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  1. If Ramirez is on this list, does that mean Yunel Escobar is on the list later too? I understand if you don’t want to give away the future, but if not, why?

    Comment by SC2GG — July 14, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  2. I don’t really understand this series – most of the players listed are highly unlikely to be traded (Halladay? Braun?). It seems more like a “top 50″ MLB players list than a trade deadline feature.

    Comment by greenfrog — July 14, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  3. It’s not a trade deadline feature. It is a yearly article that fangraphs does that rates the value of players IF they were traded. Things like age, contract status, etc. affect the rankings as well as the player’s ability. For example, if Ryan Braun made 2M a year for the next four years he would probably be in the top five players. However, since he signed a long expensive contract extension is no longer as valuable.

    Comment by JT Grace — July 14, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  4. It’s about ranking players “trade value”, not who will get traded. that was pretty clearly explained in the first one. and last years… and the “what did i learn from last year” article… so which part of this “series” did you actually read?

    Comment by Tom B — July 14, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  5. That’s because it’s not a trade deadline feature, and has absolutely nothing to do with which players are likely to be traded at the deadline.

    Comment by Dan — July 14, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  6. So now that Ramirez has shown up, we White Sox fans can stop reading, right? I don’t think Danks or Santos is going to show up and I can’t really think of anybody else on the team who qualifies as top 50 young, cheap and good.

    Comment by MikeS — July 14, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  7. Can’t things just be for the entertainment value? Can’t it just be done because it’s an interesting exercise?

    Comment by Pat — July 14, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  8. Why aren’t the excess values these players possess quantified based on WAR projections and the value they would generate minus their contracts. It would make it so much simpler to see why the players are ranked where they are in an objective manner.

    Comment by Nik — July 14, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  9. Yunel Escobar was basically dumped last year for Alex Gonazlez and 2 B-level prospects. Since then he has gain a year of service time and signed a guaranteed contract. I don’t think he would qualify in the top 50, since his trade value was so low a year ago.

    Comment by harpago17 — July 14, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  10. Ramirez is a much better defender and baserunner (though Yunel is no slouch). Yunel’s contract is even better than Alexei’s, though, so maybe

    Comment by Benjamin — July 14, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  11. the guaranteed contract is $10M with 2 $5M team options. that’s an absolute steal for a 4 win shortstop, though your point about what he actually got traded for is a good one

    Comment by Benjamin — July 14, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  12. Ramirez might be a little high. He’s turning 30 in September (I know that doesn’t seem right). With quite a bit of his value tied up in his defensive capabilities, that contract price and term might not seem so favourable to prospective trade partners given his age.

    Comment by Mike Green — July 14, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  13. Escobar and Ramirez are both around $40M in value over the past 3 years, are around the same age, and are both locked up for 4 years.

    You could argue Ramirez is the better player since he’s been better this year, and that’s fine, but Escobar’s deal is $12M cheaper and the last two years are team options.

    It’s a toss-up between them, but if Ramirez cracks the top 35, I do feel like Escobar should be top 50.

    Comment by Mad Dan — July 14, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  14. admit it, you’re Telo and just changed your username

    Comment by Slugger27 — July 14, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  15. Adam Dunn and Juan Pierre should be coming up soon. :)

    Comment by los — July 14, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  16. I think the idea is under the circumstance that everyone on every team was all of a sudden available.

    Comment by Stephan — July 14, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  17. no i’m a casual reader of this site, and I remember the Cost/Benefits of all the Free Agents this winter included the expected WAR for the length of the term based on age and regression in pretty much every article. Just wondering why its not done in this series of articles.

    Comment by Nik — July 14, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  18. Well, and correct me if I’m wrong, I think that this ranking isn’t supposed to be objective. It is what someone most likely WOULD return on the open market and not what they SHOULD based on WAR/other stats.

    It seems like the write-up on Cahill is a good example of this where his peripheral stats don’t necessarily show a great pitcher but his perception around the lead ranks him higher on this list.

    Comment by Drew1750 — July 14, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  19. Because that makes it boring.

    Comment by Steve — July 14, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  20. Pretty sure there is nothing “objective” going on here at all. If you are looking for robotic rankings, best go elsewhere.

    Comment by Tom B — July 14, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  21. league not lead*

    Comment by Drew1750 — July 14, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  22. No Rickie Weeks yet? I mean, he must be on the list, but I didn’t think he would be this high.

    Relatively good contract for the team, and he has turned into the second best 2B in baseball.

    Comment by Dustin Rucinski — July 14, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  23. The “robotic” analysis is exactly what this site is best at. If i want to get subjective opinions i can always hit up bleacher report.

    Comment by Nik — July 14, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  24. If Brandon Beachy keeps up his current level of performance, I’d think he’d have to be a Top 50 caliber guy if Pineda is. He may not have Pineda’s flashy fastball, but his peripherals are superior (albeit in the weaker league).

    Comment by Sean O'Neill — July 14, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  25. Keeps it up is the operative word. He doesnt have much of a pedigree but he’s been very impressive thus far, I’ll admit.

    Comment by Nik — July 14, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  26. I think I’d have Braun a bit higher, even with his contract. He’s owed, starting next year, around $141.5 million. 18 million is deferred and will be paid from 2022-2031, which helps out a bit. Braun has proven to be worth about $20 million a year, and will probably be worth closer to 25-30 million this year. If he can just play like this for 5 more years (he’s 27, it’s not unreasonable to think he can be a 5 win player in his age 28-32 seasons), that almost $125 million of the contract earned. That still leaves him a few more years to earn the rest of the contract.

    I think Braun easily gives his team over $150 million of production in the lifetime of his contract, even if he does miss some time due to an injury somewhere in there. Factor in the fact that some of the money is deferred, we’re seeing dominant pitching that makes his positive baserunning and power more important, and a team trading for him will immediately get huge production thanks to his age (27, teams will immediately be getting his prime years), and I think he’s worth much more than some of the guys who will be ahead of him.

    Comment by Dylan — July 14, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  27. I must really be missing something with Cahill. Doesn’t fool anybody (just 7.5% strike swinging, and 25% O-swing), has shaky control (5.36 K/9 vs 3.33 BB/9 career) with just enough velocity for a RHP (89 MPH in ’11).

    Comment by kid — July 14, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  28. I’m a big Yunel fan, but Ramirez is absolutely better right now. Yunel’s contract is nice though.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — July 14, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  29. I venerate Beachy, but he just established himself as a legit prospect last year. Right now, he could probably net a Michael Bourn or a Josh Willingham straight-up, but next year he may very well appear on this list.

    Comment by Anon21 — July 14, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  30. It’s true that Braun will likely age very well, given his skillset, over the length of the contract.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — July 14, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  31. Grounders

    Comment by Eminor3rd — July 14, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  32. Michael Bourn, yes. Beachy is way more valuable than Josh Willingham.

    Comment by JT Grace — July 14, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  33. Bahahah. Nope! Love it though…..

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  34. “Pretty sure there is nothing “objective” going on here at all.”

    You are literally an idiot.

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  35. There is a pretzel stand over there that serves LITERALLY the best pretzel I’ve ever had.

    Comment by McE — July 14, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  36. Just because the Braves made a boneheaded move and traded Yunel doesn’t make his trade value lower, it just makes the deal look even worse for the Braves. If all the worlds GMs went by this list, the world would be less exciting.

    I have no doubt that Ramirez is a better overall shortstop, but was taking into account Yunels amazingly team friendly contract, and he’s doing a little better at the plate than Ramirez is this year too.

    I certainly felt he should be top 50, given the comparisons available. Hey Dave, did you forget about Yunel?! The adoring public wants to know.

    Comment by SC2GG — July 14, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  37. Fortunately for people who are literally fans of the word, we’re in a virtual environment, so you can instead be virtually an idiot.

    Comment by SC2GG — July 14, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  38. I think you mean… salty chew chew trains

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  39. alexei ramirez the most valuable SS in chicago?

    HAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    breathe

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Comment by prospectslol — July 14, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  40. To a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, WAR in excess of contract value is a completely secondary concern to simply amassing as much WAR as possible (or whatever metrics they use instead). Did Crawford have obvious value in excess of his contract? Not really, but if someone else had signed him to that contract, the Red Sox would still trade for him and give up significant return. Meanwhile, the Rays would have passed on trading for his new contract entirely. Or if you prefer to focus on a player who has done well, same thing for Gonzalez. No trade value to the Padres at all anymore, but if San Diego signed that contract with him, trade value to the Red Sox similar to what he had before the contract.

    This is one simple example as to why $ valuation above remaining contract doesn’t come close to a player’s trade value. As I understand the series, it’s an attempt to merge these competing trade concerns, which beats a simple WAR projection-contract value list.

    Another end is Brett Gardner – the Yankees might be getting good value for their $ at his position, but if a player was available that was slightly better and cost twice as much, they’d still make the trade even if the other team gets back surplus value.

    Comment by test — July 14, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  41. You can call me an idiot when I say idiotic things, like

    “Pretty sure there is nothing “objective” going on here at all.”

    Yes, Cameron just threw together a list of players who he thought had really nice butts. Value is something we spend countless hours trying to measure – it’s practically the mission statement of sabermetrics. If you are telling me that we are creating a list of most valuable player contracts, and that nothing about it is objective, it makes me think “is there anything inside of your brain”. He lists their WAR for crying out loud. That is pretty clearly objective.

    What Nik wants (and coincidentally what I want) is a list that is TRANSPARENT and CONSISTENT. Where we see some sort of rudimentary calculation of marginal value, so that discussions on who is ranked where can be productive. As it is, every comment about where someone is ranked has no substance because we have no baseline. If we did, we could say “well, I think he’s going to produce a bit more than 5 WAR over the next three seasons, so I’d move him up a few spots.” Or “I think that’s an optimistic projection of player X, I’d move him down.”

    You start objective so you can then make subjective adjustments.

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  42. I’ve been thinking about Beachy too while reading this. His lack of a pedigree may explain the hesitancy of some folks to lump him together with a Pineda, and thereby put him a list like this, but the knowledge gap in the baseball industry closes pretty quickly. The Braves, in particular, probably have as little intention at this point of trading Beachy as they do Hanson. That might sound crazy in theory, but not if the team buys into his performance.

    He should be on the list next season.

    Comment by Adam — July 14, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  43. Basically the same hitter, way better fielder. What’s the issue?

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  44. Why is Lincecum above Halladay?

    Comment by Jaybo Shaw — July 14, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  45. Yup, and even at the time, it was regarded as a universally stupid move by the Braves. You have clubhouse issues? Fine, trade him. There is zero reason to take pennies on the dollar even with clubhouse issues. It was a pathetic attempt by the Braves FO to give Bobby Cox one last chance to make a run. Great job, Braves!

    And this is coming from a biased Phillies fan that was ecstatic when I saw that trade last year.

    Comment by NEPP — July 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  46. This is a good point, but it also misses a critical consideration: a series like this can’t really account for case specific differences such as what a team is maximizing, let alone specific market conditions.

    Generalized example:, a profit-maximizing team like the Marlins will have an entirely different valuation of a player than a win-maximizing team like the Athletics. A 5 WAR player being paid like a 2 WAR player is of extreme value to a team like the Athletics, but his value to the Marlins may be much lower because those 5 wins still won’t generate that much revenue for them, so the marginal cost of his salary may still outweigh the marginal benefit of the revenue generated by his wins.

    A series like this is a general, ceteris paribus, analysis of trade value. Once case specifics are brought into play, of course it’s going to fail, but that’s not really the point.

    Comment by Sean O'Neill — July 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  47. That was literally TLDR.

    Comment by SC2GG — July 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  48. His 4.21 xFIP and 4.53 tERA take that into account.

    If he were a flyball guy, his xFIP would be around 5.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — July 14, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  49. Has anyone mentioned that Bill Simmons does a similar list for the NBA?

    Comment by NEPP — July 14, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  50. He’s younger and cheaper…that’d be my guess anyway.

    Comment by NEPP — July 14, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  51. Barry Zito before the Great San Francisco Regression.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — July 14, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  52. Thank you for laying this out.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — July 14, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  53. Definitely thought Pineda would be higher as well, like last year’s Colby Rasmus, but I guess that’s the residual difference in value between pitchers and hitters, or of course that he’s only pitched a half season in the majors. I also expected far more people to comment on this, so I’m just an idiot all around.

    Comment by JWTP — July 14, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  54. You must have a doozy of a time with books, newspapers, mcdonalds menus.

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  55. The Braves made the playoffs, which they probably wouldn’t have done if they had not shipped Yunel out. If there was a better SS available and the Braves decided against him, then it was a bad move. If Alex Gonzalez was the best they could get, it was a good trade. I don’t know if Wren overvalued Alex Gonzalez because of his great power in early 2010, or if he really was the best they could get. I do know that Yunel was not only a cancer in the clubhouse, but was really terrible on the field, too. And even now, let’s not act like the Braves traded away Ozzie Smith or Cal Ripken. Yunel has turned it around and is a nice player, but I’d rather have the Braves 2010 Wild Card in Bobby’s last year than who knows what with Yunel. And on another note, I don’t know if it is a Canada thing, but Blue Jays fans with their cult-like praise of AA are just annoying. I mean, I know it’s childish but: scoreboard? Where are the Jays and where are the Braves?

    Comment by TK — July 14, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  56. Not even convinced Ramirez is a better overall shortstop than Yunel is…48 DRS for Yunel at SS in 4,554 innings. Ramirez is at 23 DRS in 3,507 innings. Ramirez has the slight edge in UZR but that’s basically supposed to be similar to the plus/minus system, no?

    Anyway, Yunel gets on base much more. Yunel’s career OPS = .768 in 2,178 at bats. Ramirez is at .750 in 1,957 at bats. Yunel also played in Atlanta the vast majority of his career compared to Ramirez in Chicago. The OPS+ numbers have Yunel at 105 for his career. Ramirez is at 97.

    Finally, Yunel is a year younger than Ramirez.

    Comment by razor — July 14, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  57. He’s perceived as a better starter because of his low ERA

    Comment by bender — July 14, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  58. problem is cost, age, ceiling…. the factors this column is supposed to take into account

    they may be basically the same hitter today…… with Alexei being 30 in september in the midst of his prime and Castro being twenty one and still a few years away from his….

    Castro is going to get a lot better on both sides of the ball and Alexei’s having a career year, plus Castro is going to be half the cost of Alexei over the next 4.5 years

    this column isn’t supposed to be about who’s better right now; it’s about who’s more valuable moving forward. Anyone who would rather have alexei ramirez from ages 30-35 at 42.5M over Castro from ages 21-26 in the low 20Ms is a moron.

    Comment by prospectslol — July 14, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  59. Career

    Escobar (28): 2481pa, .289/.365/.403/.768, .341woba, 109wRC+, 4.4war/700pa
    Ramirez (29): 2124pa, .281/.323/.427/.750, .326woba, 95wRC+, 3.6war/700pa

    2011

    Escobar (28): 368pa, .291/.365/.438/.803, .355woba, 125wRC+, 5.0war/700pa
    Ramirez (29): 383pa, .274/.331/.414/.745, .329woba, 103wRC+, 5.9war/700pa

    This year’s war numbers for Escobar are brought down by the first negative uzr rating of his career – and a significant one at that. Which definitely doesn’t pass the eye test of anyone who’s watched him out there this year, and is likely an SSS anomaly in the uzr system.

    I’ll take Escobar straight up, no question.

    Comment by everdiso — July 14, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  60. “Where are the Jays and where are the Braves?”

    The AL East and NL East respectively. Sort of sewers you “scoreboard beak”.

    That was a nice way to wrap up an awful post though.

    Comment by Noxage — July 14, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  61. @TK

    Jays fans are far from the only group that are all about the AA. As an impartial, NL West-centric observer (Padres fan), I think what the Jays (and similarly the Rays before them) are doing in the AL East to compete is fascinating.

    Up to this point, all the AA adulation is probably warranted.

    Comment by Lewis — July 14, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  62. Please tell me this is sarcasm. Pretty pretty please.

    Comment by Chris — July 14, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  63. Telo,

    One thing you’re missing is that trade value is inherently subjective. For reasons Dave went into last year, Dan Haren had much lower trade value around the league than the numbers suggested he should have. Other players have a huge part of their value influenced by perception. Teams don’t value players based on their expected excess value, so why should this series?

    Comment by slamcactus — July 14, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  64. No they don’t.

    Comment by Terminator X — July 14, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  65. Telo–people are commenting on your use of the word literally. The original meaning does not fit your usage.

    Comment by Ben Hall — July 14, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  66. “One thing you’re missing is that trade value is inherently subjective.”

    You are right that inherently subjective – but only in practice. This is in theory. Dave says himself we are to wipe away circumstance and context, and focus on the players value to all teams in the league, on average. That’s the entire goal of the exercise, to be objective.

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  67. Hahaha. Thanks, Ben Hall. You literally just told me something I didn’t know.

    Comment by Telo — July 14, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  68. Your analysis makes a lot of sense. But there is the unlikely chance (5%, 15%?) that his production falls off a cliff or he has a career-ending injury. In either case, the team is left with an enormous amount of money tied up in a below average player. It’s the risk that is inherent in such a huge contract that lowers his value, in my opinion.

    Comment by Ben Hall — July 14, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  69. +1

    Comment by Guy — July 14, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  70. I think most people think Castro is going to get worse defensively. I’ve read several people that say they think he’s going to have to move off of SS relatively soon.

    Offensively, I’m not sure where Castro will improve a whole lot. It’s hard to cut strikeout rates much lower than he has. His walk rate may improve, but guys who start with rates as low as his often don’t (I think). He may hit more home runs, but given what he’s doing now I would think 10-15 would be the most you could expect. He already has a very high BABIP. Where do you think he’ll improve.

    Comment by Ben Hall — July 14, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  71. Yes, Braun deserves his contract and if healthy he will produce 150 M in value. This means his contract does not add value to a trade; you are paying what you are getting.

    He is valuable because you don´t find much players that can put a MVP caliber season every year.

    Maybe he would be higher if Dave haven’t consider that only contending rich teams can try to add him if he becomes available.

    Comment by Salo — July 14, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  72. What the Rays have done is amazing, yet you hear much much less about them (maybe they just don’t have fans). On the other hand, the Jays have yet to compete in the AL East. I agree that they’ve made some good moves, but their fans are more obnoxious than Red Sox fans, which is hard to do. It really is baffling to me how one can sit and trash the Braves front office. Anyone who knows anything knows that trading Yunel was a good move for the Braves, as it probably was the difference between winning the WC and going home with nothing. Unless you have a reason to believe they could have gotten more for a clubhouse cancer with 0 HRs, then you’re just blowing smoke.

    Comment by TK — July 14, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

  73. @ Frank Wren…or TK or whomever…

    “Anyone who knows anything knows that trading Yunel was a good move for the Braves”

    That is an obviously debatable statement.

    Comment by Guy — July 14, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  74. TK: “The Braves made the playoffs, which they probably wouldn’t have done if they had not shipped Yunel out.”

    Uh…because anytime you can trade a 4-win guy for a 2-win guy, you HAVE to do it??? I’m not sure how making your team worse improves your playoff odds. (If that’s the case, Ed Wade is sitting on a 115-win MONSTER! He just needs to unleash the beast!!)

    Comment by Jason B — July 14, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  75. “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, WHAT HAVE THE ROMANS EVER DONE FOR US???”

    Comment by Reg — July 14, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  76. get worse defensively? I haven’t seen anyone say that, and it’s just not true. the majority of his errors are fixable with more experience. he makes throws he shouldn’t attempt, if he cuts those out nearly half of his errors this year are gone.

    offensively, he will develop more power, he will improve his BB%, and he’s becoming very aggressive on the bases, turning himself into a legit 25-30SB threat. he’s biggest problem is he gets himself out because he has elite contact skills he swings too much; with more time, he will keyhole pitches in hitters counts instead of swinging like he always has 2 strikes.

    the only way i see him off short is if he gets too big physically and loses range…. if he bulks up a lot, i’d say he has a far better chance to go to 3rd than 2B.

    Comment by prospectslol — July 14, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  77. Gotta see how he’ll hold up over a full season. Innings limits and all that. Even if he is crazy cheap and crazy good right now, he’s probably one of the least certain entities over the length of his contract that you’ll see on this list.

    Comment by seattlecougar — July 14, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

  78. ” only questions about his long term durability” and small sample sizes. When a pitcher is on, the pitchf/x numbers speak to sabermetricians about how great the pitcher is. When they are off, then the pitchf/x says that they are off. Funny how that works.

    The only real way to know if this guy is on is to see him put up more good numbers for the rest of the year.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — July 14, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

  79. cahill really? i know those era’s are spiffy but his fip is right around 4 the last two years. he’s 55th! in pitcher WAR over the last two years. (barry zito comp anyone?). not sure im digging this series, i’m less interested in who mlb teams perceive as valuable, but who they should perceive as valuable.

    Comment by andy — July 15, 2011 @ 7:31 am

  80. Not sure whether you’re wrong or not. Cameron’s intro left him waffle room to switch back and forth depending on what he thinks a player’s trade value is and what GM’s think it is.
    However, this is a quibble compared to the entertainment value of the series.

    Comment by GiantHusker — July 15, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

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