2022 Trade Value: #31 to #40

Design by Luke Hooper

As is tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the lead-up to next week’s trade deadline to take stock of the top 50 players in baseball by trade value. For a more detailed introduction to this year’s exercise, as well as a look at the 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 of you 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 2023-2027, 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 2027, if the player is under contract or team control for those seasons. Last year’s rank includes a link to the relevant 2021 post. 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 of the players who have been ranked up to this point.

One note on the rankings: particularly at the bottom of the list, there isn’t a lot of room between the players. The ordinal rankings clearly matter, and we put them there for a reason, but there’s not much of a gap between, say, the 35th ranked player and 50th. The magnitude of differences in this part of the list is quite small. Several folks I talked to might prefer a player in the honorable mentions section to one on the back end of the list, or vice versa. I think the broad strokes are correct — but with so many players carrying roughly equivalent value, disagreements abounded.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the next batch of players.

Five-Year WAR +11.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 25 +2.2 Pre-Arb
2024 26 +2.4 Arb 1
2025 27 +2.5 Arb 2
2026 28 +2.2 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Getting Chisholm-level power out of a second baseman is almost unheard of. There are recent examples of second basemen with 30-homer thump – Robinson Canó, Dan Uggla, Jose Altuve, and Brian Dozier, for instance – but it’s more exception than rule, and often comes with defensive limitations. Chisholm has no such problem; he’s a converted shortstop who looks like an asset in the field when playing second. He’s also more than just a power bat. He’s made strides with pitch selection in his third year in the majors. If he maintains his current performance – or even improves on it, which is certainly on the table – he could be the best second baseman in baseball.

Why the low ranking, then? Trade value is heavily influenced by availability, and Chisholm’s recent injury is bound to give teams pause. A stress fracture in his back will cost him at least six weeks of playing time, and his return to the field is anything but certain. Back injuries often linger, which makes anticipating Chisholm’s future production difficult at best. And it’s not as though he’s a proven veteran, either: coming into this year, he had a career 94 wRC+ over less than 600 plate appearances in the majors.

In a year, Chisholm might have established himself as one of the best players in the game, making this ranking look foolish in retrospect. He might also have only played intermittently, or produced at an average clip at the plate instead of like his current form. The balance of risks is acceptable given how long he’s under team control and how good he is at his best, but make no mistake, there are risks here. For the record, I had Chisholm roughly five spots higher in the rankings before the back injury news.

Five-Year WAR +15.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 27 +3.3 Arb 1
2024 28 +3.3 Arb 2
2025 29 +3.2 Arb 3
Arb

If you think Cease should be 10 spots higher, you’re in good company. If you think he should be an honorable mention, I disagree with you, but you’re also in good company. Long one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game, Cease has harnessed his tremendous natural gift for speed and spin over the past two years, and it shows in his results.

Since 2020, when he was replacement level and barely struck anyone out, Cease has added two inches of ride to his four-seam fastball. He’s done it by changing his grip on the ball to convert more of his enviable natural spin into movement. Perhaps more importantly, he’s also pared back on fastballs – dominant as his is, it’s still a fastball – in favor of his lights-out slider. He’s basically throwing reliever-ish stuff – upper-90s fastball, upper-80s slider with bite – over starter innings, which should tell you everything you need to know about his 2022 season. He’s walking too many batters, but he’s also striking out so many that it’s merely a rounding error.

Why is he this low? It’s a function of two things: the inherent uncertainty in his profile and the inherent uncertainty in all pitchers. There are only 12 pitchers in the top 50 altogether, and they’re all either Cy Young contenders or under team control for a long time. Starters throw fewer innings these days – dominant as he’s been, Cease is only averaging 5.5 innings per start – and they break all the time. Cease would absolutely command a haul in trade, but maybe less than you think.

Five-Year WAR +12.7
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2028
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 24 +2.4 Pre-Arb
2024 25 +2.6 Pre-Arb
2025 26 +2.7 Pre-Arb
2026 27 +2.6 Arb 1
2027 28 +2.4 Arb 2
Pre-Arb
Arb

This is pretty far down the list for someone with a real chance to one day be the best player in baseball. That’s not light praise; when Cruz is at his best, there’s simply no one else like him. This type of raw power at shortstop is unheard of because 6-foot-7 shortstops are unheard of. Watch him connect flush with a baseball, and you’ll re-evaluate what the ideal baseball player looks like. His batted ball quality is otherworldly; even as Cruz struggles to adjust to major league pitching, he’s comfortably in the top 10% of the league when it comes to barrel rate, and he’s putting the ball in the air well enough to take advantage of that power.

He’s also striking out more than a third of the time, getting on base at a woeful clip (.241 OBP), and might not stick at short. That’s been the story with Cruz since his time as a Dodgers farmhand; he’s trying to chart a course that no previous player has taken. Part of the equation probably won’t work out. He’ll end up playing a corner position, or his Judge-ian frame will lead to a strikeout bill that his power can’t pay, or injuries will sap some of his tremendous talent. Prospects usually don’t pan out — that’s just how it works. You can spin some scenarios where Cruz “fails” and is still a valuable contributor because he does a lot of things very well. But the error bars are, well, Cruz-sized; we just don’t have a lot of past players to compare him to. The talent explains his spot on the list. The uncertainty explains why he isn’t higher.

Five-Year WAR +13.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #38
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 28 +3.0 Arb 1
2024 29 +2.8 Arb 2
2025 30 +2.7 Arb 3
Arb

Let’s get a few things out of the way at the top of this comment. Murphy is a solid hitter, and while recent approach changes make me think he won’t walk as frequently going forward, he has enough power that his overall line looks like an average-hitting first baseman. What would be average for a first baseman is excellent for a catcher, of course. Murphy would be a tremendous player even if he were an average defender.

Except, he’s a great defender. Of the six wins we give him credit for over the past two years, 1.5 of those come from framing alone. That gave me pause when placing him; framing feels far less sticky these days, with pop-up guys becoming great and established framing specialists declining seemingly every year. You could have made an argument for Jacob Stallings on a trade value list last year, and indeed, the Marlins traded a bunch of players to acquire him. This year? He grades out as one of the worst framers in the game. Projecting future defensive value based on this particular skill strikes me as irresponsible, and that’s before trying to time the arrival of the robo zone.

If Murphy continues to be the best defensive catcher in baseball, I’m too low on him. It’s as simple as that. But I think teams are wising up to defensive volatility, or at least, they should be after the Stallings and Austin Nola trades. Murphy is awesome, and teams will offer the A’s a ton in return for him (or already have, perhaps, since Oakland is certainly open for business). I simply think that framing is going to command less on the trade market going forward than it once did.

Five-Year WAR +20.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 29 +4.6 Arb 3
2024 30 +4.4 Arb 4
Arb

Last year, Fried missed the top 50 entirely while former high school teammates Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty made appearances. But oh, how the turntables have turned. His performance has been rock solid since then, catapulting him into awards discussions, while the other two have battled injuries and inconsistency.

Fried may never strike out a ludicrous percentage of opposing batters, but he doesn’t have to. He hardly ever walks anyone, keeps the ball on the ground, and uses a newly-emphasized changeup to keep righties off balance. He’s capable of working deep into games, with six starts of more than six innings already this year. He’s durable, to boot: only a brief blister issue in 2021 has stopped him from making every one of his scheduled starts over the last four years.

The astute among you will notice that I didn’t say a single negative thing about Fried. That’s because he’s really good. There are either three or four pitchers with the same or less remaining team control who I placed higher, depending on how you treat Shohei Ohtani. All of those pitchers are really good, too. But trading for pitching, especially short-team-control pitching, is a treacherous business. One barking elbow is all that separates a pitcher, any pitcher, from a missed year. I’m not confident that I have Fried ordered correctly in that cohort of excellent pitchers, but I am confident that he’s one of the very best pitchers in baseball. Even being a pitcher and nearing free agency wouldn’t dissuade suitors if the Braves inexplicably decided to make him available in trade.

Five-Year WAR +17.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank #19
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 30 +4.1 Arb 3
2024 31 +3.8 Arb 4
Arb

Hey, one of those aforementioned Max Fried comps! Woodruff scuffled to start the year and missed a month with numbness in his extremities, but he’s been lights out since returning. His approach is simple but effective; he throws two excellent fastballs and complements them with three plus secondary pitches. Thanks to deftly mixing that five-pitch arsenal, he consistently strikes out a ton of batters, and he’s never once walked more batters than the league average thanks to solid command.

Fried has been better this year, but Woodruff’s track record is hard to argue with. Since the 2019 season, his first as a starter, he’s in the top 10 among all starters in ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and strikeout rate. He’s as close to a sure thing as a pitcher gets, or at least he would be if it weren’t for that IL stint. I think that teams will be reassured by the fact that it was neither a shoulder nor elbow injury, but it’s still a blemish on an otherwise spectacular track record. As an experiment, I switched the order of Woodruff and Fried a few times when cross-checking this list, and no one ever had a nitpick with either ordering, which suggests to me that they’re probably quite close in value. Swap them in your head if you’d like, but I think this is a reasonable landing spot for two excellent but soon-to-reach-free-agency pitchers.

Five-Year WAR +17.1
Guaranteed Dollars $6.8 M
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 28 +3.8 $6.8 M
2024 29 +3.7 Arb 3
2025 30 +3.6 Arb 4
Arb

What, you thought I was going to leave him off the list again? Reynolds had what will almost certainly be the best season of his career in 2021, but he’s still good this year even if he’s taken a step back. Maybe we let our collective trust in the scouting community get the better of us last year; Reynolds looked vaguely bust-ish as a Giants farmhand, and his early-career success was so BABIP-driven that it was easy to miss what was going on under the hood.

As it turns out, Reynolds has a lot working in his favor. He hits the ball hard, and he hits it in the air. His speed turns balls hit to the outfield into extra-base hits. There are warning signs, no doubt. A lot of his game is built on finding pitches to hit, and he’s having a down plate discipline year. Still, even a diminished Reynolds is a solid addition to any lineup. If you’re looking for a good-hitting center fielder, it’s Reynolds, free-agent-to-be Brandon Nimmo, and a bunch of superstars locked up on long-term deals. When you put it that way, maybe Reynolds should be higher.

Except, I’m not convinced he’s a true center fielder. His instincts out there leave something to be desired, and the defensive metrics mostly agree; they were mixed on him last year and unanimously see him as one of the worst center field defenders in baseball this year. That matches the eye test. Reynolds looks like a competent corner outfielder miscast in a tough job – perhaps a left fielder, given his throwing arm. With his bat, that’s still a really nice player, and given his age and contract status, it’s not like you’re risking much.

Five-Year WAR +13.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 28 +3.2 Arb 1
2024 29 +2.9 Arb 2
2025 30 +2.9 Arb 3
Arb

Maybe everyone should stop switch hitting. Mullins took off after abandoning his righty swing entirely, and while he’s come back down to earth this year, he’s still producing a league-average batting line while playing excellent defense and adding boatloads of value on the basepaths. I’ve seen enough at this point to say that Mullins isn’t a consistent 130 wRC+ hitter, but I’ve also seen enough to be very confident in his ability to produce a line around league average. Combine that with his other contributions, and that’s an above average player for years to come, as the ZiPS projections above make clear.

Paradoxically, Mullins might have so much trade value that the Orioles won’t trade him. He was popular in the rumor mill last year and this past offseason, but it never made that much sense to me, because he won’t be a free agent until after the 2025 season. That squarely overlaps with when the Orioles are hoping to bring a wave of minor league talent to the big leagues. Baltimore isn’t in the trade-core-major-league-pieces phase of rebuilding anymore, which probably makes this ranking theoretical. That’s true of almost every player on this list, but I thought it was worth reiterating with Mullins. He’s great – and he’ll likely be great in orange for years to come.

Five-Year WAR +12.4
Guaranteed Dollars $9.5 M
Team Control Through 2026
Previous Rank #43
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 27 +2.8 $3.7 M
2024 28 +2.7 $5.7 M
2025 29 +2.5 $8.0 M
2026 30 +2.3 $8.0 M
Team Option

If you catch Peralta on the right day, you’d laugh at this ranking. Only 32nd? Ridiculous! Peralta signed a spectacularly team-friendly extension years ago, which could keep him in Milwaukee through the 2026 season if the Brewers exercise both of the deal’s $8 million team options. He also has one of the best fastballs in the game. Despite middling velocity, its tremendous movement makes it one of the hardest fastballs to hit in baseball. His strikeout numbers flow naturally from that; his slider is a solid strikeout pitch as well, but the fastball does the lion’s share of the work.

Now, the downside: Peralta has only made eight starts this year, felled by a strained shoulder. He’s about to begin a rehab assignment, which is a good sign, but shoulder injuries are scary, even with today’s medical advances. Durability will likely always be a concern with Peralta, too, as he stands only 5-foot-11 and has a high-effort delivery. Even in his excellent 2021, he averaged just over five innings per start. You’re certainly getting quality when Peralta pitches, but it might happen less often than you’d like.

That’s where the contract comes into play. Let’s say you expect Peralta to be available for roughly half of his starts over the next 4.5 years, a tremendously conservative assumption. He’d still be a huge value, even if you had to go out and replace the innings he didn’t pitch with minor leaguers or journeymen. If the contract weren’t so team-friendly, or if it expired sooner, I don’t think Peralta would fit next to the names around him, but that’s not the reality. Right now, he’s in a sweet spot for teams that value cost certainty.

Five-Year WAR +16.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #21
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2023 29 +4.0 Arb 1
2024 30 +3.8 Arb 2
2025 31 +3.5 Arb 3
Arb

Is it me who’s wrong to consistently put Cronenworth high on trade value lists, even as people tell me I should move him down? No, I’m sure I’m exactly right, and that it’s everyone else who must change. All kidding aside, I started with Cronenworth a bit higher and wasn’t willing to move him any lower, but I’m open to the idea that I might be overrating him somewhat.

Why? Because he gets to his considerable value in a way that just speaks to me. He walks quite a bit. He’s hard to strike out, and I expect his career-high strikeout rate will tick down because he’s still making contact at an absurd rate. He plays good defense. He’s durable, too: he’s one off the major league lead for plate appearances as I write this. He’s a great baserunner, top 10 in the league in baserunning runs. He doesn’t hit for power, or have a gaudy average, or steal a million bases, but he does basically everything else you can imagine.

Is that the kind of player who teams systematically underrate? Probably. He doesn’t have any obvious carrying tools, and it feels like the kind of profile where taking a step backwards in one or two areas could really snowball. If Cronenworth is merely an average player in 2025 (significantly worse than the ZiPS projection above), I don’t think anyone would be shocked.

But, uh… he’s not getting paid like an average player, because he hasn’t even hit salary arbitration yet. He’ll be under team control for three more years, and in every one of those years, he’s a good bet to deliver the kind of production you normally need to sign marquee free agents to get. Underrated or not, uncommon skill set or not, this is the kind of player (and the kind of contract, let’s be honest) that every team should covet.

2022 Trade Value, 31-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027
31 21 Jake Cronenworth 28 +4.0
Arb 1
+3.8
Arb 2
+3.5
Arb 3
32 43 Freddy Peralta 26 +2.8
$3.7 M
+2.7
$5.7 M
+2.5
$8 M
+2.3
$8 M
33 HM Cedric Mullins 27 +3.2
Arb 1
+2.9
Arb 2
+2.9
Arb 3
34 HM Bryan Reynolds 27 +3.8
$6.8 M
+3.7
Arb 3
+3.6
Arb 4
35 19 Brandon Woodruff 29 +4.1
Arb 3
+3.8
Arb 4
36 HM Max Fried 28 +4.6
Arb 3
+4.4
Arb 4
37 38 Sean Murphy 27 +3.0
Arb 1
+2.8
Arb 2
+2.7
Arb 3
38 Oneil Cruz 23 +2.4
Pre-Arb
+2.6
Pre-Arb
+2.7
Pre-Arb
+2.6
Arb 1
+2.4
Arb 2
39 Dylan Cease 26 +3.3
Arb 1
+3.3
Arb 2
+3.2
Arb 3
40 HM Jazz Chisholm Jr. 24 +2.2
Pre-Arb
+2.4
Arb 1
+2.5
Arb 2
+2.2
Arb 3
41 22 Ketel Marte 28 +3.2
$11.6 M
+3.1
$13.6 M
+2.8
$16.6 M
+2.4
$16.6 M
+1.9
$14.6 M
42 Luis Arraez 25 +3.3
Arb 2
+3.2
Arb 3
+3.1
Arb 4
43 HM Pete Alonso 27 +4.2
Arb 2
+4.2
Arb 3
44 48 Luis Garcia 25 +2.3
Pre-Arb
+2.2
Arb 1
+2.2
Arb 2
+2.0
Arb 3
45 18 Zac Gallen 26 +2.8
Arb 1
+2.7
Arb 2
+2.6
Arb 3
46 Ty France 27 +3.7
Arb 1
+3.3
Arb 2
+3.3
Arb 3
47 13 Mike Trout 30 +4.9
$37.1 M
+4.5
$37.1 M
+3.9
$37.1 M
+2.9
$37.1 M
+2.2
$37.1 M
48 Riley Greene 21 +2.4
Pre-Arb
+2.9
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Pre-Arb
+3.0
Arb 1
+3.0
Arb 2
49 42 Dylan Carlson 23 +2.6
Pre-Arb
+2.5
Arb 1
+2.4
Arb 2
+2.3
Arb 3
50 32 Randy Arozarena 27 +2.3
Pre-Arb
+2.1
Arb 1
+2.0
Arb 2
+1.7
Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb
Team Option





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

94 Comments
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jbgocubsmember
20 days ago

20 players in and no Julio Rodriguez – the outfielder from Seattle? Craziness

kenkenkenmember
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

He will probably be in the back half of the top ten or in the low teens

cartermember
19 days ago
Reply to  kenkenken

I’d guess a lot higher.

Dmjn53
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

do you understand the concept of rankings?

Billsaints
20 days ago
Reply to  Dmjn53

Do you understand the concept of sarcasm…

Lanidrac
20 days ago
Reply to  Billsaints

How do you know it’s sarcasm? It doesn’t look like sarcasm, and if you’re going to be that over-the-top sarcastic in text, you really should specify somehow like with a [/sarcasm] tag.

Billsaints
19 days ago
Reply to  Lanidrac

Common sense. If you understand sarcasm, everything in that statement (the fact they point out who the player is in a fangraphs article) screams it. Mind you I am English so I see sarcasm everywhere…

Captain Moonlightmember
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

Appreciate the clarification on which Julio Rodriguez you mean here my dude

Bubbamember
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

You might go so far as to say there are 30 great players missing from the top 50 so far! What a debacle!

Planet Dustmember
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

They are counting *down* such that players with higher values appear later.

bookbook
20 days ago
Reply to  jbgocubs

I hereby predict that no one will ever be able to prove Julio Rodriguez’ trade value….