Archive for 2013 Trade Value

FanGraphs Chat – 7/24/13

11:41
Dave Cameron: One week until the trade deadline, but since there’s nothing really happening there, we can talk Trade Value series, playoff races, or anything else (non-fantasy) that you guys are interested in. I will note that some people complained about the five or six or however many Mariners questions I answered last week, so I’m going to put a cap on Seattle questions this week.
12:01
Comment From The Man in White
Who hangs up first? Bautista for Profar + mid-tier prospect to be named later.
12:01
Dave Cameron: Probably the Rangers. I think they’re going to hang on to Profar and dangle him to Miami for Stanton whenever the Marlins get around to deciding to trade him.
12:02
Comment From Zach
Brett Talley mentioned in a recent article that a roof closure in Arizona could benefit pitchers. Arizona is generally known as a hitters park. Has anyone at FG every studied if this changes when the roof is closed? For that matter, what about other parks when the roof is closed?
12:02
Dave Cameron: Safeco is significantly more hitter friendly with the roof closed than open. My guess is that enclosing an open stadium would push it towards neutral, as it would reduce environmental effects.
12:02
Comment From Los
Does McCutchen have a chance at the MVP this year? Are he and Yadi 1/2 right now?

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2013 Anti-Trade Value: The Five Worst Contracts

Last week, I went through the 50 best assets in baseball, as rated by overall trade value based on their performance, age, and contract status. Today, we finish up the Trade Value series with the five players farthest from making the list. This is the Anti-Trade Value list; the guys who would be nearly impossible to trade because of their outsized contracts and undersized performances.

The take home notion: Beware the aging slugger.

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2013 Trade Value: The Top 10

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31
#30 to #26
#25 to #21
#20 to #16
#15 to #11

And now we come to the best of the best. These guys are both the present and the future of the sport. They’re great now, they’re going to be great for a while, and they’re the kinds of players that we’ll be telling our grandkids about.

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2013 Trade Value: #15-#11

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31
#30 to #26
#25 to #21
#20 to #16

And herein lie the best players in the game. Okay, not all of them, but a good handful of them. These guys are absolutely fantastic players, in the primes of their careers, and signed to deals that are discounts even if they’re not exactly cheap. This is the land of superstars, and the guys who might just lead the league in present value. Their long term value isn’t quite as strong, keeping them out of the top 10, but if you want to win right now, you want one of these five on your team.

 

#15 Clayton Kershaw (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
25 145.1 8.61 2.17 44.8 % 1.98 2.52 3.13 5.2 3.9

Under Team Control Through 2014: Arbitration

Even last summer, I would have never considered ranking a player with 1+ year of team control this high.  Even as good as Kershaw is, you can only produce so much value in 300 innings.  However, with some coaxing from friends within the game, I have become convinced that the a number of clubs place a real value on exclusive negotiating rights to a player who is not set on reaching free agency.  And indications are that Kershaw, while looking for a monster extension, is willing to sign a long term deal before testing the market.  

Any team trading for Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t be trading for him for just one year. It would be a Johan Santana trade-and-sign situation, and the Dodgers would be compensated in prospects for the buyer’s ability to get Kershaw signed before anyone else could. Essentially, for this kind of player, I have become convinced that the market for their services is not in free agency, but is in the rush to own the rights to extend them, and in Kershaw’s case, the price to acquire those rights would be absurd.  

He’s 25, and he’s like a hybrid of Felix Hernandez’s peripherals with Matt Cain’s ability to confound the norms of BABIP and HR/FB rate. There are other excellent pitchers in baseball, but Kershaw has claimed the title of the game’s best pitcher, and he doesn’t look like he’s going to give it up any time soon.  If the Dodgers decide not to make him the first $200 million pitcher, you can bet that teams like the Yankees would gladly do so, and there would be enough interest in being the team to pay Kershaw a record contract that the Dodgers would reap the benefits of a serious bidding war.  

More likely, though, is that the Dodgers just pay up, because if you’re going to spend $250 million to acquire the core of a disappointing failure, you should probably not then balk at spending $200 million to sign the best pitcher in the sport.

 

#14 Stephen Strasburg (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
24 108.1 9.06 3.07 50.9 % 2.99 3.40 3.50 1.7 1.7

Under Team Control Through 2016: Arbitration

I’ve alluded many times to the risks of expecting too much long term value from pitchers, even the very best pitchers, and Stephen Strasburg is a prime example of why.  He was maybe the best pitching prospect anyone has ever seen.  In his rookie season, he posted an xFIP- of 51, which is a Pedro-in-his-prime kind of silly number. 

Three years and one surgery later, his xFIP- is 92.  He’s still an excellent pitcher, but it’s been awhile since he looked like the best pitcher on the planet.  He might not ever look like that again.  Pitcher aging curves are probably not curves, but instead, diagonal lines that point downwards.  It is likely that Stephen Strasburg peaked in 2010, as a rookie.

All that negativity aside, teams would still be lining up out the door if the Nationals made him available.  He’s got three years of team control left at arbitration prices, and the low innings totals and lack of sexy win numbers this year will keep his price reasonable.  He still throws 95, gets strikeouts and ground balls, and has an ERA of 2.99.  He might be worse, but worse than historically amazing isn’t so bad. 

Strasburg is both terrific and kind of disappointing at the same time.  Pitchers.  Don’t build your franchises around them.

 

#13 Troy Tulowitzki (SS)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
28 265 9.4 % 15.5 % .332 .400 .608 .425 160 4.7 -0.9 3.5

Under Team Control Through 2021: $16M, $20M, $20M, $20M, $20M, $20M, $14M, $15M option

Let’s just get this out of the way; Troy Tulowitzki is injury prone.  The guy spends time on the disabled list every year.  This probably isn’t going to change as he gets older and his body starts wearing down even more.  But, even with the injuries, Troy Tulowitzki is a tremendous player.  Assuming he can rack up a meager +1.5 WAR over the rest of the season, he’ll have posted his fourth +5 WAR season in five years, and he’s in the midst of his best season yet.  

Even accounting for Colorado, Tulowitzki is just on another level for offense from the shortstop position, and he can actually play defense too.  In terms of pure impact when he’s in the line-up, Tulowitzki is up there with anyone else in the game.  The quantity of his playing time is occasionally a problem, but the quality dwarfs those issues.  

And the remainder of his contract adds up to $145 million over eight years, assuming they exercise the team in 2021.  Think about what Tulo would get as a free agent coming off a 160 wRC+ as a 28-year-old shortstop.  We can point to his durability all we want, but we have to remember that Josh Hamilton — not exactly the Iron Horse himself — just got 5/125, and he had a bunch of other red flags too.  And he was significantly older.  And not a shortstop.  And not this good of a hitter.

It might be hard to recalibrate our opinions to see 8/$145 as a massive discount, but in this case, it is.  Tulowitzki is that good.

 

#12 Miguel Cabrera (1B/3B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
30 428 14.0 % 15.0 % .365 .458 .674 .473 204 -11.9 0.7 6.0

Under Team Control Through 2015: $22M, $22M

It would actually be a fascinating experiment to put Cabrera in free agency right now, then limit teams to two year maximum offers, just to see what they kind of value they’d put on that production.  I think he might $50 million per year, given the fact that there would be no long term commitment required.  Miguel Cabrera is simultaneously one of the highest paid and most underpaid players in the game.  

You don’t need me to tell you how ridiculous Cabrera’s numbers are.  He’s followed up his MVP season by making last year look like a slump.  His teammates might not be living up to the hype, but Cabrera is putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame peak by having one of the best offensive seasons of all time.  

Cabrera is a monster, and he’s the driving force behind the Tigers chances to win the World Series.  They’re not trading him now, and they’re probably not ever trading him.  I don’t even know how one would go about trying to make an offer without getting laughed at.  Even with a shorter term contract at fairly high prices, Cabrera is still absurdly valuable and one of the closest things MLB has to an untouchable player.

 

#11 Yadier Molina (C)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
30 350 6.3 % 9.4 % .341 .386 .489 .378 145 6.1 -1.5 4.2

Under Team Control Through 2017: $15M, $15M, $14M, $14M, $15M mutual option

Depending on how much you buy into The Molina Effect on STL’s pitching staff, there’s a case to be made that the Cardinals catcher might just be the best player in baseball.  Even with our rudimentary defensive evaluations for backstops, ZIPS and Steamer project him as something like a +6 WAR player over a full season, and that gives him no credit for the non-throwing/blocking parts of his defense.  If there’s a player in baseball that is underrated by WAR, it’s Yadier Molina, and WAR thinks Yadier Molina is awesome.

What looked like a shockingly high salary for a defensive specialist now looks like a hilarious underpay for the leading NL MVP candidate.  If he’s not the best defensive player, he’s close, and he happens to be putting up a 145 wRC+ this year, which is higher than Mike Piazza’s career wRC+ of 140.  I don’t know how long he can keep this up, but Molina is currently in the midst of one of the great stretches of catcher performance in baseball history.  

That said, he is 30, and he’s carried an extremely heavy workload throughout his career, and his knees are already starting to hurt.  The final four years of his contract take him through his age-34 season, and at some point, his body is going to say enough already.  Molina probably won’t be an MVP candidate when this deal ends.  

But the present value is just so high that it doesn’t matter much.  Every team in baseball — except San Francisco — would tie themselves in knots in order to get him behind the plate, and the Giants might just do it for the fun of having the two best catchers in the game at the same time.  Molina is a legitimate difference maker at a position that has few of them.


2013 Trade Value: #20 – #16

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31
#30 to #26
#25 to #21

And now there’s a run on pitchers. Because of their inherent risks, this is getting close to the upper limit for hurlers, even though each pitcher at this point is an excellent performer and an excellent value. Oh, and there’s some hitter you might have heard something about this year too.

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2013 Trade Value: #25 – #21

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31
#30 to #26

As we move to the top half of the list, we begin to enter the land of guys who just aren’t getting traded. It’s basically impossible to imagine a scenario where a team agrees to move any of these players. This is where we start finding franchise players on friendly contracts. They would have a lot of trade value if they were put on the market, but they’re all too valuable to their own franchises to actually be used as trade chips.

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2013 Trade Value: #30 – #26

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31

As we approach the middle of the list, we end up with a group of young players who are mostly more about future value than present production. These are some of the very best players in the game, and this is about as high as a player can rank without establishing himself as a big leaguer.

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2013 Trade Value: #35 – #31

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36

As we get towards the middle of the pack, we start to find players who have been among baseball’s best performers in 2013. While the last section was littered with potential, this section is more about realized potential, at least in 2013. These guys are highly talented players having terrific seasons, and as usual, their contract status is also adding value.

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2013 Trade Value: #40 – #36

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

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

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2013 Trade Value: #45 – #41

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46

We continue on with the 2013 Trade Value list, starting out with a pretty safe bet for short term value, then moving on to four high risk/high reward players who could either be franchise building blocks or reminders of the unpredictability of developing talent. At this part of the list, there are trade-offs to be made, and each of these players comes with some flaws, but enough value to demand a serious haul in order to even make their current teams consider parting ways with this kind of talent.
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2013 Trade Value: #50 – #46

Honorable Mentions

We begin with the last five spots on the list. These guys are all excellent players, but they come with some concerns either about their contract, health, or future performance. Teams would love to have any of them, but there are reasons to think that some would hesitate or back away entirely even if these players were made available. They would have significant appeal to a few clubs, but not the broad appeal to start off a league wide bidding war. On to the list. Read the rest of this entry »


2013 Trade Value: Just Missed the Cut

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing the 2013 version of my annual Trade Value list, a project I’ve been doing since 2005 after borrowing the idea from Bill Simmons. I moved the trade value list to FanGraphs in 2008, and it’s been an annual series here ever since. If you missed our retrospective on last year’s list, you can review the entire list, and the lessons we might be able to learn from those names, in this post from Friday.

Coming in a few hours, we’ll introduce the first five players — well, I guess, technically the last five, since we’re working in reverse order — and we’ll do ten players per day all week, culminating in the top five on Friday afternoon. However, before we get into the guys who made the list, I figured it would be worthwhile to do a post on the guys who just missed the cut. This was a tough list to crack, and there were a lot of high quality players who just ended up on the outside of the bubble for one reason or another.

Rather than turning all future posts into a discussion of guys who haven’t yet appeared, this post will hopefully answer some questions as to why a player won’t appear on in the rest of the series. And it isn’t because I hate your favorite team. I promise. In fact, a lot of the guys who just missed the cut are personal favorites of mine, and most of them made some previous iteration of the list before I finalized the order. But, with only 50 spots, someone had to just miss the cut. Here are the guys who didn’t quite make it.

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