2020 Trade Value: #1 to #10

While a shortened season might make this year’s version of our Trade Value Series an unusual one, with the deadline looming, we are not about to break with tradition. For a more detailed introduction to this year’s exercise, as well as a look at those players who fell just short of the top 50, be sure to read the Introduction and Honorable Mentions piece, which can be found in the widget above along with the other installments in the Series.

For those who have been reading the Trade Value Series the last few seasons, the format should look familiar. For every player, you’ll see a table with the player’s projected five-year WAR from 2021-2025, courtesy of Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections. The table will also include the player’s guaranteed money, if any, the year through which the team has contractual control of the player, last year’s rank, and then projections, contract status, and age for each individual season through 2025, if the player is under contract or team control for those seasons. Last year’s rank includes a link to the relevant 2019 post. Thanks are due to Sean Dolinar for creating the tables in these posts. At the bottom of the page, there will be an updated grid showing all the players who have been ranked up to this point.

With that out of the way, let’s finish the rankings.

Five-Year WAR +20.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #21
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 26 +4.3 Pre-Arb
2022 27 +4.4 Arb1
2023 28 +3.9 Arb2
2024 29 +3.8 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Since the beginning of last season, no pitcher has thrown more innings than Shane Bieber’s 249. Only four pitchers have a higher WAR than his 7.0 over than span: Gerrit Cole, Lance Lynn, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom. Cole just landed a monster contract. Lynn and Scherzer are in their 30s and will be free agents at the end of next season; deGrom is also in his 30s and makes more than $30 million a year. Bieber is 25 years old, will make the league minimum next season, and won’t be a free agent until after 2024.

Bieber’s performance and projections put him in a higher tier than Walker Buehler (18th in these rankings), who has a similar number of years of control remaining, but at a higher cost due to Buehler’s status as a Super Two. Bieber’s projections are just a bit lower than Jack Flaherty’s (19th), with the Cleveland right-hander boasting slightly better performance since the start of last year; he separates himself from Flaherty with an extra year of team control at virtually no cost. Unless Bieber wins a Cy Young award, he seems likely to make between $15 million to $20 million total over the next three seasons, and only $30 million to $40 million through the end of the 2024 season, or roughly the yearly salaries of Cole, deGrom, and Scherzer. Pitchers are inherently risky and the threat of Tommy John surgery always looms, which is really all that pushed Bieber to the back of the top 10 instead of being closer to the middle. When you factor in his contract status, Bieber is the most valuable pitcher in baseball.

Five-Year WAR +29.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank #4
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 25 +6.2 Arb2
2022 26 +6.0 Arb3
2023 27 +6.1 Arb4
Arb

Over the next three seasons, the only players with higher three-year ZiPS projections than Cody Bellinger are Mike Trout and Juan Soto. Bellinger won the National League MVP award last season with an 7.8 WAR campaign. His huge season created huge expectations going forward, and also meant high salaries relative to most arbitration cases. Bellinger will earn $11.5 million pro-rated this season in his first of four arbitration years, $650,000 higher than the similarly situated Kris Bryant. Despite a somewhat disappointing 2018, Bryant received arbitration awards totaling $31.5 million over the next two seasons, and is in line for another $25 million next season. Three years and $60 million isn’t a lot to pay for an MVP candidate, but it is close to doubling what José Ramírez and Rafael Devers will receive over those same seasons.

Even with some struggles to start 2020 due to an increased diet of breaking balls, Bellinger should more than make up for the difference in salary between the other players with three years of control through his play in the field. The rankings in the six-through-nine spot are all incredibly close, but Bellinger ends up lowest on the list due to his salary and the limited seasons of control remaining.

Five-Year WAR +25.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #12
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 24 +5.1 Arb1
2022 25 +5.0 Arb2
2023 26 +5.3 Arb3
2024 27 +5.3 Arb4
Arb

Since the beginning of last season, Gleyber Torres has the lowest WAR among the players who made the top 10. His career WAR is currently second-to-last among that group, and it might be last in another week or two. His exit velocities aren’t elite, and his defensive numbers haven’t been great. But Torres profiles well because he can handle an infield position, won’t turn 24 until December, and hits for power. In the last 50 years, the only players to play any of shortstop, third base, or second base who have hit more than Torres’ 62 homers in their age-21 and age-22 seasons are Miguel Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez. Only Cal Ripken Jr. and Devers are even within 10 homers of Torres. The Yankees’ young star gets the ball in the air with enough velocity to send it out of the park on a regular basis without striking out a ton or hitting a bunch of infield flies.

ZiPS loves Torres, projecting five-win seasons for the next half-decade. While the projections looks great, Gleyber has had a few minor injury hiccups in his career to he along with missing most of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery. There’s the possibility that Torres has to move off shortstop and the power is never as prodigious as the 38 homers he hit last year. It’s those questions that keep him from landing in the top five of these rankings. Torres has been good, could be great, and has four more years of team control with all those seasons coming in arbitration, but if there is a player I’m worried will fade out of the top 10 by next season based on performance, it’s him.

Five-Year WAR +17.8
Guaranteed Dollars $63.2 M
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #18
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 26 +3.6 $6.8 M
2022 27 +3.8 $13.8 M
2023 28 +3.5 $17.8 M
2024 29 +3.4 $24.8 M
2025 30 +3.4 $25.0 M
Team Option

Over his last 658 plate appearances (through Tuesday), Yoán Moncada has put up a 139 wRC+ and 6.8 WAR. He broke out in a big way last season and is off to a good start again this season. Since the start of last season, that 6.8 WAR ranks 12th among position players, and on a WAR/600 basis, his 6.2 mark is eighth. There is some reason to be skeptical about the sustainability of those numbers given his .396 BABIP. That figure should be high given Moncada’s elite exit velocity, but it is surely going to come down some. That said, lowering his BABIP to his expected numbers from Statcast still makes Moncada about 30% better than league average as a batter. He’s got very good speed and adds to the offense on the basepaths, and while he hasn’t been playing third base for too long, he appears to have taken to the position fairly well.

The projections are slightly skeptical of Moncada’s future, seeing him as more good than great. But even if the BABIP drops, there’s the possibility of more in-game power in Moncada’s future because he makes such hard contact, and at 25 years old, he’s still making adjustments to improve his hitting. As for the contract, he’s owed $68 million over the next four seasons with an option for 2025 for an additional $25 million. While the $68 million guarantee is about $30 million more than most players heading into arbitration will receive (though it’s not far off from Bellinger), the two extra years of control separate Moncada from players like Matt Chapman, Devers, and Ramírez, providing an extra $20 million to $30 million in value above his contract for each of those years. Moncada will only be 29 years old when his current deal ends. He’ll be a great value if he only hits his fairly modest projections, and can be an incredible one if he keeps up last year’s performance over the next half-decade.

Five-Year WAR +27.0
Guaranteed Dollars $29.0 M
Team Control Through 2027
Previous Rank #8
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 24 +5.3 $3.0 M
2022 25 +5.5 $5.0 M
2023 26 +5.5 $7.0 M
2024 27 +5.6 $7.0 M
2025 28 +5.2 $7.0 M

At this point on the list, you’re going to notice a tendency on my part to emphasize the negatives to justify moving one player below another, but remember, these are all very good players on contracts that create considerable trade value.

Thus far, Ozzie Albies has separated himself more with his contract than his play. Albies put up a very good 4.6 WAR season in 2019 following a solid 3.8 WAR campaign the year prior. He did need more than 700 PA to reach that total, and on a WAR/600 basis, his 4.4 is the second-lowest of any player in my top 10. His 117 wRC+ last year was also the lowest of any position player in the top 10, and that followed an average year at the plate. He doesn’t play a premium position, and his defense has been more good than great. He doesn’t hit the ball tremendously hard, likely won’t ever have huge power numbers, and his lefty swing against righties still leaves something to be desired. But he’s also just 23 years old and put up a 4.6-win season despite those issues. The projections love him, and some I spoke with believed he still has another step forward in him.

Then there’s the contract. Albies is guaranteed just $33 million over the next five seasons, and if both of Atlanta’s options are exercised, the team will have seven total years of control after this one for only $43 million. It’s a terrible contract for Albies, and it has been since the day he signed it. It’s also a deal that’s incredibly beneficial to the Braves, and a bargain if Albies is only ever an average hitter and decent defender and baserunner. If he takes a significant step forward in the next two seasons at 24 and 25 years old? There’s still enough team control that he could end up at the top of these rankings.

Five-Year WAR +27.7
Guaranteed Dollars $79.0 M
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #5
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 27 +6.2 $11.0 M
2022 28 +6.0 $11.0 M
2023 29 +5.7 $28.5 M
2024 30 +5.2 $28.5 M

While the sixth and fifth spots are very close in the ordinal rankings, there’s a pretty large gap between the group of players at six-through-nine, and another gap between Alex Bregman and the top four players. Over the next four years, Bregman will earn a backloaded $79 million with only $22 million paid through 2022. In terms of production and projections over the next three years, Bregman is roughly identical to Cody Bellinger. Where the players and their value differs is that Bregman has an additional year of control for an extra $20 million.

Bregman has averaged eight wins per season over the last two years and is off to another solid start this season, though an Injured List stint for a strained right hamstring will put a damper on things. He’s a solid fielder at third base and has handled shortstop over the last few years. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, his 161 wRC+ trails that of only Mike Trout and Christian Yelich among qualified batters, while his 16.6 WAR lags behind that of only Trout and Mookie Betts. He has an argument for being the best player in baseball not named Mike Trout, and he’s under contract for four years beyond this at a below-market rate. He might not be as young as a few of the other players around him on this list, but he is probably better right now.

Five-Year WAR +31.0
Guaranteed Dollars $355.4 M
Team Control Through 2030
Previous Rank #3
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 29 +7.2 $35.5 M
2022 30 +7.0 $35.5 M
2023 31 +6.4 $35.5 M
2024 32 +5.6 $35.5 M
2025 33 +4.8 $35.5 M

I really wrestled with Mike Trout’s spot on this list, moving him between second and fourth in its various iterations. Trout is obviously the best player in baseball, but he’s also owed around $350 million over the next 10 seasons. While that contract is still a very good deal for the Angels and provides them incredible value, it is difficult to gauge Trout’s market. Only a handful of teams would be willing to take on the money owed to him and give up the tremendous talent it would take to land him. The question isn’t whether a team would give up a player ahead of Trout on this list for the center fielder; it’s whether motivated, wealthy teams would create a better market for one of the best players in baseball history compared to the market that would be created by a greater number of teams all bidding on one of the players ranked just ahead of him.

From a strict value perspective, there’s an argument that Trout’s contract is worth more than the next couple of players on this list. Even though he’ll be 29 to begin next season, something close to an eight-win projection keeps Trout as the best player in the game into his early-30s with a normal decline. Ultimately, based on feedback from those in front offices and the presence of a no-trade clause for Trout, I moved him down to fourth. While Giancarlo Stanton is not an equivalent player, when the Marlins attempted to trade him, they had to accept a lesser offer from the Yankees when Stanton refused to go to either the Giants or Cardinals. While the trade market for Trout would be robust, the value in that trade likely falls just behind the three players above him on this list.

Five-Year WAR +32.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #6
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 22 +6.5 Arb1
2022 23 +6.6 Arb2
2023 24 +6.6 Arb3
2024 25 +6.6 Arb4
Arb

I received some feedback from teams that Juan Soto should be the second-ranked player on this list. His hitting projections are off the charts high. The five-year ZiPS say he’ll surpass Trout in 2023, and provide more WAR over the next five years. I think I’d still take Trout in that bet, but Soto is 21 years old, has two full seasons’ worth of playing time already under his belt, and has a career 149 wRC+. He walks nearly as much as he strikes out, he hits the ball hard when he makes contact, and he has a ton of power. In the last 100 years, the only player with at least 1,000 plate appearances through their age-20 season with a wRC+ higher than the 143 Soto ended last season with was Mel Ott’s 144 just before the Great Depression. If we expand the list to include a player’s age-21 season, the age-season Soto is currently playing, the only players ahead of him are Trout (164), Jimmie Foxx (160), and Ted Williams (157).

Soto isn’t a perfect player. He’s not a strong baserunner, and his defense is closer to average, or even below-average, in a corner outfield spot. It’s possible his defense and running could get worse if his body gets bigger, but that is probably a longer-term issue and not a concern over the next four years of team control as Soto will currently head to free agency after his age-25 season. Soto will be arbitration-eligible at the end of the season, so the four years of team control could cost Washington $50 million or more. For a player projected by ZiPS to be better than Trout in a few years, that cost is a pittance.

Five-Year WAR +26.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #2
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 22 +4.4 Pre-Arb
2022 23 +5.0 Arb1
2023 24 +5.5 Arb2
2024 25 +5.5 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

The last week or so has made it a lot easier to justify Fernando Tatis Jr.’s spot on this list. At first glance, the projections don’t seem to justify inclusion. But those projections are based in part on Tatis’ injury-shortened 2019 campaign, during which he played just 84 games and logged 372 plate appearances. As Dan Szymborski recently noted, assuming a fully healthy future, the five-year projection would have been over 33 wins, the highest in the sport. Through almost 500 plate appearances, Tatis has put up a 161 wRC+ and 5.7 WAR. On a rate basis, that’s seven wins per 600 plate appearances, which is third in the majors since the start of last season, behind only Trout and Yelich.

Some I spoke with had concerns about how Tatis’ numbers last season outpaced his expected Statcast stats by a pretty significant margin; a .410 BABIP is not sustainable. There are also concerns about Tatis’ defense at shortstop given all of his throwing errors. Neither of those concerns have asserted themselves this season, though we are dealing with fewer than 30 games. At the moment, the 21 years old is projected to lead the majors in WAR this season. While everything seems to get some sort of asterisk in 2020, the last player to lead the majors in WAR at 21 was Trout. Tatis will still earn a minimum salary next season before three arbitration-eligible seasons. If Tatis and Soto were equal, their respective salaries would serve as a tiebreaker. Soto is the surer thing given his bat — his xwOBA since the start of 2019 is second in baseball at .425, while Tatis’ is .370 and ranks 40th — but Tatis has the higher ceiling given his baserunning and ability to play shortstop. Which player you prefer probably depends on your appetite for risk. Tatis’ higher ceiling (and slightly higher risk profile) seems likely to extract a little bit more on the trade market, even if many teams might choose Soto’s sure bat.

Five-Year WAR +30.3
Guaranteed Dollars $98.0 M
Team Control Through 2027
Previous Rank #1
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +5.9 $5.0 M
2022 24 +6.3 $15.0 M
2023 25 +6.1 $17.0 M
2024 26 +6.1 $17.0 M
2025 27 +5.9 $17.0 M

One thing is no longer true since Ronald Acuña Jr. occupied this spot in the rankings a year ago: With the emergence of Tatis and Soto, he’s no longer “the consensus best young player in the game by just about every measure.” Acuña’s five-year WAR projection declined slightly from 33.2 a year ago to 30.3, allowing the two players that preceded him on this list to stake their claims to being among the game’s best young stars.

That said, Acuña’s projection is still third in baseball behind Trout and Soto’s, and he has done nothing to make us think he won’t be a star-level player for the next half-decade or longer. Unlike Trout, there’s no massive contract. Unlike Soto and Tatis, the team control extends far beyond the 2024 season. Over the next four seasons, Acuña will make $54 million, roughly what Soto might earn in arbitration. Then the Braves have him under team control for two more seasons at $17 million per year. Those will be Acuña’s age-27 and age-28 campaigns. Then, the Braves have two options on Acuña for $17 million each in his age-29 and age-30 seasons. In total, the Braves have his next eight seasons for a total of $122 million and will not pay for a single year definitely past his prime. Even if you believe Tatis and Soto have surpassed Acuña on the field, four extra seasons in Acuña’s prime for half of the yearly cost for those players’ non-prime years in free agency is such an incredible value as to make this choice an easy decision.

2020 Trade Value, 1-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
1 1 Ronald Acuña Jr. 22 +5.9
$5.0 M
+6.3
$15.0 M
+6.1
$17.0 M
+6.1
$17.0 M
+5.9
$17.0 M
2 2 Fernando Tatis Jr. 21 +4.4
Pre-Arb
+5.0
Arb1
+5.5
Arb2
+5.5
Arb3
3 6 Juan Soto 21 +6.5
Arb1
+6.6
Arb2
+6.6
Arb3
+6.6
Arb4
4 3 Mike Trout 28 +7.2
$35.5 M
+7.0
$35.5 M
+6.4
$35.5 M
+5.6
$35.5 M
+4.8
$35.5 M
5 5 Alex Bregman 26 +6.2
$11.0 M
+6.0
$11.0 M
+5.7
$28.5 M
+5.2
$28.5 M
6 8 Ozzie Albies 23 +5.3
$3.0 M
+5.5
$5.0 M
+5.5
$7.0 M
+5.6
$7.0 M
+5.2
$7.0 M
7 18 Yoán Moncada 25 +3.6
$6.8 M
+3.8
$13.8 M
+3.5
$17.8 M
+3.4
$24.8 M
+3.4
$25.0 M
8 12 Gleyber Torres 23 +5.1
Arb1
+5.0
Arb2
+5.3
Arb3
+5.3
Arb4
9 4 Cody Bellinger 24 +6.2
Arb2
+6.0
Arb3
+6.1
Arb4
10 21 Shane Bieber 25 +4.3
Pre-Arb
+4.4
Arb1
+3.9
Arb2
+3.8
Arb3
11 23 Wander Franco 19 +2.5
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Pre-Arb
+3.7
Pre-Arb
+4.4
Arb1
+4.5
Arb2
12 17 Ketel Marte 26 +4.0
$6.0 M
+3.9
$8.0 M
+3.7
$10.0 M
+3.5
$12.0 M
13 9 Matt Chapman 27 +5.2
Arb1
+4.9
Arb2
+4.8
Arb3
14 Luis Robert 22 +3.1
$3.5 M
+3.3
$6.0 M
+3.3
$9.5 M
+3.2
$12.5 M
+3.1
$15.0 M
15 7 Christian Yelich 28 +5.1
$14.0 M
+4.9
$26.0 M
+4.5
$26.0 M
+3.9
$26.0 M
+3.3
$26.0 M
16 14 Rafael Devers 23 +4.2
Arb1
+4.4
Arb2
+4.4
Arb3
17 33 José Ramírez 27 +5.0
$9.0 M
+4.7
$11.0 M
+4.3
$13.0 M
18 11 Walker Buehler 25 +3.9
Arb1
+3.8
Arb2
+3.3
Arb3
+3.3
Arb4
19 HM Jack Flaherty 24 +4.7
Arb1
+4.6
Arb2
+4.2
Arb3
20 32 Pete Alonso 25 +4.2
Pre-Arb
+4.2
Arb1
+4.2
Arb2
+4.1
Arb3
21 30 Chris Paddack 24 +2.8
Pre-Arb
+2.8
Arb1
+2.6
Arb2
+2.6
Arb3
22 22 Germán Márquez 25 +3.7
$7.5 M
+3.8
$11.0 M
+3.4
$15.0 M
+3.4
$16.0 M
23 HM Bo Bichette 22 +4.4
Pre-Arb
+4.8
Pre-Arb
+4.8
Arb1
+5.0
Arb2
+5.0
Arb3
24 10 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 21 +3.8
Pre-Arb
+4.5
Arb1
+4.7
Arb2
+4.8
Arb3
+4.8
Arb4
25 31 Aaron Nola 27 +3.8
$11.8 M
+3.7
$15.0 M
+3.3
$16.0 M
26 HM Gavin Lux 22 +4.0
Pre-Arb
+4.4
Pre-Arb
+4.6
Pre-Arb
+4.8
Arb1
+4.7
Arb2
27 15 Aaron Judge 28 +4.6
Arb2
+4.6
Arb3
28 41 Brandon Woodruff 27 +2.4
Arb1
+2.3
Arb2
+2.1
Arb3
+1.9
Arb4
29 29 Paul DeJong 26 +3.5
$4.0 M
+3.3
$6.0 M
+3.1
$9.0 M
+3.0
$12.5 M
+2.6
$15.0 M
30 20 Blake Snell 27 +3.0
$10.5 M
+2.9
$12.5 M
+2.6
$16.0 M
31 49 Matt Olson 26 +3.9
Arb1
+3.8
Arb2
+3.8
Arb3
32 50 Luis Castillo 27 +3.3
Arb1
+3.3
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
33 HM Lucas Giolito 25 +4.3
Arb1
+4.1
Arb2
+3.8
Arb3
34 HM Yordan Alvarez 23 +3.9
Pre-Arb
+4.0
Pre-Arb
+3.9
Arb1
+3.9
Arb2
+3.9
Arb3
35 HM Max Muncy 29 +3.7
$9.0 M
+3.2
$13.0 M
+2.6
$13.0 M
36 Ramón Laureano 25 +3.0
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Arb1
+2.8
Arb2
+2.7
Arb3
37 HM Austin Meadows 25 +3.3
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Arb1
+2.8
Arb2
+2.8
Arb3
38 38 Jorge Polanco 26 +3.0
$4.3 M
+2.9
$5.5 M
+2.7
$7.5 M
+2.7
$10.5 M
+2.2
$12.0 M
39 40 Max Kepler 27 +3.0
$6.5 M
+2.9
$6.8 M
+2.8
$8.5 M
+2.3
$10.0 M
40 39 Jeff McNeil 28 +3.9
Pre-Arb
+3.7
Arb1
+3.5
Arb2
+2.9
Arb3
41 HM Adley Rutschman 22 +1.6
Pre-Arb
+2.0
Pre-Arb
+2.2
Pre-Arb
+2.3
Arb1
+2.5
Arb2
42 28 Joey Gallo 26 +2.4
Arb2
+2.4
Arb3
43 16 Shohei Ohtani 25 +2.3
Arb1
+2.2
Arb2
+2.1
Arb3
44 HM Nate Pearson 23 +1.8
Pre-Arb
+1.8
Pre-Arb
+1.7
Arb1
+1.6
Arb2
+1.6
Arb3
45 Jesús Luzardo 22 +1.7
Pre-Arb
+1.9
Pre-Arb
+1.6
Arb1
+1.6
Arb2
+1.5
Arb3
46 HM Keston Hiura 23 +3.0
Pre-Arb
+3.1
Pre-Arb
+3.2
Arb1
+3.2
Arb2
+2.8
Arb3
47 HM Mookie Betts 27 +6.2
$22.9 M
+5.9
$22.9 M
+5.7
$25.4 M
+5.1
$30.4 M
+4.4
$30.4 M
48 24 Jacob deGrom 32 +4.6
$37.5 M
+4.1
$37.5 M
+3.8
$34.5 M
+3.5
$32.5 M
49 19 Xander Bogaerts 27 +4.1
$20.0 M
+3.9
$20.0 M
+3.7
$20.0 M
+3.2
$20.0 M
+2.5
$20.0 M
50 HM Dustin May 22 +2.4
Pre-Arb
+2.3
Pre-Arb
+2.3
Arb1
+2.3
Arb2
+2.3
Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb
Team Option
Player Option

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

newest oldest most voted
Rational Fan
Member
Member

Love it; wrestling with where to place Trout is impossible. There’s no one that the Angels (or any smart team) would trade Trout for SU, but some teams play the cheap card so well you have to factor in his well below market contract as a detriment for some teams because they just refuse to spend money.

After all, if anything there’s only been 1 or 2 players in the games history like Trout. Trying to find and replace him with a young or exciting player is like playing the powerball.

padres458
Member
padres458

The Angels don’t need trout. The Angels have proven having the best player in game on your team doesnt mean anything.

The Duke
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The Duke

Of course they never would, but I wonder if they wouldn’t be better with Acuna/Albies be Trout. Would Atlanta make that deal ? I doubt it actually

Otter
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Otter

I mean are the Angels trading Trout for Acuna and Albies? But I feel like the Braves might do that deal (probably not, but they’re more likely to say yes?) I honestly don’t know…

tomerafan
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tomerafan

The Angels would do that deal in a heartbeat. That’s trading Trout for an Acuna at +/-90% of his current production, but 6 years younger and at a fraction of the salary cost, knowing that the five year forward total outcomes between Acuna and Trout probably give the edge to Acuna as Trout moves into his 30’s…

…And also adding perhaps the best second baseman in the game on the most team-friendly contract in modern baseball history…

…AND having another $15M/year cash to spend if you keep payroll constant… um, yes, the Angels would do that deal.

FrodoBeck
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FrodoBeck

I will never cease to be amazed at the Albies contract.

It’s ludicrous.

Rational Fan
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I get what you’re saying and I’d probably do that trade, but in what world is Ronald Acuna 90% of Mike Trout’s production? I know the projections have Trout being a 4.5 fWAR player at 33, but if I could bet today I’d be all over that over on that. Maybe Trout hits an aging wall, but man he hasn’t stopped getting better at the plate yet. It’s hard to envision him doing anything but excelling well into his thirties like the other elite elite he is in company with.

Acuna was awesome last year and worth 5.6 fWAR. Mike Trout played 22 fewer games, and still was 53% better than Acuna per fWAR. Obviously Acuna was only in his second year; in Mike Trouts second year, he was 80.3% better than Ronald Acuna was last year.

Albies is the difference here and what pushes it over, but while Acuna is amazing I wouldn’t be betting my life that he’s even 60% as good as Mike Trout over the next 6 years.

tomerafan
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tomerafan

If I go with Fangraphs projected numbers, Acuna’s current projection is 80% of Trout’s. Over the next five years, it’s 97% of Trout’s. I’d submit that 60% is too low even if 90 or 97% is too high… a probibalistic range of outcomes would probably put it at 75-85%… but that’s nitpicking. I picked “90%” as a number to imply a concept or direction, not something that I studied or used to make a prediction.

Either way, Acuna being 6 years younger and $20M/year cheaper than Trout for the next five years would make the deal something that the Angels would have to consider straight-up. I’d bet that it’s the Braves who balk on that deal rather than the Angels.

Fortunately, no one is asking you to bet your life. But from a probabilistic, odds-making perspective, on a health-neutral basis, the odds that Acuna is “even 60% as good as Mike Trout over the next 6 years” are extremely high. Like, extremely high. Take your best-case projection for Trout WAR. If he *averaged* 7 WAR per season over those six years, age 29-34, I think that would be a record for that age. So let’s suggest that is a potential ceiling. 42 WAR over the next six years. Acuna at 60% of that is 25 wins. Health neutral, you don’t think Acuna is a 4.25-win-per-year player from age 22-27?

(Aside – would love to see this updated!
https://blogs.fangraphs.com/how-do-star-hitters-age/)

Whether or not Mike Trout has stopped getting better at the plate is not the question. He has the most WAR ever through age 27… but no one sustains their age 24-25 WAR into age 34. Batters begin to slow down; muscle reflexes change. It’s overblown to suggest that hitters’ value collapses when they turn 30… but they do come down a bit.

Shoot, I remember thinking that Albert Pujols could do it forever… and then it ended quickly. Pujols ain’t Trout, to be sure, but he averaged easy 8-win seasons per year for ten years through age 30… and then fell by >70% through age 35 or so before falling off the table completely.

It’s no slight to Mike Trout to acknowledge, ruefully, that it is highly likely that he will decline after the next couple of seasons. He may “only” decline to a 5-6 win player for a couple years. But the odds of him defying the aging curve completely are infinitely small, no matter how special he is and how amazingly he has performed.

Rational Fan
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Remember, the system being used to project Trout is the same system being used to project every player. It takes into account the mean outcome of all players. Mike Trout is not all players, and has already proven those projections wrong repeatedly. The projections aren’t wrong – they shouldn’t be changed just for Mike – but they shouldn’t be used as a tool to speak of Mike Trout’s future with any confidence IMO. History tells us that guys of his elite talent tend to age with more grace; obviously that isn’t the case for everyone, but the math would agree.

Also, plenty of great player sustain it. Willie Mays – who is the closest comp to Trout for me – had 3 of his 4 most valuable seasons after his 30th birthday. 5 of Ruth’s 9 most valuable seasons were after his 30th birthday.

Models that are used to project and predict the success of the masses are likely going to miss on the edges. You could end up being 100% correct – it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong – but I’d be surprised to see Acuna come closer than I stated to Trout in terms of value over the next 5 years.

Hank G.
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Hank G.

Take your best-case projection for Trout WAR. If he *averaged* 7 WAR per season over those six years, age 29-34, I think that would be a record for that age.

Willie Mays averaged 10.3 WAR from 29-34.

tomerafan
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tomerafan

Whoa. You’re correct; he did and I missed that. Apologies. For some, reason, I thought Stan Musial was the leader and I believe he had 43 WAR during that age-span. But you are correct.

rosen380
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rda7529
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rda7529

I’d be willing to bet Acuna is 60% as good as Trout over the next 6 years. How much?

fordhamflash
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fordhamflash

I think we forget sometimes how much better Mike Trout is than everyone else

Otter
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Otter

I think you’re either underrating Trout or overrating Acuna. And one 8 win player is worth more than two players totally 8 wins. Maybe Trout ages very poorly (unlikely!) but I don’t think this is as much of a no brainer as you make it out to be. (Also Albies has been bad this year (SSS etc)… not sure where we’re getting best second baseman in the game even accounting for last year).

Joe Joe
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Joe Joe

On a 8-WAR player being worth more than 2 4-WAR players, please look at Trout’s playoff numbers. The Angels having their WAR concentrated in a few players has not given them extra wins.

Otter
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Otter

That’s an indictment on the Angels FO…

Joe Joe
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Joe Joe

It is, but it also shows that teams with WAR concentrated in a few players win about as much as a team with a similar amount of WAR spread out. Teams can’t just snap their fingers and fill in holes around an 8-WAR player with 1-2 WAR players. Unless a team has about 62 WAR on a roster, having 2 4-WAR players is for all intents and purposes as valuable as an 8-WAR player.

Rational Fan
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Yes, but if you have a player with 10 fWAR, you’re already 20-25% to where you need to be to not be bad at baseball. Having that much more in one position is a monstrous advantage; it’s not Trout’s fault his FO didn’t take advantage.

Joe Joe
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Joe Joe

Having 10 fWAR spread out between 2 players is as much of an advantage. The Angels have 269 fWAR from 2012-2019, and played like a team with 267 fWAR. If having fWAR concentrated was worth more, it should be easily apparent with the Angels since Trout is by far the most concentrated source of fWAR over that period. It isn’t. fWAR is a finite resource such that teams don’t have issues finding spots for 2 fWAR player. fWAR is very linear as long as we stay away from 0 fWAR (measurement error based on replacement level not being accurate, though this gets washed away in aggregate usually).

rda7529
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rda7529

And when that player gets hurt?