2018 Trade Value: #31 to #40

Jose Altuve will not be constrained by your “aging curves.”
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the others in this series, I’ve presented a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ve also included all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the next 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +14.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 23 +2.8 Pre-Arb
2020 24 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 25 +3.0 Arb1
2022 26 +2.8 Arb2
2023 27 +2.9 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

I feel like I’m supposed to kick this off with a Ferris Bueller reference, but I couldn’t come up with anything fitting. Walker is one of the rare prospects who gets the coveted “has a chance to become be an ace” label that’s only true of a handful of pitchers on Earth at a given time. For all the (rightful) handwringing about how scouts don’t truly understand upside when guys like Joses Altuve or Ramirez can emerge as the best hitters in the game after never appearing on a top-100 list, the group of aces who weren’t at some point described as a potential ace is basically just Cliff Lee, and he was touted in the minors.

The concerns with Buehler are a slight frame and a Tommy John surgery in his past, but both apply to Jacob deGrom, too, so it’s hardly a disqualifier. The list of pitchers who flash two 7 pitches and exhibit starter traits is insanely short, and while Buehler is short on MLB performance right now, he also has the rest of this season then the full six after that of control — double the control of some comparable arms who have been mid-rotation guys for a couple years. It’s difficult to compare Buehler to vets like Posey, Rizzo, and Scherzer — or a prospect like Tatis Jr. — since none of these guys are getting traded for each other (or really at all), but this felt like the right area for this cluster of disparate types, even if Buehler has to manage his innings this year with the occasional day off.

Five-Year WAR +14.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 20 +1.2 Pre-Arb
2020 21 +2.1 Pre-Arb
2021 22 +3.4 Pre-Arb
2022 23 +4.0 Arb1
2023 24 +4.6 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

Tatis was another tough ranking: he’s exactly the sort of player a rebuilding team covets, while a big-market contender would have affordable options who can outproduce Tatis for the next couple years. If I were to publish a trade-value list for each club, Tatis would range from something like 15th to 75th. He ranks ahead of Buehler since they’re comparable explosive talents but Tatis is a hitter whose only real flaw is likely to involve contact. That’s a nitpick, though, since he’s a 19-year-old in Double-A who might hit 30 homers playing shortstop. It also doesn’t hurt that he looked great in the Futures Game.

Buehler and Tatis end up ahead of Posey and Scherzer here. That’s due, in part, to the veterans’ age but also the implications of their contracts to the competitive-balance tax, since even clubs with the capacity to spend are letting that dictate decisions. It’s also even harder to take on big money in the middle of the season. The market is simply more robust for Buehler and Tatis than those two, but an irrational bidder could blow that perception up, and the vets are more likely to draw an irrational bidder. Anyway, you see how these four ended up next to each other, despite their differences.

I would also submit that some of the risk-aversion I mentioned in the introduction applies here. If Tatis comes up tomorrow and has a hot six-week stretch, showing sustained glimpses of the five-win monster whom many scouts and execs already expect, he would probably jump into the top 20. I originally had him ranked higher than this, but after sending the list around for thoughts, this feels like a more accurate representation of where he stands at the moment, with strong arguments out there both for raising and lowering Tatis.

Five-Year WAR +19.4
Guaranteed Dollars $13.0 M
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #8
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 28 +4.6 $11.0 M
2020 29 +4.4 $14.5 M
2021 30 +4.0 $14.5 M
Team Option

Rizzo is having a down year, but his underlying indicators suggest it’s mostly bad luck driving his poor first half. More than a few sources expect him to be a three- to four-win player going forward (with ZiPS taking the over), he’s still in his 20s, and players with excellent plate discipline tend to age more gracefully than free-swingers. Rizzo slides ahead of the four previously mentioned disparate types since he’s a solid bet to be an easily above-average regular for the 3.5 years remaining on his affordable deal. If last winter’s free-agent market is any indication, a first baseman doesn’t figure to inspire the most intense bidding, but essentially every team would want this player, without reservation.

Five-Year WAR +22.5
Guaranteed Dollars $28.0 M
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 28 +4.9 $13.0 M
2020 29 +4.7 $15.0 M

Dave Cameron has mentioned in the past, and I’ve also found in my research, that clubs aren’t bullish on paying for defense. Defense peaks earlier than offense, as it’s tied more closely to athleticism than hitting, and there are more than a few clubs that seem to be hesitant to pay for things they can’t completely wrap their arms around. In a ranking of assets using just a cold, calculating algorithm that uses UZR-infused WAR, Simmons would be a little higher. That said, Simmons is on pace for his second consecutive career year in Los Angeles of Anaheim and he has an affordable 2.5 years left on his deal, making him one of the better short-term assets in the game.

Five-Year WAR +23.4
Guaranteed Dollars $146.5 M
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #24
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 28 +5.3 $16.5 M
2020 29 +4.8 $26.0 M
2021 30 +4.9 $26.0 M
2022 31 +4.5 $26.0 M
2023 32 +3.9 $26.0 M

Like Simmons, Altuve is a very good player right now. He also has even more offensive value and a longer track record of elite-level play, so he’s more attractive type of player to a wider swath of clubs. Simmons is under control for 2.5 years at a price that would appeal to any club, while Altuve is under control for 6.5 years at prices that are prohibitive for a collection of teams.

The complicating factor is that Altuve is a unique player, so traditional aging curves don’t really apply. This means the multiple years at $26 million on the end of the deal could still deliver more than the cost, but there’s no options at the end, so a receiving club wouldn’t have much flexibility if their assessment is wrong. At some point, though, elite players aren’t easy to find. Once they’ve maintained a certain level, they’re going to make something around a market rate. Altuve at least offers cost certainty and is in the middle of this third straight six- to seven-win season at age 28. Those factors combine to slide him ahead of the veterans we just discussed above.

Five-Year WAR +16.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +3.2 Pre-Arb
2020 26 +3.4 Arb1
2021 27 +3.4 Arb2
2022 28 +3.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Now we’re moving into the part of the list with consensus elite young players who still offer multiple years of control. Most teams will have all of these players in a tier around here, but anyone could quibble with the specific placement. Snell heads to the back of this group since he’s only just now in the middle of his breakout year, so there isn’t a long track record of success. That said, he was a touted young arm whom many thought would do this one day, so clubs are more apt to buy one season as proof of concept.

Snell is a 25-year-old lefty with no major injury history who still has one-and-a-half years at the league minimum and sits in the mid-90s, so there’s a lot to like. His capacity to perform and stay healthy are the only real questions you can ask here, but check some of the recent incarnations of this list to curb your enthusiasm: the young pitchers with shorter track records tend to bounce all over the place year-to-year on this list as their control dwindles and the odometer keeps adding mileage.

Five-Year WAR +16.1
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +3.2 Pre-Arb
2020 26 +3.4 Pre-Arb
2021 27 +3.3 Arb1
2022 28 +3.2 Arb2
2023 29 +3.0 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Hoskins burst onto the scene last year as a power bat who didn’t get much attention until Double-A, in large part because he was a right/right first baseman who went in the fifth round of a mid-major college. The plate discipline and approach were much better than almost anyone realized, but the factors that compelled Hoskins to fly under the radar for much of his career (position, handedness, late-blooming traits) are also the factors that prevent him from appearing higher on this list. The Phillies get Hoskins at discount rates for ages 24 through 30, which is exactly what years the clubs would pick if you let them.

Hoskins fits best at first base, which isn’t really an option given how Philly constructed their roster. He doesn’t really have the five-plus-win upside that you would want if you’re paying a retail rate for a guy ranked in this area. A solid 2.5- to 4.0-WAR player with 5.5 years of control mostly in his prime isn’t easy to find, though.

Five-Year WAR +14.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 27 +3.2 Pre-Arb
2020 28 +3.0 Arb1
2021 29 +2.9 Arb2
2022 30 +2.8 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

The trade that sent Haniger and Jean Segura from Arizona to Seattle has quietly become perhaps the second-most lopsided trade since that other deal the D-Backs made. Haniger has also quietly become a really good player who, like Rhys Hoskins, wasn’t really on the industry’s radar as a potential impact player until 2016, when he demolished Double-A and Triple-A. He edges out Hoskins despite offering one fewer year of control because Haniger is a slightly better athlete and hitter with comparable game power who can play a passable center field, even if he fits best in right field.

Five-Year WAR +18.6
Guaranteed Dollars $61.7 M
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 26 +4.2 $7.0 M
2020 27 +3.9 $9.2 M
2021 28 +3.6 $10.5 M
2022 29 +3.6 $11.0 M
2023 30 +3.3 $11.0 M

The trifecta of underappreciated players wraps up with Suarez, who had his breakout in 2017 then signed an extension in March of this year that locks him up through 2024 and offers an option for 2025. Given that Suarez hadn’t had a payday and is about to turn 27, it was time to cash in. Suarez got $66 million guaranteed, and the Reds pay what will be a below-market rate for his age-26 through age-33 seasons with the most defensive value and team control of these three relatively similar players.

Five-Year WAR +12.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #12
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +2.5 Pre-Arb
2020 26 +2.7 Arb1
2021 27 +2.7 Arb2
2022 28 +2.6 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Unlike these last three players, Sanchez was about as hyped as he could be, about as early as is possible for a young prospect. He and Miguel Sano were the two top players in their July 2nd signing class, and Sanchez showed 70 raw power and 70 arm strength freakishly early in his development, standing out well before he signed at age 16 for $3 million. Sanchez stagnated a bit in the minors, then everything clicked in the upper minors in 2015, setting the stage for a loud MLB debut in 2016. A large part of the stagnation period was Sanchez learning the intricacies of catching, both mechanically and mentally. There’s been more than a little chatter that some don’t like various parts of Sanchez’s defensive game, while he also has had a slow offensive start and a groin injury.

There’s some thought that Sanchez may not age as gracefully as a more athletic and defensive-focused catcher like Buster Posey has, and Sanchez can’t play anywhere other than first base. So we have rare skillset at a premium position combined with pedigree and performance, but also a profile that is somewhat volatile given the recent history. Still, every team would take him and there are only four catchers on this list, so the picky evaluations I cite here might take a back seat to positional scarcity — if Sanchez were ever actually available.

2018 Trade Value, 31-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
31 12 Gary Sanchez 25 +2.5
Pre-Arb
+2.7
Arb1
+2.7
Arb2
+2.6
Arb3
32 Eugenio Suarez 26 +4.2
$7.0 M
+3.9
$9.2 M
+3.6
$10.5 M
+3.6
$11.0 M
+3.3
$11.0 M
33 Mitch Haniger 26 +3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Arb1
+2.9
Arb2
+2.8
Arb3
34 Rhys Hoskins 24 +3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.4
Pre-Arb
+3.3
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
+3.0
Arb3
35 Blake Snell 24 +3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.4
Arb1
+3.4
Arb2
+3.1
Arb3
36 24 Jose Altuve 28 +5.3
$16.5 M
+4.8
$26.0 M
+4.9
$26.0 M
+4.5
$26.0 M
+3.9
$26.0 M
37 Andrelton Simmons 27 +4.9
$13.0 M
+4.7
$15.0 M
38 8 Anthony Rizzo 28 +4.6
$11.0 M
+4.4
$14.5 M
+4.0
$14.5 M
39 Fernando Tatis, Jr. 19 +1.2
Pre-Arb
+2.1
Pre-Arb
+3.4
Pre-Arb
+4.0
Arb1
+4.6
Arb2
40 Walker Buehler 23 +2.8
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Arb1
+2.8
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
41 33 Max Scherzer 32 +6.5
$35.0 M
+5.6
$35.0 M
+5.2
$35.0 M
42 17 Buster Posey 30 +4.9
$21.4 M
+4.3
$21.4 M
+3.6
$21.4 M
+3.1
$22.0 M
43 HM Odubel Herrera 25 +3.0
$5.0 M
+2.8
$7.0 M
+2.7
$10.0 M
+2.7
$11.5 M
+2.7
$12.5 M
44 Victor Robles 21 +2.5
Pre-Arb
+2.8
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
45 HM Rafael Devers 20 +2.5
Pre-Arb
+3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.8
Arb1
+3.9
Arb2
+3.8
Arb3
46 Jose Berrios 23 +2.8
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
47 Trevor Bauer 26 +4.2
Arb2
+4.2
Arb3
48 48 James Paxton 28 +4.9
Arb2
+4.7
Arb3
49 Jean Segura 27 +3.0
$14.3 M
+3.0
$14.3 M
+2.9
$14.3 M
+2.7
$14.3 M
+2.4
$17.0 M
50 Kyle Tucker 21 +2.2
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Pre-Arb
+3.7
Pre-Arb
+3.7
Arb1
+3.7
Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb
Team Option

We hoped you liked reading 2018 Trade Value: #31 to #40 by Kiley McDaniel!

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Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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HappyFunBall
Member
HappyFunBall

If Tatis comes up tomorrow and has a hot six-week stretch, showing sustained glimpses of the five-win monster whom many scouts and execs already expect, he would probably jump into the top 20.

So Juan Soto is top 20. That’s kind of “wow”.

storminjnorman
Member
Member
storminjnorman

Totally makes sense though. He’s blazed through the minors (albeit it on small sample size) and has proven that he deserves a starting job, at least to see what you actually have in him before Harper possibly leaves town. There’s not much out there that the Nats would take in a trade straight up for him.

Werthless
Member
Werthless

It’s a near certainty, considering that Mitch Haniger is sitting at 33. Have you looked at Soto’s projections lately? He’s a top-20 bat today.

dodgerbleu
Member
Member
dodgerbleu

Yeah I was thinking this. Thinking Soto might be top 10.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

Juan Soto is super-cheap, has lots of team control, and has a surprisingly good chance of entering the Hall of Fame. That sounds absurd, but it’s true, and that puts him in only a slightly worse spot than Aaron Judge was in last year. And he was ranked what, #6? I’d put Soto in the Top 10, and if not, he’s close.

Pepper Martin
Member
Pepper Martin

If Juan Soto is top 20, Gleyber Torres has to be top 20. That’s kind of nuts.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571

Some guys just have something special to their game, a “feel” for baseball that tells you they’re going to be good (or better) for a long time. You can’t know precisely where they will settle, but to me these are the most special youngsters, because you can bet money on them working out to some degree.

As I Red Sox fan, I locked in on Bogaerts (“he’s going to hit and if he does that while sticking at SS, that’s a good player”), Devers (“he has natural power but also can consistently barrel up the ball, so he looks like a classic guy who can approach hitting .300 while hitting 30+ homers in his prime”), and most of all Benintendi, who almost has yet to fail at even snapshots of his development. We’ve heard similar things for a few years about, for example, Gleyber Torres. They’re not just high-quality baseball athletes, but also “get” something about the mechanics of the sport that others have to train harder to achieve, if they’re ever able to at all.

With Soto, the Devers-like future seemed clear, and to me the question when he was called up was really “does he have that Manny Ramirez-like hitter savant trait?” that goes to an even higher tier. Well, it looks like he does. With Devers, I’m very confident he’ll deserve to bat 3rd-5th for a long time. But with Soto, it looks like he’s got multiple bat-based MVP runs in his future.