2018 Trade Value: #11 to #20

Corey Kluber lurks menacingly… in the hearts of major-league batters!
(Photo: Erik Drost)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while (some of) 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 +17.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +2.3 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +3.8 Arb1
2022 25 +4.0 Arb2
2023 26 +4.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Torres was our 12th-ranked prospect entering the year and, while that top tier has mostly stayed where they are (except for party-crashed Juan Soto), there’s been a shuffle of the name up top. Torres is one of the players to whom I refer in the introduction who wouldn’t have appeared on this list before the season began (although he would’ve been in the mix for an honorable mention) but whom it would be insane to exclude now. The difference? Just 63 big-league games. If Torres had no pedigree and was pulling some Shane Spencer or Bo Hart business, this wouldn’t be the case, as his age, pedigree, and track record have all suggested this sort of thing was on the table.

Torres has about as much pedigree as possible, having been the top July 2nd prospect in his class when he was 16, a distinction he shared with White Sox RF Eloy Jimenez (among the honorable mentions), who also originally signed with the Cubs and was traded for pieces to win a title. We mentioned before the season that Torres had sneaky power that could emerge soon, but even we’re a little surprised it emerged this quickly. Here starts a run of low-service-time, big-upside bats who could trade spots over the next year just like those players at the top of this past winter’s prospect list.

Five-Year WAR +19.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 20 +3.6 Pre-Arb
2020 21 +3.2 Pre-Arb
2021 22 +3.7 Arb1
2022 23 +4.2 Arb2
2023 24 +4.5 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

If Torres’s emergence was somewhat surprising, Soto’s was outright shocking. Eric wrote recently about how little precedent there is for what Soto is doing and how quickly he’s doing it. We’ve had some sources tell us we had him too low in the winter at 50th on our top 100, but he entered the season with just 83 pro games and something short of elite pedigree, so we thought it was a little aggressive. Then we slotted him in the top 10 on the power of his outburst in the big leagues and some said we should have him even higher despite relatively modest speed and defensive ability.

It appears those most aggressive voices may be correct on Soto, as they were touching on the rareness of the bat and approach. It’s generally good prospecting business to stay skeptical of young hitters because, by definition, only a small collection will actually become generational type bats, but that’s on the table for Soto right now.

Five-Year WAR +18.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 20 +2.0 Pre-Arb
2020 21 +2.9 Pre-Arb
2021 22 +3.9 Pre-Arb
2022 23 +4.4 Arb1
2023 24 +5.1 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

The prospect parade continues with another Latin hitter who possesses about all the pedigree one can have. Vlad’s issue is obviously his precocious physicality and future defensive home, but he makes since next to Soto as both are mostly bat-first players in the long-term and Vlad has both a little more/cheaper control (depending on how Toronto uses him this summer) and a longer track record of glowing reports. I don’t have historical ZiPS, but I’m guessing that 5.1 WAR projection at age 24 doesn’t happen for many players with no major-league service time.

Five-Year WAR +22.1
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 21 +3.3 Pre-Arb
2020 22 +3.9 Pre-Arb
2021 23 +4.5 Arb1
2022 24 +5.2 Arb2
2023 25 +5.2 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

We’ve now reached the conclusion of the prospect-explosion portion of the list. If my chats are any indication, the current worry among Braves fans is that Acuna’s performance over the last two weeks will prevent him from making the Hall of Fame, so I think they’re doing okay in the scheme of things. We ranked Acuna ahead of Vlad Jr. this offseason since they project to be of similar quality but Acuna’s skillset is more versatile and will likely age a little better.

ZiPS generally agrees with that ranking, given that Acuna is a year older and has some MLB data to consider. We expected Acuna to hit somewhere around 105 to 110 wRC+ and he’s at 99 right now during a slump, so I’d say his MLB career has been a success, a sort of proof of concept, since falling flat on his face was a possibility.

Five-Year WAR +21.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 26 +4.4 Pre-Arb
2020 27 +4.1 Pre-Arb
2021 28 +4.3 Arb1
2022 29 +4.1 Arb2
2023 30 +4.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

You may be surprised to find Chapman this high. He actually didn’t start the process ranked among the players you see here, but it slowly became clear that he’s earned it. As for pedigree, Chapman was always seen as a toolsy guy with plus power, plus defense at third base, and a top-of-the-scale 80 arm. The swing and overall offensive ability haven’t always been totally promising, though. To his credit, Chapman attended Fullerton, where they aren’t the most progressive when it comes to coaching hitters, so the possibility has always existed — as it does for Stanford hitters — that some of his offensive upside was obscured by a suboptimal approach.

Continuing the theme in this installment, it’s unlikely that anyone was projecting 6.2 WAR for Chapman through his first 165 big-league games. Some have questioned his fielding metrics, which suggest that Chapman’s among the best defenders in baseball. He’s leading the league both in UZR (+12.6) and DRS (+22) this year, but we’re still at basically a season-long sample, so it’s reasonable to regress these figures a bit if we’re looking for true defensive talent level.

Even if you do that, though, Chapman has always been at least a plus defender. And even if you give him a +5 to +10 by the metrics, he’s at something like 4.7 WAR in 165 games, which is about where ZiPS has him pegged if you build in a little bit of offensive regression, as well. Either way, he’s much better than anyone was expecting and is the type of player who provides value by contributing in all phases of the game (he’s also solidly above average as a baserunner) and not just overwhelmingly in one or two categories, so is a candidate to be overlooked. While the players just behind him have more pedigree and possibly more upside, it’s in the more traditional sense of scouting upside, whereas Chapman has already demonstrated he was wrongly underrated — all that in a sample that’s now meaningful, where he does the little things that are hard to measure in the minors. He should also age pretty well.

Five-Year WAR +22.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +3.5 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +4.2 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +4.9 Arb1
2022 25 +5.1 Arb2
2023 26 +5.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

I may be a bit biased here, not because I worked for the Braves, but because I was the first to hop aboard the Albies bandwagon. That said, this list was pretty heavily shaped by the industry, so this is at least the range in which Albies belongs by their criteria, as well. The concern with Albies is that his overall profile (a surprisingly aggressive and power-based approach relative to the size) has few major-league comparables (an issue with Jose Altuve as well) and that he could be more susceptible to slumps than a more traditional player who’s easier to coach or diagnose.

For this reason, you could argue he should move to No. 20 on this list, behind the more traditional prospects. He appears higher than that, however, because, like Chapman, he’s already proven that his skills works at this level (where he’s produced 5.3 WAR in 150 games). Moreover, there’s an argument to be made (one which I share with others in the industry) that uniqueness in elite players is actually a positive. I won’t bore you with my whole Black Swan theory, but the concepts I’ve applied to pitchers with unique skills/frames can easily be applied to the collection of bite-sized hitters who’ve emerged in the big leagues.

I do have some concern that Albies’s current approach is contingent on his elite bat control and athleticism (which typically starts declining around 25-27), but his control years run through age 27, so even if you build in some slumps, nagging injuries, and an early decline, he’s a really safe bet to put up at least 2.5 to 3.0 wins due to the strong speed/defense/baserunning profile. Oh, and he can play an average shortstop, too, if you need that.

Five-Year WAR +19.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #26
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 24 +3.7 Pre-Arb
2020 25 +4.0 Arb1
2021 26 +4.1 Arb2
2022 27 +3.9 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Benintendi’s appeal, which fits the theme of this installment in the series, is the combination of tools, performance, and pedigree that he offers. It took him a little longer than some hoped to hit is stride at the plate, but he’s done it this season and still has 4.5 years of control left. Benintendi is somewhat unique in that he was a consensus top-10 pick out of Arkansas but came so out-of-nowhere during that spring that some teams didn’t know he was a draft-eligible sophomore four months before the draft.

So, as prototypical as Benintendi appears to be as an athletic, do-it-all corner outfielder, three and a half years ago, he was essentially a nobody. He and Juan Soto, combined with the star-studded list of players who fell off of last year’s list show you how fickle these lists can be and how some seemingly minor adjustments can be worth $100 million to a club and/or player.

Five-Year WAR +27.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #3
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +5.3 Arb1
2020 26 +5.5 Arb2
2021 27 +5.7 Arb3
Arb

Seager was a tough one to peg, both because he’s obviously not going to be traded anytime soon but also because how quickly he bounces back from Tommy John surgery will dictate how much value he has. He was third on this list last year, and represents the rare and coveted big shortstop who can do everything. At this point, you’re looking at three years of control where you hope you’re getting the five- to seven-win player from 2016-17, but there’s really no way to project that with confidence. Given that Seager is an elite performer and is 24, it’s probably best to take the over on projected return and performance when he resumes play, but you could argue to rank him almost anywhere in this top 20.

Five-Year WAR +24.6
Guaranteed Dollars $13.0 M
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #10
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 33 +6.0 $13.0 M
2020 34 +5.3 $13.5 M
2021 35 +4.8 $14.0 M
Team Option

If you count yourself among those readers who thought Max Scherzer was ranked too low at No. 41, maybe I could interest you in some Klubot. He’s also an older right-hander with a couple years of control who’s proven he can take over a playoff series while also headlining your regular-season staff. The difference that drives the ranking is that Kluber makes essentially one-third as much as Scherzer, thus making him an ace that any team could afford and not just the league’s biggest-market clubs.

Five-Year WAR +26.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #4
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 27 +5.8 Arb2
2020 28 +5.6 Arb3
2021 29 +5.2 Arb4
Arb

Bryant was another tough ranking, as you could lean on history and the ZiPS numbers to leave him in the top 10 or you could look at a two-year decline in WAR, defense, baserunning, wRC+, ISO, etc. and think he’s already peaked, settling at a current true talent level of something like four wins. I split the difference here, as I don’t have a strong feeling which side is more accurate in projecting his future, but a 26-year-old hitter feels a little safer than a 32-year-old pitcher, even if I flip-flopped them about a dozen times throughout this process. The fact that there’s very little chance any of the players in this range will be traded anytime soon makes these rankings more about your favorite flavor of player than any real-world trade packages.

2018 Trade Value, 11-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
11 4 Kris Bryant 26 +5.8
Arb2
+5.6
Arb3
+5.2
Arb4
12 10 Corey Kluber 32 +6.0
$13.0 M
+5.3
$13.5 M
+4.8
$14.0 M
13 3 Corey Seager 24 +5.3
Arb1
+5.5
Arb2
+5.7
Arb3
14 26 Andrew Benintendi 23 +3.7
Pre-Arb
+4.0
Arb1
+4.1
Arb2
+3.9
Arb3
15 Ozzie Albies 21 +3.5
Pre-Arb
+4.2
Pre-Arb
+4.9
Arb1
+5.1
Arb2
+5.1
Arb3
16 Matt Chapman 25 +4.4
Pre-Arb
+4.1
Pre-Arb
+4.3
Arb1
+4.1
Arb2
+4.1
Arb3
17 HM Ronald Acuna 20 +3.3
Pre-Arb
+3.9
Pre-Arb
+4.5
Arb1
+5.2
Arb2
+5.2
Arb3
18 HM Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. 19 +2.0
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Pre-Arb
+3.9
Pre-Arb
+4.4
Arb1
+5.1
Arb2
19 Juan Soto 19 +3.6
Pre-Arb
+3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.7
Arb1
+4.2
Arb2
+4.5
Arb3
20 Gleyber Torres 21 +2.3
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Pre-Arb
+3.8
Arb1
+4.0
Arb2
+4.1
Arb3
21 49 Aaron Nola 25 +4.6
Arb1
+4.7
Arb2
+4.7
Arb3
22 27 Christian Yelich 26 +4.2
$9.8 M
+4.2
$12.5 M
+3.8
$14.0 M
+3.9
$15.0 M
23 21 Chris Sale 29 +6.5
$13.5 M
24 J.T. Realmuto 27 +3.5
Arb2
+3.4
Arb3
25 37 Jacob deGrom 30 +6.0
Arb2
+5.7
Arb3
26 11 Cody Bellinger 22 +3.7
Pre-Arb
+4.6
Arb1
+4.8
Arb2
+4.9
Arb3
+5.3
Arb4
27 18 George Springer 28 +4.2
Arb2
+3.9
Arb3
28 19 Willson Contreras 26 +3.7
Pre-Arb
+3.8
Arb1
+3.6
Arb2
+3.4
Arb3
29 34 Noah Syndergaard 25 +4.6
Arb2
+4.8
Arb3
+4.6
Arb4
30 Shohei Ohtani 23 +3.1
Pre-Arb
+4.0
Pre-Arb
+4.3
Arb1
+4.6
Arb2
+4.8
Arb3
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 27 +3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Arb1
+2.9
Arb2
+2.8
Arb3
34 Rhys Hoskins 25 +3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.4
Pre-Arb
+3.3
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
+3.0
Arb3
35 Blake Snell 25 +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 28 +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 33 +6.5
$35.0 M
+5.6
$35.0 M
+5.2
$35.0 M
42 17 Buster Posey 31 +4.9
$21.4 M
+4.3
$21.4 M
+3.6
$21.4 M
+3.1
$22.0 M
43 HM Odubel Herrera 26 +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 21 +2.5
Pre-Arb
+3.2
Pre-Arb
+3.8
Arb1
+3.9
Arb2
+3.8
Arb3
46 Jose Berrios 24 +2.8
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
47 Trevor Bauer 27 +4.2
Arb2
+4.2
Arb3
48 48 James Paxton 29 +4.9
Arb2
+4.7
Arb3
49 Jean Segura 28 +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: #11 to #20 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.

newest oldest most voted
dl80
Member
dl80

Anyone surprised by no Carlos Carrasco? I’m assuming he won’t be top 10. But he’s perpetually a top 15-20 pitcher and is super cheap for the next 3 years, only due a max of $27m from 2019-2021. And if he gets hurt, 2020 and 2021 are team options. Or am I wrong and he is top 10?

DKH
Member
DKH

Carrasco was in the HM article as a player that isn’t returning on the trade value list.

LenFuego
Member
LenFuego

Carrasco was listed in the Honorable Mention post.

rhdx
Member
rhdx

He is already 31 years old and only has 2 years of control left after this. Not sure any rebuilding team would want him for that much.

dl80
Member
dl80

I missed him in the HM article somehow, but he actually has 3 years of cheap club control after this year

RoyalsFan#14321
Member
RoyalsFan#14321

Do you just miss someone saying Ol’ Cars Cars’ O Car?

Baseball Anagrams
Member
Baseball Anagrams

I know I will 🙁

Anyhow, see y’all tomorrow……