Indians

2018 season MLB Hot Stove: Indians Trade Value Column

The Cleveland Indians enter the 2017-2018 offseason as prohibitive favorites to repeat as A.L. Central Champions. However, due to the attrition of the free agent process, they enter the league’s Hot Stove period expecting substantive roster turnover. Under this guise, the Indians writers at WFNY have updated their trade value rankings from the summer.

This is not a pure ranking based on ability but rather a balancing of skill, contract value, age, and expected value generation in the multi-year context. Thus, the list is included directly below, and explanations of a couple of outliers for each writer follow.

Further, while only introduced below, discussions evaluating the rankings argument between Ramirez/Lindor and Kluber/Carrasco are coming forthwith.

Francisco Lindor: The consensus ranking has Jose Ramirez above the face-of-the-franchise Francisco Lindor. There is some merit to it as J-Ram finished third in the AL MVP voting by being ridiculous at the plate (.318/.374/.583, 145 OPS+), while serving a super-utility role for the Indians during the year. J-Ram is also under team control for a season longer than Lindor. Lindor is younger and would have out-paced Ramirez in WAR had he just had a normal defensive season due to his own surging bat (spectacular defense returned late in the year). Both are outstanding choices, but the marketability of Lindor pushes him over the edge. Remember, this is about trade value, so perceptions and ability to drive sales of tickets and merchandise would matter. -Michael Bode

Bradley Zimmer: I was a bit surprised to find that I was the only ranker who put Bradley Zimmer in my top five, but an 81 wRC+ a little over half a season’s at-bats will do that. I tend to look at the positives when considering Zimmer, playing in his first taste of the majors. A plus defender in center field, one of the most important positions on the field. Zimmer had decent counting numbers as well: eight home runs to go along with 18 stolen bases, a decreased strikeout rate from the admittedly-too-high Triple-A numbers. While Zimmer will never put up a high batting average, his eye at the plate will continue to improve, as it did in the minors. As you look around the league, most teams would kill for this production from center field. Plus, I can look forward to years of Schmidt from New Girl GIFs anytime “The Machine” does anything on the field. –Joe Gerberry

Danny Salazar: I’m a bit disappointed the individual rankings do not better demonstrate the wide-range of variability in expected returns from Danny Salazar. He is, by far, the most volatile player stock in the list. At his peak, Salazar has the best stuff of anyone on the Indians including Kluber. We have nicknamed him the Purveyor of Filth for a reason. The issue is no one can tell if he will be healthy enough to demonstrate it. He could be a 25 game starter and win the AL Cy Young Award in 2018. Or, he could become the heir apparent to Andrew Miller out of the bullpen. Or, Salazar could spend the entire season continuing to navigate injuries and be another “What If” of baseball lore. Anyone that pretends to know for sure his fate is lying. -Michael Bode

Michael Brantley: Look… I’m not here to sell you on the picking up of Michael Brantley’s option year. That’s not what this piece is about. It’s about trade value and there are arguably few players on this 40-man roster who have proven skills in the league and would have more in the lines of perceived value than Michael Brantley. An MVP in 2014, an All-Star at the break in 2017, Brantley is playing for hypothetical peanuts if you forget about the fact that he’s missed large chunks of the last three seasons. While 2018 projects to be another year atop the downtrodden AL Central, if the team gets off to a bad start, do not be surprised if Brantley’s name comes up in trade talks, and the return could be substantial (if he’s healthy). –Joe Gerberry

Yu-Cheng Chang: Chang is one of my favorite prospects in the system. At just 21 years old in AA, Chang showed plus raw power as well as posting the highest walk rate of his minor league career. Roughly three years younger than average for his level Chang posted a .241 ISO from the shortstop position. Chang made significant defensive strides in 2017 which have the organization excited and raised his probability to stick at shortstop. Probably best as a 3B, Chang is a quality athlete who can move all over and use his plus power in many different roles. There are flaws but Chang is an exciting combination of power/versatility. -Mike Hattery

Corey Kluber: The WFNY group differs on the value of Carlos Carrasco versus the value of Corey Kluber. Consensus placed Carrasco slightly ahead but I’m not so sure. Kluber, with a second Cy Young award in his back pocket, is under team control through 2021, a year longer than Carrasco. Though he is nearly twice as expensive and a year older, that extra year of control is pivotal, especially when paired with a slight production advantage, as well. Perception is not lost in trade value, either, and Kluber is universally considered one of the game’s top aces. It is not difficult to envision a scenario where Carrasco’s value ekes past Kluber’s, though. -Gage Will

Triston McKenzie: Towards the end of the 2017 season, John Sickels of Minor League Ball called McKenzie a Top 20 prospect in all of baseball and most other prospect prognosticators would likely agree. Age versus level is a good indication of how an organization values a prospect, so McKenzie heading for AA Akron at age 20 is telling. In 2017, he posted 143 innings at high-A Lynchburg, registering a 3.03 FIP and nearly twelve strikeouts per nine innings. The combination of a plus fastball and curveball is nearly as exciting as the thought of McKenzie donning a big league uniform at age 22. -Gage Will

  • scripty

    I had a dream that I accidentally bumped into a family member of Giancarlo Stanton and was somehow asked to broker a deal between the Tribe and Marlins for Stanton, who I guess wanted to play with Lindor and Jram. It was stressful.

  • Steve

    This Carrasco over Kluber thing was nuts a few months ago and still is today.

  • Chris

    I don’t get Tomlin over Diaz. Sure, Tomlin costs next to nothing, but he has just one season left before free agency, whereas Diaz is under team control for several more seasons. Even without a track record, I don’t imagine a scenario where a team would give back more value for Tomlin than for Diaz.

  • Steve

    Kluber over Ramirez as well, and I’m not sure its close.

  • Gage Will

    Gotta heavily disagree here – 5 WAR 25 year old, cheap for 6 more years versus 6-7 WAR 31 year old, not quite as cheap for 4 more years? The two years of control and age tilt the scale alone.

  • Mike Hattery

    Going to take the top 3 MVP finisher who is 25 with 6 years of extremely cheap control. But I appreciate your feedback.

  • Steve

    Despite the MVP voting, Kluber had a higher WAR last year than Ramirez, and is projected to be about a win better next year. Kluber is the better player, and I feel very confident will be over the next four years. It comes down to how much one values extra wins right now versus those two extra years of control. Give me wins now.

  • Gage Will

    The question isn’t about the next four years. It’s about current value. Kluber is six years older and more expensive with two less years of control.

  • Mike Hattery

    Hey man, you want to bet on a higher paid player much farther along the aging curve for the next four years, go ahead.

  • Steve

    Your last sentence doesn’t really pertain to the former two. If current value is what matters, the aging curve and two, far away, extra years of control are near meaningless.

    You’re looking at about an extra win each of the next four years, for six or seven in those last two. But you get the roster spot back, so its not just a straight loss. And, again, we see teams discount future wins in trades all the time.

  • Steve

    Just me and Fangraphs I guess.

  • Mike Hattery

    Not sure they are making the same four year wager you are? By the way, what is this Fangraphs you speak of? Never been there before?

  • Chris
  • Steve

    I guess I should only use Dave’s name. But, yes, he did put Kluber above Ramirez and Carrasco last time he did this same exercise.

    And, since then, Kluber has outperformed Ramirez in WAR by about a win and a half in half a season.

  • Mike Hattery

    Yes, and things change between June and September. Especially for a pitcher who complete age 31 season, his cheapest remaining in the deal. Especially considering he appeared to pitch injured in the postseason. Dave is obviously far smarter than me but I think the contract value context changes between June and November of a season.

  • Steve

    Five months change of a generic aging curve that didn’t come close to predicting who would perform better between the two for the last five doesn’t seem entirely useful to me.

    Regression has a far heavier play here, and we should expect to see more of that in Ramirez than Kluber.

  • Mike Hattery

    Understand, but also a key portion of Kluber’s projected value advantage was during that five months. That accrued value is gone going forward. Further, pitcher injury risk simply leads me to a higher valuation for an early 20’s position player with no injury history. If I wanted a centerpiece to a title contender for the next few years, I would far rather gamble on the lower risk position player. Understand your choice.

  • Steve

    He lost, what, about a half of win advantage of projected value over that time? And that he was so much better a player over that time frame is going to bump up his 2018 and beyond projections from what they were at midseason. I would guess there isn’t enough difference there.

    The pitcher injury thing is important, but we have some evidence behind the nexus idea, and Kluber would have passed that point. It is a gamble, but its also a gamble built into the projection systems. Steamer has Kluber for 194 innings next year, and still a win better than Ramirez.

    And I would argue that mine is not necessarily the riskier choice, but a different set of risk. I’m willing to bet that Kluber beats the pitcher injury risk, you’re willing to bet that Ramirez beats the regression risk. I completely get it though, and I think I would retract the line about it not being close.

  • mgbode

    It is a tough one. But watch some cruddy starters get $8-12m. Teams would froth over 1yr of Tomlin cheap, I think. Diaz could be worth much more but isn’t considered a top prospect, yet. Agreen it is a tough one.

  • Steve

    Its also the discounting future wins thing. Tomlin represents a couple wins right now that to replace would be expensive on the FA market. Diaz is much more easily replaceable. In a couple years when Diaz might be a good full time player, we’ll have had much more time to find alternatives that are cheaper than FAs.

  • mgbode

    I would argue it is being unsure if Diaz projects to future wins. I am somewhat high on him but expect the market to see him with considerable risk as a potential bust.

  • Kristyn

    Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !da148:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleInternetComunityNetWorkFromHome/online/easytasks ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫:::::!da148luuuuu