Under the Radar
So, we’ve slept on the formulas for Surplus Value. And you’ve also had a few days to day dream of that blockbuster winter deal. Temper that excitement for a bit. Today we are going to identify a few of those smaller moves that help strengthen a club. Those “under the Radar” guys that you may not recognize initially, but improve a position, or bolster the back end of the rotation. These are also deals, where a team could execute more than one, and in turn make a team better than say one monster deal. And they are the type deals where salary concerns are minimal.
For the sake of this series going forward, we will not post the “Value boxes” for each player, only reference them. We will be glad to email anyone that is interested. Also, we are going to treat each deal independently. Also, the prospect values are easy enough to figure out, we won’t get to deep into any of those. To explain, we will include players I think it will take to get the deal done, with no regard to how that may impact another deal. Another thing, given Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara clearly appeared to be unavailable last season in any trade talks, we will treat them mostly as “untouchable” here, unless absolutely necessary. Next, be aware that Dillon Tate is not yet able to be traded, same with Micheal Matuella, Eric Jenkins and any other player drafted in 2015. Lastly, anytime a “major league” piece is included, I will give a quick option to fill this hole. Example: If Elvis Andrus is included in a deal, you may see a note below that would say, “Jurickson Profar becomes the Opening Day Starter,” or “The Rangers sign Ian Desmond.” Lastly, keep in mind that our table/chart is a great starting point, but as we have already discussed, other factors will play a huge role in these proposed deals. Payroll, luxury tax, team evaluation, and more keep GMs awake at night.
Let’s get started!
Jonathan Lucroy – Catcher, Milwaukee Brewers
Robinson Chirinos has tremendous value to this team. He’s under team control for little money for the next several years (arbitration), and has given Texas an average of 2.1 WAR the last two years. He has been banged up occasionally, and his offense is one dimensional, albeit a great one dimension. The metrics tell us that Chirinos is unlikely to keep this pace with a 2016 WAR projection of only 1.3. Lucroy ends up with a $33 mil Surplus Value using our aforementioned tables. That’s a big plus for a team, and partly because he will make $7.4 million dollars the next two years. Overall his WAR projects him 2.7 the next two years, which would be a massive upgrade. A career batting average 50 points higher, and patience at the plate, with a career on base of .340, makes Lucroy an obvious upgrade over Chirinos, at the plate. He is young and could possibly solve the position for many years with an extension.
This is a hard one to gauge overall. The Brewers are now far from contending, and with a new GM, they have made teams aware that they will listen on everyone. A catcher with Lucroy’s ability can be over-valued, for good reason, but it is conceivable that a combo of lower tier prospects can make this work.
The Texas Rangers trade Yohander Mendez, Luke Jackson, Ryan Rua, and Travis Demeritte to The Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy. (There’s a chance Luis Ortiz would have to headline this deal to make it work, and we still get it done if that is the case). The Brewers get two pitching prospects, Rua who can play today in the outfield or at first base, and a big bat, Low A prospect in Demeritte.
Andrew Cashner – SP, San Diego Padres
This is not the impact deal that Lucroy is above, but it’s a young starter that can eat innings and bolster the back end of your rotation. And the last few years have taught the Rangers that you never have enough starters. Cashner is coming off a disappointing year in 2015, given his performance in 2014, (although with 12 fewer starts). Even so, he’s averaged 160.8 Innings the last three years, with a 3.33 era and a whip at 1.30. His surplus value is $7.5 million and he is a free agent after this year. AJ Preller and JD have a tremendous working relationship, and this rumor has been around since before AJ took the job in San Diego.
As long as Preller is calling the shots in San Diego, there will always be a logical link to the Rangers in trade talks. This offer will be made with the idea that Preller will be rebuilding around the veterans he acquired last year, and not attempting to contend once again on the fly.
The Texas Rangers trade Ryan Rua, Yohander Mendez, and Jose Leclerc to the San Diego Padres for Andrew Cashner. The Padres get two nice pitching prospects, and an MLB ready OF/1B in Rua. Preller’s knowledge of the players should help this deal along. The Rangers get an inning eating solid rotation piece, young with still some bigger potential.
Martin Prado– OF, Marlins
Prado would slide into left field; bring you a solid right hand bat, albeit with minimal pop, and should come at a much lesser cost than one of the other targets we talk about below. He posted a respectable .277 against righties, and he torched lefties at .325 in 2015. Steamers does not have a projection for him in 2016, (no idea), so I’m making an educated guess. In his last 6 seasons where he played 100 games or more, he averaged a 3.1 WAR, as well as in 2015. It’s reasonable to expect that in 2016 and at a real cost of $8 million per year, (Yankees are paying $3 mil of his 2016 salary), he has a surplus value of $17.4 million dollars. Prado played third base for several years before transitioning to outfield. He would give you flexibility defensively and fill out the lineup nicely.
Prado has one year left, and if the Marlins believe they are a contender in the East, then it may be hard to pry him away. However, last we checked, Jeffrey Loria is still the owner and he loves to save money. This may be a somewhat easy deal to make happen, depending on competitive offers.
The Texas Rangers Trade Ryan Rua and Brett Martin to the Florida Marlins for Martin Prado. This is a simple deal really and one that we think makes a ton of sense, with little risk.
Matt Holiday– OF, St. Louis Cardinals
This is a guy you could hit big on, but the contract makes things exponentially tricky. Holiday was hobbled most of the season with a tear in his quad. He missed four weeks in the first half, but still posted all-star numbers and earned a trip to the summer classic. His power numbers were down with only four homeruns, but he still managed a .806 OPS, and there is a lot of reason to believe the quad had much to do with his missing big bat. Before he went down for almost the whole season, he hit .291 and got on base at a .411 clip. He did dip as he worked his way back, but again not concerning to me if the quad is healed. Our table puts his surplus Value at $12.3 mil if we count only 2016 with a $1 million 2017 buyout, (the option in 2017 does become guaranteed with a top ten MVP finish in 2016). He can play leftfield, hits from the right side of the plate, and still has tremendous value. This deal would be about the Cardinals willingness to eat salary, and move a fan favorite.
This trade would be dependent on if the Cardinals are prepared to move Piscotty into a full time role early, and if they intend for the Rangers to take on all of the remaining salary. This is also an emotional trade for the Cardinals, but one that only makes sense for one of the best ran clubs in MLB.
The Texas Rangers trade Luis Ortiz, Luke Jackson, and Mitch Moreland* to the St. Louis Cardinals for Matt Holiday and cash. The Cards get a 1B they need badly, and two pitching prospects to help what is already a young staff. The Rangers get a nice piece that capitalizes on the two year Yu Darvish/Cole Hamels window.
*Mike Napoli is retained as the first baseman going forward.
So, maybe the Rangers have discussed a few of these, maybe they have a couple of deals pending something bigger. Sure we’ve tossed a few matches in the fire, but the next time you hear from us, it will be as we stand back rubbing our hands in the glow of the monster bonfire we just started.
To be Continued…