The trade deadline is all about finding the right value. Whether you’re trading a star like Troy Tulowitzki or are moving on from a failed development prospect like Tommy Kahnle, you always want to get the appropriate value or more when dealing players. In both of these situations, the Rockies got fair or better deals; the Jose Reyes part of the trade failed, but Hoffman looks like part of a future dynamic duo with Jon Gray at the top of the rotation. The Rockies got Yency Almonte from the White Sox for Tommy Kahnle this past offseason and, while Kahnle has struggled, Almonte has been impressive in High-A Modesto. It’s all about assessing and finding the right value for these players.
When I’m trying to figure out a player’s value in the trade market, I look at four things; contract/team control, talent, possibility for improvement, and fit. You could use an arbitrary scale based on your own ridiculous ramblings, but we tend to go for actual analysis here.
Out of all the valuation criteria, team control is the most straightforward. A player with more years of team control will have more value than a rental. Pretty simple, right? The next step is the dollar valuation of the contracts for these players. For example, DJ LeMahieu’s $4.8 million-dollar cap hit in 2017 might be worth more than Charlie Blackmon’s potential arbitration case which could run up into the six-million-dollar range. In other words, Blackmon’s two years of arbitration and control is more appealing than Carlos Gonzalez’s one year, $20 million dollar deal for 2017 and, from this context, Blackmon is more valuable.
Talent is also pretty straightforward. The better the player is, the more of a return he’s going to get. The Rockies potential trade chips rank in this order in terms of talent; Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Jorge De La Rosa, Boone Logan, Mark Reynolds, Nick Hundley, and anyone else that comes after.
It gets tricky when you start accounting for potential improvement from these players. If a player is going to be a rental, this part can be ignored; it doesn’t matter if they improve next season when all you need them for is a playoff run. Gonzalez, at age 31, isn’t likely to get any better from here on out and that limits his value a bit. LeMahieu, at age 28, still has some time to get even better and build off the career season he’s having this year, buoying his value.
The final section is arguably the most important; a player can lose value if the trade partner doesn’t see them as a positional or organizational fit. Say the Rockies were trying to trade LeMahieu to the Tigers. The Tigers have Ian Kinsler at second, limiting the need for LeMahieu and diminishing his value. Another good example would be the Mets and Jorge De La Rosa; do they need another starter? Not really. De La Rosa would be worth less to the Mets than he would be for other teams because there’s no clear spot for him on the team. He’d be a great depth addition, but would get a lesser return than he would from a team that desperately needed starting pitching help.
In my theoretical value rankings, I have Blackmon valued higher than CarGo. Blackmon has more team control and two years of typically team-friendly arbitration and there’s more need for a center fielder in the market right now. CarGo is more talented and both are relatively the same age, mitigating the potential improvement difference. I have Boone Logan at third on my “list” mostly because of the need in the market. De La Rosa is fourth despite having more talent than Logan; there’s just more of a need for a lefty reliever than a mid- to back-rotation starter right now, therefore increasing Logan’s value. The top five concludes with LeMahieu, mostly because there’s really only one team that really needs a second baseman; the reigning champions, the Kansas City Royals. That limited window constricts his value because a lot of leverage is taken away by the lack of competition.
Where do you value the Rockies’ potential trade assets?
1) Charlie Blackmon to the Washington Nationals for RHP Reynaldo Lopez and 3B Anderson Franco
The fit is there from the Nationals standpoint. Their center fielders, Ben Revere and Michael Taylor, have hit .216 and .222, respectively and have provided a black hole in a playoff-bound lineup. The Nationals get an All-Star caliber center fielder with two more seasons of control which is why the asking price is so high. Reynaldo Lopez is a 22-year-old fireballer that’s on the cusp of the majors. His mid-to-high-90s fastball is tantalizing at best and would be fun to watch next to Jon Gray. Franco is no slouch either; the 18-year-old is already stateside after being one of the top international signings in 2013.
2) Carlos Gonzalez to the Chicago White Sox for LHP Jordan Guerrero, OF Micker Adolfo, and 1B Corey Zangari
This trade (or something similar) was rumored in the offseason and the White Sox desperately need outfield pop. CarGo has that. The White Sox are seven games out of the Wild Card race and need to make a decision soon about their deadline stance. If they’re buyers, CarGo will be at the top of their list. Guerrero is a deceptive lefty that has exceptional offspeed stuff. Adolfo has some of the most exciting tools in the minors but is also extremely raw. He would be a long-term project but the results could be worth it. Zangari would add depth and potential at first, something that’s sorely lacking in the Rockies minor leagues right now.
3) Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Kyle Zimmer, LHP Matt Strahm, and RHP Josh Staumont
The Royals need help. Stars Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas have seen significant time on the disabled list and second base has been a hole for them all year long. Enter Blackmon and LeMahieu, two long-term solutions that would bolster the Royals lineup for the next few years. Zimmer was considered the top pitcher in the 2014 draft but has dealt with injuries throughout his entire minor league career. When he’s healthy, he’s clearly one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Strahm is a developing left-handed starter that projects to be a mid-rotation starter while Staumont can bring it from the right side, hitting triple digits as he heads for the bullpen.
4) Boone Logan to the St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Sandy Alcantara
Logan can go really anywhere. All contenders could use a lefty in the bullpen that’s been as effective as Logan has so far this year. St. Louis just felt like the right fit. Alcantara fits what Bridich has coveted; a young arm that can bring it in the triple digits.
5) Jorge De La Rosa to the Houston Astros for LHP Reymin Guduan
The Astros are one of the hottest teams in baseball, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use the help. Mike Fiers has been less than impressive of late and De La Rosa would, at the very least, provide that much needed pitching depth for any contender. Guduan is a left-handed flamethrower, something the Rockies could always use. A lot of the pitchers Bridich has gotten in return are right-handers, so adding a lefty couldn’t hurt.