The Value of a Prospect
Calling him $10-20M is a major compliment


Chris Taylor is more like $10-20M in NET value than $50M GROSS value on paper

A commenter within a thread, at a great blog, argued that you could reasonably trade Chris Taylor for Matt Kemp, with the Dodgers paying all or nearly all of his salary.  If the M's could do that, or anything like that, it would be in the past tense now.

Take the idea that Chris Taylor $50M of pre-FA value.  On paper that's true.  On Fangraphs it shows up that way.  But!, Only if you compare Taylor --- > rightward to FA's instead of comparing him

You would value Chris Taylor at $50M iff ---- > he were the last prospect on earth.  Like the okra crop in Interstellar.  The only kid left, then his worth would be right at $50M.

People completely overlooked this point five years ago, and it hasn't gained traction yet.  The delta between your current pre-arb player, and the hot prospect standing behind him.  The GM's get this very clearly, and we sabes don't begin to get it.  So, there's a huge disconnect, a giant sector in which we fans shoot into the dark and always miss.


Practical Considerations

1.  Matt Kemp appears to have solved his own swing (70% chance or more).  This happens in baseball.  Happens alla time.  GM's will be well aware of this.

1a.  As Gordon points out, if the Dodgers wanted to throw away $80M plus, they'd throw you Crawford or Ethier, and use Kemp themselves.  I find taht debate point to be extremely tough to defeat. 


2.  It's true that some pre-arb "average/solid" players  WILL be valued at $50M, mostly pitchers.  Mostly young starting pitchers.  Because they become your #3 starter, and the minor league org does not run into their back bumpers.  (Also, Archie Bradley figures to be something other than an average player.)

2a.  The real value of Chris Taylor is that he saves you weeding out time.  You save a year or two of lousy performance at SS while you draw at the deck.  That's not worth $50M, but it is worth something.

2b.  Chris Taylor is himself an unsure thing, like Ketel Marte is.  He has 136 AB's.


3.  The Dodgers said they'd give $0 for a lighter return, or pay significant $ for a big return.  Sounds about right to Dr. D.

3a.  I'd give the Dodgers a whale of a lot for Matt Kemp, with them eating maybe 25% of the money, just to make the payroll more comfortable.  Like, 3-4 very good prospects who come from superfluity ... Chris Taylor, Patrick Kivlehan, and maybe Roenis Elias or Brandon Maurer or something.  Call it:

  • Taylor
  • + Kivlehan (or analogous hitter)
  • + Maurer (or exciting cheap pitcher)
  • + Throwin
  • For Kemp, us paying $15M a year and the Dodgers $5M a year

That was kind of the way we got Cliff Lee.  Maybe my trade is way off.  It would be my starting point frame of reference .... I'd figure the Dodgers to demand Brad Miller for Taylor and deadlock the negotiations.

:: just noodling ::


4.  The M's are laser-focused on FA's first, before trades.  It's after Hanley says No that they will click the windage down on the rifle sights to Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, etc.





My version was Taylor, Hot Reliever, fillers for Kemp and more money up front (first couple of years) so that they could be free of the burden after two years and we could add a short term salary muncher alongside Kemp (like Nelson Cruz, e.g.) and still afford it. Instead of 5 mil per year they give us...they would give us 10-12 million each year for the first 2 and then zero after that. But...same difference, really. :)


Your concept that the value of a prospect is "His real value minus the value of the next best option" explains why different teams value prospects differently (along with having different opinions about their future value of course).
The Mariners would care a lot less about another SS prospect right now than would, say, the Yankees. :)


That's more like it.
But Paxton and Deej (Kivlehan) isn't happening.  I would personally picket Z's office if that was the deal.
If (IF!) the Dodgers trade him, they won't get the HUGE deal unless they cover lots and lots of his salary.  If we get Ramirez at the rates suggested ($20M per) then we are done.  That's our big move and there isn't another.  That gets us to 3 guys at $20M per and Seager yet to sign.  
And if you stick him at SS then the bet is that whoever we can get dirt cheap is worth more (performance-wise) than Miller is.
I don't know.  
In the end, I really think we do something surprising. Tomas perhaps.  A trade for someone else, maybe.  A deal that leaves us with the cash for a second deal, too.


You've got to guesstimate
Taylor = 13 WAR in 6 years, x 70% confidence = 9 WAR (maybe)
Marte = 10 WAR, x 45% confidence (that he'll play that much) = 4.5 WAR (maybe)
And then you've got the nebuluous questions:  
1.  What are the imperceptible differences between having a PLUS shortstop vs an AVERAGE shortstop?  Which go far beyond what WAR captures.
2.  But what about all the guys behind Marte?   We're just considering ONE option to Taylor.
3.  What about Brad Miller?!  What about Scenario A in which Miller or somebody plays SS and then you have player Y in right field?  A poker player would draw out Scenarios A-G and average them.
4.  What about the in-season performance cost of "trying out" Trayvon Robinson and then Abraham Almonte?  
5.  What about the pennant cost if, next year, Taylor is a catastrophe?
But one thing's for sure:  once a player hits in the bigs, the confidence goes way up.  And affects the math greatly.  It should.


If Paxton were still in the minors and a complete prospect, then you could talk about this.
Like James said, you get a 1st-year hotshot SP like Paxton, great start in MLB, and there is NO way to trade for him.  Much less to trade an albatross for him.  Kemp is, because of the 10/5 thing and other reasons, still an albatross however much you like him.

misterjonez's picture

I wasn't suggesting that we would have to give up Paxton+Deej to acquire Kemp; what I was suggesting is that, if I'm the LAD GM, that's exactly where I start. Chipping in a chunk of the money (1/3-1/2) is a necessary factor of that deal, obviously. I just think it's going to be a better choice for LAD to ship off Ethier+Crawford, even if they pay half of their combined salaries and receive relatively little value in return, so they'll probably explore that before trading Matt Kemp early in the offseason. Kemp is the best of that group by a long shot.
I also agree re: Hanley. If we get him, that's basically it barring something unforeseen taking place. Shuffle some of our SS/OF pieces around to get another back-end pitcher and call it good.
But I think there are plenty of ways to skin the cat, and the simple fact is that this is the year where they have to go all-in. Felix and Cano aren't getting any younger, and we aren't likely to put together this talented of a rotation again in a long, long time...if ever.
Cruz+Crawford (with Crawford's salary subsidized) would be a heck of an outcome, too. Neither one plays 1B, but it would solidify the DH/COF situation rather perfectly and give the lineup a RH masher in Cruz to sandwich between Cano and Seager.
And I'll say this again just because nobody else is saying it: Tulowitzki would be a pretty darned good addition to this team. His bat is probably a tick less potent than Hanley's but his glove is at least two full ticks better, and he'd probably benefit from the option to DH here and there.
There are plenty 'nuff options out there this offseason. But they need to secure that MOTO righty, and they need to do it soon so they can make the rest of the trickle-down deals while there are still pieces on the board.

misterjonez's picture

There's no reason to trade Paxton for Kemp, from our end. I'll admit I haven't seen games in a couple years, but I also know that nearly every conversation I've ever heard relayed from people 'in the know,' as it were, begins with something along the lines of "Well, if you want our top piece then we want yours, plus one of your #3-6 pieces."
That's basically all I'm trying to say here. If I'm LAD, I view Ethier as the much larger problem than Kemp and do whatever I can to rid myself of as much of his contract as possible. If someone wants to get Kemp early in the process, I'd be asking for either A) complete salary relief, or B) a top-flight name I could hang my hat on. Paxton would be that name, as would Walker. Deej? Probably not. Taylor/Miller? Again, probably not..
That's all I'm trying to say, but it does seem like I'm alone in my thinking. Ain't nuthin' new to me ;-)


Sometimes the gap between "ask" and "sell" is VASSSSST.  As Mojo (and you) have pointed out, you can count on Friedman for that if you can count on anybody :- )
No, didn't mean to dismiss your Paxton-for-Kemp speculation, even if you personally liked the idea.  I'd like to hear an argument for it, actually.  ... gasp ...
When Tampa was demanding Taijuan and/or D.J. for 1.5 years of David Price (and the pole position on re-signing), I assumed this meant that Paxton was (by then) FAR ahead of Taijuan and totally off the table.  (Taijuan would need to rip the league to shreds for 12 starts to jump to the same lily pad.)  What's your take on that Jonezie?

misterjonez's picture

But I'm nowhere near a Paxton-for-Kemp mentality. To me, Paxton is as close to a draw at the Unit/Felix/Kershaw deck as they come, and you simply do not surrender those opportunities.
Unless... >_>
You can get a player like Trout, Stanton, McCutcheon, A-Rod, KGJ, Barry Bonds or Buster Posey *during their prime run* in return. Matt Kemp would have actually qualified for this a few years ago, but nowadays he is paid like a FA (not really an obstacle in itself) and starting to break down like one physically (this, however, IS an obstacle).
Living on the other side of the world and only experiencing baseball via box scores, highlight clips on, and sites like this one, I'll totally defer to the mainframe's perspective of 'on the ground' realities at work around the league, including the relative Taijuan/Paxton valuations. Seems like just a few months ago they were rated as neck-and-neck. My bad for whiffing on the current pulse rate there :-)


Your correct, they may ask for that, but in this market they aren't getting it.  There are RH bats available in FA and on the rumored trade market.  
I think we could get him (and a subsidy) for Taylor and Ackley, actually.  OK, we might have to add a minor piece or two, but that would solidify their MI which the loss of Ramirez scrambles.
Taylor + Ackley is worth much less than Paxton and Deej.
LA will nearly have to give away Crawford or Ethier.  Both are saddled with big contracts (for3 or more years) and both come with baggage.  Crawford can not stay healthy and while Ethier can (although he didn't last year), his real value is in CF...but he's pretty bleh, there.  Both are entering Age-33 years, coming off not stellar years In Crawford's case, it is injury related...for 3 years).  Neither fit the M's needs, unless we were to use Ethier in CF and give up Jackson.  But at what gain?
But I'm with you, I think it unlikely they trade Kemp.  
I think we've got an under the radar interest in a FA or trade.  


Little bit sad you can't remember my name no mo', Doc. :P
Anyways, if you paid attention to the opening couple paragraphs of the article in question, I thought I made it pretty clear that this was NOT in ANY WAY an LL "suggestion" or "offseason plan". If we'd suggested that Kemp trade, we'd've been (rightly) laughed out of the building - as you yourself (rightly) laughed me out of the building. But in this particular little offseason simulator, I managed to convince a Dodgers fan that that was a good deal for him. The commentariat just about had a collective meltdown when they heard I'd done it, but hey. The Astros GM traded McHugh, Marisnick, and more for one year of Yoenis Cespedes. Ain't sayin' it made any sense. Just sayin' I had fun. Neither a lampooning of PI types, nor a joke, nor serious analysis. Just a story about a fun thing I did.
(Will also point out: Steamer saying "91 wins", that's like 100 wins in real life. Steamer thinks the Mariners are currently the best team in the AL. Steamer thinks the Mariners are currently an 86-win team. Part of the way it's so successful at projecting is by regressing everyone, hard, to the mean. Felix gets projected for


'cause about the only guys whose Mariners stuff I read are yours, Sully's and Dutton's :- ) ... I was being discreet, as it were.  It's like a '60's Packer (Skoronski) once complained that Lombardi didn't remember his name ... one day he said "I even know how to spell it."  We veer off base with the punch line that Lombardi then said "I just didn't have any reason to use it"...
Ya, I realize you put forth the idea gingerly and half tongue-in-cheek, not as something that represented your (considerable) knowledge and comprehension of the game.  That said, I'll maintain that the Taylor = $50M concept steers folks wrong.
Yep, good anecdote about the Dodgers fan.  And GM's have done stuff like that.  Cheerfully acknowledged.  
Great point about the Steamer 91 = 100 wins in dog years.  +1.  That would have you out in front by half an SD or something, wouldn't it?  Or no?
Your point about the Shmigers ... for sure.  "We have a match here" is what GM's say, and they mean one team's holes are filled by the other, and that their evaluations match up.
Thanks for stoppin' by Logan.  For my part, as Frodo would say, we're better friends now than a couple days ago - 


As for Steamer: I totally made up that 100 wins figure, but turns out it's almost exactly right. A standard deviation in Steamer-projected wins is ~5.1; a standard deviation in actual wins last year was ~9. So Steamer projecting a team for 91 wins is two standard deviations above the mean. Two S.Ds above the mean in real wins is a 99-win ballclub. So when Steamer said the Mirror Mariners were a 91-win club, what it meant was "these guys are the easy W.S. favorites".
What this means is that, Steamer projecting the actual Mariners for 86 wins, that's pretty impressive. (What it does NOT mean is that we should adjust our expectations for the Mariners upwards by doing the S.D. conversion. Part of why Steamer is so effective is because it regresses so hard. By adjusting standard deviations, you're basically taking out the regression, which is going to seriously hurt your projections. 86 wins, plus or minus 9, is where Steamer pegs the Mariners, and that's that.)
Appreciate your readership; happy to contribute here.

M's Watcher's picture

The internal value of a player/prospect depends on whether you have excess or need at the position. The value in the market depends on the relative scarcity. It makes difference if a team is dealing from strength or weakness. You pay to address weakness.
The Dodgers need to move excess outfielders to make room for Joc Pederson, who blew the doors off AAA Albuquerque in 2014. They have expensive, aging former stars that aren't worth their salaries any more, and the same 25 man roster limitations as the rest of MLB. They have to move 1-2 of them this off-season just to manage the roster. In reality, any of their five current OFers (or Joc Pederson) would improve the Mariners roster, but Crawford and Ethier can't be moved without salary relief. Van Slyke is cost controlled and could be packaged with another to make a deal palatable for a trading partner. Assuming they lose Ramirez as a FA, they need MI depth, and every team needs pitching.
The M's have MI depth and pitching. I could see the M's dealing some of that (one of Ack/Miller/Taylor +) for VS and Crawford/Ethier, and the Dodgers keeping Kemp. Both teams win, somewhat, and neither team gives up the farm. The M's would get a RH bat and another OFer, but not "the" RH MOTO bat they need. That bat probably arrives in 2016 as Kiv and/or Deej, or an improved Zunino, but VS might be a stopgap for 2015.

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