2013 Trade Value: #30 – #26

Honorable Mentions
#50 to #46
#45 to #41
#40 to #36
#35 to #31

As we approach the middle of the list, we end up with a group of young players who are mostly more about future value than present production. These are some of the very best players in the game, and this is about as high as a player can rank without establishing himself as a big leaguer.

 

#30 Matt Moore (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
24 107.1 9.06 4.61 38.0 % 3.44 3.67 4.26 2.2 1.7

Under Team Control Through 2019: $1M, $3M, $5M, $7M option, $9M option, $10M option

Moore hasn’t had a big breakthrough yet, as his command still comes and goes, making him more of a good pitcher than a great one.  Perhaps most disconcerting is the velocity loss, as he’s sitting closer to 92 than the 94 he was at a year ago, though it hasn’t yet made him worse.  Still, you’d like to see improvement in command in order to offset the normal degradation in stuff, and Moore’s command hasn’t yet improved.  

But, that contract is still so friendly that Moore would be a highly coveted asset in trade.  In a worst case scenario where he gets injured or falls apart, they’d be out just $13 million after three years, having paid the buyouts on all of his options.  More likely, those are all exercised, and he ends up earning $35 million over the next six years.  

Soon enough, though, Moore is going to have to start throwing strikes.  As the stuff erodes, it will get harder and harder to compensate for all the walks, and the cheap years are going to start disappearing sooner than later.  Moore is at a spot where he’s either going to become the ace that he was projected as, or he’s going to settle in as a quality starter on a solid contract, but not one that teams are willing to try and build around.  Where he goes from here remains to be seen.

 

#29 Xander Bogaerts (SS)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 378 95 12 13 50 72 7 .294 .390 .489 .396

Under Team Control For Six Years: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

Despite not yet reaching the big leagues, Bogaerts is already one of the most coveted players in the game.  With most prospects, you can point to some kind of glaring hole that would keep them from producing in the Majors, but Bogaerts doesn’t really have that.  His defense at shortstop has improved, and it’s no longer a given he’ll have to move to third base.  He has more present power than you’d expect from a 20-year-old middle infielder.  He doesn’t chase pitches out of the strike zone, and will take a walk when it is offered to him.  He’s hit at every level despite being much younger than his peers.  

Major League teams covet cost controlled franchise players more than anything else, and that’s exactly what Bogerts projects to be, and fairly soon.  He’s a prospect in the sense that he doesn’t have a big league track record yet, but it’s not clear that he needs much more time in the minors, and his combination of offensive skills and ability to play defense are likely to make him a quality player in the very near future, with MVP upside as he continues to develop.

The Red Sox aren’t going to trade him, but he’s the kind of chip that would open the door to acquiring the best players in the game.  Expect Boston to keep him and make the foundation of their future instead.  

 

#28 Byron Buxton (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 392 112 17 9 49 69 35 .333 .416 .530 .427

Under Team Control For Six Years: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

While my own biases would probably lead to a preference of Bogaerts over Buxton, consensus within the prospect community and team officials is that Buxton is the #1 prospect in the sport, with his crazy athleticism making up for the fact that he’s a couple of years away from contributing at the big league level. His utter domination of the Midwest League showed that he was more advanced than expected after being drafted out of high school, and while he’s got a long ways to go, there’s no question that he has superstar potential.

There’s probably a bit more risk here than with Bogaerts, though. Not just in proximity to the big leagues, as more problems can become apparent as he rises through the system, but there’s a pretty long line of super toolsy center field prospects who never amounted to much. Center field is becoming something of an offensive position, and the offensive bar is higher at this up-the-middle spot than any of the other three.  Having the physical skills to handle center field is great, but Buxton’s going to have to hit to live up to the hype, and projecting how well a guy like this will hit when he’s a 19-year-old in A-ball is difficult.  

But, the upside is simply too high to ignore.  If he hits, he’s in the conversation for best player in the game, and he hasn’t given any reason to think that he won’t hit, at least not yet.  He’s a very high risk/high reward asset for this high on the list, but the reward is high enough to justify it.  

 

#27 Jason Kipnis (2B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
26 374 12.0 % 22.2 % .301 .383 .514 .385 149 -4.6 1.9 3.4

Under Team Control Through 2017: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

Kipnis’ next extra base hit will make his 2013 total equal to his 2012 total. The power surge has taken his game up a notch, and was really the missing ingredient in his overall package of skills. If he can keep driving the ball the way he has been, he’ll settle in as a perennial All-Star.

And yet, he’s two spots lower on this list than he was a year ago. How does a player fall on the trade value list while having a breakout year? This is the nature of depreciating years of team control. Since last year’s list, he’s lost one year of league minimum control, and so the Indians have essentially banked a huge premium in his performance over the last year. That’s value that was transferred from Kipnis to the team, and can’t be acquired by another team. Even as players improve, their trade value diminishes as they march closer towards free agency.

Really, just holding his ground is a pretty big accomplishment, as most of the players around him on last year’s list found themselves much lower or off the list entirely this year. If the Indians would have been able to lock him up over the winter, taking advantage of his poor second half to get him at a discount, he might have ended up much higher.

He’s still a highly valuable player, of course, and is one of the main reasons the Indians are hanging around in the playoff race. He’s just going to cost a lot more to lock up now than he would have a few months ago.

 

#26 Jurickson Profar (2B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
20 155 7.7 % 19.4 % .235 .309 .346 .293 76 -1.7 -1.1 -0.2

Under Team Control Through 2019: Pre-Arb, Arbitration

Because of the instant success from some other recent prospects, it seems like Profar is already being treated as a disappointment for posting a 74 wRC+ in his first 172 plate appearances.  Reminder: he’s 20, and a shortstop.  It is unusual for a player this age to step right in and be a good big leaguer right away.  We’ve been spoiled by Trout, Harper, and Machado.  What they’re doing is historically unique.  Not playing at that level before you can drink does not make you a bust.  

Now, there’s an argument to be made that Profar’s more of a high floor prospect than a super high ceiling guy.  In some ways, he’s kind of exactly the opposite of what we expect a 20-year-old infielder to look like.  He’s a disciplined hitter who controls the strike zone pretty well, but probably isn’t going to turn into a serious power bat.  He’s more of a walks-and-doubles prospect than a dingers guy, but because he can play shortstop, walks-and-doubles are more acceptable for his position.  

I know some teams aren’t in love with him due to the lack of superstar upside, but Profar still projects as a quality two way player, and with some patience, he could be one of the game’s better shortstops within the next few years.  Of course, the enduring question is whether that future will come in Texas, as they gave Elvis Andrus a lot of money to hold down the fort in Arlington for the foreseeable future.

Because of that, Profar may have more value to other teams than he does the Rangers, and it wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see him get traded this winter.  But Texas won’t let him go cheap.  He’s still a terrific young talent, and one of the most valuable trade chips in the sport.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
Izzy Hechkoff
Guest
Izzy Hechkoff

I think some of these prospects are being underrated. Would any team trade Byron Buxton for Jason Kipnis?

Nik
Guest
Nik

Because there is risk with any prospect? Delmon Young comes to mind.

Kyzslew77
Guest
Kyzslew77

I think some would. Buxton is electrifying, but Kipnis is an elite player at a near-premium position and is under team control for four more seasons. What are the odds that we will be saying that about Buxton in 3/4/5 years? Good, certainly good, but not 100%.

Brian
Guest
Brian

it’s also not 100% that Kipnis doesn’t go all Rickie Weeks on us and start putting up 1-2 WAR seasons instead of 4-6 WAR seasons.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

True, but the range of possible outcomes is considerably greater for a prospect with zero MLB service time than with a more established player like Kipnis.

Kyzslew77
Guest
Kyzslew77

What Jason said–would you rather bet on Kipnis or Buxton being a 4 WAR player in 2016ish/2017ish? If you say Buxton I think you’re crazy.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I don’t know. I guess I don’t view Kipnis as a future Cano or Utley. I think too much weight is being given to a good last month-and-a-half. And I think the chances of Buxton completely flaming out without getting hurt are closer to zero, especially given his speed and arm will give him enough value defensively that even if he underperforms with the bat, he’s still a very useful CF’er.

Chief Yahoo
Guest
Chief Yahoo

Bite your tongue!

Mr Baseball
Guest
Mr Baseball

I’m not 100% sold X Bogerts is going to be elite. I think he might be a tease.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

Wait, you’re thinking there’s more downside risk to an established major leaguer than a prospect with 0.00000000 MLB at-bats?

Hmm.

Two More Cuts
Guest
Two More Cuts

@Kyzslew77 Not that I disagree, but here’s another hypothetical:

Who would you rather bet on being a >6 WAR player in 2016/2017?

I don’t think there is a doubt that Buxton has a higher ceiling. So I think the answer to that is clearly Buxton.

AJ
Guest
AJ

Obviously Buxton has a greater magnitude of downside — Kipnis’s downside is maybe a 1 or 2 win player whereas Buxton’s is never making the majors. But Buxton has MUCH higher upside than Kipnis, even if the chance of him maximizing his potential is reduced.

wobatus
Guest
wobatus

Kipnis is already on a 6+ pace, so maybe he hasn’t hit his ceiling yet either. Probably this is what you get. He’s 26. But maybe he goes 8 some time in the next few years.

SC
Guest
SC

I’m a Twins Fan and think this ranking seems fair. Buxton’s not really close (Late 2014-early 2015) to delivering a lot of present value. As Dave points out a lot can wrong in between these times.

Should the Twins make this trade? Probably not but this has to do with their current organizational standing.

Would the Indians make this trade? No for Similar reasons of the present being worth more currently then the future.

I believe the point of a series like this is how an league average team in tension between contending and rebuilding would value these players.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC

Any team projected to win 85ish or more games this year with a void at second base. That’s for starters. The Dodgers, Athletics, Orioles, Tigers, and Braves come to mind.

Jonathon Paquin
Guest
Jonathon Paquin

Scratch the Tigers off that list….they already have Omar Infante. Easily one of the top 5 two baggers in MLB…

EL
Guest
EL

Easily?

He’s 6th so far this season, and the argument that he’s better than *all of* Zobrist, Kendrick, and Phillips is a going to be a tough one to win with a career walk rate of 5.5% (4.9% this year).

TKDC
Guest
TKDC

you’ve got to be fucking kidding, right? Infante might be the best second baseman on any of these teams, but he’s not that good and he was born in 1981.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

He’s an albatross on defense but he still post above avg WAR from his HRs and BBs alone.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Uggla, I mean.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC

The problem is he has to play defense, so he is a below average player.

Rainja182
Member
Rainja182

Like the rest of these people said, Jason Kipnis is great RIGHT now, while Buxton is still a bit aways and is not a guarantee to produce as Kip’ has.

Tommy
Guest
Tommy

The Twins wouldn’t but say the Rockies might if they had him instead of Dahl

Tim A
Guest
Tim A

The prospects should be lower. The major telling factor, is that Buxton/Bogaerts + would be required too land most of the players below them on the list, so the value has too be lower as well. JUp would have cost the Sox more this winter then Bogaerts 1 for 1, and I don’t even think he is on this list. They are still just prospects, and this ranking is based on them becoming like 90% of the players we think they will be, and the error bars are way too high for this ranking too hold for current value.

Tim A
Guest
Tim A

This is Trout/Machado/Harper sydrom, with the way they all came on last year, people are now looking at prospects like sure things, its silly SSS, in larger numbers with only elite prospects, the number of misses must be factored in.

Fred
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Fred

What Tim said. The attrition rate of top 10 prospects is typically 50% (look at Baseball America’s historical lists).

Simon
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Simon

Except these guys are significantly above average for top 10 prospects, and there are reasons why they are substanitally less likely to bust than average – Bogaerts having had success at AAA, and Buxton having elite skills and being the consensus #1 prospect.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

What has Justin Upton’s trade value last winter have to do with anybody’s trade value today?

Tim A
Guest
Tim A

Super simple come on. If Bogaerts doesn’t land JUp 1 for 1, then he is worth less then Up. If Upton doesn’t make the list then Bogaerts can’t be worth more. Prospects flame out (especially in the sense that some look like superstars but become regulars). I just don’t think any team in baseball puts that much value on unproven talent, It is a big value booster too play at least 1/2 season, at the MLB level, and produce. Teams won’t trade established for untested, at equal valuations. I would posit that Buxton is worth 40-60% of his projected team control WAR currently (FFS He is in AA, and a lot can happen).

SB
Guest
SB

Yeah, I was actually going to say the opposite. I feel like there’s extreme value in a “bird in the hand.” It boggles my mind that Profar is more valuable than Kipnis right now. I guess Profar is an excellent shortstop, so right there he’s got a major leg up on Kipnis. But the best case scenario as far as the bat goes for Profar is Kipnis. I think there’s a problem when a young player in the midst of a breakout is valued below a prospect who in 2 seasons could be nowhere near this list if he doesn’t pan out. But I guess it’s the TRADE value list, and some GMs may value Profar over Kipnis. I tell you what, I’d love dealing with those guys if I was an opposing GM. They can have my prospects all day for their 26-year-old major league studs.

Sleight of Hand Pro
Guest
Sleight of Hand Pro

couldnt agree more. i actually disagree with the consensus here and think the prospects are too high on the list, in general anyway. buxton is great with great upside, but hes ahead of guys like craig and santana? 1 spot behind kipnis? hes a great talent, but i remember when they said the same thing about lasting milledge.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

Lasting Milledge didn’t work out, therefore no prospect will ever work out. That’s your reasoning? What about Trout, Harper, Machado, Stanton and a hundred others since then?

Sleight of Hand Pro
Guest
Sleight of Hand Pro

Trout, Harper, Machado, and Stanton worked out, therefore all prospects will always work out. That’s your reasoning? What about Lastings Milledge, Delmon Young, Jeremy Hermida, Ruben Rivera, and hundreds of others?

Slugger27
Guest
Slugger27

LOL. Well played.

Fhone Ciggins
Member
Fhone Ciggins

Nice straw man argument, Baltar

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

A difference of one rank on this list is not worth commenting on. It’s a nit.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps

It’s a nit worth commenting on!

Seriously, when a list of top 50 is made up 1 to 50, as opposed to just 50 not rated, it invites comment as ratings, even as small as 27 to 28, because Dave has put them there: he’s made a small difference, otherwise why?

Also, you know, we like commenting.

Tim A
Guest
Tim A

Also, I am not debating Profar vs Kipnes placement. I think Kip is about where he should be, and no player with 0-1 service time should be on the list period. I think that there are a few prospect slots here that belong below 75th in trade value. For reference I think the A’s would trade Reddick back too Boston right now, injury, and related underperformance aside, for Bogaerts. Josh Reddick is what he is worth right now.

JT Grace
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JT Grace

I think most of the prospects seem really, really overrated.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

Based on?

Sparkles Peterson
Guest
Sparkles Peterson

The bust rate of prospects.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar

Tearing up Low A isn’t proof that you’re going to be a dominant major leaguer; rather, it’s a demonstration that you have serious tools in excess of that level of competition. The demonstration that Buxton hit the learning curve in High A only drives that home. I love Buxton’s package. That said, it may be years before he develops much over-the-fence power, if he does at all. Buxton is at least two full years from a major league debut also. To me, he’s more Kenny Lofton than Mike Trout; that’s still a very, very good player. Someday.

Kipnis is here, now. He has polished skills around those tools. He plays an important defensive position if not nearly as well as Buxton will defend. For a team that has a shot at deep post-season 20-13-2015, Kipnis is definitely the get and Buxton the give. That isn’t Minnesota, or half the teams in the league, but there are organizations which fit that context. It’s all a question of needs.

Would Atlanta have traded Heyward out of High A for a ‘Kipnis of that time?’ Probably not. Would they trade Heyward of today for Kipnis right now? Yes, I think so. That’s all one needs to know about prospect risk/reward right there.

placidity
Guest

All I got from that is that you love Buxton’s package.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya

I’d make that trade without hesitation.