FanPost

Spring 2019 trade value estimates of Oakland A’s prospects

It would take a ton of value in return to get Luzardo to remove that Oakland cap. - Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As some of you may know, I’ve been on a bit of a quest researching baseball trade valuations, which has led me down a dark rabbit hole of number-crunching and analysis. But it’s been fun. And let me be the first to say I’ve learned a lot as I’ve evolved my models. For example, I came to realize that in my earlier endeavors my assumptions were too high. And last year’s study on prospect valuation by Craig Edwards of Fangraphs played a significant role in revising my prospect-side models.

What didn’t change, however, was one key concept: with prospects, it’s a long-tail world. In general, the future major leaguers are the few clustered at the top. The good ones have disproportionately more value than most of the rest of the farm (and this is true for every team). There’s some wheat, then a whole bunch of chaff. As you look down, you’ll see that the value decline is not linear – it’s hyperbolic.

See for yourself.

Trade valuations of Oakland A’s prospects as of Spring 2019 (numbers in $Ms):

Player

Estimate

Lowest

Highest

Luzardo

67.9

37

72.4

Puk

36.3

16.7

53.4

Murphy

34.5

19.5

50

Armenteros

15.8

5.1

22.8

Beck

11.7

8.0

15.4

Neuse

7.1

5.1

8.0

Hannah

6.7

2.2

8.0

Eierman

6.6

2.2

8.0

Mateo

5.3

2.2

8.0

Deichmann

4.7

2.2

8.0

Kaprielian

2.5

1.0

5.1

Holmes

2.5

1.0

5.1

Barrera

2.5

2.5

2.5

Bolt

2.3

2.2

2.5

Allen

2.3

2.2

2.5

Brito

2.3

2.2

2.5

Diaz, Jordan

2.2

2.2

2.2

Merrell

1.9

2.2

Rivas

1.8

1.2

2.2

Ramirez

1.6

0.2

2.2

Butler

1.5

1.2

2.2

Campos

1.5

1.2

2.2

Paulino

1.3

1.3

1.3

Dunshee

1.2

1.0

Howard

1.2

1.0

Varland

1.1

0.6

Heim

1.0

0.2

1.2

Vargas

0.9

0.2

1.2

Jefferies

0.8

1.0

Murray

0.8

22.8

Blanco

0.8

0.2

1.2

Sawyer

0.6

0.6

0.6

Feigl

0.6

0.1

1.0

Marks

0.5

0.1

0.6

Harris

0.5

0.6

Romero

0.4

0.1

1.0

Mora

0.3

0.1

0.6

Bride

0.3

0.3

0.3

Finnegan

0.2

0.1

0.6

Mondou

0.2

0.2

0.2

Richards

0.2

0.2

0.2

Lee

0.2

0.2

0.2

Infante

0.2

0.2

0.2

Kelly

0.2

0.2

0.2

Anderson

0.1

0.1

0.1

Naile

0.1

0.1

0.1

Ruiz, Norge

0.1

0.1

0.1

Aquino

0.1

0.1

0.1

Duno

0.1

0.1

0.1

Millburn

0.1

0.1

0.1

Marinez

0.1

0.1

0.1

Berrios

0.1

0.1

0.1

Squier

0.1

0.1

0.1

Sheehan

0.1

0.1

0.1

Morban

0.1

0.1

0.1

Martinez

0.1

0.1

0.1

Ward

0.1

0.1

0.1

Bray

0.1

0.1

0.1

Bonilla

0.1

0.1

0.1

Biegalski

0.1

0.1

0.1

Synzski

0.1

0.1

0.1

Charles

0.1

0.1

0.1

Hurtado

0.1

0.1

0.1

Tomasovich

0.1

0.1

0.1

Ruiz, Jean

0.1

0.1

0.1

Tovar

0.1

0.1

0.1

Erwin

0.1

0.1

0.1

Needless to say, anyone not mentioned here is either a teenager who didn’t make the scouting services’ radar yet, or a scrub who has no discernible value.

A couple of notes on my methodology:

  • I compile a weighted average of the four major scouting services (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, and MLB Pipeline), with some adjustments based on patterns I’ve seen (recent performance seems to matter more with prospects, for example). That’s the main estimate, which is bolded. The lows and highs are just for perspective – and differ from outlet to outlet.
  • I’ve then translated the outlets’ ratings, which vary greatly, to one consistent scale and applied a corresponding dollar value to that normalized rating. I’ve back-tested the modeling against dozens of real-life trades to validate the accuracy, with relatively low variance.
  • If a low or high slot is blank, it’s largely due to an adjustment I’ve made based either on performance and/or injury risk. The latter can be a killer with valuation (see: Jefferies).
  • Hitters are valued significantly higher than pitchers, simply because they carry less injury risk (TINSTAAPP alert). This is well established.
  • Kyler Murray is near the bottom based, obviously, on the very low probability that he ever plays baseball.

So. Clearly, any other team would love to get their hands on Luzardo, Puk or Murphy – our current golden triumvirate. Many would also be interested in the next tier of Lazarito, Beck, Neuse, Hannah and Eierman. Maybe a few would bite on Mateo or Deichmann. But after that, our trade capital wallet starts to look like a buck or two and a bunch of nickels and dimes.

That means that the bulk of the lower-rated guys will never sniff the bigs (with the exception of one or two possible relievers). You can still dream on them – occasionally, a longshot does come in (I’ve hit a few in the Kentucky Derby over the years) – but for the most part, the probability is much higher that they'll either bust or just fade away (the older ones in particular).

And this is why it’s not reasonable to package surplus fluff like, say, Tyler Ramirez and James Naile in a trade for a decent starter, as is sometimes suggested. Their valuations are so tiny that they barely move the needle. Other teams wouldn’t want guys like that because they have plenty of their own Ramirezes and Nailes.

But it does explain why we could trade for a rental reliever like Familia in 2018 – rental relievers are cheaper, and because of the ticking clock on their control time, a team is more likely to take what it can get. So we might be able to pluck a name or two from the 1s and 2s here and get back the next Fernando Rodney.

More often, however, prospect trades are almost always painful – to get something significant back, you have to trade the ones that would make a real difference to another team. I for one am glad we haven’t done that lately.

In another post, I’ll focus on the established veterans and recent graduates.

Questions?