Sell-High Candidates

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, I thought it would be interesting to look at some players who could/should be “sold high” at the trade deadline. For my definition of selling high, I’ve basically chosen the conventional description of selling an asset when its market value is highest. But we’re mostly limiting this to teams that are either out of the playoff picture or can gain more from a trade of a player than the potential loss of production that player would bring. I understand there are plenty of these types of players, so feel free to use the comments section to throw some other names out there.

SP Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs
2010 xFIP: 4.75
Potential suitors: New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies

Lilly is comimg off of a huge 2009 where he posted a 3.65 FIP and 3.98 xFIP, good for 3.7 WAR. His K and BB rates, however,  have been disturbingly poor this season, as his K/BB went from 4.19 last year to 2.71 this year. But for teams that aren’t looking too deeply at those numbers, Lilly’s 4.08 ERA may be appealing. Teams will envision him as a 3-4 starter in a good rotation, when really he’s just not pitching well right now. If the Cubs could pry away outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets, it would be a steal.

2B/SS Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals
2010 wOBA: .314
Potential suitors: Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers

Guzman’s decent defense at second base and his ability to play shortstop make him an attractive commodity at the trade deadline. His .295 batting average will look especially enticing, and it’s not like the Nats are going to contend this year, and probably not seriously next year. They should look to nab a decent prospect from the Tigers, who have been running Ramon Santiago out at shortstop for most of 2010, or the Phillies, who are without Chase Utley for quite some time and could always use a solid backup shortstop with Jimmy Rollins’ injuries.

OF Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
2010 wOBA: .389
Potential suitors: New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays

Hart is having his best year since his fantastic 2007, and despite his defensive woes, has already produced 2.3 WAR. His 20 homers will make him one of the sluggers available at the deadline, and due to the Padres’ success (which likely means no Adrian Gonzalez), a team looking for a solid bat may pick up Hart as a consolation prize. The Giants outfield is pretty crowded as it stands, but reports say that GM Brian Sabean is interested in Hart. If the Brewers can get Zack Wheeler or Tommy Joseph from San Francisco, or even Mike Minor from the Braves, they could receive some solid value.

1B Russell Branyan, Seattle Mariners
2010 wOBA: .353
Potential suitors: Texas Rangers, LA Angels

Branyan isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but he’s hitting the ball well enough that his value to the Mariners is higher as trade bait than in the field. With the recent acquisition of Justin Smoak, Seattle already has an everyday first baseman they want to see frequently. Michael Saunders is in left field, which means that Branyan could serve as the designated hitter. Milton Bradley, however,  is going to be with the team next year and needs to get playing time. If Jon Daniels and Jack Z decide to swap players again, they might want to discuss Branyan. Without Smoak at first, the Rangers are going to lose some offense, and Branyan would be a nice fit in Arlington.




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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


36 Responses to “Sell-High Candidates”

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  1. JJ says:

    Good stuff, but Pavano’s on the Twins, not Indians.

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  2. Blake says:

    Um, might want to double check on Pavano. He’s with the Twins now, who probably aren’t looking to sell (although he was ironically a great buy low option last year).

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  3. Tony says:

    Mark Shapiro may call Ruben Amaro, but it would have nothing to do with Carl Pavano, who is currently pitching for the Twins; much to the dismay of the Detroit Tigers.

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  4. Zach B. says:

    You do know Carl Pavano is on the Minnesota Twins, right?

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  5. Patrick says:

    Um. Bad team?

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  6. Pat Andriola says:

    I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I completely thought Carl Pavano was on the Indians. Blasphemous, I know. I’ll take him out, as the Twins won’t trade him now, of course.

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  7. Andy S says:

    Do you really think the contending teams are stupid enough to look at ERA and batting average?

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    • Mitchell says:

      The Mets might be.

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      Yes. 100%. Not some front offices (Rays, Sox, etc.), but others (Mets, Phillies, Angels, White Sox, Tigers), absolutely.

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      • I’m convinced that the Tigers traded for Aubrey Huff last year entirely because of his RBI total.

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      • Guy says:

        I don’t think you can say 100% that any one of those teams makes decisions based solely on ERA and batting average. What do you think the scouting staffs and GM’s are doing with their time? Of course they are aware of sabermetrics and its usefulness. People like to assume they know the inner workings of an organization when they actually have no idea. Get off your sabermetric pedestal because you do NOT understand all the factors that go in to making an acquisition you are simply making blind judgments.

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      • Guy says:

        Furthermore, it is clear from the stats that you’ve posted that Ted Lilly is not a sell-high candidate.

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  8. ccoville says:

    Did it require 3 dudes to point out the error?

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    • Jason B says:

      When you don’t read any other comments…yes.

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    • Tony says:

      When there were no comments when I started typing my comment, and 5 by the time I submitted it, then yes. If you notice, they are all posted within 2 minutes of each other.

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  9. I don’t know if Texas is going to lose offense with Smoak gone. He’s a highly regarded prospect who may have big time future value, but he’s been atrocious this year. Chris Davis was even worse than him his first time around in 2010, but Davis has played well in the Majors before and was an absolute beast in AAA this year after being sent down. Losing Smoak may have been tough for Texas to swallow long term, but for the remainder of this year it may have led to an upgrade at the position.

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    • joser says:

      Yeah, I would’ve thought that if Texas thought Smoak’s departure left a question at 1B, and Branyan might be the shape of the answer, they would’ve asked for him as part of the deal. Of course that makes the deal bigger and more complicated (since Seattle might think they can flip Branyan elsewhere, or at the very least would want more / different players coming back from Texas) but still — with Davis in the minors and other options out there, it seems more likely Texas just isn’t that interested in Branyan.

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    • NM says:

      In fairness to Smoak, he couldn’t catch a break; his LD% is over 23% yet his BABIP is .237. Awful luck.

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  10. JCA says:

    Complicating factor on Guzman is that he is a 10/5 guy.

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  11. Jared says:

    Lilly’s BB rate is poor? Last I checked, he’s only walked 24 batters this season. Out of 401 TBF, that’s good for ~6% BB rate. Can someone help me figure out what I’m missing here?

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      Jared, I meant that they have been poor this season relative to eachother. He’s walking people higher than last year as well, but if he’s only striking out 6 per 9, it’s not going to get the job done. He has his worse K/BB since 2006 when he was pretty bad on the Blue Jays.

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  12. K.B.D. says:

    I fail to see why the Yankees would pursue Corey Hart. He doesn’t make sense as an outfielder for the Yankees, as they’re pretty set out there. If they need someone to fill in at DH, they have Juan Miranda. Considering they’re in first-place at the break with minimal contributions from Tex and A-Rod, I’d say they feel fine about the state of their lineup. If they’re going to add, it’s going to be a bench-utility guy, not an everyday guy who they’d have to make space for and surrender prospects to get.

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      K.B.D, I threw the Yankees in there as they’re always in the mix for bats at the deadline (or everyone for that matter), and I could see them looking at Hart if they ever wanted to use him at DH and give Cervelli less time behind the plate and more for Posada. However, the Rays have come along strongly, so I’m adding them to the mix as well.

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  13. oompaloopma says:

    Cubs on my list: Lilly, Lee, Fontenot, and Silva. You could say Lee is not high but he has never had a season this bad. He would be a second rate 1b for a ball club that misses out on the 1b free agent sweepstakes to take place in the next couple years, but his age does put him lower on the scale.

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  14. oompaloopma says:

    Pirates on my list: Dotel, and Doumit.

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  15. oompaloopma says:

    Brewers: I would add Weeks and Fielder.

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  16. kiluckzle says:

    How is Branyan a sell high guy when you even said he isn’t hitting? What makes him sell high?

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      I tried to clarify it, but I meant his value is highest to the Mariners as a player to be traded than as a player on the team. Also, as an aging slugger, his value is highest now than it will likely be next year (plus he has an option that might not get picked up.)

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  17. OremLK says:

    Brett Myers?

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  18. Mark says:

    If the Rockies decide they’re out of it, I wonder what they could get for that starting pitcher they have who’s performed like a moderately-better-than-league-average hurler (3.71 xFIP). Ubaldo something? His dinosaur stats make him look like Walter Johnson (15-1, 2.20). Would a contender who’s still thinking in 1980 mindset give a handful of blue chippers for him right now? Might be worth dangling him around if I’m the Rockies. He’s not as good as he looks.

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    • Andrew says:

      Ubaldo sells tickets and jerseys, and has one of the best contracts in the league. O’ Dowd would be booed out of town if this were to happen. It’s true he is not quite the second coming of Stephen Strasburg, but still a quality ace. Also, the Rockies are never out of the race.

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    • Reuben says:

      Why would the Rockies decide they’re out of it? Last I checked, they were two games behind the over performing Pads w/o De La Rosa or Huston Street for most of the year and a black hole at 1B. I think they’re pretty clearly the best team in the NL West, personally.

      Yeah if you could flip Ubaldo for Strasburg, do it, but he’s still one of the top pitchers in the NL even if he’s not Bob Gibson.

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  19. drumzalicious says:

    I REALLY hope the Braves dont trade for Hart. The LF platoon of Diaz and Hinske is just as productive as Hart.

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