Reviewing FanGraphs’ Trade Value Series

Each year Dave Cameron does a top 50 Trade Value series where he takes a look at the most trade-able assets in Major League Baseball. Dave started this series in 2005 over at U.S.S. Mariner, and set forth the criteria way back then:

A. Salaries matter. Would you rather pay Bobby Crosby $2 million for the next three years or Derek Jeter $44 million for the next three?

B. Age matters. Would you rather have Pedro Martinez for the next five seasons or Roy Halladay for the next 12?

C. Pretend the league passed the following rule: For 24 hours, any player can be traded straight up for any other player without budget ramifications. So if Team A tells Team B, “We’ll trade you Player X for Player Y straight up,” would Team B make the deal or not?

D. Concentrate on degrees. For instance, neither the Marlins nor Cardinals would pull the trigger on an Pujols-Cabrera trade. But at the very least, the Marlins say, “Wow, Albert Pujols is available?” while the Cardinals would say, “There’s no way we’re trading Pujols.” That counts in the big scheme of things.

E. Make the list in reverse order (Nos. 40 to 1). So if Alex Rodriguez comes in at No. 19, players 1 through 19 are all players about whom New York would probably say, “We hate giving up A-Rod, but there’s no way we can pass up that deal.” And they wouldn’t trade him for any player listed between Nos. 19 and 40.

Discuss this post and where you think the O’s fit on the BSL Forum here.

Ironically, Dave’s first ever list started with an Oriole at #40 in Daniel Cabrera. You can check out Dave’s original Trade Value post here. The 2012 Trade Value list included three Orioles, in the spots listed below:

#29 – Dylan Bundy

#38 – Matt Wieters

#43 – Adam Jones

Dave discusses the 2012 list here before he rolled out the beginning of this season’s list, and discussed some of the early (and obvious) movers and shakers. Halfway through the 2013 list, and Dave has listed exactly 0 Orioles so far. By this time last year all 3 of the O’s representatives on the list had been named, so O’s fans might be discouraged by this development.

All 3 of Baltimore’s representatives on the 2012 list have dropped off this season for 3 very different reasons. Dave breaks out the honorable mentions into various categories describing why they didn’t quite make the cut:

Adam Jones falls into the “Get on Base, Then We’ll Talk” category along with Domonic Brown, Jay Bruce, and Yoenis Cespedes. This group is pretty fitting for Jones, and Cameron describes them: “It is hard to overlook what each of them is at the moment, and that is a power hitter who simply doesn’t get on base enough to truly be an elite offensive force”. Jones having a shiny new contract also becomes slightly less attractive as a trade target, since you’re locked in to roughly $15M per year for the duration of his contract which limits the surplus value you can get from him.

Dylan Bundy & Matt Wieters fell into the “Others Who Fell Off the List” category which is kind of a catch-all for the miscellaneous reasons a player would be left off the list. Bundy’s injury is obviously the cause of his fall, and Dave elaborated on Wieters in the comments section of the post:

Now 27, hasn’t taken any steps forward offensively, a year closer to free agency, pitch framing research suggests the non-arm/blocking parts of his defense might be overrated.

He’s only got two years left of team control after this one. He hasn’t yet turned into what people thought he would have, and he’s running out of time. Quality player, but his trade value is diminishing.

Wieters is a guy that, in my opinion, the O’s could easily let walk away once he becomes a free agent. Wieters is a guy that has a tremendous reputation on defense because he excels at the aspects that are easily measured. The parts of the game where I believe Wieters does not excel, like pitch-framing and game-calling are not completely understood. Since Wieters’ bat hasn’t become what we all once thought it would be, there is a lot of his value tied up in defense. If his defensive reputation is being buoyed because he’s very good at the things we can measure, then maybe he isn’t as valuable as we currently think.

 

Fret not though Baltimore fans, as there’s likely to be two players in the top 25 that put on the black and orange every night. Chris Davis and Manny Machado both seem like locks to fall into the top 25, and you could make a very compelling case for both guys being in the top 15.

Chris Davis and his breakout season are now a major story line, not just in Baltimore but across MLB. His 37 home runs pace both the senior and junior circuit, and he’d need to hit just a paltry 13 home runs in the second half for 50 on the season. Keep in mind that Davis is still relatively young, and is only making $3.3M this season. I’m not going to recap Davis’ numbers again because we’re all familiar with them at this point. I don’t have to because one simple stat tells the whole story:

Chris Davis’ salary = $3.3M

Chris Davis’ value (WAR-based) = $25.7M

Chris Davis surplus value over the first half = $25.7M-($3.3M/2) = $24.05M

So far this season, Chris Davis has been worth roughly $24.05 million more than he’s been paid. I would say that makes him a highly valuable asset.

 

Manny Machado’s season has also been well documented, and he too is providing immense amounts of surplus value for the O’s. Just under $20 million worth of surplus value to be exact. Machado just turned 21, but has produced a wRC+ of 118 at 3B which is traditionally one of the most offensively-demanding positions on the diamond. His defense has been top notch as well, and the case could be made, based on advanced statistics, that Machado is one of the best defenders in baseball at any position.

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Machado won’t be a free agent until 2019, so any team that traded for him would be acquiring several years of Machado’s services without worrying about having to hand out a massive free agent contract. The next 6-8 years of Machado’s career will likely see the team he plays for obtaining serious value for his services as he produces at a star level without the pay of an established star.

 

Dave Cameron’s trade value series is certainly an interesting catalyst for discussion about which players are more valuable than others. Is it going to end the discussion about player valuation? Not at all. In fact, it should be the start of the conversation for player valuation. It’s no fun seeing multiple O’s players drop off of Cameron’s top 50, but I will be very intrigued to see where Manny Machado and Chris Davis end up landing on his list. At the end of the day, the O’s have 5 guys who are definitely in the conversation. Putting together a team with a few solid players and a strong supporting cast is what playoff teams are made of; and that is exactly what the Orioles have done.

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About the author


Jeff Long   

Orioles Analyst

Jeff was the owner of the Orioles blog Warehouse Worthy, which focused on making advanced statistics a part of the conversation for the average fan. Outside of baseball, Jeff is a graduate of Loyola University where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration. The Maryland native currently works for an Advertising Agency in downtown Baltimore. He also contributes to Beyond the Boxscore.


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