Every summer during the All-Star break, I run our annual Trade Value series. It’s a lot of fun, and a nice distraction from not having actual baseball for four days, and it makes some sense to publish it in the lead-up to the July 31st trade deadline, since that’s a time when we’re comparing the trade value of a lot of different players. However, there’s also a downside to running the trade value list in the middle of the season, as the list can look a little outdated pretty quickly based on things that happen in the second half of the year.
I’ve long tinkered with the idea of running something like an offseason update, looking at guys whose stock has changed dramatically in the last few months, and inspired by Jonah Keri’s take on the same subject, I’ve decided to do just that this year. If you haven’t checked out Jonah’s list, you should definitely do so, and for reference, I’ve noted his ranking for each of the guys who made my updated Top 50. I am not including contract data this time around, because you can find it all in the posts from this summer.
First, let’s look at the guys who appeared on the summer version of the list but have seen their stock fall enough that they’re out of my Top 50 at this point.
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Welcome to the final section of this year’s Trade Value series, the top 10. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another. You can see all the posts in the series here.
A few quick notes on the columns listed for each player. After the normal biographical information, I’ve listed Projected WAR, which is essentially a combination of ZIPS and Steamer’s current rest-of-season forecasts extrapolated out to a full-season’s worth of playing time. For non-catcher position players, this is 600 plate appearances; catchers are extrapolated to 450 PAs. For pitchers, this is extrapolated to 200 innings. It is not their 2014 WAR, or their last calendar year WAR; it is a rough estimate of what we might expect them to do over a full-season, based on the information we have now.
Welcome to the fourth part of this year’s Trade Value series. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another. You can see all the posts in the series here.
So, we’ve been linking to our pieces over at FoxSports.com for a few months now, but today, those links go to their permanent new home. Fox has launched a new baseball page entitled Just A Bit Outside, and it will be the home for the content produced by the team Rob Neyer has assembled. The site officially launched today, and it will be updated daily with the kind of content that FanGraphs readers would likely enjoy. We’ll still be contributing our three pieces per week over there, and I’ll be doing some shorter stuff in the Baseball Joe section as well. Check it out.
Since the launch was happening this week, I wanted to do a tie-in to the Trade Value series that’s running here, and since it’s a popular question during Trade Value week, I decided to publish the Anti-Trade Value list over at Just A Bit Outside. So, if you’re wondering which five contracts would be the hardest to move, well, here’s my answer.
Over at FanGraphs, I have an annual tradition of using the All-Star break to rank the game’s most valuable players by their overall trade value, factoring in not only their on-field performance but their age and contract status as well. After all, a good player making $1 million per year is likely more valuable to a franchise than a great player making $25 million per year, as the $24 million cost savings can be spent to buy the good player better teammates and result in a better product overall.
Not surprisingly, the top spot last year went to Mike Trout, as he was the best player in baseball and made the league minimum; his combination of high performance and low cost made him one of the most valuable properties in baseball history. Even after signing a new contract that guarantees him $140 million over the next six years, you can bet that Trout will still rank quite highly in the this year’s top 10, which will be released this Friday on FanGraphs.
But, of course, for every Mike Trout, there’s 10 big contracts that haven’t worked out so well, with teams now paying tens of millions of dollars for the kind of production you’d hope to get for a million or two. The history of long-term mega contracts for free agency is filled with high-priced busts, and when a team makes a mistake on a big money guy, they are often stuck with that player until the contract runs out. These players not only don’t have any trade value; they have negative trade value, and require a financial subsidy to another team just to move the player off their roster.
Paying a player to play for someone else is the most inefficient use of resources in baseball, but it’s also the reality that some teams face when they just want to move on from a bad decision. So which players would require the largest subsidies to another team in order to be willing to assume the rest of their contracts? Or, put another way, which players have the most negative trade value in Major League Baseball right now?
The easiest way to estimate how much money a team would have to include in a trade to move a player currently contract is to ask how much that player would sign for if he was made a free agent after the season ends. The difference between our estimated free agent price, and his remaining contract value, is a decent approximation of how much cash a team would have to kick in to trade their overpriced former stars. To come up with the five players with the most negative trade value, I’ve created estimated free agent prices, and included the difference in “dead money” that their current contract includes.
5. Prince Fielder, First Base, Texas Rangers
Read the rest at Just A Bit Outside.
Welcome to the third part of this year’s Trade Value series. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another. You can see all the posts in the series here.
Due to popular demand — or maybe unpopular outrage? — this post and the next two will revert back to the prior year’s format of listing each player individually, with a blurb beneath them, rather than the article format that I experimented with in the first two posts. The mob has spoken.
Welcome to the second part of this year’s Trade Value series. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another. And then read the first ten entries on the list from yesterday.
There will be a couple of formatting changes this year. Instead of doing two posts per day, with five players in each post, I’m consolidating those posts into one longer list per day. Additionally, instead of having a player listed and then some paragraphs about his ranking, I’m going to list all ten players in a table at the top of the post, and then write about all ten in more of an article style than a selection of blurbs. Having all of the names available in a single table makes for easier comparison of some relevant facts, and in past years, the player capsules started to feel pretty repetitive by the end. Hopefully, this cuts down on some of the redundant text. We’ll find out, I guess.
Welcome to the kick-off of this year’s Trade Value series. If you haven’t already, read the intro and get yourself acquainted with what question this is trying to answer, as well as an incomplete list of guys who missed the cut for one reason or another.
It’s time for the FanGraphs annual All-Star break tradition: distract ourselves from a lack of baseball by arguing about a subjective list of speculative value. Yes, it’s Trade Value time again. This is actually the 10th year I’ve done this list, as my first one came back in 2005, and it included immortals like Daniel Cabrera, Felipe Lopez, and Bobby Crosby. I moved the list to FanGraphs back in 2008, so this will be the seventh edition here on this site.
As always, I’d like to acknowledge that this project has been borrowed from Bill Simmons, who does his own NBA Trade Value series at Grantland. It’s a fun project, and one I’m glad he popularized.
As a quick overview for those who might be new to the series, he’s the basic concept: which players would bring the most return in trade if they were made available by their current clubs? To answer this question as best as we can, we not only look at a player’s performance — both now and in the future — but also the amount of years a team would be acquiring a player for, and how much that player would earn in salary before he could become a free agent. The most valuable assets in the game aren’t just great players, but they’re great players who offer significant value for multiple seasons at salaries below what comparable players earn on the open market.
Next Monday, we’re kicking off one of the most popular things we do around here: the Trade Value series. It’s been an annual tradition for going on 10 years now, and I find it a nice distraction from the fact that the All-Star break fails to give us any interesting baseball to talk about. Plus, it gives you guys all kinds of ammunition to prove that I am, in fact, an idiot.
To that end, I’d like to look back at last year’s list, and make some comments about what we might have learned over the last calendar year. List first, then comments. Read the rest of this entry »