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Trade valuations for Oakland A's starting pitching targets

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As a trade valuation nerd, I like to play around with formulas to determine trade values for both established major leaguers and prospects. Although I don’t have access to inside information or understand what models actual teams are using, so far I’ve found that the models I use largely conform with reality. There may be an exception here and there, and there will be times, such as the summer trade deadline, when teams will overpay, but that’s to be expected. By and large, the models I use seem to be aligning well with actual trades. For background, I use the model described here, and for WAR purposes I average out bWAR and fWAR (which is open to debate).

Some AN commenters have asked that I compile a list of A’s pitching targets to see what the price would be to acquire them, so here you go. I’ll do this in two parts. Part one, below, is for starting pitchers. Check out part two for left-handed relievers, which is our other need.

In the table below, I start with their fair value, which means that if supply and demand were balanced, that would be their price. But with supply and demand out of balance, as we’re seeing now at the deadline, buyers will pay premiums – sometimes very high ones. Most of those will be in the 50% range, but once in a while you see an extreme overpay at double the price (aka 100% premium). It’s rare, but I’ve noted it here just to illustrate the absolute maximum.

Here’s the table for starting pitchers:

Starting Pitcher

Fair Value ($M)

With 50% Premium

With 100% Premium

deGrom

139

208

278

Syndegaard

60

90

120

Taillon

52

78

104

Gausman

35

52

70

Fulmer

31

46

62

Archer

24

36

48

Gibson

24

36

48

Bundy

23

34

46

Wheeler

20

30

40

Matz

16

24

32

Fiers

10

15

20

Happ

6.6

10

13.2

Richard

6

9

12

Nova

5.6

8.4

11.2

Eovaldi

5

7.5

10

Estrada

3

4.5

6

Gray

2.5

3.75

5

Ross

1.3

2

2.6

Odorizzi

0

0

0

Lynn

-.7

-1

-1.4

Duffy

-1.5

-2.25

-3

Harvey

-2

-3

-4

Hamels

-20

-30

-40

Zimmermann

-35

-52

-70

A few observations:

  • deGrom’s valuation may look ridiculous, but that’s because it is. It’s driven by a combination of outstanding performance and consistency, plus years of control, relative to his salary.
  • Syndegaard has one more year of control than deGrom, but his value is significantly lower because he doesn’t deliver the performance as consistently as his teammate and he’s injury-prone.
  • Then there’s a tier of very good, relatively consistent pitchers with some years of control left – Taillon, Gausman, Fulmer and Archer, who also tend to be on affordable salaries.
  • Gibson has increased his value largely due to a breakout year, plus the extra year of control.
  • Bundy hasn’t been as good or as consistent as his teammate, but those years of control help his value.
  • Wheeler’s value has increased due to his breakout year – similar to Gibson.
  • Then there’s a tier of pitchers who are maybe just good enough (Eovaldi, Estrada) who wouldn’t cost much because of their rental status.
  • At the bottom of the table are pitchers who are underwater relative to their salaries. It’s not necessarily that they’re bad; it’s that the break-even bar is set so high financially that even a turnaround year like Zimmermann is having isn’t enough yet to get him into positive territory – far from it.

Now let’s look at prospect valuations, to see what the A’s would theoretically pay in prospect capital. I arrive at these using two systems – the one described by Fangraphs here; and the one by TPOP here, which relies on BA rankings. They mostly align, but where there’s a gap I simply average the two. You’ll note that I am not including premiums here, because for starting pitchers, this is a seller’s market, which means the price for the veteran may be inflated, but not the prospect – otherwise you’d end up with inflated prices on both sides, which would cancel out.

Prospect

Value ($M)

Luzardo

40

Barreto

31

Puk

27

Murphy

22

Mateo

20

Armenteros

17

Beck

15

Kaprielian

11

Neuse

11

Martin

11

White

10

Jefferies

10

Allen

10

Holmes

10

Deichmann

10

Laureano

10

Ramirez

8

Campos

8

Howard

8

Shore

8

Merrell

8

Dunshee

7

Brito

7

Marks

7

Vargas

6

All others

5 or below

You can also see a similar pattern here as the veteran pitcher table above – the top end is disproportionately more valuable than the middle and low ends. That’s because studies have shown that a higher quality prospect has a much better chance at both making the big leagues and being a productive player once they get there. It’s a bell-curve thing. That means that Luzardo alone is more valuable than the combination of Kaprielian, Holmes, Jefferies and Shore. This is a very important point.

Now let’s put these together to see if we can package up some trades. In other words, here’s what it would take to get each starting pitcher. We’ll also keep in mind the needs of the selling team and the supply/demand forces for each.

deGrom

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $208M
  • Mets’ needs: IF, C, P, OF
  • Package: Luzardo, Barreto, Puk, Murphy, Mateo, Armenteros, Beck, Kaprielian, Neuse, Allen, lottery ticket
  • Obviously this is absurd. It’s why all the chatter about trying to trade for deGrom is pointless. It would literally decimate the entire farm.

Syndegaard

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $90M
  • Mets’ needs: IF, C, P, OF
  • Package: Luzardo, Barreto, Murphy
  • Although this one is a killer too, it’s not nearly as ridiculous as the package for deGrom. Personally I wouldn’t do it, because the above three are untouchables for me.

Taillon

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $78M
  • Pirates’ needs: P, IF, OF, C
  • Package: Luzardo, Murphy, Armenteros, lottery ticket
  • Another killer. The premium here is real, because we’d really have to convince the Pirates to pry him away, given his years of control. Again, the above three are untouchables for me.

Gausman

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $52M
  • Orioles’ needs: P, IF, OF
  • Package: Puk, Mateo, two lottery tickets
  • Now we’re getting into the realm of realistic packages, although I still wouldn’t do this one, because Puk is one of my untouchables.

Fulmer

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $46M
  • Tigers’ needs: IF, OF, C
  • Package: Mateo, Beck, Deichmann, lottery ticket
  • I wouldn’t do this one either, because I don’t like selling low on Beck, and this trade would require either him or Armenteros to make it work.

Archer

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $36M
  • Rays’ needs: P, OF, C
  • Package: Puk, Beck, two lottery tickets
  • I wouldn’t do this one either, because I don’t like selling low on Puk or Beck.

Gibson

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $36M
  • Twins’ needs: P, IF, OF, C
  • Package: Puk, Beck, two lottery tickets
  • Same as Archer above.

Bundy

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $34M
  • Orioles’ needs: P, IF, OF
  • Package: Mateo, Kaprielian, lottery ticket
  • Hmmm. Maybe. I’m not a big fan of Bundy, though. There’s upside, but he’s too inconsistent.

Wheeler

  • Premium required: 25%
  • Value with 25% premium: $25M
  • Mets’ needs: IF, OF, C, P
  • Package: Laureano, Jefferies, two lottery tickets
  • This one I might do.

Matz

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $24M
  • Mets’ needs: IF, OF, C, P
  • Package: Laureano, Jefferies, two lottery tickets
  • Matz comes with more years of control, so I don’t think the Mets will trade him, which is why the premium here is 50%. He’s too injury-prone for me.

Fiers

  • Premium required: 25%
  • Value with 25% premium: $12.5M
  • Tigers’ needs: IF, OF, C, P
  • Package: Laureano, lottery ticket
  • The Tigers are more motivated sellers on this one, and by all reports, the A’s are in the mix with Boston and maybe others, but it doesn’t seem like a huge premium would be required. I’d do it.

Happ

  • Premium required: 50%
  • Value with 50% premium: $10M
  • Jays’ needs: P, C, OF, IF
  • Package: Laureano
  • Happ was an all-star and has been courted by everyone, so I’m confident the 50% premium estimate is real. I’d do it for Laureano.

Richard

  • Premium required: 10%
  • Value with 25% premium: $7M
  • Padres’ needs: ?
  • Package: Brito or two lottery tickets
  • The Padres don’t have much of a market for Clayton Richard, because he’s Clayton Richard. Meh. Eats innings, isn’t too terrible. He’s cheap. Maybe.

Nova

  • Premium required: 10%
  • Value with 10% premium: $6M
  • Pirates’ needs: IF, OF, P, C
  • Package: Two lottery tickets
  • Nova isn’t bad; the issue here is his $9M/year salary, through 2019. He’s just barely earning that keep, so it wouldn’t require much else.

Eovaldi

  • Premium required: 10%
  • Value with 10% premium: $6M
  • Rays’ needs: P, C, OF
  • Package: Two lottery tickets
  • Everyone knows Eovaldi is a rental and is being marketed. He has also been inconsistent. This one wouldn’t take much, and I’d be in favor of taking a shot on him.

Estrada

  • Premium required: 10%
  • Value with 10% premium: $3.5M
  • Jays’ needs: P, C, OF, IF
  • Package: One lottery ticket
  • There doesn’t seem to be much interest in him, but I know some commenters here like him. Sure, what the heck.

Gray

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $2.5M
  • Yankees’ needs: nothing
  • Package: One lottery ticket.
  • My how things have changed. I know there’s a case for Sonny, as he has pitched well outside of Yankee Stadium. Some teams are poking the tires on him. I’d love to take him back, personally – and all bias aside, I do think there are enough positives to warrant a chance on a change-of-scenery bounceback if we could swing it. I think it would need to be part of a three-way, though, for optics’ sake.

Ross

  • Premium required: 25%
  • Value with 25% premium: $2M
  • Padres’ needs: ?
  • Package: one lottery ticket
  • Tyson Ross is intriguing, in that he’s a rental, and he’s cheap both in salary and prospect cost. He’s also been inconsistent. There’s enough of a case there to take a shot for a lottery ticket, though.

Odorizzi

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $0M
  • Twins’ needs: P, C, OF, IF
  • Package: One lottery ticket as a sweetener
  • The issue here is that he’s just barely making his salary, so there’s no surplus value. And he’s meh.

Lynn

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $-.7M
  • Twins’ needs: P, C, OF, IF
  • Package: Salary relief, maybe a lottery ticket.
  • Lynn has been inconsistent: rough start, improvement, rough again. He’s a rental on a high salary, so there’s no value there. I know some here have suggested him as a target, and Slusser has reported that the A’s are kicking the tires on him as well as Odorizzi. I’m not a fan, personally, but I could live with it as a shot.

Duffy

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $-1.5M
  • Royals’ needs: everything
  • Package: Salary relief, maybe a lottery ticket.
  • The problem here is the salary, and I don’t see the A’s taking it on. If the Royals want to eat some money, it would depend on how much, and the scale would slide up from there in terms of prospect capital.

Harvey

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $-2M
  • Reds’ needs: P
  • Package: Salary relief, maybe a lottery ticket.
  • I don’t like the idea of Harvey on the A’s, as he has a reputation for being a clubhouse cancer and non-worker. I fear he’d be a negative on the good chemistry we have. That said, in theory he could be had for lottery ticket if the Mets (who are still paying his salary) agree to eat it.

Hamels

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $-20M
  • Rangers’ needs: everything
  • Package: Salary relief, maybe a lottery ticket.
  • He’s not terrible, but not what he used to be either. And his large contract and NTC are the problems. Texas would have to eat enough salary to even it out. If they didn’t, in theory, they’d owe us the equivalent in prospect value just to take it on, including the $6M buyout for next year. I think that’s a tall order, and don’t think it’s happening.

Zimmermann

  • Premium required: 0%
  • Value: $-35M
  • Tigers’ needs: OF, IF, C
  • Package: Salary relief, maybe a lottery ticket.
  • This one is interesting to me, because Zimmermann has returned to health and is pitching like an ace this year. His salary is the big issue, so if the Tigers were to eat a big chunk of it, his value would turn positive and they’d get something in return. I’d like to think they’d be open to that, as it would be a win/win if so. Hey, if the A’s are talking to them about Fiers, let’s see if we can work this one out instead.

So that’s it. Let me know what you think. Check out my similar post on left-handed relief pitchers.