- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

Holliday Time in St. Louis?

Rumors are flying throughout the twitterverse that St. Louis is doing some Holliday shopping, and it is expected to come at the expense of their top prospect, Brett Wallace.

Brett Wallace is not-so affectionately dubbed “the Walrus” by scouts for his 6-1, 245 pear-shaped body. Scouts do love his bat though; he was considered to be the best pure hitter of the 2008 draft. In just a season and a half of pro-ball, Wallace has put up a .308/.392/.469 line. This year he started slowly for Triple-A Memphis, but has worked his way up to a respectable .298/.351/.431. Not eye-catching, but certainly not at all shabby for someone who was swinging a metal bat in the Pac-10 just a little over a year ago.

Wallace is not projected to be a big-time power threat, but rather a 15-20 homer guy who hits for a high average and takes his fair share of walks; somewhat of a Kevin Youkilis before he found his power stroke. The biggest knock on Wallace his “fall down range”. He’s defensively challenged at third base to put it mildly, and there is this guy named Pujols in St. Louis who isn’t moving from first base.

Baseball America recently came out with their mid-season top 25, and Wallace ranked 21st. According to Victor Wang — who has published some tremendous research on the hidden value of prospects and the draft — top 11-25 ranked hitters have a trade value of $25 million. Suffice to say, Wallace is a valuable commodity.

Matt Holliday is projected to hit for a .370 wOBA the rest of the season. He’s a good fielder and base-runner, so we can safely figure he will add to the Cardinals a couple of wins, worth $9 million. He’s also a Type-A free agent at the end of the season, meaning an added bonus of some extra draft picks. Once again referring to Victor’s research, that compensation is worth $5 million to a club, not even close to equal value of a top 100 prospect. (Sky also has more light on the subject at BtB. Bookmark it, folks.) Holliday is also due about $6M in salary for the rest of the season.

So two wins plus draft pick compensation minus salary equals about $8 million in value for Holliday. Simple math, folks — $25M > $8M. The trade is actually pretty lopsided when you look at from that perspective. Mozeliak is also faced with the fact that after Brett Wallace, his farm system will be a lot thinner, no pun intended.

Flags fly forever, and Wallace may never quite pan out and is probably not the greatest fit for his parent club.The Cardinals should be buyers at this point, but I wonder if they can’t get a better return than a rental for their top prospect.