abreu deserves consideration than so does he

Dylan
Member
Dylan
1 year 10 months ago

Curious about Todd Frazier, I know that he is what he is and is already 28 years old but he’s one of the best third basemen in the game today and he is just hitting arbitration this offseason.

Marcus Aurelius Greene
Guest
Marcus Aurelius Greene
1 year 10 months ago

I apologize if this point was already raised, but I don’t see how the oft-injured, soon-to-turn-30 Tulo can be projected at 6.4 WAR ( half a win higher than he has ever posted over a full season), while the extraordinarily durable and younger McCutchen projects at 5.7, even though he’s been substantially more valuable than that in both 2012 and 2013, and is on pace for roughly 7.5 WAR this year. Something is greatly askew.

I’m thinking Tulo should be 4.6 rather than 6.4. Numerical dyslexia?

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 10 months ago

I don’t think it’s been raised and I do think it’s worth discussing.

I go back to all the discussions about Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury history when the Yanks signed him for all that money. In Ellsbury’s case, his injuries were not damaging long-term and were fluky in origin, so you could argue that Ellsbury was not really injury-prone, just had bad luck on past injuries.

I don’t know the breakout of Tulo’s previous injuries, but right now he doesn’t seem worse for the wear. I’d be more worried about something like Prince Fielder’s neck surgery, which came from a chronic issue and doesn’t have a good recovery prognosis. Which is ironic in light of Fielder’s durability prior to the neck surgery.

lee
Member
1 year 10 months ago

Ryu or price is the better?

Ryu 2018y 28mil salary , price 2016y 20mil salary

Who?

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 10 months ago

Why didn’t Matt Adams make the list? The dude can flat out hit, and he won’t even be arb. eligible until 2016. He could very well be the next Goldschmidt.

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
1 year 10 months ago

Why didn’t Kershaw make the list, contract too expensive??

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 10 months ago

His actual contract allows him to become a free-agent at the end of the season if traded. So if he’s still giving value above his contract, he’d presumably take the chance on free agency and all you’d get is one year of surplus value.

Oden
Guest
Oden
1 year 10 months ago

Dave, could you please stretch your list out to the top 750? That’s the only way we can see what any other Arizona player’s trade value is worth besides Goldy. Thanks in advance.

Noah Baron
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

To me it does seem kind of odd that Chris Archer is ranked while Zack Wheeler is not. Zack Wheeler is not yet arbitration eligible, is a full year younger, and has had a better season than Archer by both SIERA and xFIP. Even if you think Archer has had a slightly better season after adjusting for league, there is no denying the effect that pitching to one of the best framing tandems in the league has done to his statistics. The Mets framers, on the other hand, have been roughly average as a whole.

And no, I’m not just saying this because Wheeler’s on my team. I just can’t think of a single reason why Archer would be ranked ahead of him besides bias in favor of the Rays (or the AL East).

Ben
Guest
Ben
1 year 10 months ago

Pretty surprised at Kipnis’s exclusion. He’s projected to be worth ~20 wins over the next five years, and he’ll be paid $49.5 million for those five years (or six years at $63.5 if the team exercises its option).

I get that the power is down this year, but the oblique injury seems like a valid explanation. The contract is so good for a fairly high upside guy that I’d think he’d sneak on here.

A-Rod
Guest
A-Rod
1 year 10 months ago

You’ll see. You’ll see!

Bat
Guest
Bat
1 year 9 months ago

Strikes me as more than a little bit of hyberbole to see that a Tulo trade package might resemble baseball’s version of the Herschel Walker trade.

The haul for Walker was unprecedented and I cannot think of another trade before or after in professional sports that brought such a massive bounty to the team trading the star player.

Tulo is great, but he is 30 years old next year; injury prone; and makes $20 million per year. Even if that is good value for him, that is still $20 million per year, which eliminates many small market teams and consequently many bidders with significant prospects and therefore decompresses the trade value.

Tulo will fetch a hefty ransom if he is traded, but a Herschel Walker-type return?

Um…no.

Chris
Guest
Chris
10 months 1 day ago

Well put.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 9 months ago

I’m just curious as to how much longer Bryce Harper can post a negative seasonal WAR before the fangraphs community turns on him. Given how his power had cratered this season, I would have to think injuries are partly to blame. But it is looking more and more like injuries are just going to be a part of the overall package with him. If he can’t get his swing back, his base-running and defense aren’t going to save his value.

CM52
Member
CM52
1 year 8 months ago

9.4 WAR before his 22nd birthday. Yeah, he’s been awful.

Marc
Guest
Marc
1 year 5 months ago

re:Tulo – “Even with $130 million left on his deal, Tulowitzki is making about a little more than half of his market value. As a six win player, Tulo is worth something in the range of $35 to $40 million to per year, so while he might not be cheap, he’s still an amazing value, even while making $20 million per season.”

Are you kidding me?First of all, no player is worth $40 million nor have they been paid close to that. Now explain his value in the games he does not play. I know when the article was written but, the fact is he’s played 150 games or more twice in his career.Nothing in 2014 changed that.

Hindsight 20/20 things are much worse. He played 90 games this year and is coming off hip surgery. Albatross not value is the name for his contract. Please don’t let the Mets trade for him.

RC
Guest
RC
1 year 4 months ago

I’m really surprised to see Xander Bogaerts so high – and not have Mookie Betts on there. His ceiling is a little lower than Bogaerts, but his chance of hitting it seems drastically higher – and we’re still talking star ceiling.

OaktownSteve
Guest
OaktownSteve
1 year 28 days ago

As much as the A’s (or at least their fans) would like to have Donaldson back, you should probably move him to TOR.

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
9 months 6 hours ago

Lol!!! Thank you Billy. :)

rustydude
Member
rustydude
11 months 18 days ago

May be some movement within the top 4 for 2015, but same names. And Puig has a shot at retaining his #5 position.

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
9 months 6 hours ago

Is Harper #1 now?

wpDiscuz