Don’t Write Off The Rays End Of The David Price Deal Just Yet

Today was quite the deadline spectacle, with two of the best pitchers in baseball, Jon Lester and David Price, changing uniforms. The Lester deal hit early, and it was an eye-opener, with the “buyer” A’s “selling” their #4 hitter, Yoenis Cespedes in the process. The movement of established players, such as Cespedes, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, by buyers in pursuit of their needs came to be one of the themes of the day.

As they often do, however, the Tampa Bay Rays zigged while everyone else zagged, and “sold” ace lefty David Price to the Tigers in a three-team deal that sent Austin Jackson to the Mariners, and lefty starter Drew Smyly and infielders Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to the Rays. The reaction of many media outlets to the Rays’ take had a quizzical or even disappointed tone. It takes a little more analysis – and an understanding of the way the underfunded Rays need to do business – to see what they’re up to here. To put it simply, the Rays are trusting their solid organizational evaluation skills as they have many times in the past, and see an abundance of talent and team control in this three-player package.

The most immediate help received by the Rays will be provided by Smyly, 25, who was drafted on the second round out of Arkansas in 2010. His contributions have been lost in the considerable shadows of his Tigers’ rotation compatriots, but he has fashioned a solid beginning to his career. He rocketed through the minors in about two calendar years, and struck out about a batter per inning in his rookie 2012 season. He was nails as a multiple inning reliever last season, posting a 6-0, 2.37, mark with a sterling 81/17 K/BB ratio in 76 innings. That’s an awful lot of innings in this day and age for a relief pitcher. This year, he slid into the back of the Tiger rotation and has been quietly effective, going 6-9, 3.77, with a solid 87/31 K/BB in 100 1/3 IP. He has a career 84 ERA-, and has absolutely destroyed left-handed hitters to the tune of a career .192/.234/.297 career line.

The Rays would not be making this trade, however, if they believed that Smyly was a finished product, a #4-5 starter to whom they would begin paying arbitration wages next season. They have to think he is going to become more than that, and a deeper look offers some evidence that they could be correct.

Smyly’s K and BB rates, which were exceptional last season out of the pen, have receded a bit this season, but are both still slightly above the MLB average at 20.6% and 7.3%, respectively. He has also shown a fairly strong popup tendency, which has intensified a bit this season, as his popup rate has risen from 8.5% in 2013 to 9.6% this season. Most importantly, however, Smyly has absolutely stifled fly ball authority, allowing average velocity of 80.3 MPH and 80.6 MPH in the air over the past two seasons, way below the MLB mean. Hitters are batting .215 AVG-.613 SLG on fly balls this season (and .197 AVG-.492 SLG in 2013) – again, well better than his peers.

He’s actually been a bit unlucky to allow 14 homers already this season, as he’s yielded some cheapies. He has a real chance to be the rare fly ball pitcher that can yield 20 or fewer homers over 200 innings in a typical season as he moves forward. Also, his 2014 numbers have been hurt by some bad luck on grounders – he’s allowed a .317 AVG-.347 SLG on grounders this season, way above the MLB average, and will now have much better defenders all over the field in Tampa than he did in Detroit.

Of course, there are some obstacles in Smyly’s road to becoming an above average MLB starting pitcher. Chiefly, there is his inability to handle right-handed hitters, who have batted a lusty .270/.330/.459 against him for his career. Smyly has good arm speed on his change-up, but he simply has not located it that well to this stage in his career. In addition, he has never averaged six innings per start in any of his professional seasons, in the minors or majors.

This is the way the Rays get their high-end starting pitchers, however. They can’t afford the free agent rates, so they target guys who do something exceptionally well, or prospects whose value has fallen from its peak. Think Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, etc.. Smyly has an out-pitch slider, locates his fastball well, and throws tons of strikes. If he can increase the quality of those strikes, and settle into a starting role now that he has no fear of ever again moving into the bullpen, the Rays very well could have a #3 starter at a bargain price on their hands. With four years of control, of course, compared to one more year of Price.

There are two other significant pieces headed in the Rays’ direction in this deal. Nick Franklin, 23, heads over from the Mariners. Franklin’s stock has fallen a bit thanks to his struggles at the major league level in Seattle, but there is still a lot to like here. A switch-hitter, Franklin has been a dramatically superior performer from the left side. He got increasingly power-happy as he advanced through the Mariner system, and has evolved into almost exclusively a dead-pull hitter. There is a lot of head movement in his swing, and he tends to open his front side at times, but he can hit the ball a country mile for someone his size.

Franklin has been ranked on my minor league position player prospect list in all five of his full pro seasons, ranking in the top forty three times, peaking at #19 in 2013. Players with such a track record generally become big league starters, and possess star potential. That wasn’t going to happen in Seattle, as the holes in his offensive game had worsened and gone unaddressed.

Defensively, his best spot is likely second base, which is held down by Ben Zobrist in Tampa. Like Zobrist, Franklin is quite athletic and should be yet another flexible piece on the Rays’ roster. If Franklin can improve his pitch selection and re-learn how to use the entire field, while deciding once and for all whether switch-hitting is in the cards for him, he can put up Zobrist-like numbers for the Rays. In fact, he is likely Zobrist’s eventual replacement. And he’ll make much less than him, with multiple years of cheap team control, of course.

Then there’s the wild card, Low-A shortstop Willy Adames. At any given moment in time, there aren’t too many 18-year-olds holding down full-time gigs in full-season leagues. There are materially fewer who hold onto such a gig once the short-season summer leagues start, and perform well against much older competition from wire to wire. Adames would be one of those chosen few, batting .269/.346/.428 with 14 doubles, 12 — count ’em, 12 — triples and six homers in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. He’s a pretty big kid who might eventually have to move over to third base, but kids like this don’t grow on trees. He ranked #48 on my mid-season minor league position player prospect list, which is based on both performance and age relative to one’s level. A whole lot can happen between West Michigan and the big leagues, but Adames’ upside is certainly significant.

From the Rays’ perspective, this might not be the sexy deal that gets all of the accolades in the here and now. It just might be the one that looks really, really good at the 10-year reunion. On paper, the Rays are a little worse for this season without David Price; let’s not kid ourselves. They still are very much in the wildcard race, however, and have added short and long-term talent, with extra helpings of cost certainty and years of control. This is the hand that the Rays have been dealt, and they tend to play it well.



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tz
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tz
1 year 10 months ago

How much value is there in Adames not having to be added to the 40-man roster for several years?

Teej
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Teej
1 year 10 months ago

Fully agreed. There’s no eye-popping name here, but I like the return.

Juicy Plums
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Juicy Plums
1 year 10 months ago

Are you the person who’s been applauding the recent drafts?

Because we need to have a chat.

Jacob
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Jacob
1 year 10 months ago

Thank you so much, Tony. You have saved my evening.

Jesse Pinkman
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Jesse Pinkman
1 year 10 months ago

Yeah, club control!!!

POo
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POo
1 year 10 months ago

Everyone is snoozing a bit on Smyly’s value. He has been a consistent 2 WAR pitcher (full time innings) from rookie year, K rate always around 8ish, walk rate under 3 every year. He has a lot of team control left. His overall expected output for the Rays is probably higher than most prospects. Pretty much everyone but the very top of minor leagues I would guess. Plus the Rays get Franklin as well. Don’t know why everyone insists this is 100% worse than the As-Sox deal.

Arbitration clock
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Arbitration clock
1 year 10 months ago

Team control doesn’t mean cheap control. See: Price, David.

Smyly starts arbitration in 2015. A cromulent lefty…in the parlance of our times…he’s going to earn some coin.

Jackie T.
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Member
Jackie T.
1 year 10 months ago

Bones, or clams, or what have you.

Cave Dameron: Copying and pasting the same comment on multiple articles is quite obnoxious.

G-foz
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1 year 10 months ago

When did “cromulent” enter the modern parlance?

MDL
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MDL
1 year 10 months ago

February 18, 1996.

Cave Dameron
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Cave Dameron
1 year 10 months ago

Smyly’s mediocre at best. He’s done even worse vs RH hitters this year to the tune of .306/.366/.522. He just gave up 11 hits in 5 innings to the White Sox and wasn’t close to fooling anyone.

This is a horrible trade for the Rays.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 10 months ago

It’s a brutal trade. Positively dreadful.

Za
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Za
1 year 10 months ago

That won’t be an issue once Cobb and Odorizzi teach him their TB change.

walt526
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walt526
1 year 10 months ago

It’s not a disaster for Tampa (all three guys that they got back have upside), but it still feels like they’re getting an okay-but-not-great return for Price, rather than an epic haul that we were expecting. Smyly’s got a relatively high floor, but a low ceiling. Franklin’s an interesting project. Adames is an intriguing lottery ticket.

Another way to look at it is would you rather have this trio or have a package from Oakland headlined by Addison Russell? Because reportedly it was the Rays that felt that they could do better than something along the lines of what Oakland wound up sending to Chicago.

Balthazar
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1 year 10 months ago

“In fact, he is likely Zobrist’s eventual replacement.” This.

Franklin has some things to fix in his swing, yes. He’s much more than a project; there’s star level potential there. Whether he reaches it, hard to say. Nobody wants it more than Nick, so I’m betting he’ll put in the work to tone down the pull-happiness and sharpen his pitch recognition.

Good to hear that Adames has more tools in his chest then I’d suspected. Tampa needs some of that long-term projection exactly because, as Tony says, they’re cost-constrained.

Where Smyly ascends to to me depends on how he improves against right-handed batters. But he’s a cost-controlled rotation regular now, and silences left-hand batters. Tampa has had a good record of ’rounding up’ starting pitchers with unfinished skillsets to better performance than expected.

Friedman in doing a deal has to look several years down the road more than do many GMs, he can’t go all in on present return. I think he got about as much as really he should. In that everyone was expecting another Myers-like haul it looks a little light, but KC overpaid there, and no one would want to be seen going the same, let alone should overpay to that kind of level. It’s tough to lose a great performer like Price so that hurts, but the deal simply isn’t a bad one; it’s just not a great one. . . . I think that’s called a ‘good deal.’

james
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james
1 year 10 months ago

this.

People are upset they did not get Myers and Odorozzi. When the Shields trade happened, we all knew it was a monster overpayment. They were holding onto Price praying they would get a similar return, but no one ever came up with that silly offer.

The return in depth is pretty good. Franklin has already reached the floor most projected, so it is a matter of figuring out if there is more there or not. up until recently he was viewed as a high impact prospect, so the upside is still there. Smyly is at worst a very good bullpen arm or a 4/5 starter. Looking at WAR we are looking at 2 guys that should return about 2 per season. not good, but price was only worth 4-5 and was significanly more expensive. since WAR is normally paid for linerally (costs the same to have Cano and a replacement player for 5 WAR as it does to signed 2 2.5 war guys), the fact that it is 2 players to do what 1 does, does not really matter.

Balthazar
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1 year 10 months ago

I’ll add that there is value in spreading your performance risk over several players rather than just one. This issue doesn’t seem to figure into handicapping trades right now nearly as much as it should, though obviously it’s hard to rate.

David Price has a lot of value, but it his elbow acts up and he’s not pitching you get nothing on the field. All of your risk/reward is in a single player. With three guys—Smyly, Franklin, and Adames—your risk is spread over several guys, so that even if one fizzles you still get return. Yes, you use more roster spots, but if those are above replacement rather than at or below, you’re also subtracting a zero or negative from the aggregate return on your 25 slots. Two three win players with some help from a third can really be worth more than one 6 win player, and that’s if everybody’s playing.

We all like watching those 6-win guys perform, but to me FO-level asset management is about maximizing 25 slots and how their aggregate performance fits together. From that perspective, I also think that Friedman did the best thing for Tampa in the circumstances. Detroit didn’t give up so much that taking all the risk in one package is a bad idea. Risk varies depending upon where a team is and what the length of obligations are.

Richie
Member
Richie
1 year 10 months ago

Yeah, measuring use of resources is always about what your alternatives were. I think I prefer Addison Russell to all 3 those guys, and I don’t think it’s all that close. Otherwise, this strikes me as a decent haul for Price.

Matthew Prowant
Member
Matthew Prowant
1 year 10 months ago

Oakland gave up that package for Samardzija & *Hammel* though, and Samardzija will make significantly less than Price next season. It’s not fair to say the Rays would have gotten the same package the Cubs did because they were dealing with vastly different player equities.

Not to mention the Rays probably plan on contending next season, which Smyly & Franklin can contribute to and Russell & McKinney cannot.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

This.

You can’t just compare the Samardzjia trade to the Price trade and say, “The Cubs got more for the Shark than the Rays did for Price and Price is better so the Rays’ deal sucks.” The A’s got 2 starters for less $ than the Rays gave up and the Shark won’t make nearly as much as Price will next year.

Might this trade cost the Tigers the ability to re-sign Scherzer, for example? Maybe they’d rather try to re-sign Price than Scherzer anyway but the contract is an important element of this trade. You can’t just say that Price is better than Samardzjia so the Rays should’ve gotten more than the Cubs did.

ttnorm
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ttnorm
1 year 10 months ago

Also, I wonder if Oakland would have wanted Price as much as Samardzija and Hammel given the salary obligation for next season.

scott
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scott
1 year 10 months ago

Excellent point. I think the pessimism toward this deal has merit. The Rays didn’t have to move Price today, they had this off season and next years trade deadline to find a better package. Especially when one considers the value Price had for the Rays current playoff run. It’s not so much that they received a poor package, as much as it is entirely conceivable that they could have received a better or similar offer later, while retaining is excellent value for a playoff run. If Addison Russell was on the table for price, this is a clear miss.

Balthazar
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1 year 10 months ago

If the Rays didn’t move Price now, they could have moved him in the offseason—for significantly less. The team may be ‘surging in the wild card race,’ but isn’t about to go anywhere in the post-season. Friedman wanted a haul for Price, and so didn’t move him in last offseason, betting on the trade deadline, but funny thing, there wasn’t a rube willing to be taken, and Andy had to settle for the best he could get. This _is_ what Price is worth, when you cost in service time remaining and salary next year. Yes, as a player Prices is worth more. As a contract acquisition, this is fair return. It’s important to see the difference.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 10 months ago

‘If the Rays didn’t move Price now, they could have moved him in the offseason—for significantly less.’

I don’t really get why some keep throwing this around willy nilly when there have been myriad examples of high profile players/pitchers moved in the past decade or so in the winter. I don’t agree.

james
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james
1 year 10 months ago

good thing i think this is one of the very few baseball sites that break trades and players down as contracts rather than as just the player.

Price was starting to get paid near what he was worth, In arbitration, he is going to get 80% of what he is worth, but the short term, low risk contract also has some added value that we do not really discuss when talking about surplus value.

Eric F
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Eric F
1 year 10 months ago

Not to mention, every GM in the league knew Tampa had to move Price by next July; so there was this deadline, this offseason, and next season’s deadline to get a deal done. And every 6 months Price’s value takes a good hit, so they knew they could offer a lesser value now and take the chance that the Rays would jump on it knowing his value would only keep dropping.

Shauntell
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Shauntell
1 year 10 months ago

I guess I’m slowly starting to accept this trade as not being terrible.
I think it’s worth comparing this trade to the one for Lackey. Lackey I’d say is about a 3 WAR pitcher at the moment, Price a 5 WAR pitcher. But Lackey will cost nothing next season while Price will cost around 20mil I would think.
You could argue that both Smyly and Franklin carry significantly more value than Kelly and Craig. Kelly has been pretty mediocre all along and Craig even at his best has been worth around 2.5 WAR and is now 30 years old. He’ll be cheap for the next 3 years, but he’ll eventually have to settle at 1st base and he’s never really had the power or the patience to have a plus-plus bat.
Add in the upside of Adames and maybe Tampa Bay doesn’t look so bad anymore.

Balthazar
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1 year 10 months ago

Agreed. When one looks at deals with rational returns for the value given up, the Price trade grades out solidly. It got back more than the Lackey deal, though it should given the certain year of further control and Price >> Lackey. St. Louis didn’t spend anything they needed to get a good arm in a playoff run. Detroit spent a bit more for a rather better pitcher, also in a playoff run.

These are what real deals look like. Shark and Hummel for Russell, McKinney and more, the Myers-Shield packages: those are what unbalanced deals look like. Funny thing: most GMs _don’t_ give up more than they get that way. Even when what they get is both absolutely needed and pretty darn useful in the near-term.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

Smyly is better than Kelly, and Craig, besides being 30 already, is owed nearly $30 M on his contract. The Sox may just end up having to eat that $30 M if Craig doesn’t turn it around.

Chuck Burly
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Chuck Burly
1 year 10 months ago

I can’t help but feel this assessment is mostly clouded by the perception that the Rays normally do good work. I think it’s fairer just to assess it based on the pieces themselves, and if you do that it’s hard to justify the return. I think that’s compounded by the fact the team is surging in the playoff race and they could have waited until the offseason. Was this package so wonderful that the Rays had to pull the trigger? I just don’t see it.

Jay
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Jay
1 year 10 months ago

That’s a really good point. Perception is key — how many people would defend this trade if, say, the Mets made it?

Nick
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Nick
1 year 10 months ago

isnt this the point that RAJ writes “I love this trade for TB!!”

RAJ
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RAJ
1 year 10 months ago

I love this trade for TB!!

Harold
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Harold
1 year 10 months ago

Generally in agreement, although I think that undersells the extent to which some teams may simply be better at identifying talent and solving problems than others.

Ben
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Ben
1 year 10 months ago

Agreed. All of Tony Blengino’s points are valid and well-made, but it still doesn’t address the fact that 1) the pieces still don’t seem to match Price’s value, and the Rays still could have gotten more, and 2) the Rays were under no pressure to trade him right now. Or in other words, yes the Rays could use some savvy scouting/coaching to flip Smyly into a great acquisition, but for David Price they should be able to get more of a sure thing prospect (if such a thing actually exists).

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

I think the misunderstanding is what Price’s value actually is. Right now he’s a 5 win pitcher, maybe 5.5, earning $14 M. That means he’s owed roughly $4.67 M this year and will earn $18-20 M next year in arbitration. Price should return about 7 wins or so for the Tigers over the next year and a third and the Tigers will have to pay him $23-25 M. So Price has somewhere around $20-25 M worth of “value.” This isn’t a guy with $50 M worth of value or something.

Smyly’s value — over the next 4 1/3 years — is probably every bit of $25 M. Now, the time value of money makes Price’s current $25 M worth more than Smyly’s over 4 1/3 years but only by the rate at which salaries increase. Add in Franklin’s and Adames’ values — they’re probably worth $10-15 M combined — and this is a pretty reasonable trade.

Price just doesn’t have as much “value” as a lot of people suggest. Sure, some of those 7 wins may be worth a little more because of the Tigers’ position on the win curve, but one could also argue that the 1.5 WAR he’ll provide this year just don’t mean much since they’re already at 93% to make the Division Series. He’s really good, but not nearly as valuable as people make him out to be.

B N
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B N
1 year 10 months ago

I still would have been good with it. I like it better than the Red Sox trade return for Lackey, who is darn-near free next season to the Cards. I mean, starting today, would you rather have:
– Price through 2015
– Lackey through 2015 + ~$25m (savings from not paying Price 2015)

I think that’s at least a wash, if not a Lackey win. Likewise, would you rather have:
– Smiley, Franklin, Scratch-ticket high-prospect
– Kelly, Craig w/27m contract

I’d take Smiley over Kelly. I might take Craig over Franklin for a win-next-year proposition, but with all the years of control difference, I’d still probably have to take Franklin. Plus, a scratch ticket. If the Mets did this, I’d still think it was a pretty good move. Particularly since the Mets are even less likely to get a playoff spot this year than the Rays.

Antonio Bananas
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1 year 10 months ago

St. Lous freed up about 30M by trading Craig too. The fact that you can look at a package that a 35 year old pitcher 18 months back from TJ returned (even with his 500k salary next year) and a 30 year old Cy Young winner, top 3 Leftie in the game got shows that the Rays should have held.

If the logic is that they want to compete next year, and so they wanted young guys in the Majors, then keep Price. Win a ring behind Price/Moore/Myers/Longo. Get your comp pick, make some FA signings, hope that Moore/Cobb/Archer/Hellickson/Odorizzi all improve enough to make up for the loss of Price.

Eric F
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Eric F
1 year 10 months ago

Other than the fact that Lackey almost certainly won’t pitch for $500,000 next year. If he pitches for less than $10m I’d be kinda surprised. It’ll probably take something along the lines of 2/$20m to sign him after this year or he’ll just retire.

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 10 months ago

except he said yesterday that he’d honor the contract…

MDL
Member
MDL
1 year 10 months ago

What else could he say? “Uhh it’s good to be here; can’t wait to win; no way in hell I’ll be honoring this contract next year.”

Luke
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Luke
1 year 10 months ago

The Red Sox were legitimately concerned that Lackey would retire rather than play for $500K after being used to making $15M, or that he might threaten to retire in order to get, say, a 2 year $20M deal.

james
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james
1 year 10 months ago

the good work is in talent evaluation, not really discussing player development (the author does, but i think it was to emphasize where the evaluation is different).

Some GMs get a pass when it comes to general perceptions of player value. when the Cards see a pitcher, they are better at evaluating him than other teams, That means player X may look like a 1 WAR player to us, but they see a 2 WAR player, or the opposite. Here we are talking about guys who do not have enough playing time to really say what they are.

wjylaw
Member
wjylaw
1 year 10 months ago

I get that there is a built in bias to give the Rays credit for allegedly seeing things others miss, but this is likely a horrible trade. Smyly might be an average SP who is much more effective in relief. Franklin is likely a not so great hitting middle infielder and Adames is at best a big question mark. The Rays got nothing remotely close to a guaranteed solid MLB player.

As a Tigers fan, the Rays got fleeced. I think Houston got more upside and potential for Cosart.

Mustard n Brown
Member
Mustard n Brown
1 year 10 months ago

I think this is dead on. Totally agree.. and since it came up, I think Houston’s acquisitions today make that deal the most underrated move of the afternoon.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

I think Atlanta getting the Cubs to pay for Bonifacio/Russell in exchange for a 20 year old high A “interesting” prospect is the most underrated deal, but I get the point.

When you look at what everyone else got for pitchers a fraction as good as Price, it makes this look bad. No matter how much you want to give the Rays the benefit of doubt. No matter how much you want to use the reverse scientific method to find as much evidence for this not being a complete fleecing…..it likely is.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

I’m with the Brewers picking up Parra as the best underrated trade of the day.

PuzzledinTampa
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PuzzledinTampa
1 year 10 months ago

AF has made a number of savvy trades … the Zobrist, Kazmir (bc when the Rays dealt him he was chopped liver), Garza (both coming and going), and Shields deals all served the Rays long and short term interests.

So, he’s got some goodwill built up among Rays fans. If Ruben Amaro makes this trade, every one would have his head on a pike (if it wasn’t there already). Up until this move, the worst trade AF made was the Jaso deal. This may pan out, but when one considers what was reportedly on the table for Price less than a month ago, it’s very hard for Rays fans to feel anything but disgust over this one.

John C
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John C
1 year 10 months ago

At the time that the A’s were shopping Addison Russell, the Rays probably thought they could do better if they held onto Price until the deadline. At the time, there was no certainty that the Red Sox would also be dangling Lester AND Lackey to contenders at the same time, and not even asking for grade-A prospects, but for established players. If that hadn’t happened, the Rays probably could have gotten more.

And they probably should have just waited until November. A deal like this would have been available then.

OLIVER projection system
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OLIVER projection system
1 year 10 months ago

Very nice return for the Rays. The “epic haul” was unlikely to happen, given the relatively limited number of suitors for a pitcher who’ll make ~$20M in arbitration.

I couldn’t agree more about Nick Franklin as a sort of Zobrist Lite. He hit in the minors, at the right age per level. He’ll be fine with the bat if he gets the 15-20 AB’s per week.

And Adames is one of my favorite underpublicized teens, too. What he and Jake Bauers have done in the MWL as 18-year-olds is terrific. Both top 50-60 prospects, if not top 40.

Ben
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Ben
1 year 10 months ago

I am a big fan of Ben Zobrist, but “Zobrist lite” doesn’t actually sound like a very good player to me, it kinda sounds like an average middle infielder.

HollywoodMcMoon
Member
HollywoodMcMoon
1 year 10 months ago

If you assume “Zobrist Lite” is 75% of Ben Zobrist, it would mean from 2009-2014 “Zobrist Lite” accumulated the 16th most WAR among position players instead of the 2nd most. That means instead of being Ben Zobrist, he’s Yadier Molina. Ben Zobrist is one of the most underrated players of his generation.

MDL
Member
MDL
1 year 10 months ago

An apples-to-apples comparison using second basemen puts you closer to Ian Kinsler, but still.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

But an average middle infielder has a lot of value. Granted, it’s not Zobrist, but there are a lot of big league teams right now that could use a 2-2.5 WAR 2B to whom they can pay the major league minimum.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

So why trade him at all if there are limited suitors? This is what keeps getting me. It’s not like they didn’t have another year to see what they could get out of him. Or even just keep him. Keep the comp pick. Try to win a ring with him next year.

Bubber Jonnard
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Bubber Jonnard
1 year 10 months ago

Tampa may have been disinclined to hold onto Price and collect the compensation draft pick in part due to two factors:

(1) A 35th overall pick probably yields on average, what, $10-15M in surplus value over the six cost-controlled years? That’s less than the surplus value of an adequate 4th outfielder. Link for pick values, from Beyond the B:

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/6/25/4457048/2013-mlb-draft-how-valuable-are-draft-picks

and (2)If the Rays are honest with themselves, they’ll admit that drafting & developing hasn’t been their strength over the past 4 or 5 years. So the comp pick would likely have even less value for them than for some other organizations. (In other words, they may trust their amateur scouting less than their pro scouting. And rightly so.)

Bubber Jonnard
Guest
Bubber Jonnard
1 year 10 months ago

Misread my own link! Sorry about that.

The actual value of the comp pick is roughly $5M in surplus value. A pittance really. The Rays have a non-trivial chance to get 10-15 times that from Willy Adames alone.

kamikaze80
Member
kamikaze80
1 year 10 months ago

I’m sorry, getting someone whose upside is a #3 starter, and another guy who profiles as an average 2B, even if they are cost-controlled, is not a good deal for 1+ seasons of David Price. That is basically the 2010 versions of Wade Davis and Sean Rodriguez.

Smyly’s averaging 5.1 innings per start, with a 4.00 FIP. These are pretty pedestrian numbers, and it’s not as if his perceived value is any higher. He might be better off as a swingman.

I think Friedman’s the best GM around, and I’m not sure why he didn’t just shop Price again in the offseason, or even next July. Eg, if Texas gets its injured players back next year, maybe Odor + Gallo for Price becomes an option.

grandbranyan
Member
grandbranyan
1 year 10 months ago

Of course you won’t think it’s a good deal if you ignore the 18 year old shortstop with a 121 wRC+ in A ball.

Shauntell
Guest
Shauntell
1 year 10 months ago

And the fact that Price will cost 20 million $ in 2015.
And btw, 2010 Davis was significantly worse than 2014 Smyly. Davis: K-BB% of 7.1%, Smyly: 13.2%. Smyly just didn’t have the Rays defense behind him.

Smyly was a reliever last season, so of course they aren’t going to let him pitch 7 innings each time.

Odor + Gallo for 1 year of Price at 20 mil, I don’t see it.

PuzzledinTampa
Guest
PuzzledinTampa
1 year 10 months ago

The fact that you think the assessment of this deal hinges on an 18 yr. old in A ball really says it all. If it was a “good” deal, it wouldn’t need an 18 yr old in A-ball to justify it.

worf359
Guest
worf359
1 year 10 months ago

Hak-Ju Lee was the supposed hinge of the Garza deal and that’s turned out well. LOL

OLIVER projection system
Guest
OLIVER projection system
1 year 10 months ago

Anyone who believes that an “18-year-old in A-ball” is by definition largely irrelevant to a trade evaluation, well, they have it *exactly* backwards.

Being a success in full-season ball at the age when most guys are high school seniors is an extraordinary achievement, and portends MLB success more often than not. Maybe 20-30 guys per decade manage the feat, at most. The Rays’ management team understands this well — even if some of their fans do not.

BubbaBiscuit
Member
BubbaBiscuit
1 year 10 months ago

I have been very critical of a couple of your recent articles, but it was nothing personal, I just thought they were poor articles. This is a very good article.
I also agree with your conclusion, the Rays got talent in this deal as well as getting cheaper, and costs are more of a concern for the Rays than they are for most teams.

Jackie T.
Member
Member
Jackie T.
1 year 10 months ago

I’m sure he’ll sleep better tonight now that he has your approval, Bubba.

BubbaBiscuit
Member
BubbaBiscuit
1 year 10 months ago

Hope so, that is one of the goals of constructive criticism. In the two articles of his recently that were just awful, he compared two players but only offered up details about one allowing no comparison to even be made, and in the other he spends over 2,000 words and two big charts explaining how the deal improved the team for 2014 by around 2.5 Wins then dismisses those 2.5 Wins as having any value at all in one sentence and coming to conclusions that he offers little to no logic or evidence to back it up.
You can disagree with his conclusion in this article if you want to, that is fine, but at least this time he has actually went into detail showing you his logic behind that conclusion here. It is a big improvement over showing half of a comparison or building up a case to come to an entirely different conclusion without any support.

Teej
Guest
Teej
1 year 10 months ago

I think a lot of people are overestimating the surplus value of less than 1.5 years of a pitcher who’s making $14 million this year and should top $20 million in arbitration. Obviously everyone wants a pitcher like Price, but you have to pay him, and he’s a free agent after 2015. You’re not trading for 2010 David Price.

The Rays aren’t beyond reproach because of their smart moves in the past, but I feel comfortable in assuming that, had they been able to get some mind-blowing haul for Price, they would have.

Arbitration Clock
Guest
Arbitration Clock
1 year 10 months ago

At 20 MM, Price projects to provide surplus value to his team in 2015.

Simon
Guest
Simon
1 year 10 months ago

And? Nobody said otherwise.

rjbiii
Guest
rjbiii
1 year 10 months ago

I like the deal a lot. Somewhat like the Red Sox trades, this looks like a team not willing to enter rebuilding mode, and looking to stay in the race in 2015. As someone said above, Smyly to-date is a 2 WAR pitcher. ZIPS projects Franklin as providing 0.5 WAR in just shy of 200 PA’s, 2 WAR over a full-season. They are getting nothing out of one corner OF spot and SS, so Zobrist can provide value their instead of at 2B. And they’ve freed up $15m+ in salary commitments between now and the end of 2015, which at $7m per WAR is more than enough to buy them the additional 2 WAR they need to make up for the 6 WAR they sold in Price. So all-in-all I bet they end up no worse in 2015 than they were before they traded Price. And they got two major-league ready, cost-controlled players with room to grow and a low-risk, high-upside minor-leaguer. What’s not to like?

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

But that assumes that the Rays have 0 WAR players starting at 2B or in their rotation. They don’t.

The Rays have shown a tremendous ability to pick players off the scrap heap and turn them into 2 WAR players. This is especially true in the rotation. This ability doesn’t appear to stem from the fact that the Rays can magically improve pitchers, but rather- from the wide availability of 2 WAR pitchers that are being misused or floating around as AAAA types. The Rays operate with such an abundance of ~2 WAR pitchers, that in this season- where they’ve lost Moore and Hellickson for long periods of time, and are now losing Price- they’ve still had Archer, Cobb, and Odorizzi who have each compiled 2.0 WAR before the end of July. Which one of those pitchers is worse than Smyly? All were acquired more cheaply.

It’s not that Smyly is bad, not at all. It’s just that the Rays have made a living out of acquiring these types of talents cheaply, and having a surplus of these talents. This trade cuts against both of those strengths.

Additionally, Franklin’s current WAR projections are driven by his UZR this season. His bat has been very poor (-6 Off), and his baserunning has been negative, so the only thing carrying a positive projection for Franklin is his glove. But UZR takes a large sample size to stabilize, and when looking at both of Franklin’s big league seasons, his UZR is strongly negative. Now I understand that his defense will improve at 2B, and I believe he will be a plus defender at that position- but you can’t look at his current 0.5 ROS projection, pro-rate that to a whole year, and say, “Look, Franklin is a 2 WAR player” when his UZR numbers appear flukey and he isn’t going to get the positional adjustment that he is currently getting for masquerading as a SS. I like Franklin as a scrap heap pickup, but this overpaying to the extreme.

Tampa has built its team around the depth that comes from acquiring above-average players off the scrap heap- giving up star players with more than a year of cost control remaining in exchange for 2 WAR types is madness. This trade only begins to makes sense if Tampa thinks Adames is a great prospect (which I assume they must).

rjbiii
Guest
rjbiii
1 year 10 months ago

The Rays are currently getting nothing out of SS and the outfield corners. Franklin can take over 2B while Zobrist spends more time at SS and in the OF. You say that Franklin’s projections are UZR-driven and that he’s a “scrap heap” pick-up. But this is a player who was and still is considered a top prospect (see the article), who is considered a plus defender and decent with the bat. Just about every objection to the trade that I’m reading is based on the argument that the Rays could have got Andrew Russell. Russell’s projects are even more speculative. And unlike Franklin he’s unlikely to help in 2015, when the Rays likely still want to be competitive.

Your other objection is that the Rays have 5 other starters who could be useful in Moore, Hellickson, Archer, Odorrizi and Cobb. But as with the Red Sox’s newly-acquired logjam in the OF the Rays have plenty of time to figure this all out and possible flip one pitcher before 2015. And maybe they want some depth there given Moore’s injury and Hellickson’s failure to grow.

Add in the freed-up salary and I just don’t see how this deal is worse for the Rays than the deal the Cubs got. Both deals suited the clubs given where they were. The Rays are competitive now (despite what the first half will have you believe) and probably would rather not wait for someone like Russell to come good. The Cubs have plenty of time to wait. This is a good deal for the Rays. It helps them stay competitive in 2015 and gives them an exiting very young prospect.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

That’s not true at all.

The Rays are getting tons of production from their OF corners. Kevin Kiermaier has 2.9 WAR before the end of July. Matt Joyce and Brandon Guyer have combined for 3.1 WAR before the end of July. Desmond Jennings is sitting on 3 WAR, David DeJesus has chipped in with 0.7 WAR: all before the end of July. That’s fantastic production from the OF, with no positions being upgraded by this deal.

Shifting Zobrist to a corner OF spot to make room for Franklin would be a downgrade, by any projection system.

Even at SS, the Rays have been getting production that is likely underestimated. Yunel Escobar and Sean Rodriguez have combined for 0.3 WAR, which is poor. But Escobar has received the bulk of playing time, and his WAR is being dragged down by a horrible UZR (-9.2). UZR, of course, does not stabilize over a half season, or even a full season. Escobar’s UZRs over the past six seasons prior to this one: +8.8, +7.8, +10.2, +6.1, +10.8, +17.5. It’s extremely unlikely that Escobar’s UZR from this season is accurately measuring his defensive contributions. His RC+ is a respectably 91, so if his true defensive value is simply barely above 0 (let’s say 1.7, which is his projected ROS Streamer UZR), then his performance this year would be essentially that of a 3 WAR player.

So, not to be snarky, but I don’t think that either of your arguments are true. The Rays are getting great production from the OF, and are likely getting good production from SS that is obscured by the well-known phenomenon of UZR being noisy.

PuzzledinTampa
Guest
PuzzledinTampa
1 year 10 months ago

Knock, knock … who’s there? Last year’s AL rookie of the year, corner outfielder Wil Myers. And with him is Keirmaier, Guyer, Joyce, and DeJesus. No corner outfielders? Franklin will be sent to AAA unless the Rays think he’s an upgrade at DH over Forsythe, which I doubt.

Steve
Guest
Steve
1 year 10 months ago

As someone who’s watched almost every Rays game this year, Escobar’s UZR meets the eye test as well. He’s consistently not gotten to balls he got to last year, and seems to have reverted to the lackadaisical player who wore out his welcome in Atlanta and Toronto. It’s no coincidence the Rays’ hot run started when Escobar went on the DL and Zobrist took over at SS.

Unfortunately (I suppose as a result of his fine 2013 and the Ha-Juk Lee injury), the Rays extended him through 2016, so they’re kind of stuck with him.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 10 months ago

@craig one criticism of your comment is that you mix past performance when it supports your argument and future performance when it is convenient.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

@Costanza

I am not mixing past performance only where convenient. I am instead putting UZR in it’s proper context, given that it does not stabilize over a single season, so as to avoid small-sample size logical errors. That’s not convenience, or picking-and-choosing in order to suit my argument, it’s proper contextualization.

Analyzing metrics without proper context is obviously an incompetent approach to empiricism. I don’t think there is any evidence-based argument that Franklin is a plus defender at SS.

Shauntell
Guest
Shauntell
1 year 10 months ago

The Rays still had to give up Garza and Shields to get Odorizzi and Archer, they weren’t acquired “cheaply”. And they might view Smyly as being better than a 2.0 WAR pitcher. After all, this is his first season as a starter. Add to that the fact that he isn’t pitching deep into games because of lack of innings pitched in 2013 and you may see some upside there.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Odorizzi was acquired relatively cheaply, as he was a supplemental talent to the Shields/Davis deal, with obviously Myers being the main target.

Archer at least was the main target in his trade, so you could argue that he wasn’t acquired cheap. But Garza wasn’t a very valuable asset when he was traded. At the time of being traded, Garza was coming off of consecutive 2.9 and 1.6 WAR seasons, good but hardly great. Since the trade, he has been worth an estimated $49.2M, while being paid ~$40M. Archer has been worth about $20M over that time, and has made about $5M. That’s some serious surplus value for Tampa, thus making the Archer acquisition relatively cheap.

Trading non-star, paid-veterans for good young players is a cheap way to acquire good young players: despite the “big name” effect. The problem with the Price trade is that he is a star.

I don’t think the Rays got “Garza trade” value for Price, let alone “Shields/Davis” value.

worf359
Guest
worf359
1 year 10 months ago

Nice revisionist history there Craig. Those 3.2, 2.9 & 1.6 WARs he put up were only low because he was pitching in the “dreaded” AL East and those numbers were going to skyrocket once he arrived like a conquering hero in the “inferior” NL Central. I remember all the Rays’ fans throwing out their shoulders patting themselves on the back for the fleecing the TB GM put on the Cubs. And what did they get? A couple of spare parts that aren’t on the team anymore, an overrated AAAA SS and a #4 starter who’s getting lucky with HR/FB & BABIP (look at the LD%).

It’s damning with faint praise if you think the haul they got from the Tigers is better …

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

@Worf359

It’s not revisionist history to list Garza’s WAR. It is revisionist history to make the argument that you have made, i.e. that Garza’s low WAR totals from that year should be augmented because he was pitching in the AL East. Baltimore and Toronto were hardly great teams when Garza was finishing up with the Rays, and he didn’t have to face his own club. Since Garza was making $10M by his final years with the club and was due a raise, he was no longer out-performing his contract: and therefore wasn’t a big asset.

I addressed Garza’s performance both before and after his trade. He did not go on a rampage of destroying the NL. Instead, he has one great year (4.9 WAR) of out-performing his contract, and has since had 2 2/3’s mediocre seasons (1.1 WAR, 2.2 WAR, 2.0 WAR) under-performing his contract. Most of those years have been spent in the NL.

Furthermore, Chris Archer has a 3.22 ERA, a 4.07 FIP, and a 3.91 xFIP last year; while having a 3.37 ERA, a 3.35 FIP, and a 3.79 xFIP this year. Those numbers are across-the-board better than anything Garza ever posted for Tampa: literally, each one of Garza’s metrics are worse for all three years in Tampa, and both of the two years prior to that he spent in Minnesota.

So if Archer isn’t worth much in your eyes (making less than half what Garza was making when traded), then obviously Garza wasn’t worth much at the time he was traded by the same standard.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Pretty poor article imo.

Nobody acquires a 25 year old player and considers them to be a completely finished product. That doesn’t mean, however, that Smyly has secret-upside that none of the projection systems can capture.

The value of players like Zobrist is partially that Zobrist was given a chance back when he was considered a AAAA type, and he ran with it and became -at times- a star level player, and otherwise a solid regular. Nick Franklin, although matching young Zobrist as currently a AAAA type with a solid track record- can never become the same value that Zobrist has become, because he was acquired in such a costly manner. There is no indication whatsoever that Franklin will be versatile in a similar manner as Zobrist.

I think Fangraphs has, to some extent, become a caricature of itself; most recent articles run contrary to empirical observations. It seems that when most baseball fans were uninformed, Fangraphs was contrarian by offering informed opinions- now that many baseball fans are more informed, Fangraphs seems to be offering contrarian opinions that are more consistent with their ESPN partner.

Whether this is due to the influence of Disney Sports, Fox News, or whatever, I do not know, but the content of Fangraphs has slowly moved towards the content of its corporate partners.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony
1 year 10 months ago

This. One million times this.

Shauntell
Guest
Shauntell
1 year 10 months ago

Smyly is projected to be worth about 2 WAR in the 150 innings he’ll have hopefully pitched in his first real season as a starter, so it isn’t a stretch if we see him as being a 3 WAR pitcher for the next couple of years with some upside to spare. That’s pretty valuable at the prices he will cost.

As for Zobrist and his value, I think the author isn’t talking about the fact that they basically took Zobrist from the Astros for free, but that Franklin has the upside to provide the same value on the field as Zobrist. Furthermore there are indeed indications that Franklin could be as versatile as Zobrist. He has played at SS, 2B and in the outfield this year for Seattle so yes he has shown signs of being versatile.

Brian Cashman
Guest
Brian Cashman
1 year 10 months ago

Haha, it’s a conspiracy by ESPN, Disney and Fox News to push a pro-Tampa Bay agenda! Take off the tin foil hat, buddy.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Right, because Disney Sports and News Corp never compromised the quality of the writing that’s done for them.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

“Nick Franklin, although matching young Zobrist as currently a AAAA type with a solid track record- can never become the same value that Zobrist has become, because he was acquired in such a costly manner.”

So your argument is that Franklin can never provide the value Zobrist did because Zobrist was traded for Aubrey Huff and Franklin was traded for David Price. That notion is so contrary to what player valuation is really all about that it’s difficult to argue. You could just as well argue that Dustin Ackley, Shelby Miller, Mike Leake, and Mike Minor can never provide any value for their teams since they were drafted before Mike Trout.

Players’ values come from how well they perform on the field relative to the amount of money teams have to pay them. Who they were traded for, or drafted before, has no bearing whatsoever on their value.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 10 months ago

while i disagree with OPs original point, i must point out that opportunity cost analyses would require the use of acquisition costs.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Obviously we are talking about two different types of value.

One type of value is acquisition value. Frankin can never have the type of acquisition value that Zobrist has had, because Franklin cost alot more in terms of assets.

The other type is performance value. Obviously, the manner in which Franklin was acquired cannot possibly effect his performance value.

Dave
Guest
Dave
1 year 10 months ago

The return looks bad when you compare it to Addison Russell, whom the Ray presumably could’ve had if they played their cards right

Steve-o
Guest
Steve-o
1 year 10 months ago

Missed this when I posted below.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

How? There’s no way the A’s would’ve taken on the $20 M Price is owed next year.

John C
Guest
John C
1 year 10 months ago

Beane would have just rented him for the last two months and then flipped him in the off-season. This was speculated about a lot.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 10 months ago
jdbolick
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

This would be a fine return if Price was a free agent at the end of the season, but he isn’t. I understand the notion that Tampa Bay couldn’t realistically afford to pay him $20 million in arbitration for 2015, but you still have a whole off-season to shop him and presumably more buyers given that hope springs eternal.

Steve-o
Guest
Steve-o
1 year 10 months ago

Compare this to what the Cubs turned Samardizja and Hammel into, Rays fans should be disappointed.

Ernesto
Guest
Ernesto
1 year 10 months ago

Addison Russell seems like a better return. But I think it’s fair to note that the Rays can still compete in 2015 with these guys.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Russell is tearing up AA right now though, as he was when he was traded. He will play in the majors in 2015, and likely provide quite a bit of value.

Would you rather that the Rays had gotten back Nick Castellanos or Tyler Collins instead of Adames- so as to be able to help in 2015?

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Could have competed with Price too and probably been a better 2015 team and just taken the comp pick.

If the argument is “they want to compete in 2015” then that’s a bad argument. Keep Price. Unless it’s a Cespedes for Lester type of trade where they’re getting a cheaper player who fills a hole, this isn’t better.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

Consider-

Tommy Milone
2014: 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9 (0.7 WAR in 96 IP)
career: 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9

Drew Smyly
2014: 7.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9 (1.1 WAR in 100 IP)
career: 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.0 HR/0

Obviously, Smyly is two years younger and has a better K-rate. But, Smyly’s career K-rate is augmented by having pitched in relief, as a SP, his K-rate is only 1.3 K/9 better than Milone’s. While that is still a substantial difference, it’s notable that Milone has slightly better control, and their HR-rates are quite similar.

I think Smyly is clearly the better asset and pitcher than Milone, but not by a ton (and I’m no fan of Milone). Smyly is likely ~0.5 WAR better presently, and possibly more expensive once arbitration hits.

Pete Carroll
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

That’s funny as I don’t think Drew Smyly is clearly a better asset than Tommy Milone at all. If anything they’re somewhat approximate.

Jack
Guest
Jack
1 year 10 months ago

So your point is that Smyly is younger and a better pitcher than Tommy Milone. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

My point is obviously that Smyly is only marginally better than Milone, and that Milone was just acquired relatively cheaply.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 10 months ago

smyly career as starter: 193ip 4.00ERA 21%k 7%bb 4.02fip 3.96 xFIP.
milone career as SP: 465IP 3.85 ERA 17%k 5.4%bb 4.42fip 4.49xfip

i believe in the fip/xfip comparison, and that smyly has a bit more upside while milone doesnt.

both are arb eligible next year and should make similar money. but smyly has 1 extra year of team control than milone.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
1 year 10 months ago

Your article was very well-done and made me feel somewhat better about this trade than I did before, but I still believe the Rays could have done better.

PuzzledinTampa
Guest
PuzzledinTampa
1 year 10 months ago

Rays fan here. I still hate this trade. I feel better about Smyly, though. The Rays not only lost their best player and their sliver of hope for a wildcard spot, but they lost an opportunity to bring in a much better haul for Price. If they were going to deal him why not do it a month ago and get Addison Russell, etc. in return?

Pete Carroll
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Or just, you know, don’t trade him at this juncture & reassess in November.

john
Guest
john
1 year 10 months ago

I think the key issue here is that the Rays can still compete in 2014. How much is that worth if they make a couple playoff rounds? All other deals for prospects probably make it unlikely they can run the table but with Smyly, they get a shot at the playoffs this year. Over 57 games I’m not sure how much worse a pitcher smyly is over Price. 1/4 to 1/2 a win?

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Guest
BenRevereDoesSteroids
1 year 10 months ago

I just want to say, that if you cannot afford the 3rd arbitration year of one of your players, the MLB really needs to do something with your franchise. Buy the lease to the Trop, sell the team to Donald Sterling, and move them to Indonesia. Or something!

Certainly NOT Jeff Loria
Guest
Certainly NOT Jeff Loria
1 year 10 months ago

One might argue that one of the smartest thing a team can do is what Tampa/Miami/Boston routinely do–extract maximum value for peak and post-peak players by trading them. It makes the teams trim and efficient.

If there is something to not like here, it’s the return. If they got the Samardjzia return (or a facsimile), they would look brilliant.

Pete Carroll
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

‘If there is something to not like here, it’s the return. ‘

Ok, I’ll bite. What is there to like then?

bookbook
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Franklin/Smyly/Adames feels like less than the Rays have been planning on getting for Price.

However, the actual value is pretty good.

Smyly is a young starting pitcher that is well regarded around the league. It will be more surprising if he doesn’t become a #3 (assuming health) than if he does.

Franklin isn’t a scrap heap pick up–he’s been on top 50 prospect lists for years of minor league performance. Despite the Mariners’ borderline-abusive treatment of his prospect status he’s a solid second baseman who can hit enough to be above average at the position, if not a star. (he led the PCL in OPS for a couple of months this season before the Mariners called him up to ride the pine, then sent him down to search for his timing.) He’s a marginal shortsop (think Derek Jeter levels of defensive ability), but Tampa won’t ask him to be one.

And they save $20 million.

Pete Carroll
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

‘It will be more surprising if (Drew Smyly) doesn’t become a #3 (assuming health) than if he does.’

Wow, really? I know a ‘#3’ is nebulous, but I’d take that bet in a nanosecond assuming reasonable parameters.

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

I’m getting the sense that everyone who hates this trade for the Rays is more or less ignoring the fact that he is due to make ~$20 million next year. This makes him a comparable trade piece Shark + Hammel, and indeed, they got a comparable return. It looks different because the Rays are trying to win now and the Cubs aren’t. Despite the lack of sexiness here, they got real and practical value for someone they weren’t going to be able to keep anyway. Over the course of 5 years, Franklin and Smyly should compile more WAR than one season of Price and cost about the same. And that’s not even accounting for the inclusion of Adames! It’s not a steal like the Shields trade, but that doesn’t mean its a bad trade.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

I don’t think the returns are remotely comparable.

Addison Russell is projected to add way more surplus value than are Smyly/Franklin.

Hypothetically, if Samardzija hadn’t been available, do you think trading Addison Russell for Smyly/Franklin would be good value? Of course not. No analysis with respect to the WAR values at top of the win curve would argue that Smyly/Franklin are worth Russell.

Plus Russell is ripping up AA (wOBA .400+) right now, as he was already doing when traded. He will probably debut in 2015. It’s simply backwards to imagine that Franklin/Smyly help a team compete in 2015 substantially moreso than Russell. And Russell is clearly the superior option beyond 2015, both in performance and cost, by every projection.

So it’s far from a comparable return.

Steve
Guest
Steve
1 year 10 months ago

A lot of apples and oranges being compared here. The Rays should have traded Price the past offseason and could have gotten a Myers/Odorizzi-like return for him. Obviously they would have dealt him then if they could foresee a 24-42 start with Price in the rotation.

They also could have had more if they dealt Price a month ago when they also should have, but then they got caught up in the hot streak and the Cubs did their trade with Oakland.

Considering they made the deal now at the deadline, I think they did OK. They wouldn’t have done better or the same this coming offseason because then Price is at a near-par $20 million so the only allure is to acquire a pitcher of his caliber at market value on a short commitment.

Juicy Plums
Guest
Juicy Plums
1 year 10 months ago

Oh boy. Wait until you see what Smyly costs in arbitration.

Craig Kline
Guest
Craig Kline
1 year 10 months ago

And I shouldnt entirely leave Adames out of the discussion as I did above, but he wasn’t even remotely considered a top prospect at the beginning of the year, he is far from a consensus top prospect at the moment, and despite being young, he has a 24% K rate at A ball, can’t defend the position, and has a .269/.346/.428 triple-slash with a .353 BABIP. He isn’t a very fast player either, so he is unlikely to maintain that sort of BABIP.

I think he is a quality pickup, so I can’t pretend Adames isn’t valuable, but its hard to argue that he is a top 50 prospect as the author does.

I think this is just a case where, since defensive stats aren’t very accessible at the A ball level, Adames is getting all the benefit (positional adjustment) to being nominally a “SS,” while receiving none of the detriment that would come from observing his fielding metrics.

Seth
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Seth
1 year 10 months ago

Face it, the return sucked. Tampa should have held and traded in the off season if this is the best offer they got.

Justin Shin
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Justin Shin
1 year 10 months ago

I totally get where you are coming from but this is 2014 not 2004. There are three starters with 20+ starts and ERA under 2. There are a ton of guys with ERA under 3. Even in 2008 a quality start was a quality start. Today 4.5 won’t keep your job in the #5 hole. Great pitching is only good these days. And the corollary is that “replacement-level” in pitching is better than it used to be. As a #1 Price might get 7 WAR next season, and only if he performs unbelievably well. Assuming that the Rays bring up the next-best guy (which looks to be Smyly) you may be looking at a differential of at most 4 WAR which is a very rosy scenario. I personally believe the differential will be more like 1.5 to 2.5 WAR.

Now factor in where the Rays are coming from: they really can’t afford to pay a guy as good as Price anywhere “near” market value because they are losing money and Price is not an attraction. From a marketing perspective, I’d rather have a top-level hitter than a top-level pitcher because the former plays every day and the majority of casual baseball fans like to see their team hit more than pitch. For most clubs this would be an after thought but for the Rays, who have had serious attendance problems, this has to be in the calculus.

Now consider the return: yeah, it’s well-below what I expected, but I really don’t think Friedman received a better offer. He would be staring down the same realities in the winter and faced with a logjam at the starting pitcher position. He still would not be dealing from a position of strength. GMs are smarter and they knew Friedman’s hand was weaker than he let on. I’m not alleging a conspiracy but rather that baseball is a smarter game these days, and as much as I like to see the Rays win, we can’t bank on a blunder from someone in a few months.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 10 months ago

Given the pitching landscape, I’d amlmost opine that a guy like Drew Smyly would be even more fungible. If David Price is ‘only good these days’, what is Smyly & especially so as something of a centerpiece here (still hard to fathom that).

Anyhoo, why make this trade at all then? I’d rather make a couple of runs at the postseason & recoup the comepnsatory pick if this was the ‘cream of the crop’ as far as offers went.

Sparky Anderson's LIbido
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Sparky Anderson's LIbido
1 year 10 months ago

As a Tigers fan, I think Smyly is capable of getting better. It hurts us to lose him. This is a good sign.

And given our truly awful farm system, trading Adames could come back to bite them. That said, the
Tigers have not shown much in the way of recognizing young hitters of any serious magnitude at this
early stage (Avisail Garcia? Steven Moya?) so perhaps one’s expectations should be tempered in this
regard.

Good trade for both teams, I think!

Sparky Anderson's LIbido
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Sparky Anderson's LIbido
1 year 10 months ago

Awful formatting. Really very sorry.

Good day's work for Ned
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Good day's work for Ned
1 year 10 months ago

I’m really really disappointed AF couldn’t nab Pederson from under Ned’s nose today. I’m sure he could of helped him justify it to himself with the extra year of control and Matt Kemp conveniently masquerading as the 2011 version at the plate recently.

LHPSU
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LHPSU
1 year 10 months ago

The more I look at it, the more I like this trade for the Rays.

Smyly projects as about a 2 WAR starter this year over a full season, but he’s shown the ability to produce 3-4 WAR. If Franklin is merely an average 2B, the Rays might break even as early as next year, plus the years of team control running through 2019. The advantage of the Rays’ package comapred to the Cubs’ is that both players already have MLB experience, in Smyly’s case a lot of it.

If Franklin can fix his bat he will find a place to play – Zobrist can play anywhere, and Yunel Escobar isn’t blocking anybody. If the Rays feel they have an infield or outfield jam, there are a lot of tradeable pieces.

There is at least an even chance that five years down the road, the Rays get more value out of this package than the Cubs get out of their blockbuster. The Rays’ package has a higher floor and less risk, and there is still the chance of upside there.

Justin Shin
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Justin Shin
1 year 10 months ago

Here are the common reactions to this trade, ranked by prevalence:

1) The Rays could have gotten so much more for David Price; if this was their best offer, they should have held.
2) Andrew Friedman has had a very good record in trades thus far, so although this trade seems lopsided, we should be somewhat deferential to the TB front office’s judgment. Maybe they know something we do not know.
3) David Price was due a lot of money next season and he isn’t cheap this season. In terms of expected surplus value, the Rays actually did okay.
4) Nothing to see here. This is the new economics of baseball. Blue-chip prospects are coveted more than ever, and no GM wants to have his lunch taken from him. So given that Price is a not-that-undervalued rental, given that the Rays have a low chance of making the playoffs this year, given that the Rays are losing money, and given that Smyly is only going to be entering ARB1, this was basically a fair deal.

Here’s my take: all of the above, and also Willy Adames.

I think that Friedman has spent the better part of his tenure building a reputation, quite purposefully, as a guy who is never going to get the short end of the stick. He has been playing the part of a baseball equivalent of a political neo-conservative. He wants to project strength, but really he is a pragmatist.

Friedman likely overplayed his hand this time and got caught with his pants down. I don’t think he expected to be where he was at the deadline, and rationally-speaking nothing about this deal screams “pull the trigger, Andrew!” On the other hand, we expect him to return a haul on every trade, but many of the gullible GM’s have gotten fired. Yes, I know that Ruben Amaro exists, but front offices in 2014 generally operate like the Rays’ front office in 2008.

Clearly, he felt that he had to trade Price to stay competitive. He stated as much, and I take him at his word. You can look at how much money Price was due next season (likely around $25 MM) – and in a realistically-optimistic case, he would be worth between $5 and $10 million on top of that. By definition, Smyly is going to be paid about 65 to 75 percent of his “real value” in the arbitration process, representing a savings of at least 35 percent of whatever that number is. If Smyly were the only factor involved, his worth should be given by .35 * ( #wins * 6 M per win ) = 10 => ~5 WAR over three seasons. I think he can get there. Of course, I am making a ton of assumptions here, but we’re not that far off.

Finally, I would like to say that Willy Adames is an 18 year old playing in A ball. According to this old (ironically) DRB post, http://www.draysbay.com/2012/3/9/2847644/prospect-values , age relative to league is most important in A ball. An 18 year old holding his own in A ball means something, and we shouldn’t write him off.

Basically – assuming we have most of the pertinent information – I think this trade was logical but not spectacular. I trust Friedman’s sense of the dollars involved, and I think Friedman saved money. Whether that should be the goal of the franchise is another question.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 10 months ago

Money is almost certainly the driver here. This deal is practically indefensible without taking David Price’s likely 2015 salary into consideration.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

But salaries always matter. Of course, Price’s salary next year has to be considered, just as the salaries of the 3 players the Rays received have to be considered.

It also matters in the Lester deal that he’s a free agent at the end of the season and that Cespedes is a free agent at the end of next season.

Baseball trades aren’t just about players. They’re also about the players’ contract statuses.

John Galt
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John Galt
1 year 10 months ago

Wow.

Has fangraphs ever said a negative comment about the Rays or A’s management?

“He’s actually been a bit unlucky to allow 14 homers already this season, as he’s yielded some cheapies. He has a real chance to be the rare fly ball pitcher that can yield 20 or fewer homers over 200 innings in a typical season as he moves forward. Also, his 2014 numbers have been hurt by some bad luck on grounders – he’s allowed a .317 AVG-.347 SLG on grounders this season, way above the MLB average, and will now have much better defenders all over the field in Tampa than he did in Detroit.”

This paragraph strongly implies that the author/Rays front office don’t believe in things like XFIP and BABIP.

John Galt
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John Galt
1 year 10 months ago

More on this:
Smyly has a league average HR/FB ratio this year of 10.4% (almost exactly at the number he posted in his last full year as a starter. This comes in spite of pitching his home games at a stadium as big as Comerica Park and pitching most of his games against AL Central Opponents who (outside of the White Sox) have pitchers parks as well.

Smyly may have allowed some cheap home runs but so does everyone else.

Flokie
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Flokie
1 year 10 months ago

I trust that the Rays scouted Adames, and they see this guy being something special. I’m sure the same can be said for Smiley.

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 10 months ago

Who’s Smiley? Guy?

JJ
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JJ
1 year 10 months ago

I’m not sure we should be giving deference to Friedman automatically, especially when, in terms of WAR, Dombrowski has been the best GM over the last 8 years or so when looking at trades. He’s fumbled a bit with draft picks and FA signings, but, and Grantland had a piece on this earlier this year, his history of trades has been excellent. He has almost always gotten more WAR back than lost, and often by a lot.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

The article doesn’t just give deference to Friedman, nor does it criticize Dombrowski or the Tigers’ end of it at all.

I’m not sure they needed Price and I have no idea what it means for their ability to re-sign Scherzer, but you have to credit a GM who’s able to get a great pitcher like Price considering the fact that their farm system is so weak. Coming in to this, nearly everyone would have thought that Price would end up on a team that has a lot of good prospects. Credit Dombrowski with being able to make this trade.

B N
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B N
1 year 10 months ago

Was that absolute WAR or surplus WAR over the contract value? Because it’s a lot easier to end up on the high-WAR side of the stick when you are footing the bills (i.e., the Yankees’ long history of picking up salary-dump trades like Bobby Abreu from the Phillies).

dl80
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dl80
1 year 10 months ago

This has to be mostly about money for the Rays, and apparently they didn’t want to be on the hook for ANY of Price’s money next year. Otherwise, why not trade him in the offseason or early next year (depending on how their season is going)?

I also have no idea why they didn’t trade him earlier THIS year when it became clear they were out of the race. Waiting until now and settling for a mediocre deal seems like the worst of all worlds. Either trade him earlier or trade him later if this is the best they can do.

Alternatively, if this is actually the deal they wanted and are happy with, then so be it. But Smyly is, at best, a #3-4 starter with very little potential to become a 2. Franklin’s potential appears to be a high K/high BB middle infielder who can’t sustain a decent average in the majors because he’s been relying on unsustainable BABIP in the minors. His ceiling looks like an average player right now at best.

Adames could be anything at this point. He’s 4-5 years away and doesn’t really do anything special yet (averageish defense, no speed, little power, not great command of the strike zone), so I’m not sure why people are calling him a potential star.

I just don’t see it, unless the Rays plan on having a scrubs-and-average-joes team in a few years, which is quite possible, given their budget constraints.

Bubber Jonnard
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Bubber Jonnard
1 year 10 months ago

I think many people may be underestimating Nick Franklin’s hitting potential. As Jose Altuve is re-teaching everyone yet again this year, outstanding minor league batting — especially when it’s maintained over multiple seasons at a young age — is a fine predictor of MLB performance. A much better predictor in fact than early MLB struggles.

Nick F at age 19 in low A: 129 wRC+
at 20 across high A and AA: 110
Franklin at 21 in AA only: 151
” ” 22 in AAA only: 147 (2013)

So every single year he’s been young for his league, and every year he’s been somewhere between above average and fantastic at the plate.

He’s gonna hit, really hit, is what I’m trying to say. Just give him a year or two.

Shawn Young
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Shawn Young
1 year 10 months ago

That articles such as this one are having to be written by TB defenders is perhaps some of the best evidence that this deal stinks. The deal can’t stand on its own, not even close, so all these rationalizations need to pop up.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 10 months ago

The Rays should have gotten what instead?

Yeah, they probably turned down Pederson, Seager, and Urias.

Beavis
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Beavis
1 year 10 months ago

Cogent rebuttal, Shawn Young. Emphasis on butt.

MelkyTheMonkey
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MelkyTheMonkey
1 year 10 months ago

There’s probably lots of words out there that could accurately describe the slash line of righty hitters who have faced Drew Smyly, but I don’t think “lusty” is one of them….

aussiedodger
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aussiedodger
1 year 10 months ago

I think everyone Tampa Bay negotiated with knew Price was unaffordable next year, so they had a lot of leverage.
As well as that, the kinds of teams that usually can absorb that salary and not worry about it (NYY, BOS, PHI, LAD) weren’t after a Price-type player.
I think Friedman was just about down to Detroit or nothing

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