2023 Trade Value: Nos. 41 – 50

Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

As is tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the lead-up to the 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 2024-2028, 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 2028 (if the player is under contract or team control for those seasons). Last year’s rank includes a link to the relevant 2022 post. Thanks are due to Sean Dolinar for his technical wizardry. 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 isn’t much of a gap between, say, the 39th-ranked player and the 60th. The magnitude of the differences in this part of the list is quite small. Several of the 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, and this is my opinion of the best order, but with so many players carrying roughly equivalent value, disagreements abounded.

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

Five-Year WAR 9.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2030
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 21 0.9 Pre-Arb
2025 22 1.4 Pre-Arb
2026 23 1.9 Pre-Arb
2027 24 2.3 Arb 1
2028 25 2.7 Arb 2
Pre-Arb
Arb

Oh boy, this one was tough for me. I look at my past work every year to try to identify holes in my process, and I’ve consistently left out players who haven’t yet debuted in the majors. That’s mostly for a good reason: I don’t think they’re totally in keeping with the spirit of this exercise. Valuations differ wildly from team to team, and the very best prospects generally get traded for stars, not as the highlight of the deal in their own right. But it didn’t quite sit right with me, and when Meg suggested Wood for the tail end of the list this year, something clicked.

For the most part, this list is about trading for players who are going to help your team now and in the future, with both sides being important. It’s still about that – you’re not going to see 18-year-old prospects in the low minors on here no matter how big the hype gets. But Wood has a spectacular combination of talent and proximity to the majors that makes him fit the general concept of these rankings enough that I’m throwing him on here as a signpost.

What is he a signpost of? I think there’s a good chance that Wood is a fixture at the top of trade value lists in the next few years. It’s not a lock – he’d be higher up if it were – but if you’re looking for the next player who might have an Elly De La Cruz-like rise, Wood fits the general silhouette. That’s true physically – he’s 6-foot-7 and he’s fast – but it also fits in terms of having loud tools and an excellent feel for the game.

This time next year, Wood will likely be in Triple-A, but I don’t think a meteoric major league rise is out of the question given how well he’s handled the minors so far. The service time estimate up above reflects a call-up in the middle of next season, though obviously it’s just a guess. There is, of course, some chance that he doesn’t pan out, and the odds that he’s as good as De La Cruz (or Corbin Carroll, or any number of current phenoms) are definitely less than 50% in my eyes. But if you’re wondering who the next capital-d Dude is gonna be, Wood is my best guess. Would the Nats trade him for anyone in this range? No way. But he’s ranked 50th as a reminder that prospects probably belong somewhere on the list, even if it can be tricky to decide exactly where.

Five-Year WAR 12.4
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2028
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 26 2.6 Pre-Arb
2025 27 2.6 Pre-Arb
2026 28 2.6 Arb 1
2027 29 2.4 Arb 2
2028 30 2.2 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Jung’s value has pin-balled wildly over the past few years. He was a top prospect coming into last season, and the Rangers cleared a spot for him, but he missed the first half of the year thanks to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He struggled upon his return (hardly unusual after a major surgery) and came into 2023 without quite the same hype that accompanied his previous campaign. Naturally, he lit the league on fire right away, though a slump in the second half of June brought his numbers back down to earth.

Jung’s game is built around raw power, and he looks like a perennial 30-homer guy when healthy. He’s an above-average defender at third base to boot. His biggest weakness is a propensity to chase, which leads to a worrisome number of strikeouts. It’s attributable as much to strike zone judgment as it is to approach; Jung isn’t particularly aggressive over the heart of the plate, but he swings too often at breaking balls below the zone.

That kind of profile tends to work out more often than not; power-and-defense third basemen can put up valuable seasons without huge on-base numbers, and Jung’s plate discipline is more worrisome than unfixable. His minor league track record is a mark in his favor, too. The biggest risk here is injury, and it’s a major concern at this point. Jung missed half of 2021 with a foot injury, then half of 2022 with the aforementioned shoulder issue. That’s two more major injuries than you’d hope for. Without that history, Jung would finish higher here, but risk aversion matters when you’re considering trading multiple prospects for one player.

Five-Year WAR 10.8
Guaranteed Dollars $44.0 M
Team Control Through 2030
Previous Rank #15
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 27 2.5 $7.0 M
2025 28 2.5 $7.0 M
2026 29 2.1 $7.0 M
2027 30 2.0 $7.0 M
2028 31 1.7 $8.0 M

Hayes has been the apple of my eye for a long time, but I’m finally starting to shake off the spell. He has a lot going for him – he’s the best defensive third baseman in baseball, he makes consistent, loud contact, and he’s under contract for a long time at a low rate. There’s just one problem: All that loud contact goes straight into the ground, and the chances of that fixing itself look slim at this point.

Hayes is a generational defender, but that can only get you so far. He put up a 3-WAR season last year with an 88 wRC+, but that’s pretty much his ceiling unless he can get himself sorted out at the plate. Even as he’s started to elevate the ball more frequently this year, his hardest contact still comes on grounders, and there’s just no offense to be had that way.

If I were a GM, I’d be calling the Pirates about Hayes because an adjustment at the plate could turn him into peak Josh Donaldson in a heartbeat. But rationally, I have to admit that a sudden transformation seems increasingly unlikely. You can only be a below-average hitter for so long before potential stops mattering and (lack of) production takes over. I hope I’m wrong about Hayes’ trajectory, but at this point he looks more like a role player on an attractive deal than a future superstar.

Five-Year WAR 11.6
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2027
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 26 2.3 Pre-Arb
2025 27 2.5 Arb 1
2026 28 2.5 Arb 2
2027 29 2.2 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

While we’re on the topic of players I love to an irrational degree, Nootbaar is the new top of the list. He has a patience and power skill set, consistently posting double-digit walk rates throughout his pro career while generating 80th-percentile maximum exit velocities in his time with the big league club. He’s a plus outfielder who can play all three positions, and he even has a strong throwing arm. In a lot of ways, he’s all the good things about the various Cardinals outfielders of recent vintage rolled into one.

With all those good things out of the way, let’s get to some negatives. He hit far too many grounders in the minors, a tendency that is rearing its head again this year. He’s missed time with injury in each of the last two seasons. He’s too passive at the plate; though he never chases, he gets himself into bad counts thanks to a low swing rate over the heart of the zone, and he has enough swing-and-miss that he ends up with a pedestrian strikeout rate despite rarely swinging at bad pitches.

For me, the total package works out to a borderline All-Star with a ton of team control remaining. For some of the people I talked to, both internally and on the team side, he’s more of an average player (with injury risk to boot). He’s got promise, no doubt, but I heard plenty of feedback that the glass was half empty.

Me? I’m a glass half full guy, at least when it comes to Nootbaar. I like betting on players with Nootbaar’s skill set and drive to improve, and even in a down year, he’s on pace for a 3.5-WAR season. Seems like a valuable trade chip to me.

Five-Year WAR 9.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2028
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 26 2.1 Pre-Arb
2025 27 2.1 Pre-Arb
2026 28 2.0 Arb 1
2027 29 1.9 Arb 2
2028 30 1.8 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Steer doesn’t have a defensive home. He has bounced around between first, third, and left this year, and he’s probably slightly below average at all three. As awkward as he looks in the field, though, he’s a natural at the plate. He combines above-average power with an excellent sense of the strike zone; I see years of double-digit walk rates in his future, and he doesn’t strike out very much, which makes his offensive floor very high indeed.

In the long run, Steer’s development might best be served by finding him an everyday spot, but his versatility has already paid off for the Reds as they’ve shuffled through lineups amid promotions and injuries. That would be a bonus for any team looking to trade for him, too; it’s a lot easier to construct a lineup when one of your top hitters isn’t 1B/DH only, even if they aren’t a defensive whiz.

If you’re looking for a comparison from recent baseball, think of Kris Bryant on the Cubs with the volume turned down a bit. I don’t think Steer will average a 140 wRC+, and I don’t think he’ll be above average at any defensive position, but that version of Bryant was so good that even 80% of him would be a perennial All-Star candidate. That’s the vibe I get from Steer.

Five-Year WAR 9.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2027
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 28 2.4 Pre-Arb
2025 29 2.2 Arb 1
2026 30 1.9 Arb 2
2027 31 1.6 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Does your team need a reliable starter? Of course it does. This is baseball we’re talking about; every team needs more pitching all the time. Ryan promises to deliver just that – frequent and reliable pitching – at a bargain rate for years to come. His big league track record is now long enough that I’m willing to believe his fastball-first approach will work; it’s a good enough pitch, and his new splitter complements it well enough, that he doesn’t need to change anything to be sustainably solid.

The big risk with trading for a pitcher is that they might get hurt. One season of an ace sounds a lot worse than two and a half seasons, but a serious injury could keep them on the shelf for about that long. As a trade chip, Ryan is relatively immune to that risk, because he’ll be around for a long time. He isn’t due to hit free agency until after the 2027 season, which means a lost year won’t torpedo his entire time with a team.

What gives Ryan the edge over the crop of rookie starters on the list of honorable mentions? It’s the certainty, more or less. Pitchers always have some likelihood of injury, but they also have a likelihood of taking a leap forward into stardom. Ryan marries that potential leap with a high floor; the combination of that and the amount of time you could have him on your team makes him more valuable than you might think.

Five-Year WAR 13.0
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2025
Previous Rank #33
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 29 3.4 Arb 2
2025 30 2.9 Arb 3
Arb

I’m a sucker for great up-the-middle defenders. Luckily for Mullins, so are the vast majority of big league GMs. Mullins is durable and he’s a 70 defender in center field. Even if he couldn’t hit at all, he’d be a surefire starter for most teams in baseball based on those two factors alone. That makes for a lofty floor; it’s hard to imagine a world where a team trading for Mullins does worse than a rock-solid everyday player.

Mullins has been much better than that over the past three years, and I wouldn’t bet on it changing anytime soon. He gets on base and hits a ton of doubles, making him an ideal top-of-the-order bat. He’s under contract for two more years, which is about the only downside worth mentioning. That’s not even a clear downside, though; at that point, Mullins will be entering his age-31 season, an age when defensive value often declines.

The value proposition here is really clear: Trade for a great defender who will likely hit well, for a few key years, starting right now. After that, wipe your hands clean and move on. I considered moving Mullins up the list even more despite the limited service time, and at the end of the day, only four hitters in Mullins’s future free agency class (the 2025-26 offseason) placed ahead of him on the list. You might not think of him as a star, but this level of defense coupled with above-average hitting is a tremendously valuable combination.

Five-Year WAR 2.9
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2028
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 22 0.3 Pre-Arb
2025 23 0.5 Pre-Arb
2026 24 0.6 Arb 1
2027 25 0.7 Arb 2
2028 26 0.8 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Whoa there, hold up Cardinals fans — don’t go getting out the pitchforks after looking at that ZiPS projection. ZiPS isn’t in love with Walker, but the numbers above are a result of the system projecting him as an absolutely abysmal defender for years to come. Switch him to DH and his projection would improve by an aggregate six wins. It’s inconceivable that Walker would actually be that bad defensively; he’ll either improve, or he’ll move to first base or DH.

His defensive issues are a real negative, but his offensive profile is still full of upside. We’re talking about a potential ultra-premium power bat, the kind of game-changing hitter who doesn’t grow on trees. Even in a fairly lackluster rookie season – way, way too many grounders have put a lid on his batting line – his outrageous power stands out. He’s absolutely crushing the ball when he makes contact and hasn’t proven easily exploitable despite his Stretch Armstrong frame. We’re talking about a premier power hitter for years to come, one with Giancarlo Stanton upside.

That upside isn’t guaranteed, which is why Walker doesn’t place higher on the list. If he ends up as merely a good hitter instead of a great one, his value will take a huge hit thanks to the sheer mass of solid hitters without defensive homes. That’s the risk. The reward is fairly obvious, though: You might end up with the next incarnation of Aaron Judge (minus the ability to moonlight in center). A lot of teams would take that gamble.

Five-Year WAR 12.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2028
Previous Rank #38
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 25 2.1 Pre-Arb
2025 26 2.4 Pre-Arb
2026 27 2.6 Arb 1
2027 28 2.9 Arb 2
2028 29 2.5 Arb 3
Pre-Arb
Arb

If you want Elly De La Cruz but can’t have him, what about the closest possible thing? Cruz has similar upside as an 80-power/80-speed shortstop, only with more red flags thrown in. His strikeout rate was enough to hold him back from greatness in 2022, while a brutal leg fracture early this season has limited him to just nine games so far. He’s only racked up 410 big league plate appearances, which means we still have a lot to learn about whether someone with his colossal frame can make enough contact and stay healthy enough to realize his sky-high potential.

Even with those risks, I think a lot of teams would be calling if the Pirates made Cruz available. The upside has always been mammoth, but it’s even more apparent now that De La Cruz is here to provide a proof of concept. This skill set can work, and it can work incredibly well. I’m not saying that it wasn’t possible before, but now it’s not even up for debate.

In a year, Cruz will either be a much more valuable or much less valuable trade chip. At some point, potential needs to turn into production, or the odds of things working out decline precipitously. That makes Cruz’s place on the list kind of silly – the Pirates aren’t going to trade him anytime soon, which makes this purely theoretical. This whole list is an exercise in theory, though, and I think that this valuation properly weighs the future paths Cruz might take.

Five-Year WAR 13.3
Guaranteed Dollars $49.7 M
Team Control Through 2029
Previous Rank #HM
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2024 24 2.5 $3.3 M
2025 25 2.6 $6.3 M
2026 26 2.7 $8.3 M
2027 27 2.8 $15.3 M
2028 28 2.7 $16.3 M

I lost count of the number of people who pointed out Greene’s fastball shape during my cross-checking. For a guy who lives around 100 mph on the radar gun, his heater is exceedingly hittable. The total package works out, though, because his slider is sensational. He’ll likely always walk a few too many batters, but as long as he has that nasty breaking ball, I think he’ll pile up enough strikeouts to make the whole thing work.

I think Greene is one of the players with the greatest disconnect between the baseball industry consensus and what the general public thinks. Six affordable years of a 23-year-old pitcher with this kind of stuff? It sounds like a bonanza. Meanwhile, a number of people I talked to questioned whether he belonged on this list at all. That’s how seriously talent evaluators are taking Greene’s perceived fastball deficiency.

I’m closer to the people than the elites on this one. I get it: Greene isn’t a blow-’em-away-high pitcher, and he might never become one. But I like how well he’s adapted to life at the major league level, using his fastball as a complementary tool rather than sticking with it while it got bludgeoned. Greene is young enough that the cement isn’t yet dry on his game; it’s more important that he has the tools to improve than that he’s a finished product now. The only reason I didn’t push him higher on the list is a hip injury that sounds like it will hold him out through August.

2023 Trade Value, 41-50
Rk Pv Player Age 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
41 HM Hunter Greene 23 2.5
$3.3 M
2.6
$6.3 M
2.7
$8.3 M
2.8
$15.3 M
2.7
$16.3 M
42 38 Oneil Cruz 24 2.1
Pre-Arb
2.4
Pre-Arb
2.6
Arb 1
2.9
Arb 2
2.5
Arb 3
43 HM Jordan Walker 21 0.3
Pre-Arb
0.5
Pre-Arb
0.6
Arb 1
0.7
Arb 2
0.8
Arb 3
44 33 Cedric Mullins 28 3.4
Arb 2
2.9
Arb 3
45 Joe Ryan 27 2.4
Pre-Arb
2.2
Arb 1
1.9
Arb 2
1.6
Arb 3
46 Spencer Steer 25 2.1
Pre-Arb
2.1
Pre-Arb
2.0
Arb 1
1.9
Arb 2
1.8
Arb 3
47 Lars Nootbaar 25 2.3
Pre-Arb
2.5
Arb 1
2.5
Arb 2
2.2
Arb 3
48 15 Ke’Bryan Hayes 26 2.5
$7.0 M
2.5
$7.0 M
2.1
$7.0 M
2.0
$7.0 M
1.7
$8.0 M
49 Josh Jung 25 2.6
Pre-Arb
2.6
Pre-Arb
2.6
Arb 1
2.4
Arb 2
2.2
Arb 3
50 James Wood 20 0.9
Pre-Arb
1.4
Pre-Arb
1.9
Pre-Arb
2.3
Arb 1
2.7
Arb 2
Pre-Arb
Arb





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

227 Comments
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HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago

Mannnnn I don’t know about some of these! Even setting aside the prospects who do not rate as highly (they’re within the margin of error, so whatever), you’re going to have a tough time convincing anyone that Joe Ryan, Spencer Steer, or Lars Nootbaar would have a more robust market than Jackson Holliday.

EonADS
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Let’s give him more than 20 PA about AA ball before we name him the next A-Rod.

Also, teams tend to like known qualities more than lottery tickets. I love Holiday, and I believe he’s going to haunt everyone he faces for years. But he’s not there yet.

Kvnmember
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

I mean that’s fair, but that’s no so different than James Wood who’s been not exactly tearing up AA and he’s on there.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

If I were anointing him the next A-Rod, I’d be arguing he should be #1 overall, not 40-50. I know he presents huge uncertainty, which is why he belongs in this area and not higher.

As for your second point, I just absolutely disagree with it and think it’s obviously wrong. I do not think they like known quantities more than lotto tickets. Always depends on who the known quantity and lotto ticket are, of course, but teams prefer (for good reason) the upside of a potential superstar.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

It depends on their contention window. Teams that are contending now absolutely prefer a known quantity, whether it’s the trade deadline or the offseason. It’s why trades of established players to contenders for prospects to non-contenders are so common, even during the offseason.

andrewpaul
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

Do you really think if Mike Elias called up St. Louis and offered Jackson Holliday for Lars Nootbar, they’d say no?

Last edited 7 months ago by andrewpaul
Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  andrewpaul

It depends on whether they think Holliday would help them more in 2024 than Nootbaar would. Given the risk involved with a prospect like Holliday having a great rookie year as soon as next year, the answer is likely no.

Dmjn53
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

he doesn’t have to be the next A-Rod to be more valuable than Spencer Steer

casey jmember
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

A-Rod would rank higher than K’Bryan Hayes lol. Holliday has a career .472 OBP so far. The O’s would not take 4 K’Bryan Hayes’s for Holliday, despite him being no-ARod.

slz
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

Ok, if we’re playing this game why would we take James Wood over Holliday? Even setting aside normal prospect caveats, Wood has the Jordan Walker profile where the couple good things he does have to hit. Holliday’s offense can fall off in the majors and he can still be a mainstay on this list for the rest of the decade

jreyn24
7 months ago
Reply to  slz

Ceiling vs floor. Wood has a better shot at becoming Judge-lite than Holliday does becoming A-Rod-lite. Even if Holliday is safer.

slz
7 months ago
Reply to  jreyn24

Projecting HOF talent out of anyone is a fool’s errand but why are we sure about that? Holliday has murdered the lower minors. We don’t need to call him A-Rod. His dad’s offense with decent SS defense would be better than Lindor, who is only a few WAR below Judge since Judge has come into the league.

And I mean, he probably doesnt keep running mid .400 OBPs as he progresses through the upper minors and into the majors.

Just like James Wood probably doesnt stick in CF, run a .300+ ISO and hit for average while K-ing nearly 30% of the time like Judge does.

But if Holliday’s ceiling is Juan Soto (.280/.420/.520) with good SS defense that’s every bit as good as Wood’s ceiling. They’re both yearly MVP candidates if they hit that

TheUncool
7 months ago
Reply to  slz

Don’t think y’all should focus on Wood vs Holliday… bc that’s extremely speculative and can vary a good deal (or not really at all) depending on which prospect hound you ask. Besides, Wood is only #50 on the list. IF Holliday’s #51 (or 55 or whatever) or vice versa, it’s really not that big a deal (just as how it’d be w/ typical top 100 prospect lists in their tier). They should probably both be roughly in the same tier — and FG’s FV for both seems 60 (according to their player pages).

Focus on why Holliday doesn’t seem to be somewhere in this ballpark/tier (of say top 55 it’d seem)… and why someone like Nootbar is probably getting so much (somewhat irrational) love instead.

Nootbar seems pretty good and may still have some additional upside, but he’s not really quite that young anymore nor proven to be a reliable mainstay (due to being possibly injury-prone) nor has quite that much cheap control left w/ just 1 remaining pre-arb season left. One could probably say something similar about Hayes too, just that he has an extra year of control, but it’s not completely clear that’s actually extra surplus value over Nootbar.

Last edited 7 months ago by TheUncool
HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Another way of thinking about this: Had Nootbaar or Steer been available in this year’s draft, would they have gone #1? Absolutely not. If we just assume everyone signs a slot deal, I don’t think they’d go ahead of any of Crews, Skenes, or Langford.

I think my more general point is that in the intro you rightly make the point that value is not linear because stars are worth more than the straight line of WAR suggests. Yet this back 10 is full of solid players with lots of team control but without star upside. There are a decent number of players left off the list entirely, starting with Holliday, who I think just obviously have more value than much of this group.

EonADS
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

The other side of this is guys like Torkelson, who fell off drastically. There are more young guys at the bottom of this list than last year. But Jackson probably juuuuuust misses the cut because of lack of assurance. He was probably still in high-A when this was written.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

Yeah no doubt, we shouldn’t assume prospects achieve their projections. And I think Torkelson is a good example of why Walker does not belong on this list, even though I like his upside quite a bit! R/R players without defensive value just have a very narrow path to stardom. Both those guys have the offensive profile to get there, but it’s hard to become an awesome MLB hitter. Holliday presents a different case imo because he has a lot of pathways to providing lots of value.

maximus74
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

eh, walker is almost 3 years younger than torkelson and already has proven more with the bat even with the GB% issues

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

The difference with Walker is that he has already established himself as a good Major League hitter. Even if his game never improves any further and he needs to be the primary DH, that’s still a darn good floor for a guy with over 6 years of control remaining.

Besides, there’s also the option of Walker potentially moving back to his natural position of 3B someday.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lanidrac
GoodEnoughForMe
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

I’m going to push back on the first point because I think a 3.5 war a year player absolutely would be a #1 pick. If healthy and given a long career that’s a “hall of very good player” with a sprinkling of all star bids. Torkelson, Mize, Royce Lewis, Moniak, and Appel have all been #1 picks in the last ten years. Nootbaar is way better than them. A 100% guaranteed player of that caliber would practically break the draft if you could trade that pick.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago

We’ll just have to agree to disagree there. Teams who pick #1 understand the bust potential, but they’re looking for potential superstars. Yes, those guys you listed have been #1 picks (too early to put Torkelson or Lewis there I think, but there have been other busts. How about Luke Hochevar!). But Adley Rutschman, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa, Gerrit Cole, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and David Price have also gone #1 in recent years (and if you want to go back further, we can start counting first ballot HOFers). I don’t think there’s any chance in the world that Lars Nootbaar would have gone #1 this year in a draft with at least three guys who everyone agrees present superstar upside.

Ottermember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

This is a silly argument because no one would take soon to be 26 year old Nootbaar #1 in the 2023 draft and when Nootbaar was draft eligible, he hadn’t developed into the player he is today.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  Otter

But the fact that nobody would take soon to be 26 year old Nootbaar #1 is exactly my point. That means he’s not as valuable as Skenes, Crews, Langford.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  Otter

That’s actually kind of the point. There is NO bust potential if you could somehow put an established and still relatively young above-average Major League player back in the draft. Every contending team would absolutely take such a guy at #1 if you could guarantee he wouldn’t bust and would need no time in the minor leagues. A guaranteed pick like that that is absolutely more valuable than a superstar lottery ticket to contending teams.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lanidrac
TheUncool
7 months ago
Reply to  Lanidrac

Given what we’ve seen, yes, there are absolutely a few GMs/teams who would take Nootbar #1… but those are usually awful GMs/teams at drafting, farm development and MLB roster construction, LOL.

Yes, Nootbar would probably fulfill their goal, but that doesn’t mean their goals were ever that good though… or they would be better, more frequent, serious contenders instead of perennial losers, except perhaps for the Moneyball A’s of the past before most of the league caught up w/ them…

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

If you know in advance that you can sign them and immediately plug them onto your Major League roster to immediately have an above-average Major League player, then yes, many teams would indeed take Nootbaar or Steer with the #1 overall pick at slot bonus value.

TheUncool
7 months ago
Reply to  Lanidrac

Don’t forget though that Nootbar isn’t actually a reliable, finished product though. I’d agree some GMs/teams would probably take him #1, but probably not quite as many as you think — he seems a tad injury-prone and hasn’t actually proven himself for a full season yet despite only having 4 more seasons of control left.

Maybe if we’re talking a Nootbar who can be expected to stay healthy plus come w/ full 6 years of control, then that might get you to having large majority of teams taking him #1 I guess, but those are substantial IFs though.

sadtrombonemember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Joe Ryan has the lowest xERA in baseball this year, and Lars Nootbaar is a solid 3.5 win guy. I think you could go either way on them over Jackson Holliday.

However, Spencer Steer and Ke’Bryan Hayes definitely do not belong on this list. Steer’s BABIP is a mirage, and he has no position; I don’t think he compares well to someone like Kerry Carpenter (who can play defense somewhere , who also shouldn’t be anywhere near this list. And I don’t buy that Hayes is going to have a sustainable breakout at the plate.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’ll confess that I reacted to Joe Ryan’s name without seeing his peripherals, which surprise me. I still have trouble seeing him as much different than a guy like Heim though–that is, a previously decent player now having a breakout. Will teams buy this is his true self? I’d have to look more closely, but I’m skeptical, but I’m also always skeptical about pitchers specifically. I personally would not entertain a Holliday – Ryan trade, but maybe others disagree.

I don’t think Nootbaar is a solid 3.5 win guy, and even if he is I don’t think he’s likely to ever be much more than that. Good player, plenty of value, but outfielders of his caliber come along all the time and can also basically be recreated on the cheap by platooning if you’re willing to use up the extra roster spot.

sadtrombonemember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Ryan is gonna be spectacular if they ever decide to stop playing guys like Julien at positions where he really shouldn’t ever be playing.

Nootbaar is on place for 3.7 wins over 600 PAs while underperforming his batted ball data. That’s something like the #55 position player in major league baseball, and that’s the bird-in-hand. And if you buy that he’s CF-capable (and he’s positive in defensive value there this year) then he’s at a position of scarcity and his WAR is going to shoot way up. So, no, I don’t agree that there isn’t any upside there. Although I admit that I am skeptical that he is going to be much better than a 3.5 win player, I’d say he has at least as much upside as downside.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

We’ll have to agree to disagree on Nootbaar. He hits a ton of grounders, and I’m skeptical of any WAR/600 for a left-handed hitter if they haven’t established they can hit lefties (his career numbers look ok but this year not so much). I’m just not seeing a potential star there.

PC1970
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

& Riley Greene is on a 4.4 over 600 PA pace, is similar in the field (both are a little stretched in CF, above average in RF/LF) AND is 3 years younger with 1 more year of team control.

HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

Yeah while I share sadtrombone’s overall skepticism about Riley Greene reaching superstar status, I’d for sure take him over Lars Nootbaar, no doubt.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

I mean…that’s an argument for Greene to be on the list, not for Nootbar too be off it.

PC1970
7 months ago

Agreed..I was just making the obvious comparison since they’re somewhat similar players

sadtrombonemember
7 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

I think that Greene’s defense in is likely all downhill from here, whereas I’m not sure about Nootbaar. But the main issues is that lack of power, when combined with the strikeouts, is really concerning to me for Greene in a way that it isn’t for Nootbaar (their expected homer rate is almost identical). Greene is running a .417 BABIP; I know that the batted ball data says that he’s earned it but there’s a difference between earning it in the past and being able to keep it going for the future.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The batted ball data doesn’t say that he’s earned his BABIP – it says that quite a few more of the liners that he sprays everywhere should have been doubles.

Statcast thinks he’s a .275/.350/.475 guy with a .350 BABIP

His GB% is right at 50%, this year – he just had an ugly “GB/FB” because his LD% is so high!

sadtrombonemember
7 months ago

Right, what I am saying is it is super hard to hit that many liners. This is the curse of Eric Hosmer–he relied heavily on hitting liners all the time, and he couldn’t do it. So there’s some real downside risk here.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

But even that “downside” is something like Nick Markakis, given his defense.

Pachoo9member
7 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

Yep, I’d take Greene over Nootbar for sure. Markedly younger with more present and future potential imo.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

I disagree that 3.5 WAR outfielders are all that common or can be commonly created in a platoon. Maybe for guys consistently worth 2 or even 2.5 WAR, but beyond that they’re much harder to find or platoon.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I <i>do</I> think Steer’s being a bad defensive 1B is a much bigger flag than his .310 BABIP…but yeah.

Very confusing to see Steer and Hayes here over the likes of Riley Greene…and I don’t think the O’s would do Holliday-Wood straight up, but I think the Nats would.

sadtrombonemember
7 months ago

I am a Riley Greene skeptic, probably the last one in the world, and even I think he belongs on this list more than Steer and Hayes.

Left of Centerfield
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I was wondering if Steven Kwan deserves to be on this list. Seeing Nootbaar makes me think he does deserve to be on here but I also have a hard time seeing him being above #40.

But just comparing:

-They’re almost exactly the same age (Nootbaar is 3 days younger)
-They’ve done about the same in the majors (Kwan 5.9 WAR in 239 games, Nootbaar 5.0 WAR in 229 games).
-Career wRC+ of 113 vs 116

The one advantage that Nootbaar has is more power which teams tend to value more than Kwan’s defense/OBP. On the other hand, the ZiPS 3-year projections on their player pages shows Kwan at +2.2 WAR (I imagine that Ben has access to more updated info that we can’t see).

Anyway, I have a hard time making a strong case for one over the other.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago

Nootbar’s batted ball numbers are a lot stronger.

Kwan does take his walks and get his steals…but he’s just a lot more exposed to BABIP variance than Nootbar.

Left of Centerfield
7 months ago

Fair enough though Kwan has a 4.4 WAR season whereas Nootbaar hasn’t even had a 3.0 WAR season yet. And while Nootbaar came in at #48, Kwan didn’t even make the HM list. Again, I can see the case for Nootbaar over Kwan, just not that big of a gap.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
7 months ago

That’s just down to health/playing time, though.

And availability matters! But I don’t think we have enough of a sample to label Nootbar injury prone, at this point.

TheUncool
7 months ago

Whatever you label him, he still hasn’t actually proven to be a 3.5-WAR player for a(ny) full season though, NVM multiple full seasons. That’s still just projection w/out quite that much proven support — yes, it’s certainly a fair deal more supported than most any rookie/prospect w/ say just a couple months of solid MLB experience, but not a ton more though w/ basically just 1 full combined season split across 1.5 years so far w/ questions about his durability, if nothing else. Plus there’s far less upside at this point than a substantially younger rookie/prospect w/ a couple months of fairly good production.

Last edited 7 months ago by TheUncool
TheUncool
7 months ago
Reply to  TheUncool

Anyway, I’m not necessarily hating Nootbar being on the list (or perhaps just barely outside… as I think the late-40’s to say #55 aren’t really that big a diff). But besides the talent and durability questions, Nootbar also only has 4 years of control left (and only 1 pre-arb year) and no meaningful way to push free agency (or arbitration years) further to wait for any development if needed, including the questions about him actually staying on the field…

Basically, the issue may be who got completely left off even from being honorable mentions (for being very close) it seems…

mcgobmember
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’d like to hear why you think steers babip is a mirage? It isn’t crazy high.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The “no position argument” only really mattered back when half the teams didn’t play with the DH. Now that most teams could just make such a guy their primary DH if necessary (even if it means they have to put a subpar but still relatively superior defender back in the field), it’s no longer that big of a hit to their trade value.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lanidrac
TKDCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

It is a bit odd that after the introduction stressed the value of stars over average or slightly above average players, nine out of the first 10 guys have zero years of team control projected at 3+ WAR. Would 3.5 years of cheapish Lars Nootbar really attract a higher highest bid than 4.5 years of Freddie Freeman at $27 million?

Last edited 7 months ago by TKDC
HowBoutDemOsmember
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Completely agree.

baubo
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Projection systems by default are going to have lower average WAR for young players vs older ones, due to their inherent volatility of bad outcome = 0 WAR that you won’t see for veterans. If you’re predicting “number of 3+ WAR seasons under team control” for all these guys 41-50, I bet the results are going to be a lot of such seasons.

Sure some of these guys may bust, some may not develop much, but some may also turn into superstars and by 2024 trade value column, people are going to wonder why they weren’t mentioned in top 10 back in 2023. There is a lot of variance within this group and a lot of that vairance is pointing upward.

TheUncool
7 months ago
Reply to  baubo

Which begs the Q why some of those prospects and/or some of these guys didn’t either end up as honorable mentions or simply change the list to tier rankings and/or expand to top 60 or more instead.

Heck, top prospect rankings usually go to top 100 or so… and we all know there’s tons of variability there…

tung_twista
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Possibly, because you are comparing 25~28 year old Nootbar and 33~37 year old Freeman. 
Dodgers would not want to trade Freeman for Nootbar, but neither would the Cardinals, and not just because of Goldschmidt. 

Recent 1B (future) HoFer’s age 34-37 season

Bagwell
wrc+ 127 fwar 12.2

Votto
wrc+ 121 fwar 7.6

Helton
wrc+ 112 fwar 5.0

Pujols
wrc+ 107 fwar 3.2

Miggy
wrc+ 100 fwar 0.0

Bagwell is the only player whose performance exceeded what you could expect from $108M. 
Votto was arguably worth it considering the shortened season of 2020, but in the same time frame, he was merely 11th/10th/11th by fwar/WPA/batting runs among 1B, so the surplus value, if it exists, would not be that much.

TKDCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  tung_twista

Well, you forgot the Crime Dog, who should seemingly count if Bagwell does, and he had 10.4. Paul Goldschmidt is also two years older than Freeman and his 34-37 seasons are looking like they will be pretty dang good too.

It is true that some guys at first base fall off fast, since losing offensive abilities craters their value, and Miggy literally has it happen at age 34! However, Freeman is not really the big bodied slugger type. Hell, he’s adding stealing bases to his game the last two seasons. Even a conservative true value for him right now (let’s say 5.0-5.5 WAR) and an aggressive aging curve (-0.7 per year) would predict he will not age beyond “useful starter” by age 37, and you’re getting “top-10 player” right now.

I don’t know how others think, but I’d rather have him and his contract than a bunch of the guys on the top 50 list. Yes, his age presents a risk, but the limited years and his very high baseline mitigate that a lot.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

But also keep in mind that his contract puts a cap on Freeman’s value. You don’t just have to worry about whether his performance will hold up but also whether you can afford to pay him while his performance starts to decline even if he ages relatively well.

jreyn24
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Yeah scarcity matters. There’s far far more players out there that are a tweak or two away from turning into Nootbaar than there are turning into Freddie Freeman.

68FCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

The silly economics of baseball messes with this thought experiment. There are 25+ teams that would be interested in a guy like Nootbar, there are maybe 5 that would consider Freeman just because he is expensive and most owners are very cheap. There is a reason that most of the FMV stars are concentrated on a few teams. Once there are only a few teams that would be willing to take on the salary commitment, then fit and positional need matter more. That suppresses his market considerably.

TKDCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  68FC

I think this is way off, partially because $27 million is not quite a discount on “top dollar.” The only teams I simply could not see being in on Freeman based on “philosophy,” or as you put it, cheapness, are: Oakland, TB, KC, Houston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Chicago (AL), and Miami. You could possibly add a few more, but around half the league would not run for the hills just because a guy has 4/$108 million coming his way.

68FCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Freeman was a free agent 18 months ago and signed that contract. No other team offered him more money then and now he older and has already gone through a season and a half of the surplus value portion of the contract.

Pretty much by definition players have no trade value immediately after signing free agent deals unless they gave the signing team a discount. Teams aren’t going to offer trade value for a contract they aren’t willing to sign the player to if they were a free agent. Would Freeman beat 4/108 on the free agent market now?

If Nootbar was a free agent, what would he end up signing for over the next four years? Almost certainly more than he will get paid in arb.

TKDCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  68FC

This is silly. Freeman in 2022 carried risk of decline/injury/etc. and instead he seems to have miraculously taken a step forward at age 32-33. The baseline of Freeman now compared to what a normal aging curve would tell you following the 2021 season are not even close. At least 2 WAR apart. And he honestly signed a mediocre deal, largely because of the lock out and his willingness to try to wait out the Braves.

On top of that, as soon as he signed that deal, worldwide inflation boomed. Everything about this opinion makes no sense to me.

nevinbrownmember
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

There are still 40 more names to go

Jon
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Agreed, you put Nootbaar on any team in baseball and every single one would be lining up to trade him straight up for Holliday.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Not if they’re contending, they won’t! If Nootbaar was playing for a contending team this year, why the heck would they dump him for a prospect and lower their chances of making the playoffs and ultimately their chances of winning the World Series this year?! Even for the Cardinals, Nootbaar is more valuable to them for their plans to contend next year in 2024 and maybe even in 2025.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lanidrac
The Duke
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

I just don’t see the value of having a bunch of guys on the list who won’t be moved. The list should only really be comprised of people who are actually marketable. Who cares about Holliday or Walker. They aren’t moving

jreyn24
7 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

Disagree. This exercise is way more fun when it’s fully comprehensive.

The Duke
7 months ago
Reply to  jreyn24

Maybe the title of the article (and the series ) is wrong

Antonio Bananas
7 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

It’s not. This is fangraphs and the readers know what it means.

68FCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

It is players who are marketable, not players who are being marketed. The reason guys like Holliday or Walker aren’t moving isn’t because they don’t have trade value, it is because they do have value.

A list of guys who are likely to be moved at this deadline would be very boring. A few bigger name players who we already know the order of their value and a lot of mildly interesting relievers that really could go in any order.

TKDCmember
7 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

There is a whole other series about realistic possible trades. And then you can also just see them happen!!

bookbook
7 months ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and even Jared Kelenic and Ryan Anderson say hi. Top prospects are always more fun. Actually more valuable? I’m not sure.