2020 Trade Value: #41 to #50

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 get to the first batch of players.

Five-Year WAR +11.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +2.4 Pre-Arb
2022 24 +2.3 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +2.3 Arb1
2024 26 +2.3 Arb2
2025 27 +2.3 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

There isn’t a consensus around Dustin May, either on prospect lists or in baseball front offices. His high-end fastball has a ton of movement and sits in the upper-90s, but its sinking action is likely to prevent it from being a huge swing-and-miss pitch. Nobody is down on May, per se, but his prospect rankings ranged from the top 10 on some lists to the mid 20s on others, with our lead prospect analyst, Eric Longenhagen, slotting him 14th. He’s already seen some success in the majors, with his FIP and ERA in the low-threes in over 54.1 innings.

He’s made eight starts and while his strikeout rate was just 20% in those outings, he has limited walks and homers and put up a 3.18 FIP. He’s going to need to miss more bats to take the next step in his development, but the tools are there to make it happen. Although the opinions are somewhat wide-ranging when it comes to just how good he will be, enough teams see his future being bright to make this list. The Dodgers couldn’t get equivalent value from every team for May, but if he were available, they could extract a considerable return.

Five-Year WAR +17.3
Guaranteed Dollars $100 M
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 28 +4.1 $20.0 M
2022 29 +3.9 $20.0 M
2023 30 +3.7 $20.0 M
2024 31 +3.2 $20.0 M
2025 32 +2.5 $20.0 M
Player Option

Xander Bogaerts was very tough to place — I was told both that he should be higher and that he shouldn’t be on the list at all. He would be very high on the list if not for the opt-out in his deal that comes after 2022. Bogaerts will make $20 million per year over the next couple season before deciding whether to hit free agency after his age-29 season or stick with the Red Sox. The opt-out adds $60 million in downside if Bogaerts’ performance falls, which diminishes the value he is expected to provide over the next few years.

How you evaluate Bogaerts depends on your confidence in his performance over the next couple seasons. Bogaerts put up a nearly-7 WAR season in 2019 and is off to another great start in 2020. If you think he’s more of a four-win player in 2021 and 2022, his value probably isn’t high enough to put him on the list. If he’s a five-win player or better, the downside risk will be outweighed by the big value in his present-performance. Risk-averse clubs aren’t going to deal for Bogaerts, but a win-now club that can more easily absorb the risk of a decline might be willing to offer considerably more. Bogaerts wouldn’t have that many suitors, but there should be enough to net good value in trade.

Five-Year WAR +19.0
Guaranteed Dollars $109.5 M
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 33 +4.6 $37.5 M
2022 34 +4.1 $37.5 M
2023 35 +3.8 $34.5 M
2024 36 +3.5 $32.5 M
Team Option
Player Option

Like Bogaerts, Jacob deGrom’s opt-out really complicates matters. Unlike Bogaerts, deGrom also has a high salary and his age working against him. Still, deGrom put up 16 wins over the last two years, the highest mark in baseball among pitchers and behind just Mike Trout and Mookie Betts overall. His placement on this list is due to that great performance alone, as the other factors aren’t in his favor. In 2021 and 2022, deGrom is owed $48.5 million, including a $10 million bonus due in January, which is pretty reasonable; he’s also owed another $28.5 million for salary deferrals in those seasons.

deGrom is 32 years old and needs to maintain five-plus win seasons his age-33 and 34 seasons to justify placement on this list. If he pitches well, the $30 million salary in 2023 is well worth it, or deGrom opts out. There’s the risk he pitches poorly, and that the team trading for him will have committed more than $100 million in addition to sending good players the Mets’ way. While most teams would love to have Jacob deGrom, even at his salary, trading for him is not be in the cards for every club. It’s possible there would be enough teams interested to build a solid market, but a massive haul likely isn’t possible.

Five-Year WAR +27.3
Guaranteed Dollars $365 M
Team Control Through 2032
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 28 +6.2 $22.9 M
2022 29 +5.9 $22.9 M
2023 30 +5.7 $25.4 M
2024 31 +5.1 $30.4 M
2025 32 +4.4 $30.4 M

Betts’ value is one of the trickier propositions on this entire list. To start, he’s owed $365 million, a contract few teams would trade for. But he’s also one of the very best players in the game and he’s still just 27 years old. The situation is further complicated by the structure of his contract, which is backloaded and includes more than $100 million in deferrals. If we were to use an 8% discount rate on all the money Betts is owed, and turn it into a 10-year contract with equal payments — like the $355 million Mike Trout is owed over 10 years — Betts’ deal looks like a 10-year, $265 million contract. That’s a phenomenal value and would put him in the top-20 of this list. However, if traded, those deferrals are eliminated and the 10-year contract equivalent is worth $328 million. That’s a contract most teams wouldn’t touch, but there is some value in it. Because there’s considerably more value for the Dodgers in Betts’ contract, a trade is essentially impossible to pull off, but if Los Angeles felt compelled to move him, this is where his value would be.

Five-Year WAR +15.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 24 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2022 25 +3.1 Pre-Arb
2023 26 +3.2 Arb1
2024 27 +3.2 Arb2
2025 28 +2.8 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Last year, Kiley McDaniel mentioned Hiura as a player likely to make this list in 2020, and after entering the season as FanGraphs’ 13th-best prospect in 2019, Hiura raked in Triple-A, then kept it going in his debut. He hit 19 homers in half a season in Milwaukee and his 139 wRC+ trailed that of just Yordan Alvarez, Pete Alonso, and Fernando Tatis Jr. among rookies with at least 300 plate appearances last year.

His strikeouts are a bit higher than you’d like to see, but Hiura just turned 24 and was pushed aggressively through the Brewers system, going from Low-A at the end of 2017 to the majors in just a year and a half, with fewer than 800 plate appearances across three levels. Hiura hits the ball hard and as his strikeouts go down, he’ll be able to continue hitting at a high level. His defense isn’t great at second base, but it’s also a position where shifting can cover up some weaknesses. There’s an argument for placing Hiura higher, but second base isn’t a position that has been discounted of late, so he really has to continue hitting at a high level to keep his value up.

Five-Year WAR +8.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +1.7 Pre-Arb
2022 24 +1.9 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +1.6 Arb1
2024 26 +1.6 Arb2
2025 27 +1.5 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

It can be difficult to balance Luzardo’s injury history and the risk that comes with it with his performance. On the one hand, he had Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school and missed considerable time last season with shoulder and lat issues. On the other hand, Luzardo has already demonstrated the ability to get hitters out at the big league level. He’s got an excellent sinker that sits in the upper-90s and a low-80s slider that induces whiffs. Pitchers are generally risky, and Luzardo’s injury history would likely scare a lot of teams away and makes his value hard to read. Ultimately, talent and performance put him on this list. If Oakland were to trade him, it’s probably an indication that he shouldn’t be on this list at all as it might signal something about the state of his arm, and the back-end of the top-50 is sort of a no-man’s land for a prospect like Luzardo, who could be great but comes with concerns. It’s an unhappy medium that Luzardo’s performance should fix, for better or worse, over the next year.

Five-Year WAR +8.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 24 +1.8 Pre-Arb
2022 25 +1.8 Pre-Arb
2023 26 +1.7 Arb1
2024 27 +1.6 Arb2
2025 28 +1.6 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Pearson’s introduction to the majors has been up and down, but his 100 mph fastball will play. He’s got an impressive repertoire that includes a hard slider, a change, and a curve that the Blue Jays hope will help the team sneak into the playoffs this year. Pearson was ranked eighth on Eric Longenhagen’s top 100 prospect list entering the season, with MLB Pipeline (eighth), Baseball America (seventh), ESPN (sixth) and The Athletic (11th) providing a near-consensus on his status, with only Baseball Prospectus knocking him a little with the 19th spot. The stuff is there. The performance in the minors is there. The results in the majors are soon likely to follow.

Five-Year WAR +10.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank #16
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 26 +2.3 Arb1
2022 27 +2.2 Arb2
2023 28 +2.1 Arb3
Arb

Ohtani is still young — he turned 26 in July — and he’s been worth around five wins as a hitter in around 850 plate appearances thanks to a 135 wRC+. He’ll be arbitration-eligible at the end of this season and won’t be eligible for free agency for another three years. That’s a solid profile to start with and raises his floor, but Ohtani’s ceiling was always going to be determined by what he could add on the mound. He made 10 good starts in 2018 before needing Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of last season as a pitcher. A full recovery was expected, but a forearm strain diagnosed after his second appearance of 2020 shut down his throwing again. It’s possible this was merely a minor setback made worse by the truncated season, but the injury concerns necessitate a healthy drop in the rankings. He also had knee surgery last season, which adds more concern. The talent and possibilities for a two-way Shohei Ohtani are still tantalizing, but just 12 starts in three seasons and only three more years before free agency gives him merely good rather than great trade value.

Five-Year WAR +11.1
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #28
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 27 +2.4 Arb2
2022 28 +2.4 Arb3
Arb

I initially had Gallo closer to his 2019 ranking of 28, but I received feedback from multiple sources that I should move him down toward the back of the rankings. Gallo was good in 2017 and 2018, and then was great for half a season last year before a hamate injury halted his breakout campaign. Gallo’s power was off the charts in 2019 and he walked at such a high rate that his 38% strikeout rate was acceptable, but there’s some uncertainty about his ability to maintain that profile and still produce at a high level. With just two more seasons after this one before free agency, Gallo needs to show his 2019 is for real to stay higher in this list, and the shortened 2020 campaign isn’t going to provide him the opportunity to do so. The injuries and shortened season will combine to keep Gallo underpaid over the next two-plus years, but he isn’t quite as valuable as some more consistent players with more years of team control.

Five-Year WAR +10.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2021 23 +1.6 Pre-Arb
2022 24 +2.0 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +2.2 Pre-Arb
2024 26 +2.3 Arb1
2025 27 +2.5 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

The top pick in the 2019 draft, Adley Rutschman has just 155 professional plate appearances, but the switch-hitting catcher has a profile that should lead to success in the majors soon. Before the season started, Eric Longenhagen noted as part of Rutschman’s Top 100 scouting summary that he “has the physical tools to become the best catcher in baseball, provided he stays healthy (he had some shoulder/back stuff in college).” Top-flight defense plus an average bat would make Rutschman an All-Star caliber player. If the bat, which has considerable power, develops into something more, he could be one of the better players in the game. Rutschman is a near-consensus top-five prospect with only The Athletic slotting him below that mark (10th).

He’s unlikely to make his debut this season, and if he doesn’t make next year’s Opening Day roster, he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2027 season. It’s been more than a decade since another highly-touted switch-hitting catcher came up for Baltimore, but while Matt Wieters might not have reached his lofty expectations, he did average around four wins per season over his first four full seasons with the Orioles. That’s not a terrible outcome, but Rutschman will have a good chance to exceed Wieters’ performance from a decade ago.

2020 Trade Value, 41-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
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: #41 to #50 by Craig Edwards!

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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Cave Dameron
Member
Cave Dameron

Thank you Craig, very cool!