2011 Mets Trade Value: Part One

Since the Mets’ strategy for this offseason seems for the most part to be “run out the clock,” this leaves us to focus on their current roster — specifically at those players leaving the new front office no financial flexibility. This being the case, I’m going steal a page out of Bill Simmons’ book (by way of Fangraphs) and rank the trade value of everyone currently on the Mets, from 55 — the least valuable in trades — all the way down to 1 — the most valuable in trades.

A few rules and explanations:

- The list includes everyone on the Mets current 40 man roster, as well as the prospects on John Sickels’ top twenty list and Baseball America’s top ten. This gives us a total of 55 players to rank.

- THIS IS NOT A LIST OF THE BEST METS PLAYERS IN ORDER. It’s a list of who has the most value to another team in a trade. Johan Santana is a much better pitcher than Dillon Gee, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about who has more value in a trade. Which means . . .

- Contracts and age play a huge part. Jason Bay is a better player than Josh Thole, but would you rather trade for a declining Jason Bay and the guaranteed $51 million dollars left on his contract, or the improving Josh Thole, who will make $414,000 in 2011?

Because contracts count, the top of the list, where the least tradable players are, is populated with the Mets’ big money and aging players; the middle is mostly prospects; and the end of the list is where the young, underpaid players are.

- The list began life as a completely objective one, where every player was actually assigned a dollar value based on their predicted future performance against their contract — I drew heavily on Sickels, Baseball America, and Victor Wang’s research to assign dollar values to the prospects — but after setting it up like that, I also moved everyone around subjectively until it felt right.

- EDIT: I think I need to throw this in too: Prospects are NOT ranked in order of how good of a prospect they are. Pitching prospects, for the most part, are ranked ahead of hitting prospects simply because they are pitchers, and everyone always needs pitching. Also, Victor Wang took a look and found that, on average, John Sickels’ C-grade pitching prospects are worth more than their C-grade hitting counterparts. That said, numbers 40-23 on this list could really be moved around in any order, particularly if you know more about the Mets farm system than I do (which is probably likely).

- Part 1 runs today (#55-#21), Part 2 runs tomorrow (#20-#1).

Group 1: The Absolutely Untradable

55. Oliver Perez, “pitcher” – Duh. Has the three year, $36 million dollar contract given to Oliver Perez become the worst investment in major league history? The Mets received only negative value on the field (6.81 ERA in 112.1 innings, 100 walks, 21 home runs, and 99 strikeouts), at the cost of $36 million dollars. If the team cut Perez today, it’s still a net loss of around $48 million between the awful performance and contract. Think about it: Had Omar Minaya set all that money on fire two winters ago instead of signing Ollie, the Mets would be better off today.

54. Ryota Igarashi, relief pitcher
– Rocket boy has no idea where the ball is going. Owed $1.75 million in 2011.

Group 2: Eat Money

53. Johan Santana, starting pitcher – Dropping strikeout rate, two straight seasons shortened by surgery, and he’s likely to miss half of a this one on the disabled list. He’s got the trifecta of injuries, diminishing performance, and a huge contract — including a buyout of his 2014 option, Santana is owed $77.5 million for the next three seasons. Even if he returns to form for the second half of 2011, which is not a guarantee, I figure the Mets would need to eat at least $20 million of his remaining salaries to get someone else to take him next offseason. So Santana isn’t going anywhere in a trade. He should be decent but vastly overpaid for the next three years.

File Photo of Jason Bay

52. Jason Bay, left field – Another trifecta: Overpaid, injured, and coming off a bad year. That said, Bay’s deal is not a good contract, but also not a terrible one. At least not yet. Why does anyone ever sign free agents to long term deals, anyway?

51. Carlos Beltran, outfield – His trade value is so low here, partially because of his arthritic knee, but mostly because his contract doesn’t allow him to be offered arbitration after 2011. This means that his former team can’t recoup draft picks if Beltran walks after 2011, killing his a big part of his trade value. To move him, the Mets would have to eat some (or even all) of his salary, depending on how much they want in return.

Beltran hit .325/.415/.500 on his balky knee in 2009, but that line dropped to .255/.341/.427 in 2010. This is somewhat misleading — the difference is accounted for solely in a drop in batting average. Beltran’s isolated power was the same between 2009 and 2010 (.175 to .173), and he didn’t strike out significantly more often or walk much less. This points to plain old randomness affecting his batting average. Split the difference between the two seasons — .295/.384/.470 — and Beltran still can hit.

50. Francisco Rodriguez, relief pitcher – This might seem like too high of a ranking, but I have a plan for what the Mets should do to keep the least-endearing-player’s doomsday option from vesting for 2012. Here it goes: The Mets use Rodriguez as their closer from April to June. Then, come July, they trade Rodriguez — in exchange for a middling pitching prospect — to a contending team with an established but perhaps shaky closer. The Mets also pay half of Rodriguez’ remaining salary in 2011. The team acquiring Rodriguez receives a top setup man and insurance for their closer, but doesn’t have to use Rodriguez to finish games, keeping his nightmare option from vesting. Additionally, Rodriguez’ new team can offer him arbitration after 2011, possibly netting draft picks. The Mets receive a warm body and save $20.5 million between 2011 and 2012. The only limiting factor is Rodriguez’ limited no-trade clause (ten teams) in his contract. Well, that and the rage issues.

By the way, if they do this — and I think they will — I should get to be an honorary assistant GM.

49. Luis Castillo, second baseman – I suspect that because Castillo is Latino and overpaid, he too often gets lumped in with Oliver Perez as nightmare Minaya deals that need to vanish. This seems cruel and unfair, as no one should be compared to Oliver Perez. By Fangraphs, Castillo has been overpaid by just $5.8 million dollars over the three seasons of his contract thus far; Perez has been overpaid by twice that every season. The Castillo contract is not a good one, but there are far worse contracts on just about every team. By the way, I think he’s the Opening Day second baseman and platoons with one of Turner/Emaus/Murphy.

Group 3: The Meh, or players with minimal value.

48 – 44. Pitcher Pat Misch, outfielder Jason Pridie, catcher Mike Nickeas, pitcher Tobi Stoner, and infielder Luis Hernandez – These five are on the 40 man roster, but they have no value in trades outside of being warm bodies — any of them would have to sign as minor league free agents elsewhere if released. They don’t have negative value, but they don’t have positive value either.

Remember when Jerry Manuel played Luis Hernandez for a week in September instead of Ruben Tejada? And then said he was just trying to keep Tejada’s batting average above .200? The farther and farther away I get from the Jerry Manuel era, the more and more terrible of a manager I remember him as.

43, 42. Pitchers Josh Stinson and Brad Holt: A 3.90 ERA in the high minors this season masked less impressive peripherals for Stinson . . .  A big name coming into this season, Holt was demoted to St. Lucie midseason and totally melted down, firing off 20 wild pitches and ending the season with an 8.34 ERA between two levels. Both need to rebuild their stock.

41. Manny Acosta, relief pitcher - Decent 2010 gives him the absolute tiniest amount of trade value possible. Acosta is my nominee for the 2011 “Most Obvious Dayton Moore Acquisition for the Royals” award.

We’ve hit the farm, so they start going quick now.

40, 39. Second baseman Jordany Valdespin and third baseman Jefry Marte - Valdespin posted a .760 OPS for the St. Lucie Mets, but struggled to a .547 OPS after a promotion to Binghamton. Marte’s .735 OPS for Savannah was actually an improvement over his .617 showing in 2009 at the same level; he’ll turn twenty this year. I’ll be so happy when the Mets stop rushing guys.

38-36. Second baseman Brad Emaus, infielder Justin Turner, outfielder Matt den Dekker – This is where all the older, low ceiling hitters start to show up. Assorted bench players, capable fill-ins, and future players to be named later — these guys have trade value, but it’s minimal.

Captain Kirk

35-33. Third baseman Zach Lutz, outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, outfielder Sean Ratliff – I have a theory that prospects with uncommon or oddly spelled names are more likely to become highly touted than prospects with more common names. I have no way of proving this is true, but if it is, I suspect it’s because the odd names are simply more memorable. Nieuwenhuis isn’t that much better than Lutz, if he is at all, but I bet far more Mets fans know about Captain Kirk than do about Lutz.

God help us all of ZeErika McQueen develops into anything.

32,31. Catcher Albert Cordero, outfielder Darrell Ceciliani – Low minors hitters who had good seasons in 2010. Both are young and worth watching, but also a long way off. These are the kind of guys who are thrown in against deadlines to get trades done, and then you never hear about half of them again. Cordero posted a .466 slugging percentage in rookie ball, and Ceciliani hit .351/.410/.531 playing center field for Brooklyn.

30. Nick Evans – I have no idea who this is.

Group 4: Wouldn’t Want to Lose Them (Actual Value)

29. Ruben Tejada, second baseman – Lost his rookie status last year, so you won’t see Tejada on prospect lists anymore. I was shocked at how tiny he is in person. He’s listed at 5‘11“ and 160 pounds, which is total BS. Maybe he’s 5‘9“ on a tall day. Maybe. Tejada has a couple of years to figure out how to get himself on base often enough to be a competent utility infielder.

28. Lucas Duda, designated hitter – If I was shocked at how tiny Tejada is, Duda had the opposite effect. An enormous human being who — due to cranial size — bears a passing resemblance to Peter-Boyle-as-Young-Frankenstein’s-Monster. The Duda projects as a severely destitute man’s Adam Dunn, in that he’s big, lefthanded, and can’t play defense. Baseball America did rank him ahead of Fernando Martinez this offseason, so maybe he can hit enough to stick somewhere, though the Mets appear to be set in left and at first.

This man has actually hit third for the New York Mets

27. Daniel Murphy, third hitter – Value goes up if he can manage second base, down if he can’t. A full season in the majors has Murphy ranked above all the other no-position, future bench guys (Evans, Duda, Lutz) which may or may not be fair.

See what I just did there? I called Murphy, Evans, Duda, and Lutz “future bench guys,” and I guarantee someone is going to take offense to that. I think it would be healthy if the Mets grew some actual hitting prospects, so everyone doesn’t get so excited about these sort of guys anymore.

26-23: Pitchers Manuel Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, Pedro Beato, Mark Cohoon – We’ve reached the first group of pitching prospects. The rest are in part two. This first group is older pitching prospects whose upside projects them as bullpen arms or fifth starters. Alvarez could help in the bullpen this year, Rodriguez had a good year as a starter in the low minors, Beato is a Rule 5 pick that could be a part of the 2011 pen, and Mark Cohoon did a decent Mark Buehrle impersonation in High-A and Double-A this season.

22. D.J. Carrasco, relief pitcher – The first Sandy Alderson acquisition. Carrasco has been used exclusively as a mopup man for the past three seasons, but if he can handle bigger spots, his value is going to skyrocket. You know, as much as the value for a middle reliever can skyrocket. So not really.

21. Ronny Paulino, catcher – Paulino is signed a one year contract, but it’s like a two year deal, as he’s still arbitration eligible for 2012. Solid insurance for Josh Thole, and has trade value because he’s signed for cheap and there is a perpetual shortage on catching help.

Okay, that’s it for Part One. Click Here for Part Two. I’ll accept arguments about the rankings in the comments.

35 Comments

Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

35 responses to “2011 Mets Trade Value: Part One

  1. I agree Nieuwenhuis maybe somewhat overrated by Mets fans, but there is no way he has less trade value than Cordero, Ceciliani, Evans, Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, Beato, Cohoon, Carrasco, and even Paulino. He may be much more likely to end up a 4th outfielder than a superstar, but he does have some upside potential. An adequate hitter who plays a passable CF (and/or above average corner outfield defense) could be a starter on a second division team. I think you can make the case Duda, Tejada, and Murphy have more trade value, but I disagree with everybody else you have listed above him. Personally, I’d take Captain Kirk over Duda, Tejada, and Murphy as well.

    • Russ

      I disagree. I think that Nieuwenhuis is a grossly overrated prospect, and that this is driven by his “Captain Kirk” nickname.

      Nieuwenhuis, in my view, is trade bait piece #1. I hope that the Mets move him out as soon as possible. The potential for his trade value to evaporate is enormous. He has yet to hit AAA pitching, and his time in the AFL started hot, but ended very poorly. Average (or worse) bat speed, and horrendous plate discipline is not a combination that projects success at the MLB level.

      • Seriously, who knows? Give him some time with the new administration in place. I’ve had time making the adjustment at various times in my career, then found my place. He’s still a young man with 4th outfielder potential. Better to pay him league minimum (when he’s ready) than some slower, older vet $2 million.

  2. Love your K-Rod idea. Only issue I can see is his limited no trade clause. He can block trades to up to 10 teams.

    Depending on how smart he and his agent are, they may have taken a precaution against such a move by putting teams who they think will contend but have a shaky bullpen on to that no trade list.

    • Patrick Flood

      Right. The thing is, Rodriguez signed that deal two years ago, so whoever was contending then might not be contending now. I assume his no trade clause blocks the Red Sox, Yankees, ect, teams that could pay his salary. But if the Mets eat the rest of his 2011 salary, the other team would only be stuck with a $3.5 million buyout for 2012, so anyone could get in on it.

      • good point.

        any chance you can get your hands on that list? google came up with nothing for me.

        The Brewers are the first team that comes to mind as possible trade partners.

      • Patrick Flood

        No clue about the teams. Cot’s has his contract info, but it just says he has a limited no trade clause that allows him to block trades to ten teams.

        The Brewers are going all in this season, Axford will only be in his second full year — I like it. They have a terrible farm system though, which has only gotten worse with the Greinke trade. If the Mets can just dump K-Rod’s contract with no return, I think they’ll be better off.

  3. Here’s a better idea for KRod – and I’m really surprised it isn’t talked about more.

    While Santana is out for the first half – use KRod as the fill-in starter. He has four pitches and if stretched out could give you five innings a start. At worst, you’d expect a 4ish ERA and in KRod’s place you could use a bullpen by committee (after all Takahashi was 7 for 7 in saves opportunities). And the Mets desperately need more starters right now.

    Then midway through the season the Mets would have several options for K-Rod:

    1. If they are in contention:
    a. They could leave him as a starter if he’s doing really well or
    b. They could put him back in his more familiar role as a closer (and his option would never vest)

    2. If they were out of contention:
    a. They could trade him for some returnable value as the receiving team could use him as either a closer or a starter and not have to worry about the vesting option.
    b. If he refused a trade (based on his ability to limit trading partners), the Mets could continue to keep him in a starter’s role which would likely lower his value in the off season when he’d be a free agent.

    All in all – making him a starter to begin the season has tremendous upside for the Mets in so many different ways.

    Of course K-Rod would not want the starter’s role in any way, but what ground does he have to stand on? He is the scourge of NY based on his off-the-field actions, and the new management owes him nothing. They should tell him to take it or leave it (and sit out the season).

    Really, if this new Met administration is preparing for 2012 (and this whole off season indicates that they are), why would they want the burden of the $17mm vesting contract over their heads? They (like the Knicks before them), should do everything possible to create free and clear ground for 2012 and using this completely over valued, over rated piece in a beneficial way should be aggressively pursued.

    Just remember, if they use this idea – you heard it from another asst. GM first.

    • Patrick Flood

      Bravo. I think we need to have a “most creative way to ditch K-Rod” contest around these parts.

      • I say we get the team to tell him that Spring Training started early and tell him we’re giving him a private flight there, except the pilot flies over a deserted island and ejects K-Rod from the plane, problem solved.

    • Then elbow or shoulder surgery by June 1st and the Mets are off the hook for his option. The loss of a starter and lack a closer aside, great idea!

      K-Rod never started a game above high A ball as a 19 year old. So make that on the DL by April 1st…

      • Guys, the union would have all sorts of problems with anything that was as transparent as this. I say burn him out by making him pitch the 8th and 9th inning in every game including spring training.

      • Even if he blew his arm out, the value in saving the $17mm option would be worth it. While he hasn’t had been a starter in some time, you could say the same thing about our old friend, Braden Looper. He made the conversion just fine.

        Converting him to a starter isn’t reckless, it’s a smart move. K-Rod is not part of the team’s future.

    • Jim

      dgray, you are the leader in clubhouse in the most evil treatment of K-Rot

    • JFK

      While this sounds good in the real world it would not work without K ROD agreeing to it. Taking a closer specialist who has never started and trying to make him a starter could be more problematic for the Mets if he gets injured. The likely hood of that is greater than taking a starter and asking him to close out games. It is never done and for good reason. If it was me, i would refuse do risk of injury and get in touch with the players union pronto.

  4. thanks for the insight. that obviously took some work. go Mets in 2011!

  5. Dan

    I’m no Kirk fan but I echo Andy’s take to a large degree.

    Murphy I think is too high right now. Not by much, but it’s hard to see him sticking as a starter anywhere outside of KC, while both Tejada (if his glove is as good as I’ve heard) and Duda (as a DH in Cleveland) could start for a bunch of teams. I’m nitpicking here, though.

    Both Beato and Cohoon have that odd-duck shot at being a valuable piece to the right team, if things break right. But I think you nailed their current value.

  6. Beato and Emaus should have a penalty on thier value for being Rule 5 selections and having very limited flexability for whoever would trade for them and pick up the Rule 5 stipulations.

    Not many teams would want to take them back as a part of a trade, and 1 for 1 against a comparable valued player no GM would pick one of them up this year.

    • Patrick Flood

      Yes, I missed that. I would probably leave Emaus where he is, because I think he’s a tick better than Turner, but Beato should be moved down a handful of spots.

  7. Nick Evans – You have no Idea who that is? I’m hoping you are joking.

    Brad Emaus/Justin Turner/Matt Den Dekker you said they were older guys, future bench players with little value? – Well first of all 24,26,23 are their respective ages…so I don’t know where you got older from. And Emaus has a ton of value I believe, Or atleast he will. He will take over the starting job. Ton of potential.

  8. calling jason bays 4 year deal for 60 mil a bsd contract is stupid. he led the al in rbi’s and had rough season, when compared to the werth deal he looks like a steal. as long as bay returns to his normal level of play as a pirate, he will end up being a solid signing. is 4 years for an of now considered a long term deal? horrible arlticle, and just more stupid filler for a site that should just shut down until spring trainig. sandy alderson is our gm, he knows what hes doing, and unless he forgot what hes doing, the mets will be a competitor for the playoffs in a few years.

    • Wow a comment like that (replete with typos, poor grammar, and insults) means you must be one of the regulars over at metsblog.com
      I am still a Bay believer, but knowing what I know today, as opposed to hoping what I hope today, I would gladly walk away from the Bay contract. Here is the reality, The Red Sox did not want him. Nobody else would pay Bay as much as the Mets would when he signed. No other team will take his contract off our hands right now. So, $50+ million committed to a 30 something guy coming off injury and a sub-par year is by definition, a bad contract. But again, looking at Bay through my always hopeful Omar Minaya view, Bay will have 3 great seasons, then force us to want to vest that 5th year.
      I won’t expect a response from lindro since he wants the site (blog) shut down. By the way, if it sounds like I’m defending Patrick like he’s my little brother, then so be it. We need blogs like this. I only read 4 Mets blogs, but I won’t insult the others for their efforts.

      • I don’t know. After that Werth contract, I’m kind of glad we got Bay for what we did last year, because who knows, it could have been us in the bidding for Werth and Crawford. And I’d rather spend 60 Mill on Bay than 120+ mill on Werth or crawford. Granted, I would rather have Holiday for what he signed, but I still think we need to wait and see how Bay plays this year to gauge his contract.
        Remember, historically, players need a year or so to get used to NY. Beltran, Santana, KRod, Glavine, Pedro etc… neither of them played on the level they should have when they signed with NY.
        And i know everyone thinks that Beltran’s contract wasn’t worth it, but theres no way to predict a knee injury like that. Beltran, when healthy, lived up to what we figured we’d get out of him.

      • Patrick Flood

        Both Pedro and Santana had two of the best seasons in Mets history their first years here.

      • “Nobody else would pay Bay as much as the Mets would when he signed”

        Not for nothing, but you can say this about virtually EVERY single free agent signing ever.

        No one would pay A-Rod as much as Texas paid him. No one would pay Cliff Lee as much per year as the Phillies did.

        There isolated cases that a player will take a slight discount to player somewehre he wants, Garland, Griffey, etc. Jason Bay wasn’t taking the slight discount to play in Boston.

        Bay had one bad year in which a concussion kept him from having a hot streak and getting his numbers closer to normal. If he’s still powerless in June, then we can worry.

    • Lindro, Bay was with the late 20′s when he was with the Pirates. He’s going to be 32 next year, 34 by the end of his contract (35 if his option vests for 2014) – an agre range when most players decline. He’s also generally considered a below-average fielder, which takes away of his value. Even if he does rebound at the plate in 2011 (and I think he will), he’s very unlikely to be worth the the $16 million a year he’ll be making the next 3 years.

    • It’s not hard to have a lot of RBI in a stacked lineup, in a hitter’s park. Even so, Bay didn’t lead the AL that year. He was a pretty good hitter, period. Nothing wrong with that, and he’ll probably be better this year than last (though unlikely to be quite as good as 05, 06, or 09). They need him to try to earn that money, though, to have even a gambler’s shot this year.

  9. How come Reyes isn’t in the “EAT MONEY” Group

    he’s coming off injuries and a bad year plus he’s in the final year of his contract and is very unlikely going to sign an extension. Plus he’s making good money this year too.

    I love Reyes and don’t want him traded, but I really don’t see a high value for him right now. Maybe he’d get something good at the trade deadline, but not now.

    • Patrick Flood

      If Reyes repeats his 2010 performance this year, he’ll earn his $11 million dollar salary. He’ll be on tomorrow’s list.

    • His performance to cost is not in the negative, and having no bloated years after 2011 make him appealing to more teams. At least thats my take on his trade value.

  10. This seems to validate the Front Office strategy. If Perez, Beltran, K-Rod, Castillo, Santana and Bay are completely or nearly untradeable, then the only realy options for Alderson are to “run out the clock” or try and “throw good money after bad”. Not a great choice of cliches.

  11. EWJ

    This is interesting, but the minor leaguers included are sort of irrelevant. If the Mets were making trades, they’d presumably be trying to get younger, trading established players for prospects. Yes, some Met prospect could be included in such a deal, but probably not the good ones, since those are the kind of players the Mets want.

    So you can almost eliminate anyone who is young enough that they are still likely to improve as a likely trade prospect. And the ones who’s salary is so big, you won’t get any real value back for them in terms of prospects. That leaves you with 4 main names:

    Dickey: I don’t know that he’d get you that much in return, since no one is sure if he is for real. And the Mets 2011 starting pitching is already too thin, so not too likely.

    Pagan: He’d have some trade value. But he’s not going to draw any top prospects in return.

    Wright: Yeah, the nuclear option. He’d have big value for sure. But the Mets have built their marketing around him to such an extent I can’t imagine it happening. He’s the face of the franchise.

    Reyes: I think Reyes is the most likely to go. He’d get you value in return, but I think he might get you more at the trade deadline. Plus, delaying would allow you to be trading him during a (presumably) lost season, rather than giving up before opening day. And if it’s not a lost season? So much the better, then you keep him.

    • Patrick Flood

      I would guess that Reyes, Beltran, and Rodriguez are the most likely to be moved.

      But you’re right. It doesn’t make sense for the Mets to trade any of their prospects, and I also think you nailed it when talking about Reyes. The Mets are going to head into the season, and if it goes well, they’ll be buyers, and if it goes poorly, they’ll be sellers.

      That said, I listed the trade values of everyone regardless of whether or not it made sense for the Mets to trade them.

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