Matt Garza’s Trade Value

If there was any question about the valuation that MLB teams put on quality young arms, it’s been answered this winter – the returns garnered by San Diego and Oakland when they moved Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez illustrated that a team willing to move a good young pitcher under multiple years of team control could do very well for themselves and accelerate a rebuilding process by getting pieces at several positions that could be long term answers. So, given the prices those two arms have commanded, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Theo Epstein is exploring the market for Matt Garza, looking to see if he can pull off a similar deal to replenish the Cubs organization with the kinds of young players they need to build around for the future.

However, Garza’s a different asset than Latos or Gonzalez, as his longer track record in the big leagues also means that the Cubs are selling a pitcher who is only going to be under team control for half as long as the other two. Additionally, since Garza qualified as a Super-Two, he’s already on his third trip through arbitration, and his salaries have escalated more quickly than most players that are two years away from free agency. So, while the Padres and A’s were marketing four years of a good young pitcher, several of those years at prices that were just a fraction of what similar pitchers would cost to acquire via free agency, the Cubs are shopping two years of a pitcher whose salaries are somewhat depressed relative to his market value, but aren’t really that much lower than what a team could buy a decent free agent starter for.

So, it stands to reason that the Cubs will get less for Garza than what other young arms have been going for this winter. How much less? Well, let’s look at just what kind of trade value Garza should actually have.

Let’s start with his expected performance. 2011 was a career year for Garza in nearly every respect, but as Josh Weinstock noted back in November, he made changes to his approach that suggest that he could be more likely to retain some of these gains than your average pitcher, and perhaps we should regress his performance back towards career norms less than we would for a pitcher whose new found success was harder to explain. Even with the adjustments, however, it’s still never a good idea to throw out all seasons prior to the most recent one, so we have to consider Garza’s 2011 performance alongside his 2006-2010 numbers.

So, a very modest regression (say, 80% weight on his 2011 numbers versus 20% for his prior career totals) would give us an expectation (using either ERA- or xFIP-, the results are essentially the same) of Garza preventing runs at about 15 percent better than a league average pitcher and an expectation of throwing about 200 innings per season. Since the league average ERA last year was 3.94, that would translate to an expected ERA for Garza of 3.34 – a little higher if traded to the AL, a little lower if he stayed in the NL, but it’s the same value relative to his peers – or a difference of about 13 runs allowed compared to a league average starting pitcher over 200 innings.

A replacement level starter (think Rodrigo Lopez, or someone of that ilk) is generally going to be about 20-25 runs below average per 200 innings, so that projection for Garza would rate him as something around 33 to 38 runs above replacement, or in WAR terms, would make him like a +3.5 to +4.0 win pitcher.

That puts him pretty close to the expected performances of the better free agent pitchers on the market this winter- C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle – but Garza’s younger than both and has better stuff, so he’d probably command a bit of a premium compared to those two. Wilson signed for 5/78 while Buehrle got 4/58, so it looks like the current market value for this level of pitcher is around $15 million per season on a long term deal.

Garza’s scheduled to make about $9 million in arbitration this winter, and assuming he has a successful 2012 season, will likely see that number jump up to around $12 or $13 million next year. So, over the next two seasons, he’ll earn about $8 million in salary below his market rate, and he comes with the added benefit of not requiring a long term commitment, so there’s additional value in avoiding the potential negative value associated with giving a free agent starter a four of five year deal. If you think those years will result in an overpay of about $5 million per season, the shorter commitment to Garza would result in another $15 million in savings, making him an asset worth about $23 million.

The total comes out similarly if we just use a $/WAR calculation. If the price of a win in this market is around $5 million apiece, our valuation of Garza would make him worth around $19 million per season, for a total of $38 million in value over the next two years. Subtract out his expected $22 million in salary, and you have a net value of $16 million, but then you’d also garner further value from the potential value of the compensatory draft picks you’d get if he left as a free agent, pushing his value to a bit over $20 million in total.

That’s basically what the Cubs are selling – a $20 million asset, and to get a fair return, they need a package of young players that provide about that much surplus value going forward. Using Victor Wang’s research on prospect valuation, we can essentially put together various packages of prospect types that would equal something close to $20-$25 million in surplus value.

Wang’s research would suggest that a fair return for Garza would be something like a position prospect good enough to be ranked in the #11-#50 range among all players, or if the Cubs preferred a package of players, perhaps a couple of prospects from the back-end of the Top 100. Keep in mind that he did his work on valuations four years ago, so the numbers listed in the article all need to be inflated up a little bit – in fact, getting just one hitting prospect in the #11-#25 range might actually qualify as a solid move in return for Garza, even though the reported asking price is a lot higher than that.

I’m sure the Cubs would love to land multiple premium young talents in return for Garza, but given the fact that they’re only selling two years of service time and that Garza’s salaries are already climbing towards market rate prices, he’s simply not a valuable enough asset to demand that kind of return. Unless the asking price comes down sharply, I’d suggest that most teams are better off pursuing a free agent like Hiroki Kuroda or Roy Oswalt if they want a short term rotation boost, or going after Edwin Jackson if they’re looking for long term value as well. Garza doesn’t offer a large enough short term upgrade or enough significant value in the long run to justify giving up multiple good young players in order to get him.

While he’s a good pitcher who may very well have made a real leap forward last year, at the current asking price, Matt Garza just isn’t worth it. There are cheaper alternatives that would provide a similar level of production and allow those teams shopping for a rotation upgrade to hang onto their stock of prospects while still improving their teams.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


71 Responses to “Matt Garza’s Trade Value”

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  1. SJ says:

    And lets not forget you said Garza was no better a pitcher than Aaron Harang after the Cubs acquired him last year.

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    • FingerLickinChicken says:

      No you can forget that… its pretty much irrelevant to the article…

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      • Sunday Trucker says:

        I agree in the sense that each article and its analysis should be weighed separately, but the bottom line is that anything can happen and the data and relative worth presented are often an indicator of the author’s opinions about any given player. Given the two articles written by this author, my guess is that he is not a fan of Matt Garza.

        In the end though, it is pretty clear the Cubs are asking teams to “overpay” for Garza, but aren’t most prospects traded for MLB talent a perceived “overpay” when they occur? To what extent of an overpay are what the interested teams need to figure out. Do they think they are getting the pre-2011 or 2011 Matt Garza?

        Also, not to get into an argument about WAR and its mechanics, but the competitive timing of a team must be taken into account when determining the perceived value of a player by each specific team.

        For example, if the Tigers really think they only have a 2-3 year window with their current lineup and that there is going to be a rebuilding effort after that, they may in turn have a different short term WAR value than another team.

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    • Theoisagod says:

      Garza is much better, now that Theo Epstein is the GM.

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  2. tdotsports1 says:

    Rosenthal said the Jays are not likely suitors anymore – apparently not willing to pony up the top prospects needed for a possible two year rental.

    However, the Jays have never commented on anything really (see Darvish, Yu) and its hard to tell what they might try and pull off.

    I think he’d be a great fit in TO behind Romero as the #2/3.

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    • shaneleavitt says:

      Anthopoulos values years of control. It’s exremely unlikely he’s going to drop an overpay of high caliber prospects he’s worked hard to acquire for just two years of someone he’s going to have to pay $20 MM to.

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      • Blake says:

        … unless he feels confident that an extension can be worked out.

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      • shaneleavitt says:

        That would seem unlikely favourable from Garza’s point of view A) because he’s soon to get his first crack at FA and B) The Blue Jays are finicky about contract lengths (not more than 5 yrs), especially to pitchers (Anthopoulos had to sell Beeston on doing a 5 yr extension to Romero most recently). But sure, ya never know, could happen man.

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      • Blake says:

        Yeah, agreed… I just meant that’d be the only way I could see AA doing it. Maybe extending him through his first three FA years.

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    • Dick Almighty says:

      There’s no such thing as a “two-year rental.”

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  3. bpaoni says:

    Seriously, what is with this two year rental crap? Two FULL years is not a rental, a rental player is someone you get at the dead line who is a free agent at years end. Just because he has less time than a Latos(head case) or Gio( sir walks-a-lot) doesn’t make him that much less valuable than them.

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    • mb21 says:

      Yes it does. Let’s imagine the three players are equal and just make up some numbers. We’ll go with an average of 3.5 WAR per season over the remaining years of their contract. So with Garza that’s 7. With Latos and Gonzalez it’s 14. Garza will be paid an average of $10 million per year over 2 years. The other two will be paid an average of about $6 million per year over 4 years.

      I think it’s fairly clear when you think it through that Garza has nowhere near the value that Latos and Gonzalez have.

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      • piratesbreak500 says:

        I agree with mb21. I think we should really look at how we define rental though. Under the new CBA, you can only offer arbitration to someone you have for at least a full season. I think it makes sense for a rental to be anyone you can’t offer arb to. Two years isn’t much, but it’s substantially more than your typical deadline deal or salary dump.

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    • Dick Almighty says:

      I think you’re right to the extent you disagree with the use of the phrase “two-year rental.” That’s just an incorrect phrase. If a teams acquires a player with two years of team control left, that is simply not a “rental” (the way that term is used for baseball players).

      As for the rest, I disagree. More years of team control does equal more value (especially if the salaries for those years are already set at a below-market price), assuming the pitchers are equally skilled. No GM in his right mind would give the same package for two years of Garza as he would for four years of Latos…

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      • rmccuaig says:

        Yeah, but they are NOT equally skilled pitchers. Matt Garza is battle tested from the AL East and put up solid numbers at the (often) hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.
        Mat Latos, on the other hand, has only pitched in the National Park known as Petco for a team nobody knows about in the weakest hitting division in baseball. Just sayin’….

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  4. Mario Mendoza of posters says:

    I’m a believer on Garza going forward if he sticks to his new formula, as covered by Dave Allen (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/an-entirely-different-matt-garza/).

    The changeup use tailed off towards the end of the season, but the reliance on his fastball remained in check.

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    • Mario Mendoza of posters says:

      Could the increase in offspeed pitches also be responsible for his career-best (full-season) groundball rate?

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    • Mario Mendoza of posters says:

      Another difference was his pace, a full 3 seconds faster than his previous career avg.

      Are the pitch selection & pace changes due to Garza himself, the CHC catchers vs the TB catchers, or the organization? I don’t know, but I’m starting think he is not strictly the pitcher we saw in TB.

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      • piratesbreak500 says:

        Could also have to do with the strengths of the organizations/ballparks. In Tampa, being a flyball pitcher with elite defenders behind him worked. In Chicago, the exact same formula wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. I’m not sure how often he reads fangraphs, but his new pitch selection could in part be due to a new game plan.

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      • Newcomer says:

        A part of that bump could be not playing NYY and BOS any more, as they play significantly slower than most teams and would slow down the pace of opposing pitchers. I’m not sure how big of an effect that would have on an individual pitcher, but I’m also curious if there is a pace difference between the AL and NL. Pitchers might work faster against opposing pitchers and weaker pinch hitters than they do against DHs, in theory. Just unexplored hypotheses here.

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  5. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Thanks for linking the prospect evaluation article. That was exactly what I was thinking about as I read the first half of this. Cheers!

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    • Atari says:

      That article was very interesting. I bet the Twins wish they had traded Santana for Ian Kennedy/Phil Hughes and especially for Lester/Ellsbury instead.

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  6. Peter O says:

    Garza should be worth a full 2 wins better than Oswalt and Kuroda in 2012, so I’m not sure you can say a team would be better off with one of those two. Considering that a team in a position to trade for Garza is a borderline playoff contender, the value of those 2 wins is very high. Do you account for that in your WAR calculator?

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    • gomer says:

      i don’t think you need to account for that because, as this is not a deadline deal nor a “rental” (in the previously conceptualized way). there are a broader swath of teams who are buyers as compared to the deadline, when fewer teams would be “in” on him. so the demand, theoretically, is greater now…especially if borderline contending teams believe we are in a prospect bubble.

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      • Nathan says:

        The supply of pitchers in the offseason that can offer a similar level of $/WAR is much higher than it is during the season.

        I agree with a post further down — it makes sense to “shop” Garza, but only if a team like the Tigers really thinks he can be that “last piece” and will overpay dramatically for it right now, even when there are veteran options still out there that could provide a similar boost when looking at money per win.

        I think Garza will be more valuable on the trade market when the deadline comes around and teams that are unexpectedly in competition or unexpectedly lagging a bit behind are willing to put a huge premium on getting a player that can be one or two wins better than the alternative the rest of the way.

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  7. The Rock says:

    Best partner for Garza is the Tigers, who have two interesting young ML ready pitchers of high interest (Porcello and Turner).

    They are an excellent fit because:

    1 – Their window is wide open right now as Verlander and Cabrera are in their primes.

    2 – The park is nice as massive so Garza going back to flyball Garza wouldn’t matter as much.

    3 – They need someone more stable than Scherzer to slide in behind Verlander in the rotation.

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  8. john says:

    Thanks for that $/WAR math there, Dave. Really insightful. Profound.

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  9. Ryan says:

    Great article Dave

    Any names you could throw around for whom the Blue Jays/Red Sox/Yankees/Tigers may be able to consummate a deal with?

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  10. Ryan Carey says:

    Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly from San Diego for Garza.

    Theo knows what he’s getting here as he gets back 2 of the players traded for Adrian Gonzalez. The Cubs get their 1B of the future to team with Brett Jackson at 3B. The Padres get a more immediate return on the Gonzalez trade and no longer have to worry about the trade being labeled a bust if Rizzo doesn’t deliver. Worst case the Padres can trade Garza again down the road.

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  11. daiheide says:

    For several years now, FanGraphs has been using $5m as the price of a win. But in a number of articles, you guys talk about expecting inflation in win pricing and in projecting players’ value over the short-term future, such inflation is included in the projection. But $5m has been the price of a win on this site for three or so years now. Hasn’t any genuine inflation occurred already? Or has it been incremental? I’d be interested to know what inflation has occurred over the past few years and whether it’s time to adjust your win pricing.

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    • Joe says:

      No… it was a popular narrative last season where Dave was saying 5mil/yr and massive inflation was coming.

      This happens every year as some big name FA’s in demand sign early and everyone says “see, unflation! Look at what Werth, Crarwford, etc… got” and then the rest of the offseason happens, the bargain players are signed the $/WAR comes back down again.

      Dave was saying 5mil last year too… I think ultimately it came out to ~4.5mil/WAR

      Now apparently we are back on an 11% inflation expectation this offseason (yet in most contract valuations that are done here the 11% then drops instantly to 5% in each subsequent year)

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  12. bvillebaron says:

    Based on what I saw from Garza last year, I think Cliff Floyd’s comments on the MLB channel this morning was spot on. Garza has very good stuff, but is inconsistent and has a propensity to take pitches and/or innings off.

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  13. Eddie says:

    The Cubs aren’t motivated sellers b/c they have money to spend moving forward. They can retain Garza and build around him. If they trade Garza, it will only be because someone overpays.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Build around him? In 2013?

      The only way Garza is around to see the Cubs rebuilding success is if he signs an extension. The Cardinal fan in me wants to say that the only way garza sees the Cubs resurgence is if he lives to be 176 years old … but I’ll be grown up about it.

      Garza will want to explore the market after 2013. If there’s a team that’s more competitive than the Cubs at that time (and many teams will be), then there’s a good bet he’ll get more money elsewhere.

      The best thing the Cubs have to offer is that he’s under contract for 2 years for good value and decent money. I don;t think the Cubs have the leverage to ask for a great package in return. A team can tell the Cubs to “stick with garza” and the Cubs will not compete in 2012 or 2013, and he’ll enter FA.

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      • hk says:

        Sure, a team can tell the Cubs to “stick with Garza”, but assuming the team that is interested in Garza feels that Garza would upgrade their rotation, the Cubs can respond by telling that team to “stick with your sub-par rotation while we trade Garza to your competitor”.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        the Cubs can respond by telling that team to “stick with your sub-par rotation while we trade Garza to your competitor”.

        Good point.

        The Cubs leverage may increase as the year goes on and demand increases. I was looking at Garza having his most value with the longest team control, but the playoff chase could give the Cubs more leverage. Going into Spring Training, lots of rotations look “okay”. By July some of them may have major holes.

        Regardless, they’ll trade Garza to the team that offers the best package, it’s just whether they can get more now or later.

        Personally, Garza is healthy and coming off his best MLB season. I don’t think his stock is getting much higher than it is. Best case, he maintains his performance. Worst case, he struggles or gets injured.

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  14. Paul says:

    Why wouldn’t we just use the Greinke deal last year as a comparison? He had two years left for similar money. If you’re a GM, that’s your yardstick in a negotiation.

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    • Colin says:

      The package the Royals got was similar to what Dave was suggesting for Garza, just better on the whole, which makes sense because Greinke is clearly the better pitcher.

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      • Paul says:

        Except the part about how a single 11-25th ranked hitting prospect might be enough for him. Not close to the Greinke package. And I’ll disagree that Garza is “clearly” better.

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      • Paul says:

        I mean that Greinke is “clearly” better.

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      • Colin says:

        Well since Greinke was traded for multiple lower end prospects we really can’t say that. Also, since Greinke is better than Garza, it would probably be more like top 10 prospect plus one lower level guy rather than 4 guys with a couple hovering inside the top 100.

        Also, you can disagree if you want but Greinke is clearly better.

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  15. CircleChange11 says:

    So, a very modest regression (say, 80% weight on his 2011 numbers versus 20% for his prior career totals)

    That’s A LOT of weight being placed on 2011, especially when it’s a 5 WAR season we’re talking about for what had been a 3 WAR pitcher. FG loves to say something about causation and correlation, and we should heed our own warnings.

    For pitchers, I don’t see any reason not to [1] use the 5/3/1 weighting for past 3 seasons, and [2] average fWAR and bWAR.

    YEAR (fWAR; bWAR)
    2011: 5.0; 2.9
    2010: 1.6; 2.0
    2009: 3.1; 3.8

    fWAR: 3.66 WAR
    bWAR: 2.7 WAR
    averaged: 3.2 WAR

    IMO, he’s closer to 3 WAR than he is 4 WAR, although it is possible that the switch to the NL accounts for some of it.

    A team looking for a right arm SP could get a better pitcher for less salary (same duration) by looking across the city … but they’d also likely have to give up more to get him.

    The Cubs are in a position right now that they will be “wasting” Garza during non-competitive years. A team could really get garza with a sub-market offer (IMO) due to the position the Cubs are in.

    Garza to DET as The Rocks says above (Heh Heh, The Rock says …) does make sense. I’m not sure I’d include Turner in that offer though.

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    • Mario Mendoza of posters says:

      In this case, you’re not seeing the trees for the forest.

      Throwing different pitches CAN get different results. Please observe: http://www.fangraphs.com/fgraphs/3340_P_0_20110927.png

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        There were different results, but my point was the sample size needed to be certain of the cause-effect.

        It’s not unlike Jose Bautista. Swing/Approach changes CAN be the cause for the effect, or it could just be random variation or a fluke or SSS.

        If Garza does it again, then we’ll be even more certain. But to apply more emphasis on a single season in one case when we don;t do it to all cases would be anti-FG,

        If he really is that new true talent it will come through in a larger sample.

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      • Paul says:

        Since when is an entire season not a large enough sample?

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  16. Ryan Carey says:

    I’m not buying that the Cubs aren’t motivated sellers. If they were looking to win short-term (ie – for the length of time Garza would be there) then why did they just deal away Sean Marshall? They haven’t signed anyone of note (couch/cough – Fielder) so far. They are going to build around Castro and Jackson and need more pieces to the puzzle.

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  17. the sandman says:

    For all you who might have forgotten, Garza was ALCS MVP in 2008. His playoff record happens to be pretty good, and he would have won 15 games last year if the Cubs cruddy closer(Marmolade) hadnt blown several games for him. Hed be a good fit with the Tigers(Verlander, Garza, Fister- especially pitching Fister/Garza in Comerica) would be a nasty trio come playoff time.

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  18. MGL says:

    Dave, brilliant job of explaining and emphasizing how to value a trade asset! 95% of the articles that are written about trades completely ignore player contracts and thus how to actually value players (FA worth minus contract).

    As far as estimating Garza’s WAR, has everyone forgotten about adding in a regression toward the league mean? Regardless of the weighting system used, you still need to add that regression. Plus, pitchers get worse with age, rate-wise. Plus, they lose around 10% of the IP per season, due to chance of injury, including a season or career ending injury.

    So Garza is likely worth much less than 3.5 to 4 WAR per season for the next 2 seasons.

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    • mister_rob says:

      And the alternatives for a team like the tigers looking for a #2 starter?

      Edwin Jackson for about 70mil over 5 years? 96 yr old Kuroda? Achy Oswalt?

      Garza has about 1000 times less odds of catastrophe than either of those 3 other options. Piece of mind is worth something

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      • Hushpuckena says:

        Someone’s going to overpay Jackson because of his unrealised potential which we see flashes of, but never gets pulled together into that package that screams ‘ace’.

        In a normal year, Red Sox would have already made Jackson’s agent an offer, put two years out there for Oswalt and taken a shot at Kuroda, at his price. They seem to be playing it closer to the vest this year and not throwing out the offers northwards of $10 M per season.

        Some of the talk I’ve read in re Garza is that Yankees are hot for him, but that Cubs want at least one of their hot prospects in return. No surprise there on either side. If Yankees were to accede and give up two of those big names on the farm, you’d see a deal, but their recent tendency to hang onto their blue-chip prospects instead of trading them for a mess of pottage makes me think this won’t go down. In my opinion, it’s odds-on that Garza stays in Chicago till at least July. By then, things could be vastly different in a hundred different ways.

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    • JCG says:

      how to actually value players (FA worth minus contract)

      So, a player who is paid exactly fair market value has a trade value of FA worth – contract = 0?

      So therefore, any team should be able to go to another team and cherrypick any player who is paid fair market value…in exchange for nothing?

      I’m not sold on this notion.

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  19. What’s more valuable? Garza putting up another solid season, but using a year of affordability, or dealing Garza right now?

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      Garza putting up a “solid season” is worth absolutely nothing to the Cubs or their fans (whether they realize it or not). If he puts up a Cy Young-level season, the Cubs would be lucky to get to 75 wins with the offense and bullpen they’ll run out there (not to mention rotation slots 2-5).

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  20. shel says:

    “A replacement level starter (think Rodrigo Lopez, or someone of that ilk) is generally going to be about 20-25 runs below average per 200 innings”

    I don’t understand this – can someone please explain? Wouldn’t a “replacement level” starter by definition be someone who gives up an average number of runs per innning? I don’t see the connection between Garza’s 13 under –> replacement level 25 under –> 4 WAR.

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    • noseeum says:

      Perhaps you’re new around these parts. Welcome to the club! You have a lot of reading to do!

      Replacement level is not average. A league average player is in the 50th percentile of performance, i.e. he is a better player than half the league, i.e. he is a pretty good player.

      In order to replace an injured player, you have to assume you’re taking someone who can barely hold a roster spot, i.e. replacement level.

      Generally speaking, 2 WAR is average and 0 WAR is replacement.

      Lots of info on this in the fangraphs glossary.

      Here’s a good article from The HardBall Times defining replacement level: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/replacement-level-article/

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  21. jpg says:

    I think what a lot of people are missing the boat on is the fact that TRUE value and TRADE value are are very different things. Thus I think Dave and others are underrating his track record or more accurately, the perceived value of “having a track record”. Teams with huge payrolls are better equipped to covet true value over surplus value. If you’re looking at it strictly from a surplus value standpoint, the article clearly proves that Latos and Gio offer signifigantly more than Garza. From a true value standpoint, its not hard to build a narrative supporting why Garza should yield a similar haul to Latos or Gio: Four straight years of 30+ starts with 791.3 IP….Four straight years with a sub 4.00 ERA, three of which were achieved while developing under fire in the AL East on a contender…The other two played in what are considered great pitchers parks and on mostly mediocre or worse teams (though the Pads hung around until the end in 10′). He “put it all together” and had a huge year this past season….

    It’s easy to see why a team like Detroit which, already has an ace, supports a larger payroll and figures that Garza is the final piece would prefer him over Latos or Gio. He’s more of a lock for 30 GS and 200ish IP than the other two. Likewise its easy to see why a mid market team like Cincy, that needs an ace but has star players that they are going to need to pay big really soon, would prefer Latos over Garza. I predict Theo will get a similar haul for Garza and if it is indeed less it will be because Beane and Byrnes beat Theo to the punch and grabbed the best packages available.

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  22. JCG says:

    Unless I’m reading you wrong (which is possible), you’re proposing that a player’s value in a trade is equivalent to the amount of money that he’s underpaid relative to market value, as measured by WAR and $/WAR?

    If that were correct, then the amount of value a team would have to give up in a trade to acquire a player who is paid exactly fair market value would be exactly zero. Here: you can have him for nothing!

    I don’t think so. You need to consider a player’s overall, actual value – not just his “under”-value

    Additionally, your overly complex and incorrect analysis leaves out the simplest and most realistic solution: Garza’s (or anybody’s) value in a trade is that which the highest bidder among a group of competitors is willing to pay to beat said competition.

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  23. @Paul

    1season’s worth of performance accounting for 80% of their true talent is too small of a sample size for that weighting.

    The 5/3/1 weighting gives the previous season just over 50% weighting.

    It’s only too small of a sample size when you’re giving it 80% and the rest of his career 20%.

    However if data can be presented that shows that similar pitching approach changes yield big shifts in lasting true talent, I would change my mind.

    As of now, I wouldn’t use 80% of 2011 for Garza’s true talent just as I wouldn’t do for Rasmus or any other player.

    MGL brought up regression to league average as well, although I don’t know how much to regress his 5 WAR season. Again if data shows that similar pitch usage changes are long lasting, I’d strongly consider it. Didn’t we experience something like this not long ago where Zambrano showed some performance increase by using his cutter more often?

    I’m skeptical about a pitcher using his fastball less often with long lasting success. But I’m willing to look at the data for similar pitchers.

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    • Joe says:

      Dead on.

      People are pointing to the changes Garza made and are just assuming that accounts for the difference when we really don’t know.

      It’s certainly a plausible explanation for his performance changing but it’s impossible to assess that it is. And as importantly, that it accounts for ALL the performance change. As a random strawman maybe 50% of the shift is his pitch mix change, 40% random variation ,10% switching to a new league.

      Putting an 80% regression tag on last year seems pretty much as arbitrary as the #’s I made up above.

      And there is also the adjustment factor as scouting reports change, and hitters that may have been facing him the first time in their career get more familiar with him ( since he rarely faced NL teams prior to this year). I know these things tend to get brushed aside or dismissed as negligible but it will be interesting to see how this “new” style holds up several times through the league and as scouting reports get updated and refined.

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  24. Dave

    Can you use the custom leaderboard to see what pitchers Garza is most similar to in rate stats and pitch usage?

    It might give us a better idea whether he is more likely to be a 5, 4, or 3 WAR pitcher.

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    • Joey B says:

      Actually, I’d start by challenging the premise that he was better in 2011 than 2010. His ERA was certainly better, but his Whip was worse. His K/W was better, but heavily influenced by facing pitchers. It’s possible he’s matured some, but if he went back to the AL, I’d bet that he still looks much the same as when he left the AL.

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  25. Joey B says:

    “If that were correct, then the amount of value a team would have to give up in a trade to acquire a player who is paid exactly fair market value would be exactly zero. Here: you can have him for nothing!

    I don’t think so. You need to consider a player’s overall, actual value – not just his “under”-value”

    At its most basic, what it says is that, if you can sign a pitcher with with a 4.0 WAR for $20M, while giving up nothing but salary, then there is no reason to trade for a 4.0 WAR pitcher making $20M. Why give up even a C prospect if the two outcomes are identical?

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  26. Gutboy Barrelhouse says:

    You really need to do a similar article on Adam Jones.

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