2021 Trade Value: #41 to #50

Design by Luke Hooper

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week after the All-Star Game to take stock of the top 50 players in baseball by trade value in anticipation of next week’s trade deadline. 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 2022-2026, courtesy of Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections. The table will also include the player’s guaranteed money, if any, the year through which their team has contractual control of them, last year’s rank (if applicable), and then projections, contract status, and age for each individual season through 2026, if the player is under contract or team control for those seasons. Last year’s rank includes a link to the relevant 2020 post. One note on the rankings after seeing some of your comments: particularly at the bottom of the list, there’s not a lot of room between players. The ordinal rankings clearly matter, and we put them there for a reason, but there’s not much room between, say, 35 and 60. The magnitude of differences in this part of the list is quite small. Several talent evaluators we talked to might prefer a player in the honorable mentions section to one on the back end of the list, or vice versa. We think the broad strokes are correct — but with so many players carrying roughly equivalent value, disagreements abounded. Thanks are due to Sean Dolinar for his help in creating the tables in these posts. At the bottom of the page, there is a 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 +10.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #40
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 30 +3.1 Arb1
2023 31 +2.8 Arb2
2024 32 +2.3 Arb3
Arb

I’m glad McNeil is 50th on our final list, because he was the player I used most often as a measuring stick to decide if someone merited consideration for the list. If someone was an unquestionably worse value than McNeil, they didn’t belong. If they were unquestionably better, they were likely in the top 30. If I couldn’t make a quick decision, they went right into the soup. McNeil has remained on that dividing line through all our revisions to the list.

Hitting a ton is a valuable skill (I’ll be full of valuable insights like this all list long), and McNeil has done nothing but hit his entire major league career, at least until an injury-plagued 2021. He doesn’t walk much, and he doesn’t hit for a ton of power. But he aggressively targets pitches to hit, makes a ton of contact, and punches line drives all over the field. I tend to think of players with low walk rates as OBP sinkholes, but McNeil checks in at a career .377 mark because that aforementioned high contact rate comes with impressively low strikeout rates.

Should he be higher on the list? Obviously, I think not. He plays a lot of positions, but none well, and he’s headed into his first year of arbitration. Bat-first corner types aren’t in short supply, and even though McNeil can handle second, he mostly fits into that bucket, which limits his value in trade — not enough to keep him off the top 50, but enough that he serves as an excellent litmus test for who deserves to be in. – BC

Five-Year WAR +12.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 26 +2.6 Arb1
2023 27 +2.6 Arb2
2024 28 +2.4 Arb3
Arb

This one could look silly in a few weeks because López is currently on the Injured List with a shoulder issue. It seems to be largely a precautionary stay, as he’s likely to blast through his career high innings pitched, but if it’s a major injury that obviously changes things. If it’s nothing season-ending, though, López might hold the title of the most under-appreciated pitcher in the game. He’s been incredible over the past two years, adding strikeouts while maintaining his excellent command of the strike zone. He draws chases at a top-10 rate, something you surely wouldn’t have expected when he came up as a changeup-first pitcher. His new cutter certainly has something to do with that, and his changeup is still spectacular. Three years of arbitration for an above-average pitcher is a great deal, but the new-ness of his strikeout stuff and the general riskiness of pitchers kept him from moving up the list any further. – BC

Five-Year WAR +13.1
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 25 +2.9 Pre-Arb
2023 26 +2.9 Pre-Arb
2024 27 +2.6 Arb1
2025 28 +2.5 Arb2
2026 29 +2.3 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

We might look like fools years from now for putting Garcia this low. At the same time, we might look like fools for putting him on this list at all. Garcia was always seen as a good-but-not-great prospect, and while he ranked fifth on the Astros’ list this spring, he was never seen as Top 100 worthy. Yet here we are, with Garcia just short of being one of the top 50 pitchers in baseball in terms of WAR. He isn’t a free agent until 2027 and if this version of him is what he really is, then he’s a fringe top 10 candidate, though with all of 16 big league starts under his belt, it’s too early to put him there with any kind of assuredness.

It’s also tough to guarantee this kind of continued success with Garcia’s questionable fastball quality. He has four plus or better secondary offerings, with an especially dangerous cutter and slider, but the 92-95 mph heater gets hit and there are worries that hitters will adjust to his style and approach, though there’s also no guarantee of that happening either. As such, few players on this year’s list have more variability as to where they will stand in terms of this project 12 months from now. – KG

Five-Year WAR +11.1
Guaranteed Dollars $9.5 M
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 29 +2.8 $9.5 M
2023 30 +2.7 $12.5 M
2024 31 +2.4 $14.0 M
Team Option

I’m glad I’m not trying to explain how Anderson does it, because I don’t think I could. For three straight years, he’s slashed and sprinted his way to above-average batting lines despite an approach that could charitably be described as voracious — he swings early and often, hunting pitches he can put in play with authority, which puts a cap on his walks and a floor on his strikeouts. It works, though, and it’s been long enough that betting on it to suddenly stop seems silly. He’s also cleaned up his defense, with only 11 errors in his last 1,050 innings (2020 and ’21) after 26 in the previous 1,050.

One thing holds Anderson’s value down: teams are inherently conservative skeptics who want discounts when they trade for players who don’t fit the way they expect production to look. If Anderson is a four-win player who your model consistently says is a two-win player, you’ll probably ask for a bargain in an attempt to acquire him. That doesn’t mean he’s not a four-win player, but it does feel as though the White Sox would have to settle somewhat if they attempted to move him — which, to be clear, they won’t. – BC

Five-Year WAR +18.0
Guaranteed Dollars $80.0 M
Team Control Through 2025*
Previous Rank #49
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 29 +4.5 $20.0 M
2023 30 +4.2 $20.0 M
2024 31 +3.7 $20.0 M
2025 32 +3.1 $20.0 M
2026 33 +2.5 $20.0 M
Vesting Option *Bogaerts can opt out after 2022

Xander Bogaerts is one of the best players in baseball as a hit-first shortstop who has spent the last four seasons proving he’s a .900-plus OPS type of bat. He can make $20 million a year through 2026 (he has a vesting option that year) if he stays healthy, and for the kind of player that he is, that’s a bargain. At the same time, nobody negotiates harder for opt-out clauses than Scott Boras, and that’s just what he did in Bogaerts’ case: within the extension he signed prior to the 2019 season is a clause that allows him to become a free agent after 2022, with Boston’s flexibility hampered by a full no-trade clause that recently kicked in when Bogaerts reached seven years of service time.

If Bogaerts continues to be Bogaerts, he’ll almost assuredly choose free agency just as he’ll almost assuredly do significantly better than the three years and $60 million (or four years and $80 million, assuming health) that would remain on his existing deal. Soon it will be time to discuss sliding the big man over to the hot corner (were it not for Rafael Devers, we might be there already), but nothing in his statistical profile or underlying metrics suggest that the middle-of-the-order run production is changing anytime soon. – KG

Five-Year WAR +12.4
Guaranteed Dollars $15.3 M
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #39
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 29 +3.3 $6.8 M
2023 30 +2.9 $8.5 M
2024 31 +2.6 $10.0 M
Team Option

It’s tough to wrap your head around Kepler. He’s not a star, but he is an above-average producer at the plate and a solid defensive outfielder, and he’s signed through 2024 while slated to make just over $25 million over the next three seasons. The makes him a highly sought-after player, and the industry generally expects more of him than he’s shown; his 2019 campaign, when he was a 4.4 WAR player, is his only season where everything came together for him.

Kepler’s statistical profile and underlying metrics create considerable challenges for an accurate evaluation. He’s a low-average hitter with a good number of walks and solid power, but he’s put up sub-.250 BABIPs each of the past four years, which is either a tremendous run of bad luck or signals something strangely intrinsic to him as a player. But that’s not the only oddity in Kepler’s profile. He’s both hitting more balls hard than ever before and striking out more than ever. Meanwhile, his exit velocities continue to slide and he’s lost a step on the base paths. There’s comfort to be had in what’s in front of you in terms of Kepler’s known cost and what he can do, but there’s also still a chance for more. – KG

Five-Year WAR +11.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 25 +2.4 Pre-Arb
2023 26 +2.5 Pre-Arb
2024 27 +2.3 Arb1
2025 28 +2.1 Arb2
2026 29 +2.0 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

With an intact hamstring, Madrigal would certainly be a bit higher on this list, though not significantly so — in terms of ability, he is what he is, and while what he is is good, he’s not a superstar, and there are few paths to that level for a player with his profile. On pace for a four-win campaign before the season-ending injury, Madrigal’s skillset, which revolves around extreme contact ability, should provide tremendous year-to-year stability, and barring an unexpected deal, he should be a fixture on West 35th Street through 2026.

While his defense has been less superlative than expected, this is still a 23-year-old player with just a half season under his belt and all of the tools for him to be a solid, and maybe even plus, defender at second base. He will be among the best bets in baseball to hit .300-plus every year, and even if it’s a bit of an empty-average profile with an OPS ceiling in the .800 range, the assuredness of Madrigal’s value provides tremendous comfort in terms of roster construction. – KG

Five-Year WAR +15.8
Guaranteed Dollars $12.0 M
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 26 +3.6 $2.5 M
2023 27 +3.4 $3.7 M
2024 28 +3.1 $5.7 M
2025 29 +2.9 $8.0 M
2026 30 +2.8 $8.0 M
Team Option

I would have arm-wrestled Kevin for the Peralta blurb if he hadn’t kindly offered it to me. Peralta has long felt like he’s one adjustment (or one lucky healthy season) away from breaking through, and this year has been exactly that. Does he still walk too many batters? Absolutely. But he strikes the world out, throws two excellent breaking balls, and misses a frankly ludicrous number of bats with his fastball. Swing-and-miss stuff is the currency of modern pitching, and Peralta has it in spades.

Oh yeah — his contract is as team-friendly as it gets. He’s owed $28 million over the next five years, and two of those years are even team options. It sure sounds like he should be higher on the list — and if you could guarantee that this year’s Peralta would show up, he would be. But teams are rightly hesitant to trade for starters with durability issues, and Peralta’s 98 innings so far this year are the most he’s thrown since 2016. He’s also short of stature and wild, and his ability to go deep into games isn’t yet settled — this is his first year of full-time starting since he was in the minors. The potential here is fearsome, but so is the uncertainty, something teams loathe. – BC

Five-Year WAR +13.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 23 +2.6 Pre-Arb
2023 24 +2.7 Pre-Arb
2024 25 +2.8 Arb1
2025 26 +2.6 Arb2
2026 27 +2.6 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

I hate leaning on lazy stereotypes, but Carlson is such a Cardinals-y top prospect. His 2021 line doesn’t jump off the page, and the underlying batted ball data doesn’t either. He’s not a barrel monster, and doesn’t have top-of-the-line raw power. He just hits and has an advanced grasp of the strike zone for a 22-year-old, one that we think will grow with time. He’s miscast in center, where he’s played this year with Harrison Bader injured, but his plus speed should help him when he settles into a corner. Plus, he’s only 22 and won’t reach arbitration until the 2024 season.

His first full season in the majors makes it less likely that he’s a mega-star in waiting, but it also makes it obvious that he belongs in the big leagues. Even if he doesn’t grow into more — and ZiPS thinks he will — an average hitter with good speed on a long-term deal is something every team is looking for. He’s not higher up the rankings because, as we stated in the introduction, that’s not a great criteria for trade value, but it does mean the Cardinals would have no shortage of suitors if they made the strange decision to get rid of one of their best young players. – BC

Five-Year WAR +19.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2022 24 +4.1 Pre-Arb
2023 25 +4.2 Pre-Arb
2024 26 +3.8 Arb1
2025 27 +3.7 Arb2
2026 28 +3.7 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Like Garcia seven slots below him, Rogers is an exciting young pitcher who we could easily rank higher but who also lacks the necessary big league track record. He has more of a pedigree than Garcia, as a former 13th overall pick, but there’s also one quality to his arsenal that sets him apart: he’s in possession of one of the best-performing fastballs in the game, a lively mid-90s heater that can either set-up his outstanding changeup or simply be used as an at-bat finisher in and of itself.

Rogers’ detractors point not to the fantastic fastball, but rather to the sub-standard breaker. He only throws his low-spin slider about 15% of the time and has slowly backed off that usage as the season has worn on. It’s hard to survive at this level without a quality breaking ball, but plenty of starters have begun to prove that depth of arsenal can take a back seat when you’re in possession of two easily plus or better offerings, and Rogers has just that. – KG

2021 Trade Value, 41-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
41 Trevor Rogers 23 +4.1
Pre-Arb
+4.2
Pre-Arb
+3.8
Arb1
+3.7
Arb2
+3.7
Arb3
42 HM Dylan Carlson 22 +2.6
Pre-Arb
+2.7
Pre-Arb
+2.8
Arb1
+2.6
Arb2
+2.6
Arb3
43 Freddy Peralta 25 +3.6
$2.5 M
+3.4
$3.7 M
+3.1
$5.7 M
+2.9
$8.0 M
+2.8
$8.0 M
44 Nick Madrigal 24 +2.4
Pre-Arb
+2.5
Pre-Arb
+2.3
Arb1
+2.1
Arb2
+2.0
Arb3
45 39 Max Kepler 28 +3.3
$6.8 M
+2.9
$8.5 M
+2.6
$10.0 M
46 49 Xander Bogaerts 28 +4.5
$20.0 M
+4.2
$20.0 M
+3.7
$20.0 M
+3.1
$20.0 M
+2.5
$20.0 M
47 Tim Anderson 28 +2.8
$9.5 M
+2.7
$12.5 M
+2.4
$14.0 M
48 Luis Garcia 24 +2.9
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Pre-Arb
+2.6
Arb1
+2.5
Arb2
+2.3
Arb3
49 Pablo López 25 +2.6
Arb1
+2.6
Arb2
+2.4
Arb3
50 40 Jeff McNeil 29 +3.1
Arb1
+2.8
Arb2
+2.3
Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb
Team Option
Vesting Option





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BillClinton
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BillClinton

Bryan Reynolds being left off makes no sense. He’s got a longer track record of production and similar control vis a vis Houston’s Garcia, sure they were both middling prospects, but Reynolds is on pace for 5.5 fWAR or so whereas Garcia is on track for ~3 (a figure that Reynolds has already matched in a full season).

julius
Member
Member
julius

Especially compared to Kepler (#45 on the list), I’d imagine Reynolds fetching a much larger trade package. 🤷

Scott
Member
Scott

Yup, would much rather have Reynolds than Kepler. Less expensive, better performance, more upside. I would also rather have Yaztrzemski than Kepler, for pretty much the same reasons. Kepler really hasn’t shown a lot outside of the 2019 season and has been trending steadily downward since then.

Kvn
Member
Member
Kvn

Not saying he’s not more valuable than Garcia, but Reynolds is going to hit arb two years sooner and he’s two years older, so I think Garcia has the definite edge in team control. For whatever it’s worth, Ben mentioned in the comments of the HM article that Reynolds is 51st so they’re being valued essentially the same.

markmark
Member
markmark

The players on this list to gripe about in regards to Reynolds, at least to me, are Kepler and McNeil. I think Reynolds’ has a super unique skillset, as he’s basically above average at everything but does it in an extremely average-looking way, which probably makes some rightfully skeptical about his results. Plus he isn’t a good CF.

basehit98
Member
basehit98

I mean, it’s 41-50 on the list… not the whole list

zurzles
Member
Member
zurzles

He was in the honorable mentions already

Capn Ketchup
Member
Member
Capn Ketchup

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