Trade Value Series Chat – 7/29/22

11:59
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to a very special, once-a-year chat to celebrate the trade value series.

11:59
Ben Clemens: We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled chat schedule…. well, probably the week after next, what with Monday being the trade deadline and all

12:00
Ben Clemens: But for today, I’m going to strive to take only questions about the trade value series. Constructing it, why is x guy in y spot, anything of that nature.

12:00
Ben Clemens: If you have trade deadline questions, I will probably not get to them, my bad

12:00
Pat: Where would Trout have ended up with the news on his back condition this week?

12:01
Ben Clemens: Probably the same spot he was. He was already on the IL as I compiled the list, and the range from, say, 35-60 is just not that high

12:01
Ben Clemens: So I made a point of keeping Trout in the top 50

12:01
Ben Clemens: He’s Mike Trout!

12:02
Marshall: I’m surprised Lux didn’t make the list since he was an HM last year (“team control but value is down”), and I would have thought his value is way up due to his play this year. What kept Lux off the list?

12:03
Ben Clemens: He probably should have made honorable mention, but I just want to see a little bit more. If he’s playing like this still next year he’ll probably be on there. It’s a little bit of a ‘he should be squarely in the best 70 players’ deal in my head

12:03
Mitch Meluskey: The projected WAR for Acuna seems awfully low – is that mostly playing time adjusted because of the injuries the last two years? I know the models are meant to be conservative but compared to his peers it’s tough to figure unless you’re assuming 120 or so games played the next few years.

12:03
Ben Clemens: You’d have to ask Dan that, but I believe so

12:04
TKDC: What do you think of Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman’s trade value? They are two top players in the league and don’t have the backend contracts of first baseman of yore.

12:04
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I could have thrown them on the ‘stars on big contracts’ section, and I had both on there at various points

12:05
Ben Clemens: I ended up taking them off just b/c when there are 50 honorable mentions the category seems less meaningful

12:06
TKDC: Exactly how much egg is going to be on your face for leaving Michael Harris II off this list? One dozen eggs or two dozen eggs?

12:06
Ben Clemens: Honestly, zero eggs

12:06
Ben Clemens: I don’t think people would feel differently if I put him 45th or something

12:06
Ben Clemens: as a subjective list of who I think are good baseball players, I feel pretty fine about it.

12:07
Malcolm Nunez: More of a comment than anything, but Jeff Jones is reporting that the Cardinals baseball ops team *and* Bill DeWitt Junior are in DC for the series.  Oh, and look, Soto is on this list. How topical.

12:08
Ben Clemens: Okay fine, one trade deadline question, b/c it’s about someone on here. I LOVE that the whole FO went to Washington

12:08
Ben Clemens: seems like there is smoke enough that maybe there’s fire

12:08
Thomas: Is this the first time somebody in the Top 10 of the trade value rankings actually had a reasonable expectation of being traded at the deadline? Feels unprecedented in the time I’ve been following the series

12:08
Ben Clemens: First time

12:08
Braydon: Is this the riskiest top 5 in a while? It seems like all of the Top 5 is either: 1) really young, 2) coming off a fairly major injury, or 3) both

12:08
Ben Clemens: Well, Yordan is the one exception there, though even he had a major injury two years ago

12:08
Ben Clemens: But yes, definitely

12:09
Ben Clemens: I’ve only done this one time before but I always followed along in the past, naturally

12:09
Ben Clemens: and I can’t remember a time where the volatility was so high on top

12:09
Jax: Would J-Rod be number one on this list had he not been called up until they could’ve picked up an extra year of service time?

12:10
Ben Clemens: Hard to say! He was pretty bad his first month up

12:10
Ben Clemens: so what performance would we have seen? I dunno

12:10
David: #1 on Next year’s list is _____? I’d assume Franco Julio and Tatis are early favorites.

12:10
Ben Clemens: For sure

12:10
Junk Wax Rookie Card: Where would top 10 prospects who aren’t in the majors fit here? Any consideration for putting somebody like Moreno or Alvarez on this list?

12:11
Ben Clemens: Yeah, they could easily be at the back end of the top 50, I think those players are pretty interchangeable with some of the guys I had there. The reason I left them off is that I just don’t have a good sense of which prospects teams think of that way, and which are overrated on the public side

12:11
Ben Clemens: I have so little info there, basically, that I decided to sit it out

12:11
Blake Seams: Is a career 106 wRC+ (90 this year) and good, but not great, defense at second really worth the 16th spot on the list for Ozzie Albies? Or is he getting grandfathered in with his contract at this point?

12:11
TKDC: Where would Albies have landed if he were healthy and having a similar year to last year?

12:12
Ben Clemens: Two different sides of the same coin here

12:12
Ben Clemens: When I made this list initially, I came up with a formula to give me an initial order that I could then riff off of

12:13
Ben Clemens: It’s something like 50% some vaguely defined value metric, 25% next year’s projected WAR, 25% total controllable projected WAR

12:13
Ben Clemens: The reasons for all the parts should be fairly obvious, and the weights are arbitrary, I just needed SOMETHING as a ‘model’ that I could move around

12:14
Ben Clemens: Albies was like 25th??

12:14
Ben Clemens: And I thought wow, that’s weird, everyone loves Ozzie Albies’s contract for the team (and hates it for him, etc.), I should move him up

12:15
Ben Clemens: But then I started getting feedback like ‘hey uh, why is Albies so high?’ and that gave me the courage of my convictions to move him back near where my   lazy model had him

12:15
Ben Clemens: All of that is to say, if he were playing better and not hurt, he’d be ranked higher

12:15
Ben Clemens: But his recent performance has lowered reasonable future expectations

12:15
Ben Clemens: Sorry, everyone, fire alarm in my building, I’ll be right back

12:16
Karen: You left _______ and _________ off the list! This guy was too high and what is with this guys’ low ranking!?! Please explain

12:16
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna have to direct you to my manager, Meg Rowley

12:17
Ben Clemens: (hopefully this is just a false alarm)

12:17
RJD: If Judge signed the yankees extension offer, would he have made the list/hm?

12:17
Ben Clemens: HM

12:17
Nate: Do you personally think Ke’Bryan Hayes ever fixes his swing to get more loft/finally tap into that raw power more? Or think this is mostly what he’ll be moving forward? Seems like he’d be a top 10 guy if he could ever be a 20 bomb threat someday

12:17
Ben Clemens: Personally, I think it’s like 40%

12:17
Ben Clemens: I’m a big Hayes guy

12:17
Ben Clemens: Reasonable people could have that number lower, but I don’t think they could have it higher

12:17
TooDamnTall: Curious about how much you feel the list is your opinion vs reporting what the industry thinks. Or, to say that differently, are there any players you personally think are in the wrong spot?

12:17
Ben Clemens: Wonderful question

12:18
Ben Clemens: This is like 70% opinion 30% capturing the industry, if not higher on my opinion

12:18
Ben Clemens: I do think that the two are fairly close?

12:18
Ben Clemens: But like, I can’t actually get a square answer from a GM about whether they think Byron Buxton or Alek Manoah has higher trade value

12:18
Ben Clemens: I don’t even know any GM’s!

12:19
Ben Clemens: And also, they probably don’t have an answer ready at hand, why would they

12:19
Fatty Magoo: Only one pitcher in the top 10? Is that because of injury risk or are position players just that more valuable?

12:19
Ben Clemens: Position players are more valuable because of lower injury risk, so both

12:19
Fatty Magoo: Interesting to see Hayes ahead of Riley considering they are the same age and Riley looks like a star while Hayes might not be league average with the bat. Is that simply due to more service time?

12:19
Ben Clemens: Yes

12:19
Deep Freaking Value: How much did the thought of, “How devastating would this be for the franchise if they had to trade this guy” factor into your rankings? I think this most applies to Trout and Ohtani because they don’t fit the mold of lots of surplus value due to control or cheap contract, but the Angels would just have to feel like an abject failure for wasting the primes of the 2 best players of the last 10 years.

12:20
Ben Clemens: Zero! Maybe it should have more

12:20
Insert Witty Name Here: I’m going to respectfully disagree with Tatis’s spot anywhere on this list.  I believe his injuries already show he is not going to age well considering the length of his contract. I don’t know how you really quantity risk like that, but if I said there’s a 70% chance he doesn’t live up to his contract, what would your counter reply be?

12:20
Ben Clemens: My counter reply would be that I disagree?

12:20
Ben Clemens: Like, clearly

12:20
Ben Clemens: Models do too!

12:20
Ben Clemens: Not that you should ‘trust the model’ but like, these are inherently subjective and we’re wondering about what will happen far in the future

12:20
Phil: I’m interested to see so many guys who have signed contracts quite high on the list, rather than the usual crop of pre-arbitration sorts. As a generally pro-union guy, is it reasonable for me to conclude that these players are being a bit ripped off? In other words, does the tremendous team value of somebody like Franco mean that signing a contract like that is just never a good financial bet for someone that young and talented? (Obviously I recognize that some players genuinely value organizational ties over money, and good major league players are all rich regardless, etc.)

12:21
Ben Clemens: No, I think that there’s a pretty clear line here that I was hoping for a spot to explain int he series and never quite got. Time for a mini article

12:21
Ben Clemens: If you think about the mechanics of signing an early extension, the team has this arb structure that they could pay you under

12:22
Ben Clemens: But they won’t HAVE to, and anything could happen

12:22
Ben Clemens: So if the team comes to you and says, hey, you and your representatives agree that on average, you’ll make X over the next five years, we’d like to pay you X, and in exchange, you can give us a discount on some free agency years, 80% of a huge salary instead of 100% of a huge salary

12:23
Ben Clemens: You take that deal. Money has diminishing marginal returns. Locking in that certainty is awesome. I wrote about this when JP Crawford signed his extension (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/j-p-crawford-and-the-mariners-are-a-perfec…)

12:23
Ben Clemens: It’s like selling insurance

12:24
Ben Clemens: The player takes out boom/bust insurance, essentially, and the team is in a position to offer that b/c they have a portfolio effect, they can make a bunch of investments in players over time, the player has only one career

12:24
Ben Clemens: So if a player was a good value under the arb structure (in expectation), and they lock in that structure by taking some discounted free agency years or team options…. they’re a better expected value

12:25
Ben Clemens: And that’s despite them getting something they wanted, salary certainty. It’s a win/win assuming the extension isn’t completely off-market

12:25
Kyle Blanks: in re the exploitative contracts point, hard not to notice that the top 10 are all Latino players, many of them signed young and internationally

12:25
Ben Clemens: Something I considered in this for sure, but I don’t think there are any ridiculous extensions in the bunch

12:25
Ben Clemens: Sandy’s, maybe, but there’s mitigating circumstances there

12:26
Ben Clemens: He’s a pitcher and signed it before making a HUGE leap

12:26
Ben Clemens: The Albies extension is over the line for me to exploitative, I don’t think any in the current top 10 are, though obviously that’s just one person’s opinion

12:26
Phil: What is the highest possible rank for somebody signed through 2023? If somebody with Ted Williams’s hitting and Ozzie Smith’s defense had one year left. . . ?

12:26
Ben Clemens: I’d put them first, haha

12:26
Vs BTV: I compared your rank to the top ranked players at BaseballTradeValues. The player you disagree most is Yordan Alavrez, (them 33rd, you 5th). Who is wrong, them or you?

12:26
Ben Clemens: Them

12:26
Ben Clemens: People WILDLY underrate Yordan

12:27
Guest: Was surprised to not see Nico Hoerner with the year he’s having and contract length – any consideration?

12:27
Ben Clemens: Eh, nah, wanna see more, too much of his value is from defense that suddenly got way better this year, I’m a tad skeptical of the models there

12:27
Guest: Which is more likely at this point – Nico Hoerner entering the list or a Nick Madrigal reentry?

12:28
Ben Clemens: Hoerner entering

12:28
Malcolm Nunez: Was surprised to see that Skubal didn’t make the list. Any particular reasons why?

12:28
Ben Clemens: He sholud have been an HM, he literally was on the list and when I grouped them into things to write about I didn’t notice that he didn’t fit any group

12:29
Ben Clemens: I dunno, he could have been in the last group of 10, maybe he should have been, I’m not losing sleep over it

12:29
Bubba: The only top tier team with a dude in the top 20 is the Astros, and they have 3 of them.  Just thought that was interesting.

12:29
Ben Clemens: It was very interesting to me. It’s kind of amazing that they have somehow flipped over the core

12:29
Deep Freaking Value: Did Tommy Edman showing he is still GG worthy even at SS make you consider him for HM or back end of the list?

12:29
Ben Clemens: He was an HM

12:30
Ben Clemens: But for the record I do not think that he’s gold glove worthy at short

12:30
Ben Clemens: Much as the models seem to love him there

12:31
Ben Clemens: Very good, but I think his arm makes him more second than short if he has an optimal position

12:31
Ed H: Given how much teams value relievers, was any consideration given to including Emmanual Clase?

12:31
Ben Clemens: Eh, briefly

12:31
Ben Clemens: Wouldn’t have been out of place on it for sure

12:31
Dirt Grub: 8 of the current top 15 in pitching WAR this year are off the list. What gives?

12:31
Ben Clemens: A lot of them are on short contracts, basically

12:32
Ben Clemens: Also, Yu Darvish being great again, amazing

12:32
Kyle Blanks: Maybe a dumb comp if you know more about scouting, but does Matt Chapman’s trajectory worry you at all re Hayes’ value?

12:32
Ben Clemens: I mean, not really? Matt Chapman was great from 2018-2019, and he’s pretty good now

12:33
Ben Clemens: If you told me Hayes would have Chapman’s career he would have been higher on the list, not lower

12:33
Harding: Chapman returned Gleyber Torres.  Surely that’s more of a return than a bunch of the guys at the bottom of the list.  Are there no relievers today that good?

12:33
Ben Clemens: That trade just wouldn’t happen today

12:33
Dirt Grub: How big of a boost in value is it for a guy to be at a premium position such as SS or CF as opposed to 2B or a corner OF spot?

12:33
Ben Clemens: It’s contextual, I’d say

12:33
Ben Clemens: like, if you’re a really big bat, I think it matters less

12:34
Ben Clemens: b/c it’s fine, you’re gonna play in the lineup

12:34
Ben Clemens: it still matters obviously, particulalry if you have standout defense there

12:35
Ben Clemens: but as your bat gets worse and worse, it matters more and more

12:35
Appa Yip Yip: Back in June I asked you where you’d rank Kirk on this list and you, off the cuff tbf, said fringe 50/honourable mention

12:35
Ben Clemens: Yup, and not only did I underrate what his projections would look like, but people I talked to were REALLY high on him too

12:36
Appa Yip Yip: Back in June I asked you where you’d rank Kirk and you, off the cuff tbf, said fringe 50/honourable mention. He obviously came in much higher. Was that more because you dug into the numbers yourself, or because people you talked to kept telling you to move him higher?

12:36
Ben Clemens: Ah, sorry, cut off your question

12:36
Ben Clemens: It was both! Also his continued performance in that month didn’t hurt

12:36
Dan: Who is going to move the most in the hypothetical future where you redo this list in November?

12:37
Ben Clemens: Michael Harris II and Nico Hoerner are both going to get special 201 and 202 out of 50 spots to annoy people

12:37
Cliff Hanger: “If you’re just looking for the best player in baseball Ohtani’s your guy (he’s actually second in my book, but we’ll get to the other guy later)”

well, who is it?

12:38
Ben Clemens: Soto, and Dan’s projections think so too

12:38
Chris: Jordan Walker should be top 5

12:38
Ben Clemens: so, I’m stealing this from one of my favorite Cards analysts, Kyle Reis (@kyler416 on Twitter, fun follow and kinda wild)

12:39
Ben Clemens: 20 year old Jordan Walker through 353 PA in AA: .300/.388/.480, 11.3% BB, 22.4% K, 8 bombs

12:39
Ben Clemens: 20yo Dylan Carlson through 352 PA in AA: .287/.369/.515, 10.8% BB, 19%k, 13 bombs

12:40
Ben Clemens: Carlson has beaten the median expectation since then

12:40
Ben Clemens: by being an above-average major league hitter quickly

12:40
Ben Clemens: and he’s an unpopular addition to the top 50

12:40
Ben Clemens: so uh…. let’s just all breathe

12:40
Ronnie the Rat: Could actual trades that happen over the next week make you rethink some of these rankings or would you chalk that up to one side getting the better of the other?

12:40
Ben Clemens: No, it’d make me rethink them for sure

12:40
Ben Clemens: Maybe I’d land in the same place at the end of it, I dunno

12:41
Ben Clemens: But it didn’t feel GREAT when Madrigal got moved for Kimbrel, even if I think the Sox paid too much in that trade

12:41
Afraid of Curses: Shouldn’t Ohtani be #1?

12:41
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so, obviously, but he was not exactly easy to place

12:41
Ben Clemens: He’s without comparison

12:41
Bill: Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Soto will be the best player in baseball? I have a hard time seeing the case for hin being the best today based soley on what has already happened.

12:43
Ben Clemens: There’s a good question here about true talent best vs. this year’s production the best.

12:43
Ben Clemens: What I mean by ‘best player in baseball’ is if I had to pick a player, starting tomorrow and ending this year, to be on my team, who would I take

12:43
Ben Clemens: and I mean, I’d take Soto

12:43
Carl: Anything in particular about Brandon Woodruff that left him out of the honorable mentions? Has a year of team control more than Urias, and seems like he’d fit right in among the other HMs in Buehler, Lopez and Nola.

12:44
Ben Clemens: There was one very major factor that led to me leaving Woodruff off the honorable mentions

12:44
Ben Clemens: That factor is that he’s in the top 50

12:44
Guest: Was this year the hardest in a while to pick a #1 guy? Seems like there was no clear option.

12:45
Ben Clemens: yeah…. I shuffled them around a ton, and never did find a configuration I was happy with

12:45
Harding: People who might actually get traded on the list: Soto and Murphy and… nobody?

12:46
Ben Clemens: Yeah, that sounds right. Let’s see… Carlson could be in a Soto deal, though it’s unlikely. Bryan Reynolds mayyyyyyybe. Ohtani, they’re at least having discussions. Bieber is extremely unlikely but the Guardians have said they’re open to moving controllable pitching

12:46
Matt: Any thoughts on the fact the Phillies are the only contender with no one in the top 50?  Does this point to their issues developing in house talent?

12:47
Ben Clemens: Yankees, too

12:47
TooDamnTall: Not a question, just wanted to say thanks for such an enjoyable series. Clearly a lot of work went into it.

12:47
Ben Clemens: Thank you very much!

12:47
Ben Clemens: It is indeed a lot of work. I had a beer or two last night after submitting the last chunk of it

12:47
Joe: I’m new here; will there be a least valuable trade list?

12:47
Ben Clemens: There will absolutely not be

12:48
Harding: In the past we’ve sometimes seen an elite reliever like Chapman or Miller return a major prospect from a team pushing all in.  Do you think those days are past, or those trades were outliers even then?

12:48
Ben Clemens: Never say never, but I think it’s less likely now

12:48
TooDamnTall: Is it surprising that there seems to be so much variance from FO people you contacted about the rankings?

12:48
Ben Clemens: Not to me

12:48
Ben Clemens: There’s no central database of everyone’s true talent that we all draw from

12:49
Fantasy vs Real Life: Should Daulton Varsho be on this list? He’s certainly on the Fantasy list but seems like he should be on the real life one too…

12:49
Ben Clemens: I had him as an honorable mention, he was on the back end of the list at one point

12:50
Ben Clemens: I dunno, I’d value him more highly if he had a bit more of a carrying tool anywhere. Maybe he’s just a good enough CF that his defense is his carrying tool, but I’m not excited about the bat, and not overly so about his glove until he picks a position

12:50
Ben Clemens: Great fantasy player though obv

12:51
RTJ: Patrick Corban consensus #1 on Least Valuable Trade List I assume

12:51
Ben Clemens: Buddy, let me tell you about Stephen Strasburg

12:51
Bill: Soto is awesome, I’m not gonna deny that. But it seems there are some things he’s struggling through right now. (His batting line is a little low for him, his defense is really bad.) I think he’ll recover, and if we were picking players for the rest of their careers then he’s a great pick. But it seems odd to overlook his current struggles and say he’s a better player today than someone like Ohtani.

12:51
Ben Clemens: But if you trade for someone, you’re getting the future

12:51
Nate: Yea, I have to piggyback on the gratitude as well here…I’m sure that list is a b to try and put together. But it’s always good fun to read and debate

12:51
Ben Clemens: Thanks again

12:52
Ben Clemens: I swear I’m not just picking all the nice comments but it really is a bear of an article to put together

12:52
Ben Clemens: Lists are dumb, in my opinion, but everyone loves them (me included)

12:52
Scotty: Is this the most controversial series/article Fangraphs publishes?

12:52
Ben Clemens: Hmm…. the top 100 prospect list is definitely up there

12:52
Ben Clemens: That one is funnier b/c it’s from fewer people, but people with strong opinions about prospects have VERY strong opinions

12:53
Steven: Where would the top prospect in baseball fit in? BTV seems to have it around #25.

12:53
Ben Clemens: Depends who it is, it changes by year

12:53
Ben Clemens: We had Adley 24th last year for example

12:53
Ben Clemens: But this year I’m not in love with anyone. Riley Greene is 48th so there you go

12:53
Bill: But I thought you defined best player as now until the end of the year?

12:54
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think Soto is still a better bet

12:54
Ben Clemens: like, his numbers are down this year, but I still think the underlying skills to be the best are there and could pop up tomorrow

12:54
Mike: On a list like this, I would think there should be a little less variance from year to year.  I mean, Rodriguez went from HM to #4 in one year…and some people say he should be #1.   I know you did this with KG last year, but where would you have put Rodriguez if you were doing this by yourself last year?

12:54
Ben Clemens: HM

12:54
Ben Clemens: why should there be less variance?

12:54
Ben Clemens: Particularly among prospects

12:55
Ben Clemens: two years ago people though Kelenic was a better prospect than Rodriguez

12:55
Ben Clemens: true talent is always changing, our estimation of true talent is alwyas changing, I don’t find it surprising at all that lists change a ton from year to year

12:55
Smoke: If they’re all 4-5 WAR players, why would you choose Buxton or Tucker over Witt/Adley who are in their first year?

12:55
Ben Clemens: Buxton’s ceiling is higher, Tucker’s floor is higher

12:56
Ben Clemens: if you told me they’d all produce at the same level going forward, that would make it easier

12:56
Ben Clemens: obviously

12:56
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: To play devil’s advocate, and I’m not sure how much I buy this, the top 10 players being international also hints at how much earlier these players start getting paid compared to drafted players, which leaves a much bigger pie for both player and team. So yes, the surplus value on the Franco deal is enormous for TB, but you’ve also argued that he did very well for himself there, and teenage-signing Franco almost certainly earns more over his career than drafted Franco.

12:56
Ben Clemens: Yeah, this is definitely a reasonable counter-point, and I’m glad I don’t have to come up with an equitable system, b/c that would be very hard to do

12:56
Rickety Cricket: Would some teams worry about giving Soto a huge extension given that he’s played so much from a young age? Do teams see guys with MLB caliber bodies in their teens as being more likely to breakdown quickly?

12:56
Ben Clemens: I have no idea, I’ll level with you

12:57
Appa Yip Yip: More Alejandro Kirk q bc I love him: he obviously comes with above average injury risk due to body composition, so is he kind of in this weird place where he’s most valuable to a team that already has a quality #1 behind the dish? Like a team without a good primary backstop might be tempted to play him back there more than they should, and spike the risk of a soft tissue injury?

12:57
Ben Clemens: That seems reasonable to me. The tricky part of it, though, is that catcher is a spot where being able to crouch there REALLY swings your value

12:57
Ben Clemens: LIke, if you can have Kirk catch and DH Lourdes or whatever, that’s a big improvement over…

12:57
Ben Clemens: well dangit Danny Jansen is hitting really well right now

12:58
Ben Clemens: But generally speaking, catchers are so bad at offense that plenty of Kirk’s value is that he lets you replace a catcher with a DH in the lineup

12:58
YorDaddy: Where would Shohei rank on this list if he was two separate players as a pitcher and a DH (maybe a decent OF)?

12:58
Ben Clemens: I think he’d be just off of it, but only b/c his contract is up so soon. Maybe Shohei the pitcher would be int he back end of the top 50

12:58
Ben Clemens: I think Shohei the pitcher is a top 10 pitcher in baseball

12:58
TKDC: Does Kirk have higher injury risk? Didn’t John Kruk put it best: you can’t pull fat.

12:58
TKDC: Sorry, John Daly said you can’t pull fat, not John Kruk

12:59
Ben Clemens: I have no idea! But catchers have higher injury risk, and you want Kirk for the bat not the glove, so I think it’s a reasonable question overall

12:59
Ben: Do people around baseball think Vlad Jr. is going to make a huge leap? I just don’t get total unanimity on him over Austin Riley when Riley has been a decent bit better over the past four years.

12:59
Ben Clemens: Do you mean over the past 1 year?

12:59
Ben Clemens: I don’t…. like… Vlad almost won the MVP last year

1:00
Ben Clemens: Riley has been better this year, for sure

1:00
Ben Clemens: But he was exactly replacement level in 2019 and 2020 combined and a lot of people were saying he was a bust

1:00
Ben Clemens: they were both kinda non-factors before 2021, Vlad had the better ’21, Riley has the better ’22

1:00
YorDaddy: How much would Yordan would have to improve as a fielder to get the top spot? Maybe in terms of existing players’ defense?

1:01
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it’s really that; I don’t think him being an average left fielder would move the needle for me all that much, and I don’t see him becoming a premium defender anywhere

1:01
Ben Clemens: I think a better question is how well he’d have to hit. If he puts up this line over the next year, so finishes 2022 with a 202 wRC+ and has a 202 wRC+ next July

1:01
Ben Clemens: he’s a slam dunk #1

1:01
Deep Freaking Value: Going back to that Chapman for Torres trade, how much differently do we think of Theo’s Cubs tenure if they don’t win the World Series that year?

1:02
Ben Clemens: Fine, one non-top-50 question

1:02
Ben Clemens: A lot! But I think they might also have acted differently in subsequent years so it’s a tough counterfactual

1:02
Guest: Are you underrating injury concerns? A big long contract for a guy who has knee or shoulder issues seems rife with potential downside.

1:03
Ben Clemens: I obviously think that I am not, you obviously think that I am. I don’t know where to land on that other than saying that I’ve certainly considered them, and I do think that the Tatis rating implies a return to the field, which I noted

1:04
Ben Clemens: But yeah, it’s a very real factor

1:04
Ben Clemens: If there were no injury risk with Tatis he’d be a slam dunk #1 though

1:04
Ben Clemens: Like… dude has played at an MVP level every season he’s played, impressive bat and improving defense at a premium position, under contract forever

1:04
YorDaddy: Does marketability of the player come into play at all? With someone like Shohei you’d instantly gain a 100 million fans. That’s tangible addition to the bottom line.

1:04
Ben Clemens: I attempted to factor it in, but it’s extremely difficult

1:05
Calvin: Did any of the Twins come close? Ryan, Kirilloff, Miranda?

1:05
Ben Clemens: Polanco. I like Miranda but I want to see more from him

1:05
Dan: If I, a billionaire with not concern over contracts, form a team of players not in your top 40 and you form a team of only people from the top 40 who has the best starting nine and rotation? Obviously my bullpen is better.

1:07
Ben Clemens: Let’s do it! Going catcher around the diamond, I’d have Smith, Vlad, Jose Ramirez playing second, Franco, Riley, Tucker, Buxton, Soto, Alvarez

1:07
Ben Clemens: rotation of Burnes, Alcantara, McClanahan, Manoah, Ohtani

1:09
Ben Clemens: You’d have: Realmuto (??), Goldy, Edman/LeMahieu, Trea Turner, Arenado, Judge….

1:09
Ben Clemens: Okay, I haven’t figured out the rest of the outfield but my team would be better

1:09
Guest: I thought a Fangraphs writer published a worst contracts in baseball article, which is essentially least value? Unless I’m mistaken

1:10
Ben Clemens: Maybe that has happened, but I find it kind of gross and wouldn’t do it

1:10
Guest: “If somebody with Ted Williams’s hitting and Ozzie Smith’s defense had one year left. . . ?” you said you’d rate them first, but Ohtani has Mark McGwire power and deGrom pitching and he’s not top 10. Expand on rationale pls

1:10
Ben Clemens: Well… I’d prefer a player who combined the best defense ever with the best offense ever

1:10
Ben Clemens: to some cherry-picked superlatives

1:10
Ben Clemens: like, the guy we’re talking about might be a 20 WAR player

1:11
Ben Clemens: 15 squarely in his sights

1:11
Kyle Blanks: Do you think the fact that few guys on the list are ever available means that teams pay an inflated return relative to true value when they trade for one of the big fish that is available (putting Soto aside, will eg Murphy’s value go up by virtue of being the only other top guy on the market)

1:11
Ben Clemens: Ehhhhh… depends a lot on who they are, I’d say

1:11
Ben Clemens: I don’t think Murphy would command quite the same premium b/c if you trade for him, you want him at least 50/50 b/c he’s cheap for a while

1:12
Ben Clemens: it undermines that a little if you give up other cheap contracts/likely contributors

1:12
Ben Clemens: Whereas a guy who teams want b/c he’s one of the best 5 players in baseball? That makes an overpay more likely in my opinion

1:12
Ben Clemens: Obviously this is theoretical, I don’t talk to GM’s or AGM’s about it or anything

1:12
Guest: If Wander Franco hadn’t signed that extension, would he still be number one?

1:13
Ben Clemens: Nah

1:13
HappyFunBall: Let’s say Soto gets traded and extended before the next TV write up. What sort of contract gets him bumped up to #1? Or dropped out of the top-50 entirely?

1:13
Ben Clemens: Ooh, fun

1:13
Ben Clemens: #1? If he signed the Nats extension offer I think I would have him #1

1:14
Ben Clemens: but I’m sure that would be controversial

1:14
Ben Clemens: off the 50? hard for me to imagine an extension that’s realistic that would do that

1:14
Ben Clemens: b/c it would be a bunch of control and a great player

1:15
GreenMan16: Bit off topic, but prospect-huggers are the most annoying type of fans right?

1:15
Ben Clemens: They’re certainly my least favorite type

1:15
Ben Clemens: I love great baseball players

1:15
Ben Clemens: They’re so great!

1:16
Guest: Not a trade value question but why don’t more upper-tier MLB players take a year to year approach to contracts to max out on salary? We saw Scherzer and Correa kind of do it, but I’m talking like LeBron-esque levels of year to year salary signing. I feel like so many contenders would offer, say, Soto or Ohtani a 1 year, $50 mil deal to go for the all or nothing run.

1:16
Ben Clemens: Because maxing out on salary is kind of a meaningless goal (in my opinion at least) when you’re gonna make 500 million dollars or whatever

1:17
Ben Clemens: I’d rather get to know my teammates, find a really nice ramen spot near my sweet house, become good friends with some of the clubhouse attendants, etc.

1:17
O’s Fan 2012: If Grayson Rodriguez didn’t get hurt several months ago, would he have cracked the top 50 list? Before the lat injury, he was a 65 grade prospect.

1:18
Ben Clemens: It would depend on his performance, but probably not. I’m very scared of pitching prospects from an attrition perspective and I think teams are too

1:18
O’s Fan 2012: What is a realistic contract extension that Adley Rutschman could sign which would propel him to the top 10 of the list?

1:19
Ben Clemens: too early for him to sign a realistic extension imo. The only players who have done that are Tatis and Franco, and I think that deal makes less sense from the O’s side b/c he’s a catcher, so I think finding a middle ground between player and team before he reaches arb is just tough there

1:19
J: I think this series might work better in tier form than as an ordinal list. It’s always repeated that there isn’t much seperatin #35 from #60, but that warning always seems to fall on deaf ears. And at least for this year, there doesn’t seem to be much separating the top 5, who as you mentioned each have concerns that prevent there from being a clear slam dunk #1 like there has been most years

1:19
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it would inarguably be better as a tier system, but people LOVE lists

1:19
Ben Clemens: It’s a small cost for me to switch from tiers to lists, I’m a big kid, I can tune out the criticism

1:20
Ben Clemens: And again, people LOVE lists

1:20
Ben Clemens: so we do lists

1:20
Rickety Cricket: Going back to the Top 40 vs off debate… Would you rather take your rotation of Burnes, Alcantara, McClanahan, Manoah, Ohtani OR Scherzer, deGrom, Verlander, Wheeler, Cole?

1:20
Ben Clemens: so rotation is definitely close

1:20
Ben Clemens: let’s replace dG for obvious reasons (sadly)

1:20
Ben Clemens: with Aaron Nola

1:20
Ben Clemens: I think I’d take the off-the-top-50 list by a hair

1:21
Ben Clemens: for this year, obv…. if we do more than one year I’m taking the one of a bunch of 25 year olds

1:21
Ben Clemens: but the hitting is just overwhelming

1:21
Ben Clemens: makes sense; I jammed hitters really high on the list

1:21
Steven: RE: Soto extension and his rank- trout was still 3rd after his extension. And he was quite a bit older than Soto (though also a little better to date). https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-trade-value-1-to-10/

1:21
Ben Clemens: Yeah… not to appeal to authority of the past compilers of the list, but those guys are smart

1:21
Wireless Joe Jackson: If you were to sign any of the current 60FV prospects to Hayes’ contract, would they immediately be in the middle of the list somewhere?  I’m always surprised at how rare those deals are, given how much sense they make for both parties.

1:22
Ben Clemens: No, I don’t think so

1:22
Ben Clemens: Hayes has done a lot to demonstrate a floor of being an average to above average player

1:22
Ben Clemens: He has 877 major league PAs where he’s hitting above average and playing elite defense, that’s higher than a median expectation for a 60FV prospect imo

1:23
Ben Clemens: This is cherry picking of course, but hey, delicious cherries!

1:23
Ben Clemens: Jarred Kelenic has 473 major league PA at 68 wRC+

1:23
Wireless Joe Jackson: That’s fair, but he’s also done quite a bit to demonstrate that it’s also his ceiling.

1:23
Ben Clemens: Haha that’s where we disagree, I guess, but sure. The floor matters a lot though.

1:23
YorDaddy: If you were running a baseball team, would you rather have 5 players on this list or 10 players on the top 50 prospects list? Idk if that’s actually a dumb question but is there an equilibrium number one way or the other?

1:24
Ben Clemens: I’m just a sucker for players who are good right now, which maybe makes me not a sucker?

1:24
Ben Clemens: it’d depend on where on the list they fall but, generally I’d prefer the currently good players

1:24
Ben Clemens: if it’s #s 46-50, gimme the kids

1:25
Air Yordans: How much of a surplus value gap do you feel comfortable overlooking for the chance to concentrate so much WAR in one roster spot? Soto wouldn’t be 6th in the surplus value rankings but I understand those rankings would be an entirely different exercise

1:25
Ben Clemens: It’s way more art than science. Were I GM’ing, I’d be pretty comfortable paying 1.5xish in prospects if I could acquire one 6 WAR player instead of two 3 WAR players

1:26
Tyler: Just curious – with such a big need for relief pitching across baseball at the trade deadline, why is it not more of an emphasis? Why are young BP arms like Clase, Duran, and Munoz not listed??

1:26
Ben Clemens: I think it basically comes down to the fact that years of control are, in general, less valuable for relievers

1:26
Ben Clemens: b/c of their inherent volatility

1:27
Ben Clemens: and also b/c it’s harder to anchor your team with a reliever. WAR gets that right

1:27
Ben Clemens: there’s an interesting phenomenon where teams seem happier to acquire relievers who are hot in-season at the deadline and pay up to do so

1:27
Ben Clemens: Clase could maybe have been on here, I don’t think Duran and Munoz are even close to consideration

1:28
Ben Clemens: Alright…. I’m going to call it a day

1:28
Ben Clemens: and by that, I mean go record Effectively Wild to answer many of these questions again, just in audio

1:29
Ben Clemens: Please listen to FanGraphs audio today, where Eric Longenhagen and I discussed his trip to the All Star festivities and draft, as well as the construction of this list

1:29
Ben Clemens: And a belated huge thanks to Luke Hooper, who did the one uncontroversial thing about this list, the beautiful graphics

1:29
Ben Clemens: Suuuuuuuch a huge upgrade to the way it used to look, it makes me very happy to see the new images

1:30
Ben Clemens: Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and thank you for all the excellent questions.





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

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toshi
4 months ago

Hi, thank you for a great work. This may be for a full article, but what kind of contact would be needed to extend Julio Rodriguez?