2018 Trade Value: #21 to #30

Noah Syndergaard’s velocity is a mixed blessing in terms of long-term value.
(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 +20.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +3.1 Pre-Arb
2020 26 +4.0 Pre-Arb
2021 27 +4.3 Arb1
2022 28 +4.6 Arb2
2023 29 +4.8 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Ohtani was ticketed before the season to appear much higher than this, but some concern about an imperfect UCL has now turned to what most feel is an inevitable Tommy John surgery at some point during the course of his six controlled years. If you remove much of this year on the mound from his cost-controlled seasons, take away another 12-18 months for surgery, and add to that some uncertainty about whether the stuff/feel/stamina comes all the way back, and we’re now talking about three or four years of a premium but somewhat risky talent. If you look around, that’s roughly where he’s landed as far as comps. While the expectation of health has shifted south a bit since Opening Day, the evaluation of his talent has moved north a bit, both as a pitcher and hitter, following his uneven looks in spring training.

Five-Year WAR +22.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #34
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 26 +4.6 Arb2
2020 27 +4.8 Arb3
2021 28 +4.6 Arb3
Arb

Syndergaard is somewhat similar to Ohtani in terms of control/value: he offers about three-and-a-half years of a cost-controlled potential ace who also comes with some injury concerns. Ohtani, of course, is also a DH and the concern is likely elbow surgery. For Syndergaard, it’s a series of smaller injuries (lat, finger, bone chip in his elbow) that could become more serious as he gets older given how he hard throws. We know that velocity is the biggest broad predictor of arm trouble, so there’s always some risk with this type of pitcher, even with no injury history but, as covered in the Scherzer comment, these guys can also have an outsized impact in the most important parts of the year.

Five-Year WAR +17.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #19
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 27 +3.7 Pre-Arb
2020 28 +3.8 Arb1
2021 29 +3.6 Arb2
2022 30 +3.4 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Much of the comment regarding Gary Sanchez from yesterday applies here to Contreras. Like Sanchez, Contreras is a dynamic young hitter who plays a premium position and has all the tools to catch but hasn’t mastered the softer skills. Framing metrics don’t tell the whole story here, but Contreras has gone from fringey to well below average by that measure this year and that has coincided with all the Cubs’ starting pitchers regressing at the same time. We can’t say for sure these are connected or necessarily say anything about Contreras, but it generally lines up with the profile he’s had for a while, which is that of an offensive catcher. As with Sanchez, it’s hard to walk away from this rare set of tools and performance — especially in light of Contreras’s youth — but there’s another catcher coming up on the list whom teams will target if they want the no-doubt slam-dunk best catcher in baseball.

Five-Year WAR +18.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank #18
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 29 +4.2 Arb2
2020 30 +3.9 Arb3
Arb

We’re now getting into a group that includes four elite, short-term players who offer either one- or two-and-a-half years of control. Springer is at the back of this group since he’s having a bit of a down year, but much of that is due to ball-in-play misfortune and he’s still on pace for three wins and 26 bombs while playing an average center field. Springer has long been a scout favorite since the traits for which they seek in a cornerstone talent — size, athleticism, big tools, ability to make adjustments — it’s all here. Springer has performed as those scouts had hoped, has done it in the playoffs, is in the middle of his prime right now, and will probably age a little better than average. Like your high-school crush, he’s crazy not available right now, but this exercise is mostly hypothetical anyway, so go ahead and imagine him on your favorite team.

Five-Year WAR +23.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank #11
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 23 +3.7 Pre-Arb
2020 24 +4.6 Arb1
2021 25 +4.8 Arb2
2022 26 +4.9 Arb3
2023 27 +5.3 Arb4
Pre-Arb
Arb

Bellinger is an example of the player who was in the top tier of hyped hitting prospects that came up, set the league on fire, shot up these rankings, and got everyone super excited. He’s come back to Earth (and had an uneven playoff performance) since then, settling in as a very solid multi-year bet to perform but without the upside of other young players because of his offensive approach and lack of defensive upside. With five-and-a-half years of control remaining at 23 years old, however, age isn’t really a concern at all, and he’s above average defensively at first base, about average in the corner outfield. There’s tons to like here, but the general feeling from the sources with whom I spoke is that we’ve seen the best here. Jesus Aguilar– or Max Muncy-style breakouts also tend to play this position, so clubs won’t pay though the nose for Bellinger even if they’d love to have him.

Five-Year WAR +26.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank #37
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 31 +6.0 Arb2
2020 32 +5.7 Arb3
Arb

Here’s the first of two short-term players who are both involved in rumors right now and have very comparable trade value. The concerns with deGrom are pretty minor: he’s somewhat slight of build, is 30 years old, and has Tommy John surgery in his rear view. That, along with only 2.5 years of control until free agency, are the only clear negatives, while the positives are pretty obvious: elite athleticism, increasing velocity two years in a row, a six-win pace this season, etc. A contender looking for an ace to impact their playoff run couldn’t do much better than deGrom, and there isn’t big money or a long-term commitment, but it’ll cost a premium prospect package.

Five-Year WAR +16.1
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2020
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 28 +3.5 Arb2
2020 29 +3.4 Arb3
Arb

The foreshadowing in the Contreras comment was leading you here, to Realmuto. The hole in his game a few years ago was framing, but scouts swore that he was smart, had premium athleticism, and would figure it out. In the meantime, he’s gone from well below average to solid average in that regard. Realmuto is 27, is pacing backstops offensively, and, according to Statcast, features the best sprint speeds at his position by a wide margin, backing up the claims of those scouts. The only reason he isn’t higher is there’s only 2.5 years of control here. That actually fits the timetable of contenders perfectly, though, because paying catchers for a longer period carries some risk due to the rigors of the position (see Lucroy, Jonathan).

Realmuto ended up a spot ahead of deGrom due to pitcher risk and the enormous gap between him and the next somewhat available option at the position, but it’s very close and reasonable people can differ on this. You could also argue that, like how an elite starting pitcher can affect things more in the playoffs, an elite catcher is affecting every single pitch and the whole staff.

Five-Year WAR +28.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2019
Previous Rank #21
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 30 +6.5 $13.5 M
Team Option

Sale, like deGrom, is slight of build. And while he has no surgery in his past, he continues to possess a delivery that sure seems like it should cause problems. Pitchers are weird, Sale is no exception, and I suppose he’ll just throw 101 forever and eventually star in a baseball version of Space Jam, embarrassing aliens. Striking out humans must be boring to him by now.

Sale is now in the seventh year of a pretty incredible run, one in which he’s on pace to average 5.9 WAR, which feels like a number Jay Jaffe may end up quoting, if you catch my drift. There’s only 1.5 years of control left, but it’s for about $20 million for those 40-something regular-season starts and potentially two playoff runs. So, yeah, Sale is really good, and any team close to contention would pay retail in a heartbeat if he were close to available.

Five-Year WAR +19.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #27
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 27 +4.2 $9.8 M
2020 28 +4.2 $12.5 M
2021 29 +3.8 $14.0 M
2022 30 +3.9 $15.0 M
Team Option

The hyperbole of the Sale comment doesn’t exist here: Yelich is really good, a premium price was recently paid for him, and there’s tons of cheap control as he’s entering his peak years. This is the type of building block every perennial contender needs to have, particularly in a smaller market, and this is the reason smaller-market clubs are aggressively offering extensions to any recent call-ups who have any kind of star-type upside.

Five-Year WAR +22.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #49
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 26 +4.6 Arb1
2020 27 +4.7 Arb2
2021 28 +4.7 Arb3
Arb

Concluding today’s group of players is a pitcher who combines the cheap long-term control of Yelich with the dominance, athleticism, potential playoff impact, and arrows-up trend of deGrom. Nola still hasn’t gotten past 168 innings in his career, and there have been some smaller, nagging issues that have impacted his durability. That said, Nola is the rare young pitcher with both plus stuff and advanced feel who comes with an air of “don’t worry, I’ll figure this out” going back to when he threw in the mid-80s as a high-school senior or made the SEC look silly while at LSU. At the end of this list, James Paxton has one fewer year of control and more demonstrated durability issues, so Nola’s dominance alone, short of a significant injury, will keep him on this list, despite the volatility of young arms.

2018 Trade Value, 21-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
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: #21 to #30 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
shortstop
Member
shortstop

I can’t imagine any team would give up more for Springer than Ohtani, barring a positional need in the outfield. Really surprised, I expected to see Ohtani in the top 5.

fjtorres
Member
fjtorres

Tommy John surgery. Not every pitcher recovers.
As a full-time hitter he is somewhat comparable to Springer but as long as he’s pitching he won’t get the ABs.
As a full time hitter or as a healthy pitcher he might be worth more but as a halfsie…?

He may be an object lesson why teams don’t try the two way thing anymore.

swingofthings
Member
swingofthings

Springer’s placement makes very little sense to me.