So, we’ve been linking to our pieces over at FoxSports.com for a few months now, but today, those links go to their permanent new home. Fox has launched a new baseball page entitled Just A Bit Outside, and it will be the home for the content produced by the team Rob Neyer has assembled. The site officially launched today, and it will be updated daily with the kind of content that FanGraphs readers would likely enjoy. We’ll still be contributing our three pieces per week over there, and I’ll be doing some shorter stuff in the Baseball Joe section as well. Check it out.
Since the launch was happening this week, I wanted to do a tie-in to the Trade Value series that’s running here, and since it’s a popular question during Trade Value week, I decided to publish the Anti-Trade Value list over at Just A Bit Outside. So, if you’re wondering which five contracts would be the hardest to move, well, here’s my answer.
Over at FanGraphs, I have an annual tradition of using the All-Star break to rank the game’s most valuable players by their overall trade value, factoring in not only their on-field performance but their age and contract status as well. After all, a good player making $1 million per year is likely more valuable to a franchise than a great player making $25 million per year, as the $24 million cost savings can be spent to buy the good player better teammates and result in a better product overall.
Not surprisingly, the top spot last year went to Mike Trout, as he was the best player in baseball and made the league minimum; his combination of high performance and low cost made him one of the most valuable properties in baseball history. Even after signing a new contract that guarantees him $140 million over the next six years, you can bet that Trout will still rank quite highly in the this year’s top 10, which will be released this Friday on FanGraphs.
But, of course, for every Mike Trout, there’s 10 big contracts that haven’t worked out so well, with teams now paying tens of millions of dollars for the kind of production you’d hope to get for a million or two. The history of long-term mega contracts for free agency is filled with high-priced busts, and when a team makes a mistake on a big money guy, they are often stuck with that player until the contract runs out. These players not only don’t have any trade value; they have negative trade value, and require a financial subsidy to another team just to move the player off their roster.
Paying a player to play for someone else is the most inefficient use of resources in baseball, but it’s also the reality that some teams face when they just want to move on from a bad decision. So which players would require the largest subsidies to another team in order to be willing to assume the rest of their contracts? Or, put another way, which players have the most negative trade value in Major League Baseball right now?
The easiest way to estimate how much money a team would have to include in a trade to move a player currently contract is to ask how much that player would sign for if he was made a free agent after the season ends. The difference between our estimated free agent price, and his remaining contract value, is a decent approximation of how much cash a team would have to kick in to trade their overpriced former stars. To come up with the five players with the most negative trade value, I’ve created estimated free agent prices, and included the difference in “dead money” that their current contract includes.
5. Prince Fielder, First Base, Texas Rangers
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