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Friday, July 29, 2022

Fangraphs: 2022 Trade Value: #1 to #10

I’ll be honest: Soto’s placement on this list is partially a statement about how star power can matter more than surplus value. I think there’s still a prevailing feeling in front offices across the game that years of team control, particularly discounted years of control, are more valuable than superstardom. But Soto might challenge that feeling.

Perhaps Soto wouldn’t fetch the sixth-best offer if every player were put on the market at once. In that world, if you missed, you could just use those prospects to bid on Ramírez or Adley Rutschman. But not every player is being put on the market at once. Juan Soto is, though, and if you want to turn some prospects on your team into a 23-year-old with a career 154 wRC+, your options are Soto or no one. That scarcity/availability combination means something.

If you’re wondering why Soto isn’t ranked first, it’s because he isn’t under contract for enough years. If every player were going to stay on their new team forever, it would be a different story, but that’s not how baseball works. If you’re wondering why he’s in the top 10, well, read on.

Trading for Soto gets you a premium bat — he’s projected to be the best player in baseball each of the next two years according to ZiPS — for the 2022 stretch run and two full seasons after that. Maybe you could accomplish something like that in free agency this winter, but probably not; there aren’t enough marquee free agents to satiate every team’s demand for great players, and certainly not 23-year-old great players.

Soto’s defense and baserunning have been quite poor this season, but no one I spoke to thinks that’s his true talent out there. His contact quality is down slightly, too, though not a ton considering the league context. Mostly, though, he’s BABIP’ing .242 for a dead-end team and getting on base at a .400 clip anyway. He’s just a great hitter. He makes the best swing decisions in baseball and also won the Home Run Derby.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 29, 2022 at 09:10 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juan soto

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   1. Jack Sommers Posted: July 29, 2022 at 10:38 AM (#6088868)
I know it's impossible to account for in rankings such as this, but the bigger risk with Tatis is not whether he'll ever play enough to "earn" this contract. It's how much his production will be impacted by the seriousness of the injuries he's suffered. Between his shoulder and wrist, it seems the risk is high his rate of production could be impacted as well.

   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 29, 2022 at 11:46 AM (#6088875)
I'm not sure Tatis should be anywhere near this list. Would anyone really give up serious prospects to take on that injury risk?
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 29, 2022 at 11:57 AM (#6088877)
I guess I just wonder why the question of "Would this guy who's absolutely not going to get traded bring more than this other guy who's absolutely not going to get traded?" is all that interesting. Yeah, I suppose last year we wouldn't have thought it was likely that Soto would be traded, but still. Looking at the top 50, there's only a few I see who would possibly be traded barring something unexpected and major happening. I dunno, obviously enough people find it interesting for FG to keep doing it (and I assume a lot of effort goes into it). Just not really my thing.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 29, 2022 at 12:34 PM (#6088880)
Looking at the top 50, there's only a few I see who would possibly be traded barring something unexpected and major happening.

Yes, especially the guys with 4+ years of team control. Why would their team trade them? Only if they suck, and then they don't have a lot of trade value. A realistic list would focus on guys with <3 years control remaining.
   5. DL from MN Posted: July 29, 2022 at 01:57 PM (#6088889)
guys with 4+ years of team control. Why would their team trade them?

There are sometimes challenge trades of guys like this. Alomar for McGriff is an example.
   6. John Reynard Posted: July 29, 2022 at 02:18 PM (#6088891)
I'm not sure Tatis should be anywhere near this list. Would anyone really give up serious prospects to take on that injury risk?

On top of that, you have the "his dad looked like a solid star young and just totally went off a cliff so badly at 26 that he was out of baseball for a while by 29 and only really came back years later as a reserve player" (though he hit pretty well in that role for a couple years).

I've always thought the younger Tatis carries a lot of risk because of how his dad just suddenly was bad. I think he'll do way better than dad. But, I'm not ready to put him in the same slot of long-term expectations as Acuna and Soto because of it. I think I already have higher expectations for Julio Rodriguez than Tatis Jr.

The injuries just add to that riskiness. But, you'd be hard pressed to find a guy in MLB with more upside payoff if everything goes perfect than Tatis. If everything goes just right, I mean, 50-50 is possible, right? I think the Padres would get more value from him as a +defense CF than as an OK-defense SS, but, maybe thats just me.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: July 29, 2022 at 06:08 PM (#6088908)
I've always thought the younger Tatis carries a lot of risk because of how his dad just suddenly was bad.

Man, that is a lot of misplaced faith in "genetics." Even if we limited ourselves to baseball, I doubt there's any empirical support for it.

I'm not sure what was so "sudden" about Tatis Sr's decline. He got hurt in 2000 and missed 2 months. He got hurt twice in 2001 and missed over 4 months. He was healthy (or at least "healthy") in 2002 and carried an 800+ OPS into late July. He got hurt in 2003 and missed half the season. That a guy who gets hurt that often and that seriously declines is not in the least bit surprising. If you want to play baseball genetics, focus on the fact that both father and son seem to get hurt a lot which gets to #1's point -- are Jr's injuries going to kill his quality too?

In the end, for Sr, all we had was one very good season at age 24 and one good half-season at 25 -- good seasons that, per bWAR, came with atrocious defense. Were those seasons his "true bat" or were they just flukes?

#3 ... Agreed, I've said this many times. But basically it's just a naming problem. The list is a projection of who will provide the most WAR/$ over the next 5 years which is a useful thing to have ... and it's therefore a convenient place to find 5-year WAR projections. The writeups might then be more useful if they focused exclusively on the future value and didn't spend time explaining why the trade value is greater/lesser than you might expect.

The write-up on Ramirez is weird. I understand the point that he's so good across the board that he has no way to improve X to compensate for reduced Y. But that's a good thing you'd think. You'd think these are the "athletic" players who age well. You'd think that, even if his BA takes a big hit (for example), that you've still got a good-fielding 3B with power and patience that makes good baserunning decisions (although probably with less speed). I'd think a guy like Ramirez projects more like 30s Lou Whitaker or post-OMG Joe Morgan or 34-WAR for ages 30-37 Biggio. Granted, he could be Alomar or retire for 1.5 years like Sandberg to come back and still post a 3-WAR season at 36.

Maybe my disagreement is with ZiPS but I'd rather bet on a 5-WAR guy who would need to decline at everything simultaneously to collapse rather than one who _maybe_ will be able to adjust their plate discipline, pull tendencies, etc. to compensate for their slowing bat. Also, almost nobody adds defense and baserunning in their 30s so we know the other 5-WAR guy is not gonna compensate that way. So sure, Ramirez will hit a point where there's nothing he can possibly do to slow that 0.5 WAR/year decline due to age but I'm much more confident that he'll still be an average MLer at 35 than I am that ... well, the only players on this list close to Ramirez in age and ranking are other guys (Buxton and Betts) with great all-around skills which basically makes my point. But I'd bet on Ramirez still being league-average at 36 over the notion that Buxton will learn to control the strike zone enough to compensate for a declining bat.

Interesting that Trout is still barely clinging to the top 50.
   8. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: July 31, 2022 at 05:25 PM (#6089099)
My favourite "baseball genetics" quote: when Jose Tartabull (2 career MLB HR) was asked how Danny Tartabull (262 HR) could be such a slugger, Jose replied, "He gets that from his mother."

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