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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Ranking the top prospect hauls of all-time

2. July 31, 2007: Rangers get Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones, Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Braves (Mark Teixeira)

Teixeira netted four prospects that were on, or eventually landed on top prospect lists. We only did Top 50s in 2007, but Andrus was on it and eventually would climb into the top 25. Baseball America did Top 100 lists back then and Harrison was on its 2007 list, as was Saltalamacchia (he was also in our Top 50). Feliz would climb into our top 10 in 2009 and 2010, first appearing in BA’s Top 100 in 2008.

3. Dec. 6, 2016: White Sox get Yoán Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, Victor Diaz from Red Sox (Chris Sale)

This belongs on the list solely because of Moncada’s presence in the trade. He was the No. 1 prospect in baseball at the time, and it marked the first time in 25 years the No. 1 guy had been included in a trade. Adding the flame-throwing Kopech, who was also a Top 100 prospect, was just icing on the cake.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 03, 2022 at 06:10 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juan soto

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 03, 2022 at 06:31 PM (#6089903)
Before anybody gets too worked up, they are ranked by "buzz" generated at the time, not how they turned out. I'm not sure it's a very accurate list by that standard ... it does go at least as far back as Cle trading Joe Carter to the Padres though.
   2. Cris E Posted: August 03, 2022 at 06:42 PM (#6089905)
Buzz? What's the unit of measure, dollarbucks?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 03, 2022 at 06:50 PM (#6089907)
Buzz? What's the unit of measure, dollarbucks?

Gigawatts. The record is 1.21.
   4. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 03, 2022 at 10:20 PM (#6089931)
Before anybody gets too worked up, they are ranked by "buzz" generated at the time, not how they turned out.

Yeah, I realize this guy works for MLB Pipeline so he knows and cares about prospect rankings, but looking at old trades through this lens seems kinda pointless to me.

My main take-away from the article is "MLB Pipeline hasn't been very good at ranking prospects." Wow, Jorge Alfaro (#45). We're still buzzin' about Lou Marson (#43) and Mike Montgomery (#31).

I note that this ranking also is not limited to the mid-season trade deadline. Lots of December trades listed, when there's typically much less buzz.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 03, 2022 at 11:19 PM (#6089939)
I think what he does is OKish -- the standard writeup is along the lines of "Both and BA had X in the top 10 and Y was in the top 100 and was top 10 2 years later ..." But if you've got access to the lists then maybe put that info into the trade listing and you can rank (or at least make a criterion) somthing like the average rank of the top 2-3 prospects or something. There's a big difference between getting the #1 or #2 overal prospect and a generic "top 10" prospect. Something like that would also put us in a better position to judge the current trades.

So I understand (and generally agree with) the idea that trades should be judged by the information available at the time not how they turn out 10 years later but that requires us knowing what the information at the time was. He does give us a good bit of it but it's not clear why the Alfaro trade (#45, another top 100 and a guy who would peak at #64 the next year) is a particularly impressive haul. I recall there being a good bit of buzz about Giolito/Lopez, not Alfaro et al.

He also seems to exclude single prospect trades. Gleyber Torres is one of the better prospect hauls of all-time. He could also consider the other side of the trade. OK, the Padres got the greatest prospect haul ever ... by giving up one of the greates under-24 hitters of all-time. If Hanley/Anibal is the 4th-best haul of all-time, doesn't it move up the rankings that it was for Beckett/Lowell (fine players but not Soto). Same with the Colon trade.

My main take-away from the article is "MLB Pipeline hasn't been very good at ranking prospects."

Nobody is. Or maybe "everybody is pretty good but most prospects flop." There's noting particularly exciting about a #50 prospect. Some of them hit it big (frequently after having moved up to the top 10 the next year), most just produce a couple of WAR. I know Alfaro's 3.5 WAR isn't eye-catching but it is the 57th-best of players that debuted in 2016. That's perfectly OK for a #45 prospect. Sure it might be a bit disappointing -- some of the guys ahead of him would have either already debuted in 2015 or after 2016 so maybe he "should" have been the #30 prospect but that's still only around 10 WAR (Mancini, Renfroe, Josh Bell). Unless I missed somebody, he was the 2nd-best C to debut that year ... a very distant 2nd to Contreras at 20 WAR. Contrera, the 5th best debut of 2016 so far, was ranked between 50 and 67 pre-2016 on the lists b-r covers. Alfaro pre-2015 was #31 to #67 but had fallen on all three lists by 2016.
   6. John Northey Posted: August 04, 2022 at 12:18 AM (#6089946)
Generally to get me excited put in a top 10 at the time prospect. Those are rare deals and takes real guts on both teams part - the one losing a potential star and the one giving up a current one to get a future one.

If you just want buzz then a December 1990 non-prospect deal in the winter has to be there - Joe Carter (4 years out of past 5 with 100+ RBI when that was still a big deal, 98 the other year, 3 straight years and 4 out of 5 with MVP votes entering age 31 season) & Roberto Alomar (entering age 23 season after making the All-Star team at age 22) for Fred McGriff (top 10 MVP vote 2 years running entering age 27 season) & Tony Fernandez (3 time AS, entering age 29 season). That was a shocker - iirc the media said that when it was announced the writers got up and applauded.
   7. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 04, 2022 at 01:43 AM (#6089950)
Every year there's a (used to be a water cooler) Zoom/Teams call sidebar discussion about this exact topic. This year's edition featured a hilarious (serious baseball fan) guy admitting to forgetting entirely about Piazza being a Marlin. We're getting old.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 04, 2022 at 09:13 AM (#6089955)
Every year there's a (used to be a water cooler) Zoom/Teams call sidebar discussion about this exact topic. This year's edition featured a hilarious (serious baseball fan) guy admitting to forgetting entirely about Piazza being a Marlin. We're getting old.

I'll forgive forgetting 5 meaningless games in Miami. I don't think I could name 5 current Marlins without getting lucky by guessing generic Smith, Diaz, Davis, Gonzalez, etc.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: August 04, 2022 at 09:21 AM (#6089956)
I don't think I could name 5 current Marlins without getting lucky by guessing generic Smith, Diaz, Davis, Gonzalez, etc.
Sandy Alcantara averages more than 7 innings per start this year. That's practically Wilbur Wood nowadays.
   10. Rally Posted: August 04, 2022 at 10:12 AM (#6089958)
They missed one: Meadows, Glasnow, and Baz for Chris Archer

Well, one that immediately springs to mind.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 04, 2022 at 10:17 AM (#6089959)
Speaking of prospect hauls, the Marlins got Alcantara, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano for Marcell Ozuna. Then they traded Gallen for Jazz Chisholm.
   12. DCA Posted: August 04, 2022 at 10:18 AM (#6089960)
Glasnow and Meadows were no longer rookies when they were traded for Archer. I guess technically neither are Abrams or Gore, but Glasnow was in his 3rd MLB season, and over the rookie limit in 2/3.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 04, 2022 at 10:42 AM (#6089963)
but looking at old trades through this lens seems kinda pointless to me.

Hmm, I actually find this way more interesting. Feel like people have done countless articles on "biggest hauls/worst trades", and oftentimes the big haul involves a tremendous amount of luck or unusual development. Rarely do you see the perspective at the time. Gives us a better idea on how often these big deals pan out or not.

They missed one: Meadows, Glasnow, and Baz for Chris Archer

YES! And everyone knew that was a massive overpay at the time.
   14. Rally Posted: August 04, 2022 at 11:30 AM (#6089973)
Glasnow was a failed starter his first 2 years with the Pirates. He was a top 10 MLB prospect before the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

In 2018 he pitched out of the pen before the trade. Not terrible, not good. Just another guy throwing hard with no control. He goes to the Rays, back to starting, and immediately cuts his walk rate in half. He’s in his 5th season with TB now, not sure if he’ll throw a pitch this year. For the first 4 he was an elite pitcher when he could take the ball, but due to injuries (and 2020) his workload just looks like that of a reliever.

The list of guys who looked marginal everywhere else and then suddenly dominated as soon as they entered the Trop is long. Look at Jason Adam. Half the league has probably had him in their system. He had a 5.91 ERA with the Cubs last year and is 30. So of course he gives them a 1.27 ERA and .633 whip.

If TB was as good at keeping pitchers healthy as they are at turning scrubs into lights out dominant pitchers, they’d win 130 games on a 50 million payroll.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 04, 2022 at 12:47 PM (#6089987)
Sandy Alcantara averages more than 7 innings per start this year. That's practically Wilbur Wood nowadays.

I would have said Alcantara, Brian Anderson, and then stared blankly.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: August 04, 2022 at 11:26 PM (#6090105)
Hmmm ... as good a place as any to stick this? Given all the trade threads, etc. I got to wondering where guys like "team X's #5 prospect" end up. Historical team rankings don't seem that easy to find -- might be if I subscribed to BA, might be available at fangraphs? Anyway, I found this post from BleacherReport which lists's top 10 by team after the 2015 draft. It doesn't particularly matter how accurate they are or whether they'd been updated yet or not, it's just a list of names that are among the types of prospects you often see traded this time of year whether in a small deal or as the 2nd/3rd guy in a bigger deal. It's been 7 years since this list so most should have made the majors at least if they're ever gonna have much impact. I'm not gonna type them all out obviously but I grabbed each team's #5 and #8 prospects:

Tigers: Ziomek, Tyler Collins
Os: DJ Stewart, Mike Wright
Brewers: Jake Gatewood, Devin Williams
Angels: Kyle Kubitza, Chris Ellis
Ms: Edwin Diaz, Nick Neidert
Marlins: Andy Romero, Adam Conley
As: Renato Nunez, Sean Nolin
Phils: Cornelius Randolph, Tom Windle
Guardians: Justus Sheffield, Triston McKenzie
White Sox: Micker Adolofo, Trey Michalczewski
Royals: Brandon Finnegan, Foster Griffin
Giants: Phil Bickford, Adalberto Mejia
Padres: Austin Smith, Michael Gettys
Cards: Jack Flaherty, Tim Cooney
Nats: Reynaldo Lopez, Jackson Reetz
Yanks: Rob Refsnyder, Eric Jagielo
Jays: Jon Harris, Max Pentecost
Reds: Nick Howard, Alex Blandino
Braves: Tyrell Jenkins, Braxton Davidson
Rays: Adrian Rondon, Brent Honeywell
Cubs: Billy McKinney, Eloy Jimenez
Rangers: ChiChi Gonzalez, Luis Ortiz
Rox: David Dahl, Raimel Tapia
Pirates: Reese McGuire, Kevin Newman
Mets: Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith
DBacks: Touki Toussaint, Robbie Ray
Red Sox: Blake Swihart, Brian Johnson
Dodgers: Alex Verdugo, Chris Anderson
Astros: Lance McCullers, Vince Velasquez (man they were deep)
Twins: Tyler Jay, Jorge Polanco

Maybe some of the other guys deserve bolding. Anyway, 9 very good players (2 of them relievers) out of 60. Plenty of guys who contributed little bits although even a guy like Refsnyder who has played bits of 8 seasons has 0 career WAR.

So swapping a reliever or standard pending FA for a #5-#8 looks more than fine -- a 15% shot at a useful to very good player, a solid shot at a roster filler.

Those 9 guys total about 80 WAR so far, with one CYA(!) I think all but Ray, Polanco and Diaz have pre-FA years left. The other 51 guys can't contribute a whole lot ... maybe they bring the total to 120? 150? If so, that's an average of 2-2.5 WAR per player.

So on average it doesn't matter enough to care about but then, on average, you probably haven't given up enough to care about either (or the team got back a bigger piece than this #5-8). Eloy was still in his age 18 season and you'd think being #8 at 18 is more promising than at 23 although I'm not sure it's worked out that way in that list.

Like any other draft/prospect-related decision, you're in it for that 15% chance.

Maybe just coincidence but all of these guys made it with the team they are on above except Eloy, traded for Quintana in the 2017 season. But Ray had already been treded twice -- from the Nats for Fister, from the Tigers in the Ray-Didi-Shane Greene trade that the Tigers lost very badly. Ray was 23 at the time of this ranking.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: August 04, 2022 at 11:41 PM (#6090107)
By the way, Eloy has been hurt often enough (and poor enough defensively) that he has just 4 WAR and 0 WAA in a bit over 1000 PA.

There are surely plenty of cases where the #6 turned out better than the #5 but I assume these are balanced by cases where Jorge Polanco could have been #7 and some other guy #8. But the Red Sox were also pretty stacked at the time with Margot, Benintendi and Kopech at 6, 7 and 9 turning out better than Swihart and Johnson.
   18. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 05, 2022 at 03:24 AM (#6090113)
very nice analysis, Walt. Very useful.

OK so doing some math to put a value on these types of prospects (rank 100-200, perhaps?). You got 15% of them produce say 10war/career. And then another what 50% may produce say 3 WAR?

So an average prospect from this group could be valued at 3 war, say? And then look at the Soto deal. Using post #41 from the Soto thread (thanks Darren). Here's who the prospects are:

--Gore, former #77 prospect, pitching okay in first year of MLB
--Abrams, former #11, in MLB at 21 but struggling
--Hassell, #41, playing well in A+ at 21
--Wood, #66, crushing A ball at 19
--Susanna, a 40+ (not ranked)

SO lets value Gore at 3 war. And Abrams at 3. Hassel and Woods are probably better than the 100-200 group so I'll assign them 4 and 5 war respectively. 0 for Susanna. Ok so thats a value of 15 WAR. They also get Voit, who is a stop gap at 1b; I'll call him 0.

You get SOto for 2.3 years. Value him at 7 war/year. Say 16 WAR. Bell is a free agent next year, so I guess 1 war. Total 17 WAR.

Really mathematically it works out. Lots of other factors to consider:

The ability to sign Soto long term. Probably quite valuable.

Risk of injury to Soto, presumably your numbers on prospect numbers would already have factored those for the SD prospects. If say you count 20% chance of him missing a year, that's about 1.5 war, so the trade works out to: 15.5 vs 15 war.

Presumably it will cost a bit more to pay for Soto's WAR vs paying for say 2 of these prospects who are likely a bit more cost controlled during their effective years.

The value of WAA vs WAR. I think this is the biggest factor. Soto can bring a championship to SD and perhaps establish a strong fan base for years. (attendance 3rd, 4th in NL; last year and this)


It seems the Lerner financial empire is having some cash flow problems from what I gather. The mall at White Flint (the name has recently been changed) has been tied up for years because the anchor store Lord and Taylor I think has been holding them ransom stopping development. Another mall at Lakeforest is supposed to be torn down and replaced with a high rise and anchored with more stores inside. But I think that project is on hold too, presumably due rising construction cost and eco uncertainty.

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