Let’s play a fun little game. Below are the 2012-2014 performances of two players. One of them was just traded for Joey Wendle, because the A’s didn’t want to pay him $7 million via arbitration next year. The other one is due $107 million over the next five years, and the Dodgers are asking for several of another team’s best young players in a trade.
Of course, this isn’t the whole story with either player. Kemp was an absolute monster in the second half, playing at a very high level, while Moss struggled with a hip problem that sapped all of his power. Moss is a year older. Moss is a lefty who probably needs to be platooned, while Kemp is right-handed and can play everyday. Kemp is a good athlete with obvious physical skills, while Moss has been outperforming scouting expectations with every season of success.
Like with my Chase Headley/Jacoby Ellsbury comparison this morning, I’m not suggesting that Moss is Kemp’s equal going forward, or that their market values should be the same. However, I will suggest that maybe the marginal difference between them isn’t actually that large, especially if the surgery Moss had on his hip doesn’t continue to hinder him going forward.
Steamer forecasts a 128 wRC+ and +2.3 WAR per 600 PAs for Kemp versus a 121 wRC+ and +1.9 WAR per 600 PAs for Moss. Toss in the risk associated with Moss’ hip problems, and maybe you think the gap is even a little bit bigger than that. And perhaps Kemp’s handedness is worth a premium, given how much more teams are paying for right-handed power than their left-handed equivalents.
But man, it’s hard to not like the Indians picking up Moss for a song when you see what the asking price for Matt Kemp is.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.