Werth’s Wor– Uh, Trade Value (Hypothetical)

Last week, a rumor circulated that the Philadelphia Phillies were exploring the trade market for right fielder Jayson Werth. I have no idea how much truth there is to this, and just to make things clear from the start, as long as the Phillies are in contention, I don’t think they should trade Werth. For a good take on the credibility of the rumor and the mess the Phillies have made for themselves in the outfield, see Rob Neyer’s blog post from last week. Hypothetically, though, how valuable would Werth be if the Phillies were to shop him?

Werth’s journey from Toronto to Los Angeles to Philadelphia makes for an interesting story, but I’m more interested in the present, in which Werth remains a somewhat under-appreciated star. Werth’s wOBA is over .380 for the fourth season in a row, and ZiPS rest-of-season projections projects a .384 wOBA (.276/.371/.500) over the rest of the season (CHONE’s July Update projects a very similar .273/.368/.491). In the 2010 run environment, that’s about a +30 hitter. Although Werth’s UZR numbers have gone down in 2009 and 2010, I still estimate him to be about a +10 right fielder over a full season. Taken together, +30 offense +10 fielding -7.5 position + 20 NL replacement level = about a 5 WAR player over a full season. Assuming he was traded now, with about half a season left, that’s 2.5 wins. Moreover, Werth is only being paid seven million dollars this season. Assuming four million dollars per marginal win, that’s about $6.5 million dollars in surplus value over the rest of the season. That could fetch a very good major league rental (depending on how much money does or doesn’t get thrown in by each team), or a solid (non-elite) prospect in a trade.

But wait, there’s more! Werth’s contract is up after the season, and he will almost certainly be a Type A free agent, meaning that if whichever team has him after the season offers him arbitration (which they should) and he turns it down (also likely) and signs with another team, the first team would get the signing team’s next first round draft pick plus supplemental pick. Victor Wang’s research on prospect and draft pick trade valuation (summarized by Sky Kalkman here) shows that the average value of Type A compensation is about $5.5 million. Whichever team has Werth at the end of the season (likely) gets that value as well, which nearly doubles Werth’s projected surplus value from the $6.5 million to $12 million. Prospects aside, this draft pick compensation boosts Werth’s value beyond his current performance and salary, and perhaps the Phillies could conduct a fair trade in which they add a player that helps their team even more than Werth over the remainder of the season, given that Werth’s value extends beyond his performance. This is an intriguing possibility… in principle.

Still, as I wrote at the beginning, barring an insanely favorable offer or an unforeseeable collapse that puts them out of contention, the Phillies should not go out of their way looking to trade Werth. For one thing, despite their current injury problems, Philadelphia is an old team built to win now, so unless they are willing to abandon that, they are not in a position to be looking to give up an outstanding player like Werth for prospects. More importantly, though hypothetically they might actually get a better “win now” player than Werth, in reality, it is hard to see it happening. The reason is obvious: only contending teams are looking to acquire a half-season rental like Werth, and although he has value beyond his projected performance/salary, in a fair trade, a contending team is not going to give up more current value for less current value plus a draft pick.

Jayson Werth is a very valuable player. For the Phillies, that value is best spent by keeping him around.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

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Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Perhaps the Phillies brain trust is thinking they can ship Werth off to a team to acquire a blue chip prospect, then swap that blue chip prospect (plus a few lesser prospects from the Phillies system) to the Mariners for Cliff Lee. After both trades are made, they promote Domonic Brown from the minors to play right field.

– They lose a small amount on offense going from Werth to Brown.
– They get a huge boost on pitching going from Kendrick to Lee.
– Team payroll for 2010 increases only a few hundred thousand.
– They either re-sign Lee in the offseason or get the draft picks they would have received from Werth anyways by offering Lee arbitration (both are Type A)

That set of moves would [in my opinion] significantly increases their chances in 2010 as a “Win Now” team, while doing minimal damage to their future.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.

Or maybe the Phillies could jump in a DeLorean and untrade Cliff Lee.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Or the Phillies could jump in a DeLorean and get an actual return on their ace starting pitcher. Either suggestion would be much better than Amaro’s decision, which was to ship him away for peanuts because he doesn’t want to spend 9 million dollars.

PL
Guest
PL

“They lose a small amount on offense going from Werth to Brown.”

You realize Werth’s OPS is 901 right now? Are you expecting Brown to come up and immediately go for 800-850? I dont see it. OPSing over 850 is incredibly difficult, Brown doesnt seem to have that in him to go “Pujols” on the league right from the start.

The Lee trade was a dismal failure, although it came from a path of logic that you cant really argue. These things happen.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.

You can completely argue that path of logic. If they couldn’t afford that much salary, they should have traded/non-tendered Blanton. If it really was about “re-loading for the future,” then Amaro doesn’t have a clue about evaluating where his team sits right now. The Phillies should have pushed all in, but Ruben decided to keep $10 in his stack with $500 in the pot. The Phillies are a title contend with a fairly bare farm system and will likely crash down in a couple of years. They are less of a contender without Lee, much less, but what they received doesn’t come close to preventing the flameout, a flameout that’s going to be even worse because of the dumb Howard extension. Making sure you have something for the future is nice… but Amaro gave up one of the absolute best pitchers in baseball without securing much help for that future. There is absolutely nothing defensible about that trade.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Brown is a very special talent. I think an .800 OPS, hitting in that lineup and in that park, is more than attainable. Is there a difference between a .900 OPS and an .800-ish OPS? For sure, but it’s nowhere close to the difference between Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick. The Phillies would come out well ahead overall by moving Werth, promoting Brown, and attaining Lee; atleast in my opinion.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I don’t think anyone is saying that Brown isn’t capable of putting up those types of numbers. What they are saying is that he might not put them up RIGHT AWAY. It’s likely he will struggle at first, and really, “at first” is most of the window where this decision will play out. There is less than half a season left, and even if Brown only struggles for a month then puts it together (pretty reasonable for a rookie), that could make a pretty big difference.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Werth isnt going anywhere unless one of two things happen.

The Phils drop out of playoff contention
Or they get another RH bat in return that can play this year.

Brown is another LH bat that wont be up till Ibanez is gone.

Rollins S
Polanco RH
Utley LH
Howard LH
Ibanez LH
Brown LH
Victorino S
Ruiz RH

Is to LH heavy they already have problems Vs LH pitching.

If they make any big move it would most likely be for Dan Haren