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Trades from the Trade Value Lists: Part 4 – 2012-2014

Here’s Part 4 of my look at Dave Cameron’s past Trade Value lists. Over the last three write-ups, we’ve gone from Dave’s 2007 rankings way back on and examined what kind of return teams were getting for their players listed among the top trade assets in the game. We’ve seen young superstars in their prime get dealt, pitchers coming off recent Cy Young seasons shown the door, teams waiting too long to trade their top assets, and even a young stud outfielder shipped off because of makeup concerns. Now it’s time to finish our journey down memory lane with three more trades, all fascinating in their own unique ways.

All trade information was taken from For each player, I’ve included next to his name, his age at the time of trade, along with his final year of team control and the amount due for that player including all team options.


  1. Justin Upton, 25, controlled through 2015, $38.5 million
  • January 24, 2013: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks with Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for Brandon Drury (minors), Nick Ahmed, Randall Delgado, Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill.

For Justin Upton, we can do much better in evaluating his trade value than just looking at what Arizona actually received in return. Seattle had made an offer that the Diamondbacks accepted about two weeks before this actual deal went down, and that would’ve been the package, done and done, until Upton himself stepped in and vetoed the whole thing, forcing Kevin Towers to look in a different direction.

The trade that fell through with Seattle would’ve sent prospects Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, and Taijuan Walker to Arizona. Let’s look at the pedigree of these guys first.

2013 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/19/13) BA (SEA) Org (12/3/12) FG Overall Top 100 (3/11/13) FG Org (SEA) Top 15 (12/18/12)
Taijuan Walker, RHP 20 18 2 13 2
Nick Franklin, 2B/SS 22 79 5 74 4
Stephen Pryor, RHP 23 N/A 11 N/A 14


Furbush was a 26-year-old lefty reliever who had a solid first season out of the bullpen in 2012 after having a disastrous 2011 in the rotation. He wasn’t nothing, as the southpaw struck out 29.1% of hitters he faced in 46.1 innings that year while accumulating 0.9 WAR. In fact, he’s still doing his thing in Seattle even now in 2015, having carved out a niche for himself in the Pacific Northwest.

For the 23rd best trade chip, Jack Zduriencik and his staff were willing to part with a consensus top-20 prospect, another top 100 guy, a solid organizational piece and a decent lefty arm. If this trade had gone through, Walker would have been the highest ranked prospect moved in this exercise (until the very next trade we look at, that is) since the 2007 trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit and top-10 prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller to Miami. Had Upton not flexed his veto muscles and shot this deal down, Arizona would indeed have done very well for their outfielder, acquiring both quality and quantity.

Be that is it may, Upton did indeed say no, so the Braves swooped in to match the Upton in Arizona with the new shiny free agent acquisition they signed. With three prospects, a young major-league pitcher, and a wily utility veteran, Atlanta acquired Upton and Johnson. Shall we have a look at the minor-leaguers?

2013 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/19/13) BA (ATL) Org (12/10/12) FG Overall Top 100 (3/11/13) FG Org (ATL) Top 15 (1/18/13)
Nick Ahmed, SS 23 N/A 11 N/A 11
Brandon Drury, 3B 20 N/A 27 N/A N/A
Zeke Spruill, RHP 23 N/A 9 N/A 9

Along with these three organizational pieces, Arizona acquired Delgado, who was a top 50 overall prospect two years in a row before 2013, and Prado, the keystone of the package and the National League equivalent to Ben Zobrist. For his rookie season in 2012, Delgado held his own the first time around the league, putting up a 4.09 FIP and 0.9 WAR in 92.2 innings and 17 starts. The control was a bit lacking as his K-BB% was only a mediocre 8.5%, but still, the 22-year-old performed well enough to keep that prospect shine on and be a valuable trade chip for Atlanta.

As a 28-year-old who never had any sort of pedigree in his career, Prado exploded onto the season in 2012, racking up 5.4 WAR as the super utility player that the Braves could plug in anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, he only came with one year of control at the time of the trade, which is in stark contrast to Upton’s three years. It’s this lack of team control that makes me think Arizona’s better deal would’ve been from Seattle, with Walker and Franklin being two strong prospects that the Diamondbacks could’ve really used to get back to their 2011 levels of success.

Instead of what the Mariners offered, the Diamondbacks took on three (much) lesser prospects, a recently graduated pitching prospect, and a breakout player that they could only hold onto for one more year. While they did sign Prado to an extension immediately following the deal, it still doesn’t change the fact that Arizona could’ve done better for Upton, but was unable to because of the outfielder himself.

  1. Wil Myers, 21, controlled for six full years after call-up, PreArb – Arb3
  • December 9, 2012: Traded by the Kansas City Royals with Patrick Leonard (minors), Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later, Wade Davis and James Shields. The Tampa Bay Rays sent Elliot Johnson (February 12, 2013) to the Kansas City Royals to complete the trade.

Ah, this was a trade to remember. I still remember it like it was yesterday, with almost every analyst in shock that Dayton Moore would do something this incredulously stupid. You had Royals fans frantically trying to defend the move while Rays fans were jumping for joy that a consensus top 10 minor league talent was headed their way. In a twist of how these trades usually work, I’ve created the same prospect ranking graphic for the Royals players, which is the side for the ranked player. For the first time, the asset that Dave ranked was in the package, not being dealt for one.

2013 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/19/13) BA (TB) Org (1/31/13) FG Overall Top 100 (3/11/13) FG Org (TB) Top 15 (1/22/13)
Wil Myers, OF 22 4 1 4 1
Jake Odorizzi, RHP 23 92 5 86 6
Mike Montgomery, LHP 23 N/A 15 N/A N/A
Patrick Leonard 20 N/A 26 N/A N/A

My first impression when I examine this trade is that someone messed up. Either Dave was out of his mind ranking Myers in the top 40 and he shouldn’t have sniffed the list, or Kansas City got absolutely fleeced and could’ve received much more than Shields, Davis, and Johnson for this boatload of prospects. Yes, the current San Diego Padres right-hander was ranked on the last four lists, but he had fallen off by 2012 probably because he only had two years left on the insanely team-friendly contract the Rays got him to sign. Let’s compare the Royals’ return on Myers with the Blue Jays’ return on Halladay four years ago, as both players were ranked 37th at the All-Star Break and traded just months later in the offseason.

Toronto acquired three top 100 prospects in Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor (not the current Washington Nationals outfielder), and both Drabek and d’Arnaud were ranked in the top 30 at the time of the trade. On the other hand, Kansas City acquired a 30-year-old starting pitcher with only two years of team control left, a failed starter turned useful reliever, and a piece in Johnson that really had no value at all. And keep in mind, it’s not like the Royals got that deal for just Myers. Rather, Myers was joined by fellow top 100 prospect Odorizzi along with two other useful pieces. I have to imagine that if Toronto somehow had prospects at the same level as Odorizzi, Montgomery, and Leonard and packaged them along with the identically ranked Halladay, they would’ve seen their return explode way past the level of Shields, Davis, and Johnson.

Maybe Dave was wrong and ranked Myers much too high, and major league front offices just don’t value unproven minor league talent that much, no matter the pedigree. For example, last year Addison Russell, who BA ranked 14th in the 2013-14 offseason, was dealt along with a couple solid top 10 organizational guys in Billy McKinney and Dan Straily for half a season of Jason Hammel and one and half seasons of Jeff Samardzija. Yes, prices go up during the season, but perhaps we’re overvaluing the top minor league talent in terms of trade value. Or maybe Dayton Moore and Billy Beane messed up in a big way and sold their prospects at laughable prices. I’m not sure.

The 2013 list saw no players get dealt within the year, but thanks to Billy Beane, we got one more off the 2014 list that stunned the baseball world and still confuses us months later.


  1. Josh Donaldson, 28, controlled through 2018, Arb1 – Arb4
  • November 28, 2014: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Toronto Blue Jays for Franklin Barreto (minors), Kendall Graveman, Brett Lawrie and Sean Nolin.

One year after Dave ranked Donaldson 17th and the star third baseman lost one year of team control, he slipped all of… zero spots. Since Oakland dealt him away, Donaldson has only gotten better, hitting for more power than ever before while maintaining the elite defense at the hot corner that allowed him to rack up 14 WAR in 2013 and 2014. The A’s received a former hype machine in Lawrie and these three prospects.

2015 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/20/15) BA (OAK) Org (12/3/14) FG Overall Top 200 (2/17/15) FG Org (OAK) Top 22 (2/24/15)
Franklin Barreto, SS 19 86 2 79 1
Kendall Graveman, RHP 24 N/A 6 N/A 5
Sean Nolin, LHP 25 N/A 7 N/A 8

Lawrie’s best seasonal output in WAR still remains his 2011 cup of coffee when he lit the world on fire with 2.6 wins in a mere 171 PA. Since then, injuries and poor performance have allowed the 25-year-old to only accumulate 6.2 WAR in 1660 mostly mediocre trips to the plate. Right before the trade during his injury-plagued 2014 season, Lawrie did earn 1.8 WAR in only 282 PA, which is approximately a 3.5 pace over 550 PA. If the Oakland front office was hoping for that kind of performance and health from him, that would be understandable and make this trade easier to swallow. Unfortunately, 2015 has been his worst year yet, with not much offense or defense to speak of.

As for the prospects that Beane acquired to restock the system, again, we see how if Donaldson really was the 17th most valuable trade chip, Toronto robbed Oakland blind. Zack Greinke, ranked 20th on the 2010 list, was worth a true blue-chip prospect in Alcides Escobar, another top 100 prospect rated better than Barreto in Jake Odorizzi, a major-league ready center fielder in Lorenzo Cain, and a solid organizational piece in Jeremy Jeffress. With all of Lawrie’s shine long gone after three hugely disappointing seasons, I would say he was not a significantly better trade piece than Cain was. Odorizzi was a better prospect than Barreto, and that leaves the shiny former top 20 prospect Escobar and Jeffress against Nolin and Graveman. No one knows what the Blue Jays could get if they traded Donaldson right now, and we will probably never find out, but you’d have to think they could do better than the package that sent to the Bay Area.

That’s it then. Sixteen players and fifteen deals across seven years of Trade Value lists. Thanks to anyone who stuck around and joined me on this journey through the past. As for the 2015 list, who could we see change teams between now and next year’s break? Could it be Yasiel Puig at 28, with rumors that the Dodgers have been shopping their 24-year-old outfielder? Maybe the 39th name on the list, Carlos Carrasco, gets moved as Cleveland decides to see what they can get for one of their stud pitchers. Or perhaps someone out of nowhere gets sent packing. Christian Yelich? Sonny Gray? Corey Seager? The possibilities are endless.

Trades from the Trade Value Lists: Part 3 – 2011

In our look through Dave’s past Trade Value lists, we’ve only found trades that were completed in the offseason following the completion of the lists. However, we have something different with our four players dealt off the 2011 list. Two of the four were traded within a few weeks of Dave publishing his articles, and one more was dealt almost a year later in June 2012, which allowed his value to drop considerably before his old team decided to cut bait. It’s time for the 2011 Major League Baseball Trade Value List.

All trade information was taken from For each player, I’ve included next to his name, his age at the time of trade, along with his final year of team control and the amount due for that player including all team options.


  1. Ubaldo Jimenez, 27, controlled through 2014, $17.95 million
  • July 30, 2011: Traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later, Joe Gardner (minors), Matt McBride and Alex White. The Cleveland Indians sent Drew Pomeranz (August 16, 2011) to the Colorado Rockies to complete the trade.

The contract status above for the ever-mercurial Jimenez is actually rather deceiving, as his original 4-year deal with Colorado signed in 2009 came with team options for 2013 and 2014, but with a catch. If he’s traded at any time during the years of  the contract, he can void the latter option and go directly to free agency, and after a blistering second half of 2013 that helped propel Cleveland to a wild card berth, that’s exactly what the right-hander did. But we’re not so much concerned with his free agency as we are with the trade that went down just after Dave ranked Jimenez so generously. Desperate for a frontline ace and sitting only 1.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, the Indians sent a package of Gardner, Pomeranz, White, and McBride to Denver. Instead of having a lot of text to read, I decided to include more of a graphic look at the quality of the prospects sent over. I think you’ll figure it out for yourself.

2011 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/23/11) BA Org (CLE) (11/17/10) FG Overall Top 100 (3/28/11) FG Org (CLE) Top 10 (2/8/11)
Alex White, RHP 22 47 2 55 2
Joe Gardner, RHP 22 N/A 9 N/A 6
Drew Pomeranz, LHP 22 61 4 82 4
Matt McBride, OF 25 N/A N/A N/A N/A

As the 25th ranked trade piece, Jimenez was worth two top-100 prospects, a solid top-10 organizational guy, and then just a guy in McBride, who peaked as the 13th-best prospect for Cleveland after the 2007 season. Comparing this Colorado haul to the Kansas City package for the similarly ranked Greinke, I’d say the deal that the Royals got was slightly better, with a true blue-chipper in Escobar and a major-league ready piece in Cain. Unfortunately for the Rockies, nothing worked out for them in this trade. Pitching prospects at Coors, eh?

  1. Kevin Youkilis, 33, controlled through 2013, $14 million (team option)
  • June 24, 2012: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with cash to the Chicago White Sox for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart.

So this is the only trade out of all the lists that took place during the following season after the list in which the player was ranked. We can see how much Youkilis’s value tanked, as Boston only got a couple organizational guys that peaked a long while ago and not ranked on anything at the time of the trade. Stewart was a 25-year-old RHP that peaked as the top prospect in the Toronto system after the 2009 season, but still didn’t rank in BA’s Top 100 even then. Lillibridge had a breakout 2011 season as a 28-year-old when he accumulated 1.3 WAR in 216 PA, mostly on the back of a .247 ISO. However, all the shine had worn off by 2012, when he only managed an awful 70 PA for the White Sox before being dealt.

The curious case of Kevin Youkilis is a reminder that as much as we fans are aware of how volatile pitchers can be in terms of performance and health, hitters can also experience similarly rapid, sudden, and unpredictable declines. When Dave put together his 2011 Trade Value list, Youkilis was a healthy 32-year-old in the middle of yet another dominant offensive season, raking to a tune of a 147 wRC+. After a disastrous second half for him (79 wRC+) and his teammates in one of the most memorable collapses in recent years, and an even worse start to 2012, all the value had been sucked out of him faster than anyone could’ve ever imagined. Boston got basically nothing for him less than a year after he was the 29th most valuable trade asset in baseball and less than two years after he was ranked 17th.

  1. Trevor Cahill, 23, controlled through 2017, $55.2 million
  • December 9, 2011: Traded by the Oakland Athletics with Craig Breslow and cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill and Jarrod Parker.

If Jarrod Parker didn’t have such terribly awful luck staying healthy, this trade would look like one of the steals of the decade. As it is, this deal still looks like yet another robbery for Billy Beane’s front office, as Cahill has just not been able to find that 2010 magic that allowed him to put up a 2.97 ERA with 18 wins. Just like in 2007, when the A’s turned Dan Haren into a stockpile of quality prospects, Cahill also became more building blocks for the franchise’s future. As the second piece headed to the desert, Breslow was a useful reliever for the past couple years for Oakland, but hardly a player that should have swung the deal significantly.

2012 Opening Day Age BA Overall Top 100 (2/21/12) BA Org (OAK) (1/25/12) FG Overall Top 100 (3/12/12) FG Org (ARI) Top 15 (11/15/11)
Jarrod Parker, RHP 23 26 1 23 2
Collin Cowgill, OF 25 N/A 11 N/A N/A
Ryan Cook, RHP 24 N/A 18 N/A N/A

However, if we compare the returns that Cahill and Halladay (ranked 35th and 37th respectively on their lists), we can see how Toronto clearly got the better package. The Jays received three high-end prospects all ranked in the top 100, while Oakland acquired a gem in Parker but then two more lower-end organizational players. While the two pitchers were ranked very closely during the All-Star breaks of their years, I suspect what happened the rest of the year greatly affected their respective values. While Halladay continued to dominate in the second half of 2009, Cahill struggled mightily with his results in 2011, coming into the break with a 3.12 ERA but getting pounded to the tune of a 5.80 after. So by the time the offseason rolled around, Toronto was able to sell their ace at a much higher price than Oakland could for theirs.

  1. Colby Rasmus, 24, controlled through 2014, Arb1 – Arb3
  • July 27, 2011: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters to the Toronto Blue Jays for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski.

Welcome back, Edwin Jackson! After being involved in the three-team trade that saw Curtis Granderson and Max Scherzer change teams, he makes a comeback in this trade that was more about Rasmus being out of favor in St. Louis than anything, especially when we consider what the Cardinals got in return for their young outfielder.

The pieces sent to Toronto along with Rasmus don’t have much significance, as Miller and Tallet were mediocre relief pitchers in their 30’s, and while Walters was ranked in the top 20 of St. Louis’s system after 2010, he was not having a good season at Triple-A at age 26 and had shown no signs of sticking in the big leagues in his few innings.

In the return headed to Busch Stadium, the main piece was 27-year-old Jackson, who was having yet another solid season, this year for the Chicago White Sox. As a somewhat irrelevant note, Jackson had already been traded that same day from the White Sox to the Blue Jays, and Alex Anthopoulos quickly sent him back to the Midwest. As a very relevant note, Jackson was due to be a free agent right after the 2011 season; he was a rental.

At age 37, Dotel was having a mediocre relief season, putting up a 4.63 FIP in his 29.1 innings with the Jays before really turning it on in the second half for the Redbirds. Patterson was a 31-year-old outfielder who hadn’t provided any value for a major league club since 2007. The lefty reliever Rzepczynski was a 25-year-old who was taken out of the rotation and plugged into the relief corps in 2011.

For the pitching-hungry Cardinals who were in a tight three-team NL Central race at the time (remember when the Brewers were good?), this was a trade to get some depth in the rotation and the bullpen. However, for a young 24-year-old outfielder with three more relatively cheap years under team control, only getting a decent rental starting pitcher and an average lefty reliever seems like the most underwhelming return in this entire exercise. There’s a reason fans and executives were down on this trade for the Cardinals to begin with, and it still looks bizarrely underwhelming four years later. But then again, Tony La Russa and company won the franchise’s 11th title that year, so what do we know?

The 2011 Trade Value list would end up involving some of the most unusual trades we’ve seen, whether it was the shocking depreciation of Youkilis’s value or the only slightly less shocking lack of return the Cardinals were able to acquire for Rasmus. Overall, it seems that Dave had Jimenez about right, Rasmus much too high, and couldn’t foresee the declines that Youkilis and Cahill would have that lowered their values.

Next time, we’ll wrap this whole thing up with three more trades, all polarizing and fascinating in their own way. One outfielder was almost traded to the Pacific Northwest for a strong package before vetoing the deal himself and joining his brother farther east. Then we had one of the most talked-about and discussed trades in recent years, with a mid-market franchise deciding to go all-in and acquiring a frontline starter for multiple top prospects, getting widely slammed across baseball for doing so. And lastly, off the 2014 rankings, we were all caught off guard when a rising superstar 3rd baseman got dealt for a haul seemingly headlined by… no one.

Trades from the Trade Value Lists: Part 2 – 2008-2010

A few days ago, I wrote a piece that evaluated the returns that teams got in trades involving players ranked on FanGraphs managing editor Dave Cameron’s Top 50 Trade Value lists. I started with his 2007 list, which had five different players get dealt within the following year, including three of the top ten. Now we continue our look at trade value by stepping back into the past once again.

2008 was the first year Dave published his list on FanGraphs, and he must’ve been feeling excited for this change of scenery as he decided to extend his list to the top 50 assets in baseball. Unfortunately, none of the players on this list were traded before the 2009 version of the Trade Value Series was released. But before we move on to the following year, I’d like to point out Dave’s number 14 ranking of Brandon Webb. What a sad, stunningly rapid descent into irrelevance for the former Cy Young winner. Hope he’s doing well wherever he is, and God bless that once magical right arm of his.

On the 2009 list, we have three players dealt, but only two trades to examine. This is the only time ever where a single trade involved multiple players ranked among Dave’s top 50 trade pieces.

All trade information was taken from For each player, I’ve included next to his name, their age at the time of trade, along with their final year of team control and the amount due for that player including all team options.


  1. Curtis Granderson, 28, controlled through 2013, $36.75 million
  • December 8, 2009: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers.
  1. Max Scherzer, 25, controlled through 2014, PreArb – Arb3
  • December 8, 2009: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Arizona Diamondbacks with Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers. The Detroit Tigers sent Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

One of the most loaded three-team deals in recent memory, none of the parties involved can say they were too upset about the returns they received. Arizona would probably have the most to complain about, and even they acquired two solid starters, one who would win 21 games in a season while anchoring a division-winning rotation, and one who would throw a no-hitter for them. Let’s start with those Snakes.

For the 44th most valuable trade chip and future 200 million dollar man along with the 3rd ranked prospect in the system following the 2008 season, Josh Byrnes acquired Kennedy, who was the 45th overall prospect (Baseball America) following the 2007 season and Jackson, a former top prospect who climbed to as high as 4th following the 2003 season. At the major league level, Kennedy struggled in his nine starts for the Yankees in 2008 and had a lost 2009 season due to surgery on an aneurysm. Jackson had a career year in 2009 at age 26, throwing 214 innings and making the AL All-Star team for Detroit. So the 44th best trade chip got back an injured former top prospect and an All-Star pitcher with two years of control left.

Detroit had Dave’s 22nd most valuable trade chip and by trading him along with an All-Star pitcher in his prime, acquired the 44th player on the list, the third best prospect in Arizona’s system (Schlereth), Coke, and Jackson. Coke was a former 26th round pick who had risen his stock all the way to the 8th best prospect in the Yankees system after the 2008 season. After an okay 2009 season out of the bullpen where he posted a 4.68 FIP and accumulated 0.2 WAR in 70 innings, Coke was sent packing as a 27-year-old still with five full years of control left. Jackson was ranked the 36th overall prospect by Baseball America after 2008, but had slipped to 76th when the 2009 list was released (after the trade was completed).

We all know how great the Tigers haul ended up being, and even looking at it from the 2009 point of view, it’s still solid. The price was a tad high considering they also traded away an All-Star, but to acquire another player on the Trade Value list, a top 100 prospect, a borderline top 100 prospect, and a decent reliever is not bad. The five years combined they had left with Granderson and Jackson turned into 21 years of control with the four players they got back.

For the Diamondbacks, seeing Scherzer turn into the brilliant pitcher he is today can’t be fun, and even at the time, the return still seems underwhelming. Kennedy was coming off a major surgery less than a year ago, and even though Jackson had just made the AL All-Star team, he only came with two years of team control left. Then consider that Arizona also had to part with their 3rd best prospect for this deal to happen, and you wonder if they could’ve done better. Because Dave created his 2007 list in April, it didn’t really account for Bedard and Haren’s breakout 2007 campaigns, so their rankings are likely lower than they would’ve been had Dave compiled the list midseason. Still, Scherzer, Haren, and Bedard were all similarly ranked, and you can’t help but feel that Arizona’s return was significantly weaker than Baltimore’s or Oakland’s.

  1. Roy Halladay, 32, controlled through 2010, $15.75 million (signed 3-year, $60 million extension immediately following trade, with vesting option for 2014)
  • December 16, 2009: Traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with cash to the Philadelphia Phillies for Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.

First of all, we can immediately see how differently Dave ranks players now compared to back in the day. Halladay was ranked 37th despite being 32 and having only one year of team control after 2009, the year he was ranked. Yes, the Blue Jays ace was in the middle of a 7.0 WAR season, but can you imagine Dave ranking that kind of pitcher that generously now?

The package sent north of the border can be summarized pretty quickly. All three were top-tier prospects ranked on Baseball America’s top 100 list after the 2009 season. Respectively, Drabek, d’Arnaud, and Taylor were ranked 25th, 29th, and 81st. That’s quite an impressive haul, one the Phillies probably would not have given up if Halladay did not immediately sign an extension. This package seems much stronger than the one Arizona received for Scherzer, but unfortunately, with hindsight, we can see that the Jays traded away the one piece that became a useful major league player.

Those are the three players (but two trades) that took place with the 2009 list. Let’s go one more and examine the one player from the 2010 trade that was traded, whose deal to Milwaukee is still causing ripple effects in baseball today.


  1. Zack Greinke, 27, controlled through 2012, $27 million
  • December 19, 2010: Traded by the Kansas City Royals with Yuniesky Betancourt and cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi.

Coming off a solid, but unspectacular year compared to his brilliant 2009 Cy Young campaign, Greinke was promptly dealt to the Brewers for a package that looks absolutely astounding today. Cain and Escobar are anchoring the 2015 AL-best Royals team at up-the-middle positions, and Odorizzi was used to bring James Shields and Wade Davis to Missouri. Plus, Dayton Moore got to dump Betancourt on the Brewers so that’s bonus points in itself.

Cain’s unusual baseball path is well-documented, as most of us have heard how the All-Star center fielder didn’t play baseball until late in high school. However, despite being drafted 496th overall in 2004, he (24 at the time) climbed as high as 6th in the Milwaukee system and was coming off a solid 2010 rookie season with 1.2 WAR in only 153 plate appearances.

On the other hand, Escobar, also 24 when the trade was made, was the blue-chip prospect, ranked in the top 20 by Baseball America after 2008 and 2009. He struggled with the bat in his first full season in 2010, running a 62 wRC+, but displayed solid defense at shortstop en route to 0.5 WAR in 552 PA.

Jeffress was a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher who peaked as the 100th prospect after 2008, but had become solely a relief pitcher after a catastrophic 2009 season as a starter when he walked 33 hitters in 27.1 innings in Double-AA. However, he was still the 3rd ranked prospect in the Brewers system when the trade was made.

The top gem in the Milwaukee farm at the time the trade was made and the 69th overall prospect, Odorizzi had a strong showing in 2010 in A-ball at the ripe age of 20, running a 18.8 K-BB% in 120.2 innings. Of course, his stay in Kansas City would not last, as he was shipped off to Tampa two years later in a trade that we will see down the line in this exercise.

Two years of Greinke (and Betancourt) landed a package that is at least comparable to the deal that Detroit got for the similarly ranked Granderson. Although Detroit did acquire another player on the Trade Value list, it required that they trade away an All-Star, while Kansas City got a boatload of highly touted cost-controlled talent. Again, we can see how Dave’s methodology has changed. In his 2015 list, there were only two players that had only two years of control left ranked, and none higher than Todd Frazier at 46th. Dave would probably have Greinke unranked had he redone the list with his current attitude towards years of control.

Next time, we have the 2011 list, and lots of trade fun there with four deals to analyze, including two that were consummated just a couple weeks after that year’s list was released.

Trades from the Trade Value Lists: Part 1 – 2007

As regular FanGraphs readers know, during the All-Star Break every baseball season, managing editor Dave Cameron meticulously assembles what he believes to be the 50 most valuable trade assets in all of Major League Baseball at the given moment. These posts are almost always the most highly viewed, anticipated, and commented on articles that FanGraphs publishes, and are guaranteed to stir up lively debate over the superstars of today’s game. As fans, we love to break down contracts and skillsets, evaluating players to the most minute of details in order to argue Kris Bryant versus Carlos Correa or Mookie Betts versus Joc Pederson.

I asked David Schoenfield, MLB blogger at ESPN, on one of his chats, what he’d like to know if he had complete and easy access to all of Dave’s past trade value lists, with all the relevant information for each player such as age, contract status, and years controlled. I’m not saying I tediously compiled all that for each list, but I’m not saying I didn’t.

I’d like to thank David for answering, and not just answering, but giving me a two-part response. The first part reads, “How many actually got traded and what did they get in return?” He begins with a direct answer, telling me exactly the kind of analysis he would conduct using Dave’s lists. The ESPN Sweetspot blogger then follows with “I think we’d learn that the returns for these types of players is less than pre-trade speculation. With Tulo, the Jays didn’t have to give up their top prospects, for example.” David offers his own hypothesis based on observations from recent events, a solid well-founded theory. Not only was former Colorado Rockies superstar Troy Tulowtizki just traded for a package some have deemed a little light, David was likely also considering the trade involving former Oakland A’s superstar Josh Donaldson as well, which surprised many people by the seemingly inadequate return Billy Beane acquired for his third baseman.

Let’s take a look. What are Dave’s top 50 players being traded for?

For this exercise, I only looked at players traded while being listed for the most recent trade value list released by Dave, up to 2007. In other words, if a player was ranked, then at any time was dealt before the next list was released, he’s fair game. That provides us nine lists to look at, but unfortunately for the AJ Preller in all of us, there haven’t been any trades involving the players in this year’s top-50 just listed a couple weeks ago. So in other words, sorry David. The Tulowitzki trade won’t count here because Dave did not consider him a top-50 trade asset, despite the shortstop qualifying for every single list before this year’s since 2008 and only dropping out of the top 15 once in those seven years.

All trade information was taken from For each player, I’ve included next to their name, their age at the time of trade, along with their final year of team control and the amount due for that player including all team options.

Starting with 2007:


  1. Miguel Cabrera: 24 years old, controlled through 2009, Arb2 – Arb3
  • December 4, 2007: Traded by the Florida Marlins with Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Dallas Trahern (minors), Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo.

For the best hitter of this generation, the Florida Marlins received two top 10 overall prospects in Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller along with two more organizational top 10 players in Eulogio de la Cruz and Dallas Trahern. Burke Badenhop and Mike Rabelo, two lesser pieces, rounded out the haul sent to South Florida. Maybin and Miller are both thriving in different places right now, but unfortunately, nothing the Marlins got in return for Miguel Cabrera ended up working out for them. However, at the time, to acquire two consensus top 10 overall prospects in all of baseball is not a bad coup at all. On the other hand, rumor has it the Dodgers were willing to trade prospects Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw for Cabrera. Yeesh.

  1. Johan Santana, 28 years old, controlled through 2008, $13.25 million (signed 6-year, $137.5 million extension immediately following trade)
  • February 2, 2008: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the New York Mets for Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey.

Arguably the best pitcher in the game at the time, Santana was traded to the Mets for the 35th and 52nd best prospect in the game in Guerra and Gomez. Humber was also ranked in the top 100 just a year ago, and Mulvey was a 23-year-old former second-round pick. This haul isn’t quite on par with the Marlins’ for Cabrera, but Gomez did blossom into a true superstar, which can’t be said for anyone that Florida received. Boston apparently had packages involving prospects Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester on the table for Minnesota, but the fact that Johan needed a contract extension to be traded was not appealing for the Red Sox.

  1. Delmon Young, 22, controlled through 2012, PreArb – Arb3
  • November 28, 2007: Traded by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie to the Minnesota Twins for Eddie Morlan (minors), Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza.

For their former number one overall draft pick and two other rather significant pieces, the Rays received Garza, the 21st overall prospect the year before, Morlan, the 4th ranked prospect in the Minnesota system according to Kevin Goldstein, and Bartlett, a serviceable major league shortstop at the time. Not the best package in the world, especially considering Tampa also sent a solid major league SS in Harris the other way. However, the Rays would go on to win the AL Pennant less than a year later with Garza as the ALCS MVP.

  1. Erik Bedard, 28, controlled through 2009, Arb2 – Arb3
  • February 8, 2008: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Seattle Mariners for Tony Butler (minors), Adam Jones, Kam Mickolio, George Sherrill and Chris Tillman.

One of the most infamous packages ever dealt for a star, this is one for the ages in both Seattle and Baltimore history. Future Orioles superstar Jones was the number 28 prospect on the 2007 Baseball America Top 100 list, and future ALCS Game 1 starter Tillman would be ranked third on Baseball America’s Top 10 rankings for the Mariners just weeks before the trade. Butler was highly ranked in the Mariners system before the 2007 season before falling off the list the next year, while Sherrill was a veteran reliever coming off his best year. For a pitcher who was coming off a 221-strikeout campaign but only had two years left on his contract, this seems like a massive haul almost disproportionate to the amount that the Rays got for Young.

  1. Dan Haren, 27, controlled through 2010, $16.25 million
  • December 14, 2007: Traded by the Oakland Athletics with Connor Robertson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith.

Dave only ranked 40 players in his 2007 list, but the last player who snuck on was worth the 22nd (future Colorado Rockies superstar Gonzalez) and 36th (Anderson) overall prospects, and the 7th and 8th prospect (Cunningham and Carter) in Arizona’s system. Sweeten this package with two more pieces in Smith and Eveland, and it looks like Oakland’s return was at least on par with Minnesota’s, if not even better. It seems here that Dave may have seriously underestimated the value that Haren’s cost-controlled years had in other teams’ eyes. On a sidenote, this Arizona system was absolutely loaded, with Jarrod Parker, Gerardo Parra, Max Scherzer, and Emilio Bonifacio also in the top 10 of that year’s list.

Interestingly, we have three top-10 rankings traded from the 2007 list, but no other player from here on out with a ranking higher than 17 got dealt. We could analyze these trades from hindsight, and hindsight would tell us Baltimore and Tampa Bay did extremely well in selling their trade chip, receiving valuable pieces that would propel them into the postseason down the line and in the case of the Rays, to an American League championship the very next season. But looking at the deals at the time, Young was perhaps ranked too well, as Tampa only received one elite prospect back while sending two pieces along with their young star. Haren on the other hand was definitely ranked too low, as he was able to return two top 50 talents.

I’ll be back with more deals for players ranked in Dave’s top 50.

AL vs. NL in Free Agency

Just by casually observing transactions over the past few years, any baseball fan would say that it really feels as if some of the top talent in the game has transferred from the NL to the AL, whether by trade or free agency. Ask any fan to name a player that has left the Senior Circuit for the Junior counterpart recently, and top superstar names immediately come to mind, most notably Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Now ask them to do the reverse, and it’s much trickier. Does Zack Greinke count, even though it’s been back and forth for him? There’s B.J. Upton, but how has he fared so far in the NL?

Let’s take a look at the free agents of this offseason to see if there’s anything that supports the idea that top talent is trending towards the AL. I took the list of all 96 major league contracts given out so far, not including players coming from Japan, and only grabbed contracts worth $5 million or more annually. After all, with all due respect, we’re looking at trends with top major league talent. That cuts the total to only 50 contracts. Here’s the breakdown.

31 originally from AL, 19 originally from NL

24 signed in AL, 26 signed in NL

10 re-signed with original team

So by quantity, National League teams actually signed more contracts that were worth at least $5 million annually this offseason. And the NL also managed to “steal” a net total of seven players away. In this regard, the offseason could be considered a victory for the Senior Circuit. But let’s look at quality now.


 Average Years

Average Dollars

Ended in AL




Ended in NL




From AL to NL




From NL to AL




There were only five players who transferred over from the NL to the AL, but those five earned contracts totaling $315 million, while the twelve that went from the AL to the NL received deals that only added to $274 million. Now, you could argue that American League didn’t really take Shin-Soo Choo away, but that it just reclaimed him after a one-year hiatus. But Brian McCann has been an NL-lifer up until 2014, and Carlos Beltran hasn’t played a game as a member of the AL in almost a decade. Even Ricky Nolasco, also a NL-lifer, was enticed over with a $49 million deal.

Curtis Granderson and Jhonny Peralta highlight the players moving in the other direction, and Granderson’s $60 million dollar deal also happens to represent the largest amount of money any NL team used in free agency this year. Think about that. The New York Mets gave out the largest contract to a free agent this offseason for National League teams, and there were four deals larger in the American League, two by the other team in that city.

Out of the top 14 largest contracts by total money, 11 came from an AL team. Keep in mind, all these numbers are fluid, with four big-name free agents still floating out in purgatory, but the idea remains the same. The number of free agents that sign into both leagues are roughly equal, but the American League is just handing over more money to more of the top players available. Also, if we factor in Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka, both of whom landed in the AL, the numbers would be even more skewed towards the Junior Circuit.

But maybe this was a one-year thing, a fluke. What about last offseason? Let’s do the same thing, with the same arbitrary $5 million annual salary cutoff.

There were a total of 41 contracts that met the cutoff. Here’s the breakdown.

28 originally from AL, 13 originally from NL

24 signed in AL, 17 signed in NL

13 re-signed with original team


 Average Years

Average Dollars

Total Dollars

Ended in AL





Ended in NL





From AL to NL





From NL to AL





In case any readers have forgotten, the big fish for the 2012-13 offseason were Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, and BJ Upton. Interestingly, these numbers paint an entirely different picture, with more free agents ending up in the AL, but the quality lying in the NL. Now, the two contracts really doing the heavy lifting for the National League are Zack Greinke’s and BJ Upton’s, who both came over from the AL. While they respectively had deals worth $147 million and $75.25 million, the next closest guy was Edwin Jackson with his $52 million.

So it almost looks like the last two offseasons have been a wash. There was a more extreme split this year with the “steal” contracts, as the AL flat-out dominated. But the 2012-13 offseason did feature the  NL getting more involved and outbidding their AL counterparts, in quantity and quality.

Let’s go one more year back into memory lane just to settle this. Which league takes more players away with larger, more exorbitant contracts?

This is the 2011-12 free agent summary, with the same cutoff. There were a total of 28 contracts that met the requirements.

12 originally from AL, 16 originally from NL

10 signed in AL, 18 signed in NL

6 re-signed with original team


 Average Years

Average Dollars

Total Dollars

Ended in AL





Ended in NL





From AL to NL





From NL to AL





This is the Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder offseason, so the most noticeable numbers are all in that bottom row. It’s ridiculous; the four players who transferred from the NL to the AL (Pujols, Fielder, Hiroki Kuroda, Carlos Pena) had contracts that added up to just $250 thousand less than the 18 players who ended in the NL. The average dollars amount is ridiculous, although it is of course boosted by the two big fishes. I think it’s safe to say that the American League had the more lucrative offseason, although their National League colleagues might be chuckling at the Pujols and Fielder deals now. From the AL point of view, hey, there’s always the Jonathon Papelbon deal to laugh at.

So what can we conclude? The AL has crushed the NL in two of the last three offseasons, with the National League coming away with slightly better results in 2012-13. The Junior Circuit has also dominated in terms of luring away big names, as teams have been able to acquire Pujols, Fielder, Choo, McCann, Beltran, and Michael Bourn in recent years. The NL has grabbed Greinke, Upton, and Granderson, but that’s about it. Peralta and Michael Cuddyer are nice, but not close to the level of the other guys.

We can’t really fully confirm the AL has been more successful without going further back, but it’s safe to say the American League teams have been more aggressive over the last few years when targeting top free agents. However, something else that stood out is the number of free agents that are coming from each league. Add up the totals for the last three years, and there have been 71 from the AL and 48 from the NL. Remember these totals are only for free agents who signed contracts with at least an AAV of $5 million, but that’s a noticeable difference. Without looking at any references, I believe that’s due to National League teams locking up young talent sooner and more willingly than AL teams. This offseason alone, it seems the Atlanta Braves practically signed their entire organization to long-term deals. Homer Bailey just finished up an extension, and of course, we had Mr. Clayton Kershaw settle a deal with Los Angeles.

But that’s an article for another time.