As the website Grantland is known for doing, writer Jonah Keri released his MLB Trade Value Rankings in two parts this week, analyzing which MLB players had the highest value.
The list was based on a number of factors including: contract, age and positional scarcity among other things. The list was also limited to MLB players only, so guys like Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson aren’t anywhere on the list.
I always find lists like this interesting, mostly because they settle (or create) debate about player values by an un-biased source. They take on the issue of asking the question: if every roster was emptied and teams were going to draft players based on the factors mentioned above, who would get picked first?
Of course, as a Dodgers fan, this debate is extremely relevant right now with names like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier being talked about in trade rumors. So what are these guys worth? Would a Kemp for Andrus trade make sense? What about Kemp for Kyle Seager?
Without further ado, here’s how Keri ranked notable Dodgers:
(From the bottom of his top 50 to the top, #1 being the most valuable player)
Not ranked: Matt Kemp
Honestly not that surprising given his massive contract and injury history. Remember, being just outside the top 50 isn’t an insult considering the wealth of talent across the league — especially among younger players.
This does, however, make the Matt Kemp trade rumors more interesting if people around the league see his value in the same light as Keri. Guys like Andrus (not ranked) and Seager (#48) have both been rumored in swaps for Kemp.
#29 — Clayton Kershaw
It seems a bit low considering how good Kershaw has been, but as Keri points out, this has more to do with his impending free agency than anything else:
Kershaw might be the toughest call of all. On the one hand, while there are no sure things in baseball, Kershaw bagging another Cy Young award next year is a pretty strong bet. On the other, Kershaw is just a year away from free agency. Even the best pitcher in the game can offer only so much value if a team gets him for just one season.
Keri goes on to point out that the Dodgers wouldn’t in a million years trade Kershaw, but in a universe where he has just one season under team control left, a guy like Justin Verlander, who’s under contract for six more seasons, is ranked higher.
#14 — Yasiel Puig
The biggest mystery to me was how high Puig would be ranked. He has a great contract (5 years left for about $35 million), he’s exciting, and he’s obviously incredibly young.
(Sidebar: you should read this article right now, written right after Puig was signed to that contract).
Well, the answer was that Puig is the 14th most valuable player in the game, still behind players like Madison Bumgarner, Yadier Molina and Chris Sale among others.
Here’s what Keri had to say about him:
He is a supremely talented, electrifying five-tool player who also overthrows too many cutoff men, swings at too many bad pitches, and won’t have 38 percent of the balls he hits in play land as hits forever. With Puig, the good and the bad go together, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging both.
The scope of his talent and the volatility of his numbers create a ton of potential variance. We can’t just assume he’s the next Vladimir Guerrero, even if the early returns are legendary. Puig also has a weirder contract than most players coming off a rookie season, as he is owed $2 million in 2014 (instead of the usual league minimum for a player with less than one year of service time), then $10 million over the following two seasons, followed by the right to opt out of his current deal and into arbitration, where he’d make mountains of money. Still, let’s not get too cute here. We’re talking about not only a centerpiece player, but also the rare guy who’d be a lock to put butts in the seats just by suiting up. He’s Yasiel Freaking Puig.
For me, the biggest omission to this article is Hanley Ramirez. Sure, Ramirez is owed $16 million next season on the only year left on his deal, but if we’re talking about positional scarcity and age, how does a 29-year-old shortstop (albeit not a great defensive one) who hit .345 with 20 home runs in 86 games last season not make the list?
Even if he was moved to third base, he’d still be an insanely valuable asset. That one doesn’t make sense to me, but for the most part, the list is an interesting read to say the least.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and starter Dan Haren agreed to a one-year deal