2020 Trade Value: #21 to #30

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.

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 continue with the rankings.

Five-Year WAR +13.2
Guaranteed Dollars $39.0 M
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank #20
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 28 +3.0 $10.5 M
2022 29 +2.9 $12.5 M
2023 30 +2.6 $16.0 M

After 2020, Blake Snell is owed $39 million over the next three season before he heads to free agency. That might be a little bit more than what Luis Castillo and Lucas Giolito will earn in arbitration, but not significantly so. The 2018 Cy Young award winner had an unusual 2019 that has dimmed his trade value some. He got off to a great start, then dropped a piece of granite on his toe in April and struggled slightly after returning from the injured list, though his 3.56 FIP was still solid. He had loose bodies removed from his elbow in July and pitched in six games in September and October, totaling 10.1 quality innings. On the year, Snell’s FIP was a very good 3.32; given his .343 BABIP, his 4.29 ERA seems to be mostly the result of bad luck. Snell has slowly ramped up his innings as 2020 has gotten underway, and he’s pitched very well so far. While the elbow issues are concerning, his pitching the last few years has been very good and he’s off to a promising start. That keeps his value just ahead of similarly controlled pitchers like Giolito and Castillo, but it is a close call.

Five-Year WAR +15.6
Guaranteed Dollars $19.0 M
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #29
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 27 +3.5 $4.0 M
2022 28 +3.3 $6.0 M
2023 29 +3.1 $9.0 M
2024 30 +3.0 $12.5 M
2025 31 +2.6 $15.0 M
Team Option

When it comes to elite shortstops, Paul DeJong probably isn’t one of the first names that comes to mind, and that’s fair. He’s been a roughly average hitter, and his defense isn’t very flashy. But that defense actually makes him one of the better fielding shortstops in the game no matter which metric you look at. DeJong’s four-win 2019 put him seventh among his position peers, but of the six players ahead of him, four will be free agents in the next 15 months (Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Javier Báez, Francisco Lindor) and the other two have already netted $100 million contracts (Alex Bregman, Xander Bogaerts). You’ll see Bregman — along with three other shortstops not yet mentioned — higher up on this list, which puts DeJong firmly in the good rather than great category. His average batting prevents him from climbing any higher on the list and I received some sentiment to drop him down even more. But good performance with five years of team control, just $21 million guaranteed, and a maximum payout that comes in under $50 million is a very good bargain. If you want a better shortstop over the next five years, they better be homegrown and already close to the majors; otherwise, you need to be ready to shell out more than $100 million long-term.

Five-Year WAR +10.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #41
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 28 +2.4 Arb1
2022 29 +2.3 Arb2
2023 30 +2.1 Arb3
2024 31 +1.9 Arb4
Arb

Used in relief and the rotation as he began his career, Brandon Woodruff took a star turn in the 2018 postseason, notching a 1.46 ERA, a 1.13 FIP, and home run to help his own cause. Woodruff’s 2019 saw him leave the bullpen behind for good with only an oblique injury preventing a true breakout. In 22 starts, Woodruff struck out 143 batters while allowing just 30 walks. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings, Woodruff’s FIP-, a figure that adjusts for the difficult pitching environment in Milwaukee, was 30% better than league average and trailed only Max Scherzer‘s and Jacob deGrom’s in the National League. Woodruff only got in two September games and a postseason start after coming off the Injured List, but has come out of the gate this season with the same level of effectiveness we saw a year ago. Woodruff will be arbitration-eligible next season, but as a Super Two so there are four more years of team control. That extra year pushes him ahead in the middle tier of pitchers on this list and could keep him pegged this highly on these rankings in the future even as he gets closer to free agency.

Five-Year WAR +19.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #15
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 29 +4.6 Arb2
2022 30 +4.6 Arb3
Arb

This is the highest ranking any player eligible for free agency after the 2022 season achieved. Trading for Aaron Judge means relatively high arbitration salaries, maybe totaling $30 million or more in 2021 and 2022. It also means a high level of injury risk, as the Yankees outfielder has missed considerable time the past two seasons and is currently on the IL for a calf strain. But there’s also the fact that Judge has averaged 6.3 WAR/600 PA in his career and the one time he put together a full season, he won AL Rookie of the Year honors with 52 homers and 8.3 WAR.

The power and the talent are massive. Though he’s already 28 years old, with just two years left before free agency, the years under team control should come pretty close to his present talent before aging takes hold. Even missing all that time the last few years, Judge’s 11 wins since the start of the 2018 season are in line with Cody Bellinger, J.T. Realmuto, and Ketel Marte, and ahead of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Javier Báez. There’s risk with Judge, but the potential reward is one of the best players in baseball.

Five-Year WAR +22.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +4.0 Pre-Arb
2022 24 +4.4 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +4.6 Pre-Arb
2024 26 +4.8 Arb1
2025 27 +4.7 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

Whether for baseball reasons or as nefarious service time manipulation, Gavin Lux was not on the Dodgers’ active roster for the first 20 days of the season, ensuring that the team will have six more seasons of team control after this one despite Lux’s 2019 September call-up. With Lux still not on the roster, the Dodgers might even avoid Super Two status with another 5-7 days at the alternate site.

While Lux’s team control in 2026 matters for his value, it pales in comparison to his expected performance over the next five seasons. Of all the player’s on this list, Lux’s 22.5 projected five-year WAR, courtesy of ZiPS, ranked 13th. His projection pairs well with his prospect status, with no major publication ranking Lux lower than fourth heading into the season, and multiple lists, including FanGraphs‘, putting Lux in the second spot. Lux can probably stay at second base, though defense isn’t his calling card. He’s so high here, and had some advocates for an even higher slot, due to his high contact and power combo. Across three levels last season including the majors, Lux had a .334 batting average, an 11% walk rate, a solid 21% strikeout rate, and hit 28 homers, 29 doubles, and eight triples. Lux is big-league ready now, will likely earn the major league minimum through 2023, and won’t be a free agent until after the 2026 season. Teams are prioritizing low-cost production, and despite little big league experience, Lux’s bat epitomizes the ideal desired by franchises looking to cut costs.

Five-Year WAR +16.8
Guaranteed Dollars $26.8 M
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank #31
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 28 +3.8 $11.8 M
2022 29 +3.7 $15.0 M
2023 30 +3.3 $16.0 M
Team Option

The Phillies’ ace doesn’t have durability concerns after making 67 starts and pitching 414.1 innings, the latter ranking behind only Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke over the last two seasons. There were some questions about Nola’s performance, however, after a merely good 2019 season. The 27-year-old righty’s walks went down, his homers went up, and he induced fewer infield flies than he had in his very good 2018 campaign. From 2016 to 2018, Nola’s FIP was about 30% better than league average, and his high groundball rate proved to be a good fit in the hitter-friendly environs of Philadelphia. Last year, Nola was only around 10% better than average, more of a solid number three starter than an ace. While it is still early in the 2020 season, Nola’s start has been promising and might be erasing any doubts after last year. Eric Longenhagen detailed what’s been working for Nola this season, and why this level of performance should stick. Nola will earn around $43 million over the next three seasons, assuming his 2023 option gets picked up. Given the guarantee of $31 million over the next two seasons, there’s slightly less risk than there is with Snell’s contract. With fewer durability concerns and a high level of performance so far this year, Nola’s safety nets him a higher ranking.

Five-Year WAR +22.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #10
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 22 +3.8 Pre-Arb
2022 23 +4.5 Arb1
2023 24 +4.7 Arb2
2024 25 +4.8 Arb3
2025 26 +4.8 Arb4
Pre-Arb
Arb

The consensus top prospect in baseball entering the 2019 season hits the ball incredibly hard. He’s just 21 years old, and his track record in the minor leagues is absolutely amazing. Given that information, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s performance in the majors thus far might be characterized as a disappointment. He has been a slightly above-average hitter and a below-average baserunner and fielder. While there were hopes he might be able to stick it out at third base for a little bit, the truncated season helped to force an earlier switch. That means that to be a star in this league, he has to absolutely crush it with the bat, and he hasn’t done that yet. Of course, he’s had periods where he has hammered the baseball, and he looks to be on one of those hot streaks right now, hitting well even though he hasn’t yet been able to get the ball in the air on a regular basis, the trademark of great Toronto hitters over the last decade. His exit velocity numbers are great, he walks at a decent clip, and he doesn’t strike out a ton. But he needs to get the ball in the air to reach his power (and batting average) ceiling; his failure to do so so far has depressed Guerrero’s performance and caused a sizable drop on this list.

The 120 wRC+ Guerrero is projected for the rest of the season will only make him an average player; it’s the 140-150 wRC+ ZiPS projects for him down the road that will make Guerrero a star. He can still get there given his age, but it isn’t as certain as it was a year ago. The Blue Jays still have five more years of team control after this one, years that could either be mildly valuable if Guerrero is an average player or incredibly valuable if he develops like everyone predicted he would. Guerrero’s minor league track record and age are what’s driving his placement here, not his present production.

Five-Year WAR +23.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +4.4 Pre-Arb
2022 24 +4.8 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +4.8 Arb1
2024 26 +5.0 Arb2
2025 27 +5.0 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Vlad Jr.’s teammate has passed him by, both on the field and in these rankings. While Bo Bichette’s knee injury introduces some uncertainty about his future, front offices have taken notice of the shortstop and prefer him to his younger teammate.

Bichette was a highly rated prospect a year ago, in FanGraphs’ top 10, and he produced in the big leagues upon his promotion. In just under 50 games, Bichette put up a 142 wRC+, and did so while playing short. His .368 BABIP was a little higher than can be expected going forward and his xwOBA was about 40 points below his wOBA, but he was a well above-average hitter even when discounting for those factors, and he was off to a fast start this season before his sprained knee. Bichette has held up at shortstop thus far, but isn’t likely to be anything more than average. He is still just 22 years old and the bat will play even if he does move off short. With two more seasons making the major league minimum after this one, and then three years of arbitration before free agency, Bichette’s best years are likely to come at a considerable discount salary-wise. Of all the players on this list, his five-year ZiPS ranks 10th overall. If Bichette can put this injury behind him, he’s likely to move up considerably on this list a year from now.

Five-Year WAR +17.5
Guaranteed Dollars $33.5 M
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #22
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 26 +3.7 $7.5 M
2022 27 +3.8 $11.0 M
2023 28 +3.4 $15.0 M
2024 29 +3.4 $16.0 M
Team Option

When discussing the absence of young, cost-controlled pitchers, consider that since the start of 2017 for pitchers 27 and younger, Aaron Nola’s 14.5 WAR leads the pack, oft-injured Luis Severino is second with 11.5 WAR, and Germán Márquez is third with 11 wins. To combine that level of production with four more years of team control and reasonable salaries is truly rare. Márquez has been more good than great, though it is fair to wonder if good is great when pitching in Colorado. The Rockies’ career leader in WAR for pitchers is Ubaldo Jiménez, at 18. It’s difficult to have sustained success in Colorado and Márquez is in his fourth straight solid year despite pitching half his games in Coors. His strikeout numbers aren’t outrageous, but he limits walks and induces groundballs. At just 25 years old, there’s still considerable potential for the future. He’s only owed $36 million over the next four seasons, with a fourth year option that could take the total to $49.5 million through 2024. Placing Márquez this high on the list might seem a bit much, but again, having this many years of team control at a low salary for a pitcher with a proven track record is pretty rare.

Five-Year WAR +13.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #30
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 25 +2.8 Pre-Arb
2022 26 +2.8 Arb1
2023 27 +2.6 Arb2
2024 28 +2.6 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

The Padres’ righty doesn’t have the experience of Márquez, but he does have four more years of team control. And those years come at a much lower cost, with a minimum salary next year followed by three years of arbitration. Chris Paddack put up a good season last year, with homers holding the 24-year-old righty back from something more. His strikeout rate (26.9%) and walk rate (5.5%) were both great, but the 1.5 homer per nine innings kept his WAR at an above-average 2.4 in 140.2 innings. There’s reason to think better things are to come. His fastball and change are already very good, and he’s still developing his curve. The strikeout and walk rates are also very good, and despite the homers, his xwOBA ranked 14th among the 154 pitchers who faced at least 350 batters last season. While reading too much into late-season performance can be dangerous, after a hiccup in mid-August, Paddack’s last four starts saw him strike out 32 batters against just four walks in 23.1 innings. This ranking might look aggressive now based on projections and performance, but it probably won’t seem that way a year from now.

2020 Trade Value, 21-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
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

We hoped you liked reading 2020 Trade Value: #21 to #30 by Craig Edwards!

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

newest oldest most voted
pmartinez45
Member
pmartinez45

Thought Bichette would be too 5 for sure.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC

I thought at least top 10 or just outside of that. The blurb doesn’t say where he’d be without the injury, which I didn’t think was too serious, but if he wouldn’t be much higher, that doesn’t really add up considering his pedigree and huge start to his career.

CC AFC
Member
Member
CC AFC

If I had Paddack, I’d trade him for Bichette easily

mikejunt
Member
Member
mikejunt

Bichette’s breakout is pretty recent and doesn’t have as much performance history to support it as some other top prospect types, which is why he (and Gavin Lux, who similarly went from fine prospect to amazing one over the last year or so) are not as high on the list as the guys who have always been blue-chip, top-level performers (Wander Franco, for instance). At this tier we have good prospects who recently became amazing and amazing prospects who recently performed merely well (Vladdy). The guys who combine amazing+amazing will be found further up the list.