Hot Stove Season

holland

With the Hot Stove season creeping up, we at SDI thought it might be time to throw some wood into the Rangers’ rumor bonfire. This will be a three-part series this week, beginning with Part 1 below, which is addressing some of the Rangers most talked about proven commodities, as well as how we will assess values moving forward. We will follow today’s article with Part 2, which will look at some of the smaller level deals that help build a strong contender. We will be ending with Part 3: The Blockbusters, which is the most gas we can throw on the fire, and still escape with our eyebrows.

First things first; how are we going to assign a realistic value to any trade targets? Conversely, what are the prospects worth that would be required to obtain this target? Sure it would be great to trade Chan Ho Park for Jason Schmidt in 2004, but that’s not real baseball life. And in today’s game of advance metrics, rarely is anyone getting fooled any more. There are certainly winners and losers, but that’s just the gamble that is an MLB player/prospect. So, we need a standardized “value” we can use for all players involved in any proposed deal.

Let’s start with the trade targets. We chose a simple formula devised by Sky Kalkman at Beyond the Box Score. His table and explanation in full is found here. (We did however have to update the formulas for 2015 MLB values). Simply put, the table takes the actual salary of a player, and then uses said player’s WAR and projected WAR, to create a “surplus Value” on that same player. It was necessary for us to tweak this obviously for players with multiple years remaining. We used Steamer Projections via Fangraphs, for projected 2016 WAR value. After 2016, is anyone’s guess, so we used an arbitrary, but reasonable formula as follows; a player would receive the same projected WAR for 2017 as 2016. Then, in two-year increments, we would decrease the player’s WAR by 15%, which is an expected declination, relative to age, (age being the main factor in most of these cases as younger players are not bound for many years), but admittedly could be absolutely wrong, and part of why all of this is just a gamble. At least, as a base formula, this system values the Rangers’ own players on a level same with potential targets, and gives us an idea of what is a reasonable “get” in a trade for any player(s).

This will make more sense in an example. Below is the table for Prince Fielder.

Prince Fielder
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $18.0 1.7 $11.3 -$6.7 $18.0
2017 $18.0 1.7 $11.5 -$6.5 $18.0
2018 $18.0 1.4 $9.5 -$8.5 $18.0
2019 $18.0 1.4 $9.5 -$8.5 $18.0
2020 $18.0 1.2 $8.2 -$9.8 $18.0
FA Picks $5.0
Total $90.0 7.4 $55.0 -$35.0

As you can see, Prince Fielder’s table shows us that his “surplus value” is actually a negative $40 million dollars. With five years remaining on his contract, for any team to “break even” on his contract, it will need lowered by roughly $7 million per year. Simply put to unload Prince Fielder the Rangers can expect to eat $7 million a year, for minimal in return. More importantly we have put a “real number” on the value of a player, which in turn, will make it easier to balance the sea-saw that is a trade proposal.

Prospect Value

This one is less math, because these fine gentlemen,  Kevin Creagh and Steve DiMiceli, have done it all for us. They combed through years of data from the top 100 prospects in baseball devising a formula for establishing prospect value. The result is the table below, and is a great starting point for any discussion.

Tier Number of Players Avg. WAR Surplus Value % Less than 3 WAR % Zero WAR or less
Hitters #1-10 53 15.6 $48.4M 13% 9%
Hitters #11-25 34 12.5 $38.3M 32% 9%
Hitters #26-50 86 6.8 $20.3M 50% 31%
Hitters #51-75 97 5 $14.5M 57% 44%
Hitters #76-100 96 4.1 $11.6M 65% 42%
Pitchers #1-10 18 13.1 $40.4M 6% 0%
Pitchers #11-25 47 8.1 $24.5M 45% 28%
Pitchers #26-50 77 6.3 $18.7M 42% 25%
Pitchers #51-75 94 3.4 $9.4M 70% 48%
Pitchers #76-100 105 3.5 $9.6M 67% 45%

When we look at the table above we now have the Prospect Value established for us, using only where the players fall in the Baseball America top 100 Rankings. Great. But how does that help us at all? How do we bring these two tools together? Well, glad you asked.

Using in an example, in the midseason top 100, Nomar Mazara is ranked at number 34. So, from a Rangers perspective, if the Rangers wanted to trade Prince Fielder, they could pair Mazara with him in a deal, which then means they only need to eat roughly 15 million of the remaining salary to get Fielder’s Surplus Value to zero. Not that the Rangers would do this, I’m merely giving you an example of how we will use the tables above, in conjunction, to build our case for any proposed trade. As we continue this week, we use these two tables as a starting point in every deal.

There are a million other factors in any trade, from team need, to scouts’ opinions, to perceived value, upside, potential, experience and on and on. This will merely give us a solid footing for any blocks we stack, and give our readers some great tools for their GM day dreams at the office.

Rangers Commodities

Now that we have a base for which to form a value for the players involved in any trade, let’s take a look at the most commonly talked about Rangers’ known commodities. That list, in no particular order, is as follows; Elvis Andrus, Shin Soo Choo, Fielder, Mitch Moreland, and Derek Holland. Each player will have his table posted below. This part of the series is only supplied to give you, the reader, the real baseball value of what many fans believe are the “moveable” pieces. It also serves to as a great tool to see what a player is actually bringing to the team. In our heads we often associate names and team bias with trade ideas, having never actually put any thought into the realistic thinking of baseball people. And we often believe we have a handle on a player’s value, when reality is we are absolutely wrong. The tables are as follows:

Shin Soo Choo
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $20.0 1.7 $11.3 -$8.7 $20.0
2017 $20.0 1.7 $11.5 -$8.5 $20.0
2018 $21.0 1.4 $9.8 -$11.2 $21.0
2019 $21.0 1.4 $9.8 -$11.2 $21.0
2020 $21.0 1.4 $9.8 -$11.2 $21.0
FA Picks $5.0
Total $103.0 7.6 $57.2 -$45.8

Keep in mind Choo had a marvelous second half, and his projected WAR is based more on his first 18 months here and his age. With any FA signing we know the last years are usually just “the cost” to sign an impactful player. Choo is an important piece when he is healthy and playing to his potential, we’ve only seen that for three unreal months here.

 

Mitch Moreland
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $5.6 0.9 $6.1 $0.5 $5.6
FA Picks $5.0
Total $5.6 0.9 $11.1 $5.5

First, if you have kept up with this writing at all, you may notice that this chart lists a salary for Moreland when he is in fact arbitration eligible. That’s because we used SDI projected salary number, as to not inflate his actual value. If Moreland posts anywhere near his 2.2 WAR for 2015, his Surplus Value more than doubles. We played it conservative here. He’s a plus defender, with a solid full offensive season under his belt, but still remains a liability against left-handed pitching. I might argue that Moreland is the second biggest non-prospect trade chip the Rangers hold.

 

Elvis Andrus
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $14.8 1.9 $12.6 -$2.2 $14.8
2017 $14.8 1.9 $12.8 -$2.0 $14.8
2018 $14.8 1.6 $10.8 -$4.0 $14.8
2019 $14.8 1.6 $10.8 -$4.0 $14.8
2020 $14.8 1.4 $9.5 -$5.3 $14.8
2021 $14.8 1.4 $9.5 -$5.3 $14.8
2021 $14.8 1.2 $8.2 -$6.6 $14.8
FA Picks $5.0
Total $103.6 11.0 $79.2 -$24.4

Elvis posted a 2.1 WAR in 2015 in what is perceived by many as a “poor” season. A WAR of  2+ usally means that Elvis and the Rangers are breaking even the next couple of years. The latter years are where this contract starts to take its toll. The hope with Elvis is that the 4 WAR player the Rangers saw 2011-2013, emerges again, and that the 7th oh heaven in Toronto,drives him this offseason. Even without and improvement, this contract is relatively movable.

 

Derek Holland
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $10.0 2.8 $18.4 $8.4 $10.0
2017 $11.0 2.8 $18.6 $7.6 $11.0
2018 $11.5 2.4 $16.0 $4.5 $11.5
FA Picks $5.0
Total $32.5 8.0 $58.0 $25.5

When I said Moreland was the second biggest chip the Rangers hold, Holland is the first. Holland is an enigma still after several years. We haven’t seen Derek with a full season in three years and it’s just so hard to gauge what he is, or if there’s anything more he can be. This is a valuable player and contract, but that is not to say both are not more valuable for another team. Holland looks like the stereotypical “change of scenery” guy in every way. If you splash the pot with this chip you better know what hand you’re playing.

 

Prince Fielder
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M) Sal (M) Arb %
2016 $18.0 1.7 $11.3 -$6.7 $18.0
2017 $18.0 1.7 $11.5 -$6.5 $18.0
2018 $18.0 1.4 $9.5 -$8.5 $18.0
2019 $18.0 1.4 $9.5 -$8.5 $18.0
2020 $18.0 1.2 $8.2 -$9.8 $18.0
FA Picks $5.0
Total $90.0 7.4 $55.0 -$35.0

We saw this table above, and you probably have a good feel for where this needs to go. A guy with a .305/.378 has value on the surface. Any team will take him. The problem is that player needs to be paid $11 million a year and not $18 million. If another year after surgery brings back Fielder’s power, it changes everything. That’s a 300 pound, left- handed, no defense playing, base clogging, “if.”

In summary, we have a great formula moving ahead in this series to try to have some fun with some potential trades. I think too, that we have maybe a little better handle on the real value of a couple of the most favorite local scapegoats the last two weeks, Elvis and Holland. Expect the Rangers to be mentioned with every free agent, and in tons of rumors this offseason. That’s what comes with a winning franchise, with one of the best General Managers in the game. Let’s throw some logs on those fires…

To Be Continued…

Leddy Foster on sabtwitterLeddy Foster on sabfacebook
Leddy Foster
Lifelong Ranger fan, forever baseball fan. DFW sports fanatic. Attended UNT. Most weekends you can find my wife and me having a beer somewhere around the square in Denton. Game 6 was the worst moment of my life, and I was an orphan at the age of 26. I use metaphors often, and I rarely apologize.

6 comments

  • Great prep work, Leddy. This all makes sense and is a solid launch pad for what’s coming next, I bet.

  • Roy, you are somewhat correct. However, that number 8-10 million is the expected average for new free agents this year, and that’s certainly the cost of a win in FA, but not the value of a win in the game. Also, often extensions are a better gauge of the real value as opposed to FA signings. And for this exercise we are dealing with contracts that are signed in the years before this year for the most part. When eliminating some of the outliers and factoring in an average of the medians, we get numbers somewhere between 5.5-7.5 mil. I chose 6.5 in this instance, right in the middle. Most certainly it could have been a bit higher but this number affects the long term deals already signed, which means aging players already. For my purposes giving a 34 year old Prince Fielder a 9.5 mil per WAR number seemed crazy, as he would not earn that on the open market, if that makes sense. There’s some really educated guessing in here, but it is certainly not perfect. And your point certainly has validity. This is an evolving science and with tv contracts etc, it’s really hard to get a handle on it year to year. I think as long as you are consistent with what year values you use between players and prospects, then your end results are similar.

    Beauty is with that link, you can take it and really plug in what numbers you like and have some fun.

    Thanks for reading! Appreciate it greatly.

    • Ok, I did some more digging and you’re right. Last winter clubs spent about $6 million to add a projected win, so $6.5 is probably in the right neighborhood.

      • Makes me feel better, but there are sure places the higher numbers work their way into the conversation. Thanks again for reading. Let us know what you think of the deals today too. Or if you have any other ideas for trades!

  • Good work, but it sure seems that your WAR value is low. Most of what I’ve heard the past year is between $8 and $10 million per win above replacement, not $6.5. That, of course, applies to valuations made this year and going into next year; last year it was apparently around $7.5, then $7 the year before, and so on.

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