2017 Trade Value: #41 to #50

The question of Jose Quintana’s trade value isn’t merely an academic one. (Photo: Keith Allison)

 
It’s that time of year again: baseball is taking most of the week off to host an exhibition game, and we’re ranking the 50 most valuable trade chips in baseball while they do so. If you aren’t familiar with the series, go read the honorable-mentions post, which includes the introduction and an explanation of what this whole thing is.

As one additional point of explanation, the tables that we’re including below show a few pieces of information: the years remaining before the player is eligible for free agency, whether those years are covered by the arbitration system or a multi-year contract, the guaranteed money owed to the player if a long-term deal is in place, and the ZiPS projections for the player for each year that he’s under control of his current club. The ZiPS forecasts are there to help you get an idea for what one forecasting system thinks of the player’s long-term future, though the players are not ranked solely based on these projections. At the end of the post, we’ll summarize each individual player’s information box with a grid showing all the players ranked in the series so far, and that grid includes the same reference information.

With that said, let’s get right to the guys who made the final 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Team Control WAR Total +8.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank #47
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 27 +2.6 Arb1
2019 28 +2.7 Arb2
2020 29 +2.6 Arb3
Arb

This last spot was really tough. There are so many players you could put here, with probably 10 to 15 guys having just as strong a case as Lamb for this spot. Even just within third baseman, you could make a case for Justin Turner or Kyle Seager, and then there are all the other good players at other positions who didn’t quite make the cut. If you feel strongly that some other player should be No. 50, I probably don’t disagree with you. Rounding out the list turned into an exercise of picking one of many similarly valuable players.

But while the projections look at his age and mediocre track record and suggest that Lamb isn’t anything special, he might be the kind of player who has benefited the most from this homers-for-everyone offensive era. His power surge the last few years has made him a better hitter than he looked earlier in his career, and pitchers are certainly treating him like a feared hitter these days. The defense at third isn’t great, but as a 26-year-old who might be blossoming into one of the game’s better young hitters, Lamb just sneaks in ahead of a number of other worthy candidates for the final spot on this list.

Team Control WAR Total +12.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 25 +2.9 Pre-Arb
2019 26 +3.2 Arb1
2020 27 +3.3 Arb2
2021 28 +3.0 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

If you want to save some time reading these blurbs, you can effectively copy and paste the Aaron Nola comment onto almost every other pitcher in this group. When healthy, Nola has been very good, and at times looks like one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. But his arm has hurt more often than you want, and the results haven’t always matched the peripherals. There’s a lot of risk here, and the stuff isn’t necessarily top-shelf, so the upside might be more good pitcher than great one.

But there also aren’t a lot of 24-year-olds out there who can match Nola’s big-league results when he’s been on a mound. If he figures out how to keep his arm intact, four years of a low-cost starting pitcher who can pitch at this level is quite a valuable thing indeed. Valuing a pitcher with health problems is obviously challenging without access to medicals, but the fact that Nola is throwing the ball really well at the moment certainly isn’t hurting his trade value.

Team Control WAR Total +8.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 29 +2.8 Arb2
2019 30 +2.9 Arb3
2020 31 +2.8 Arb4
Arb

Fact: James Paxton is a 28-year-old who has never thrown more than 121 big-league innings in a season.

Also fact: over the last year, the top three starters in baseball by FIP- are Sale, Scherzer, and James Paxton. By xFIP-, he’s tied for sixth, with Scherzer.

The upside is undeniable. A lefty who sits 96 with a knockout curveball is always going to be coveted, and for the last year or so, Paxton has pitched like a guy with this kind of stuff. But the health problems are extensive and the track record is very short, so the risks are as high as the reward. With three years of arbitration left, Paxton will remain a bargain for a while, and the lack of a guaranteed contract gives teams an out if the arm explodes.

I think teams covet high-end pitching enough to take on the risks involved. I also expect the price would reflect the reality that no one really knows what Paxton might do in the future.

Team Control WAR Total +7.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 27 +2.2 Arb2
2019 28 +2.5 Arb3
2020 29 +2.5 Arb4
Arb

Like a lot of pitchers in this last group of 10, Stroman is not so easy to project. At times, he looks like one of the best pitchers in baseball, as he has in the first half of this year. Other times, he looks like a pitch-to-contact guy who doesn’t manage contact very well and is destined to be an inconsistent starter until he figures out how to miss bats more often.

ZiPS is obviously not a big fan, though I’d happily take the over on Stroman being an average pitcher going forward, assuming he stays healthy. But with an inconsistent track record and three raises coming off his Super Two status before he hits free agency, Stroman is a tough guy to peg down. There’s a good argument for him being 10 spots higher, just like there’s a good argument for him not appearing on this list at all. For now, he’ll settle in here, though he’ll likely either be a lot higher or off the list entirely next year.

Team Control WAR Total +8.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank #28
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 28 +3.2 Arb2
2019 29 +2.9 Arb3
2020 30 +2.8 Arb4
Arb

After a monster first half last year that got him into the top 30 on last year’s list, Bradley has gone back to being a good player, not a superstar. He’s an above-average bat and a good-to-great defender, depending on how much weight you put on his fielding data. There aren’t many better two-way guys than Bradley in baseball, and even if the bat is more good than great, he’s a borderline star, especially if UZR is undervaluing his abilities in center field.

There are some negatives, tough. Defense peaks early, for one, and Bradley is already 27. He’s got three more arbitration seasons before free agency, but he was a Super Two, so his costs will escalate pretty quickly. And now that anyone with a pulse can hit 25 homers, it’s easy to find guys who hit like Bradley hits. If the defense regresses, he’s just a nice solid role player.

But so far, there’s no reason to think the defense has regressed, making him one of the best all-around center fielders in baseball. With three more years until free agency after this season, he remains a very valuable member of the Red Sox organization.

Team Control WAR Total +7.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2019
Previous Rank #20
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 25 +3.8 Arb2
2019 26 +3.6 Arb3
Arb

This is not the Xander Bogaerts we thought we’d be seeing a few years ago, but despite becoming a pretty different kind of player than he looked like as a prospect, he’s still turned out just fine. He’s on his way to his third consecutive +4 WAR season and still isn’t yet 25. So, by any standard, his career to date has been a success.

Because he had his rookie season at age 21, though, he’s only got two years left before free agency, which is the main reason he’s down here and not up with many of the other young stars in the game. As much as he still looks like a franchise building block, he’s not under control long enough to really be considered a long-term asset, and as a shot-term value, he’s more of a really good player than a great one. Of course, if the Red Sox actually made him available, there would be plenty of suitors, but maybe less than we’d expect for a 24-year-old All-Star.

Team Control WAR Total +8.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2019
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 28 +4.4 Arb3
2019 29 +4.2 Arb4
Arb

The up-and-down nature of Rendon’s career is squarely up again, as the Nationals third baseman once again looks like an MVP candidate. Over the last year, Rendon is at +6.2 WAR, the ninth-best mark among position players. When he’s healthy and playing at full strength, there aren’t a lot of guys in the game better than >Anthony Rendon.

Of course, as we’ve talked about with these pitchers, health is a skill, and Rendon’s trade value would definitely have to reflect the fact that he’s had his share of injury problems and slumps that look like he was playing at less than 100%. And now that he’s getting closer to free agency, there are limits to what a team would offer for a couple of years of an underrated star with health problems, especially one represented by Scott Boras, limiting a team’s chances of getting a pre-free-agent extension signed.

So Rendon ranks a few spots lower than the other guys who made the list despite being controlled just through 2019. But the other guys in his free-agent class who cracked this top 50 are acknowledged superstars, and given how Rendon is playing again, he belongs in their company.

Team Control WAR Total +10.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 26 +3.4 Arb1
2019 27 +3.5 Arb2
2020 28 +3.7 Arb3
Arb

If you like strikeouts, you love Robbie Ray, as few starters miss bats more often than the Diamondbacks’ 25-year-old lefty. It’s very easy to look at Ray’s contact rates and see an ace in the making, and his 2.97 ERA to begin 2017 supports the idea of Ray as a breakout frontline starter.

But despite the obvious upside, there are some legitimate concerns here, too. In writing up Ray’s performance in 2016 from a contact-management standpoint, Tony Blengino noted that Ray’s season was “one of the poorest contact-management performances in recent memory.” That .352 BABIP wasn’t just bad luck; when hitters did make contact against Ray, they crushed it.

While he’s posted much better results on contact this year, Blengino noted a few weeks ago that Ray “has been extremely lucky across all (ball-in-play) types…,” and his underlying numbers don’t support the idea that he’s fixed his big problem from last year. Toss in a very high walk rate and the fact that he’s never thrown more than 175 innings in a season, and there’s a lot of downside to go with the clear upside.

But if a team wants to gamble on a high-risk/-reward profile, Ray is one of the more interesting gambles out there. He has all three of his arbitration seasons remaining, and with mediocre career traditional counting stats, he won’t break the bank over the next few years either. And if he does improve on his contact issues or get the walks under control, he’s a legitimate frontline pitcher. If he somehow manages to do both, he could very well be an ace.

Team Control WAR Total +11.2
Guaranteed Dollars $8.8 M
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank #25
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 29 +3.8 $8.8 M
2019 30 +3.8 $10.5 M
2020 31 +3.6 $10.5 M
Team Option

Here’s the player on this list most likely to be moved in the next few weeks, which should give us a chance to look back and see how well we estimated his market value. Early-season struggles aside, Quintana remains a very good pitcher — and, importantly, one of the most durable pitchers in the game — as he heads towards a fifth consecutive year of 200 innings pitched. While this group of 10 was full of pitchers who throw harder and miss more bats than Quintana does, he’s a relatively safe selection in a land of high-risk options.

With three years remaining on his contract, the latter two of which are team options, it’s obvious why the White Sox are hanging a high price tag on their best remaining big leaguer. There aren’t many guys out there who offer this level of quality with minimal financial risk. Rick Hahn clearly believes a team will eventually come around to the idea that Quintana is a scarce commodity, a frontline controllable starter, and he’ll be compensated accordingly. Whether a team will pay an ace price for a guy who doesn’t have prototypical ace stuff remains to be seen.

Five-Year WAR +16.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through TBD
Previous Rank #26
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 23 +2.2 Pre-Arb
2019 24 +3.1 Pre-Arb
2020 25 +3.6 Pre-Arb
2021 26 +3.6 Arb1
2022 27 +3.8 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

It’s fun to write up guys who have actually gotten moved lately. Since most of these guys don’t get traded, this exercise involves a lot of speculation, but in this case, we actually do know Yoan Moncada’s trade value in relation to Chris Sale, and can infer from that what it says about Moncada’s value relative to other kinds of players.

Certainly, there are few players with a more tantalizing ceiling, which is why the White Sox were willing to surrender one of the game’s best pitchers primarily to land him in their deal with the Red Sox. Eric Longenhagen put him in a tier by himself when ranking the game’s best prospects this spring, and this year, Moncada has more than held his own in Triple-A as a 22-year-old. So, why the 15-spot drop?

Well, for one, the Sale trade happened, and suggested that last year’s ranking was probably too aggressive. For all the upside, Moncada’s probably not ready to help a big-league team win right now, and the risks associated with his high strikeout rate and questionable defense mean that he might not ever turn into what he’s been projected to become. He certainly could become a star, but there’s risk here, and not a lot of present value, so the Red Sox were willing to move him for a significant short-term upgrade.

While Moncada is clearly a very valuable piece of the White Sox system, I over-ranked a number of minor leaguers last year, and this is probably a better reflection of the trade value of a very good prospect with legitimate risks who isn’t yet big-league ready.

2017 Trade Value, 41-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
41 26 Yoan Moncada 22 +2.2
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Pre-Arb
+3.6
Pre-Arb
+3.6
Arb1
+3.8
Arb2
42 25 Jose Quintana 28 +3.8
$8.8 M
+3.8
$10.5 M
+3.6
$10.5 M
43 Robbie Ray 25 +3.4
Arb1
+3.5
Arb2
+3.7
Arb3
44 Anthony Rendon 27 +4.4
Arb3
+4.2
Arb4
45 20 Xander Bogaerts 24 +3.8
Arb2
+3.6
Arb3
46 28 Jackie Bradley Jr. 27 +3.2
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
+2.8
Arb4
47 Marcus Stroman 26 +2.2
Arb2
+2.5
Arb3
+2.5
Arb4
48 James Paxton 28 +2.8
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
+2.8
Arb4
49 Aaron Nola 24 +2.9
Pre-Arb
+3.2
Arb1
+3.3
Arb2
+3.0
Arb3
50 47 Jake Lamb 26 +2.6
Arb1
+2.7
Arb2
+2.6
Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb
Team Option

We hoped you liked reading 2017 Trade Value: #41 to #50 by Dave Cameron!

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Concerned Reader John
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Member
Concerned Reader John

Oh joyous day the trade value rankings!

Zach Walters Appreciation Guild
Member
Zach Walters Appreciation Guild

What a Francis(co Lindor) day! Callooh! Cahill*!

*not appearing on this list

I hate me as much as you hate me.

Johan Santa
Member

I’m totally stoked. All we need is the guy who does the angiograms of the players on the list.

Thrasius
Member
Member
Thrasius

Yes, hopefully no problems show up on the x-rays!

Baseball Anagrams
Member
Baseball Anagrams

2017 Anagram Value: #50 to #41

#50 Bleak Jam
#49 A No, A La, A No
#48 Manja Sexpot
#47 Must Ram Carson
#46 Jar Jar Icky Bleed
#45 Extra Dang Sober
#44 Non-Handy Tenor
#43 Barrio Bey
#42 Jan’s Equation
#41 Oo! A Candy Man!

Jason B
Member
Member
Jason B

Love your anagram work on the trade value series! #49 needs an “R” and one less “A” though.

Baseball Anagrams
Member
Baseball Anagrams

Good catch Jason. Guess we’ll have to go with;

*#49 Anana Rolo

Jason B
Member
Member
Jason B

Thanks! I was extra dang sober whilst reading. =)

thestatbook
Member
thestatbook

#47 can also be “Mrs. Cunt’s Aroma”