CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Picking t... (06/28)
Next Article >>
What the Contenders Ne... (06/28)

June 28, 2012

Top 10 Trade Targets

Moving On Up--To Contention

by R.J. Anderson and Derek Carty

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

The New Collective Bargaining Agreement has already affected the free-agent and draft classes. Soon, the new guidelines will reshape the trade market. The two most noticeable changes deal with draft-pick compensation. Foremost, teams that acquire a player in-season are no longer eligible to receive compensation. The elimination of Type-A and Type-B ranks means that teams holding onto their own players to net compensation will now be tasked with extending a qualifying offer worth the average salary of the 125 richest contracts in baseball (more than $12 million for the time being).

While those new rules will ostensibly lower the trade value of the average player, the decision to add two playoff spots could serve as a counterbalance. In theory, the increased demand will yield a higher return for the smaller number of sellers. In reality, that might not be enough to make up for the draft compensation changes. One thing is certain: the new rules could alter the relief pitcher market. The last time Astros reliever Brandon Lyon qualified for free agency, he achieved Type B status and netted his former team (the Tigers) a supplemental pick. This time around, Lyon will be on the move by the deadline if his team decides that two months of his service is worth less than the best offer on the table.

But not every player potentially on the move is subject to a careful calculus. Our staff put together a list of 10 players most likely to be dealt in preparation of what promises to be a different trade deadline. Those players, along with pertinent information, are presented below in alphabetical order.

Ryan Dempster, RHSP, Cubs

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$7.0 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: None 

Statistics
Season to date: 81 IP, 2.11 ERA, 1.3 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 96 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.3 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Dempster has been surprisingly sturdy since rejoining the rotation in 2008, having tossed more than 200 innings in each subsequent season. He excels at sequencing, keeping batters off guard, and biding time before unleashing his slider. Dempster’s numbers are consistent enough where it counts that he feels safe, in a sense.

Weaknesses: Dempster is currently on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. When healthy, Dempster is more of a no. 2 or no. 3 starter, as opposed to the front-of-the-rotation role he fills with the Cubs.

Potential suitors
Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Dempster is one of those sneaky-good fantasy plays. He’s been around forever, only throws 90 mph, and isn’t near enough to the elite tier of pitchers for those things not to matter. As a result, he flies under the radar, offering solid production for a fraction of the cost. His value would take a hit, however, if he moves to a team like Boston or Anaheim in the tougher American League. No matter where he goes, though, he figures to receive a lot more run support, which should lead to more wins as long as his own performance doesn’t fall off too much. —Derek Carty

Grant Balfour, RHRP, Athletics

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$2.0 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: $350,000 ($4.5 million club option for 2013 or $350,000 buyout) 

Statistics
Season to date: 37 IP, 2.68 ERA, 0.0 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 36 2/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 0.7 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Balfour is a tenacious competitor with a strong one-two punch in his mid-90s fastball and slider combination. Along with experience in the late innings, Balfour brings no discernible platoon split to the table. Balfour’s contract is team-friendly.

Weaknesses: Balfour’s strikeout rate is down for the second year. His dependency on fly balls can lead to some gopherball tendencies, even in a park like Oakland’s, and some teams may question his ability to close out games.

Potential suitors
Nearly every contender –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Balfour finally got his chance to pitch the ninth inning, beginning 2012 as the closer for Oakland. Unfortunately, he picked a bad year to post his worst peripherals since before his breakout campaign with the Rays in 2008, and he lost the job by the beginning of May. While a lot of teams have had end-game troubles this year, it seems more likely that Balfour is traded to a contender that will use him as a setup man. Balfour’s save prospects are pretty weak at this point. —Derek Carty

Zack Greinke, RHSP, Brewers

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$6.8 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: None 

Statistics
Season to date: 96 IP, 2.81 ERA, 2.8 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 96 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.9 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Greinke throws a handful of pitches and uses them all well. An unofficial count sees Greinke tossing three fastballs (four- and two-seamers and a cutter), two breaking balls (a slider and curveball), and a changeup. Oh, and his velocity is above-average, too. Greinke is in the midst of the second-best season of his career.

Weaknesses: It’s impossible to discuss Greinke’s potential suitors without touching on his anxiety issues. Right or not, the concerns about how he manages a big market are not going away. The only other issues to take with Greinke are occasionally poor fastball command and a higher hit rate than one would expect from a pitcher with his stuff.

Potential suitors
Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, Dodgers –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Greinke has the potential to be one of the top pitchers in all of fantasy baseball over the rest of 2012 if he can remain in the National League, and pitcher’s parks in Atlanta and Los Angeles would be improvements over Milwaukee. Since the start of 2011, Greinke’s FIP has been third-best in baseball among qualified starters. While the sample size is far from sufficient, it’s interesting to note that Milwaukee’s PADE is second-worst in all of baseball, so a move to a good defensive team like the Rangers or Dodgers could bring his ERA down even further. —Derek Carty

Brandon League, RHRP, Mariners

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$2.5 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: None  

Statistics
Season to date: 32 IP, 3.66 ERA, 0.3 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 33 1/3 IP, 3.64 ERA 0.2 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: League is using his slider more often this season than any in previous season with Seattle, though he remains reliant on his fastball-splitter combination. His ability to retire right-handed batters, seemingly at will, would play up in a middle relief role.

Weaknesses: While League proves effective against righties, he struggles against lefties. His fastball command is shaky, and his results are rarely as impressive as his stuff.

Potential suitors
Nearly every contender –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Like Balfour, League’s peak value is likely behind him. While he’s still a quality reliever, it seems unlikely he’ll be traded into a closing gig this July. League owners’ best hope is that he regains the ninth-inning role in Seattle for the next month as the Mariners attempt to prop up his trade value; some saves are better than none. —Derek Carty

Brett Myers, RHRP, Astros

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$5.5 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: $3 million ($10 million club option for 2013 that vests with an unknown number of games finished or $3 million buyout) 

Statistics
Season to date: 26 IP, 3.46 ERA, 0.2 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 37 2/3 IP, 4.11 ERA, 0.1 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Myers throws multiple fastballs and uses a pair of breaking balls to put hitters away. His reverse splits this season do not jive with his historic results.

Weaknesses: Myers’ move to the bullpen hasn’t come with a livelier strikeout rate; rather, his peripherals have barely deviated from recent seasons. Myers lacks the elite stuff desired by most teams in their end-game relievers. That, along with his vesting option, ensures that any team eyeing Myers is doing so with the intent to shift him  away from the ninth inning.

Potential suitors
Every contending team with a good closer in place –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
The only currently-employed closer on this list, Myers, like his reliever brethren, is likely being scouted as a setup man. The best hope for Myers owners is that the plethora of potentially available relievers on the market (aside from Balfour and League, guys like Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, and Matt Thornton, among others, could also be available) keeps Myers in Houston saving games, although the Astros could simply accept less in return so they don’t have to pay him $10 million next year or decline the option and lose him for nothing. —Derek Carty

Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$3.5 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2012
Future guaranteed commitments: None 

Statistics
Season to date: 93 PA, .387 TAv, 1.3 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 279 PA, .296 TAv, 1.6 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Quentin is arguably the best hitter on the list. What’s more definitive is that he possesses the most power. He is a threat to hit 20-plus home runs and 50-plus extra-base hits in any given season, regardless of park.

Weaknesses: Quentin is a below-average defender, even in a corner. His health is never assured, even for an American League team willing to rest him by using him as the designated hitter. There will be questions about how much of Quentin’s inflated walk rate stems from his the poor hitters that surround him in San Diego’s lineup.

Potential suitors
Pirates, Dodgers, Orioles –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Some will look at Quentin’s 2012 numbers and salivate over what he could do out of Petco Park, but remember that Petco isn’t nearly as harsh on righties as it is lefties. That’s not to say Quentin won’t be quite good in a place like Baltimore, but if he winds up in, say, Pittsburgh, the power drop-off might be more severe than you’d expect based on the name value of the parks involved. —Derek Carty

Wandy Rodriguez, LHSP, Astros

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$5.0 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2013
Future guaranteed commitments: $15.5 million (one year, $13 million remaining; $13 million club option for 2014 that becomes a player option if traded or $2.5 million buyout) 

Statistics
Season to date: 102 1/3 IP, 3.52 ERA, 0.6 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 96 IP, 4.10 ERA, 0.7 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Being an undersized southpaw with less-than-stellar velocity earns Rodriguez the “crafty lefty” label. Rodriguez works with a three-pitch mix, although he expands when necessary and turns in a quality start in more than 60 percent of his attempts.

Weaknesses: Rodriguez struggles with right-handed batters and is not the frontline starter that his contract describes him as being. Any team acquiring Rodriguez is essentially promising to pay him more than $20 million for a season and a half of work.

Potential suitors
Yankees, Red Sox –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
While a move to an AL team like the Yankees or Red Sox would likely cost Rodriguez something to the effect of 0.50 points of ERA, the added run support would certainly be welcome. The park change will be important, as Yankee Stadium could crush a version of Wandy that’s allowing more balls in play than ever before, although a move into Fenway would be a big improvement over Minute Maid. —Derek Carty

Denard Span, OF, Twins

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$1.5 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2014
Future guaranteed commitments: $11.75 million (two years, $11.25 million remaining; a $9 million club option for 2015 or $500,000 buyout) 

Statistics
Season to date: 304 PA, .268 TAv, 0.5 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 338 PA, .269 TAv, 1.8 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Span is an exceptional center field defender. His baserunning is above-average, with good stolen base success rates and a good sense of how to take the extra base. A team looking for a leadoff hitter can do worse than plugging in Span and his .333 on-base percentage over the past three seasons. Span does not have a discernible platoon split. His contract is team-friendly.

Weaknesses: Unsurprisingly, Span offers little in the way of power production. The only other big issue revolves around his health. Span suffered a concussion last season. This isn’t football, but look no further than Justin Morneau to see how multiple concussions can alter career arcs.

Potential suitors
Nationals, Dodgers, Orioles –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
The good news in a potential Span trade is that he’d be leaving Target Field and getting away from a relatively punchless Minnesota lineup. The bad news is that he doesn’t have enough power for the field change to matter, and several of the teams potentially interested don’t offer much better in terms of big boppers to drive Span in. At least most of the teams seem to have a leadoff spot open for him. The best landing spot might be the Nationals if Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Morse can get their acts together. —Derek Carty

Kurt Suzuki, C, Athletics

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$2.5 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2013

Future guaranteed commitments: $7.10 million (one year, $6.45 million remaining; a $8.5 million club option for 2014 that vests with 113 starts in 2013 or a $650,000 buyout) 

Statistics
Season to date: 230 PA, .194 TAv, -0.8 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 205 PA, .257 TAv, 0.6 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: A high-energy player lauded for good makeup, Suzuki serves as a field general. His blend of contact skills with occasional pop made him a competent hitter in the past. Behind the plate, Suzuki is one of the league’s better goalies, and he makes up for a long release to gun down an above-average percentage of attempted thieves.

Weaknesses: Suzuki’s peak saw him as a good-not-great catcher with offensive and defensive value. Thus far, Suzuki has yet to show a semblance of life at the plate this season. Nearly every component measure that could show a decline does. Add in that Suzuki is the game’s most-played catcher since 2008, and there is concern that his days as a starter are over.

Potential suitors
Rays, Nationals –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
Now that he’s splitting time with Derek Norris, it seems inevitable that Suzuki will be dealt, and it’s crucial to his fantasy value that he is. Those extra at-bats could be the difference in playability for Suzuki in many leagues. If he can get his batting average back up, most of Suzuki’s value will come from sheer quantity of play. Tampa or Washington figure to give him those needed at-bats, and while neither are hitter’s havens, both are kinder on hitters than Oakland’s Coliseum is. —Derek Carty

Jason Vargas, LHSP, Mariners

Contract status
2012 salary remaining: ~$2.4 million
Earliest free-agent eligibility: After 2013
Future guaranteed commitments: None (arbitration eligible) 

Statistics
Season to date: 109 IP, 4.54 ERA, -0.4 WARP
Rest-of-season PECOTA projection: 94 2/3 IP, 4.01 ERA, 0.5 WARP 

Observational
Strengths: Vargas is the archetypical back-of-the-rotation southpaw. He makes a high-80s fastball work thanks to a good changeup that gets plenty of separation. Add in durability (aiming for a third consecutive 30-plus start season) and another year of control, and Vargas makes up for his lack of upside.

Weaknesses: The big concern with Vargas is his viability away from Safeco Field. He relies upon his park and defense more than any pitcher on the list. Since 2010, more than 60 percent of his home runs allowed have come on the road, and a recent five-home run outing is sure to create more skepticism. Realistically, Vargas might not make a playoff rotation.

Potential suitors
Angels, Orioles –R.J. Anderson 

Fantasy perspective
As R.J. alluded to, a move away from Safeco—especially if he remains in the AL—would not be welcomed by Vargas’ fantasy owners. Safeco suppresses homers and inflates strikeouts, and few teams can offer the kind of defensive support the Mariners can. Many can at least offer more in terms of offense, but that might not translate to many additional wins if Vargas’ own performance suffers in a hitter’s ballpark like Baltimore. —Derek Carty

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

16 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Picking t... (06/28)
Next Article >>
What the Contenders Ne... (06/28)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Cueto's Quirks
Premium Article Moonshot: Detecting the Best Medicine
Fantasy Article Interleague Report: Week 26
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: DFS and the State of Fant...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: September 22, 2014
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Circling Back to The Holy...
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: The Season's Most D...

MORE FROM JUNE 28, 2012
Inside The Park: Why Can't We Just Leave Riz...
What the Contenders Need
Premium Article On the Beat: Picking the All-Stars
Premium Article Future Shock: Promotions
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 6/28/12
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Thursday, June 28
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Thursday, June 28

MORE BY R.J. ANDERSON
2012-07-01 - BP Announcements: Two New Stats Added
2012-07-05 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Thome Trade Tests A...
2012-07-02 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Does the Knucklebal...
2012-06-28 - Premium Article Top 10 Trade Targets
2012-06-25 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Potential League-Ho...
2012-06-26 - Premium Article Painting the Black: Why Does Everybody Go In...
2012-06-25 - BP Unfiltered: Brandon Gomes is the Tormente...
More...


INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2012-07-20 - Transaction Analysis: Shaking Out the 10-Pla...
2012-07-05 - Premium Article What the Contenders Need
2012-07-03 - Premium Article What the Contenders Need
2012-07-02 - What the Contenders Need
2012-06-29 - Premium Article What the Contenders Need