03 December 2011

How Much is Jeremy Guthrie Worth?

It has been mentioned by quite a few that Dan Duquette is entertaining offer for Jeremy Guthrie.  However, a major issue with Guthrie is that the team wants pitching to come back in return.  This sounds foolish and wrong headed, but this is exactly what happened when Koji Uehara was dealt.  A starting pitcher (depending on your definition of a starting pitcher) and a buy low corner infielder came back in return.  Guthrie is one face value worth more than Koji as he is a starter.  Guthrie will also cost more than Koji (~7MM vs 4MM).

What is Jeremy Guthrie worth?

From 2007-2011, Guthrie is the pitchers with the most losses in baseball with 65.  The top ten behind Guthrie is Derek Lowe (64), Paul Maholm (62), Bronson Arroyo/Barry Zito (61), Matt Cain (60), Livan Hernandez (59), and John Danks/Edwin Jackson/Fausto Carmona (56).  The next slot at 55 is James Shields and Wandy Rodriguez with Mark Buerhle at 53 behind them.  I think the basic point when looking at this is when the electronic and media furor questions the worth of Jeremy Guthrie, the losingest pitcher of the last half decade, it rings analytically lazy.

The bulk of Guthrie's losses have been over the past three years with 17, 14, and 17.  That looks bad, but you also have to consider his team.  The Baltimore Orioles have been an awful team.  They have been awful offensively and defensively.  During that stretch, only 2009 looks bad for Jeremy Guthrie when he earned a 1.3 fWAR.  It was the only time in his past five years that he had an fWAR under two. 

For all intents and purposes, let us say that Guthrie will have his second worst season ever and produce a 2 fWAR.  That would put his value around 10 MM.  He would also be worth a 12 MM offer next year and therefore could bring back a draft pick that would be worth about 2 MM.  With a 2012 cost of 7 MM, I see that as 3-5 MM in surplus value.

What does 5 MM get you?

Victor Wang determined the value for different prospects.  The numbers are a bit dated, but not by much as he did account for inflation that wound up not happening in baseball due to the economic stall out and drop.  I do not agree with his methods though as they take averages of value.  I think risk plays a greater role here and there should be a discount.  I would not go as far as to suggest using the median as that ignores the potential to have a player who achieves star status.  That said, I would probably take Wang's values, adjust them for today's market, and simply cut them in half.  It is not a very elegant method, but one that feels more in line with hypothetical value vs. more certain value.

With that in mind, I see Guthrie worth a back end top 100 pitching prospect or two second tier pitching prospects.  The Orioles could also look toward manipulating the value and bringing back an MLB ready arm that has unfulfilled upside and is a change of scenery player.  That is what Tommy Hunter was in the Uehara deal.  Hunter's unfulfilled upside though is that of maybe a 3 slot pitcher on a second division team if we are being kind.  That has use because teams need those kinds of players to round out the innings, but it was something the Rangers could afford to lose as they needed better performance out of the bull pen.

Potential Deals?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have been rumored to be in contact about Guthrie, but he appears to be Plan B or C.  Tyler Chatwood would have been a target, but he was deal in the Ianetta deal.  Other MLB ready arms to look at would be journeyman Jerome Williams or the potentially dependable Garrett Richards.  Michael Kohn could be an interesting arm in the pen if Jerome Williams was the MLB ready arm as Kohn can hold his own in a pen right now.

Texas Rangers
The Rangers need an MLB ready arm to fill in for the absence of CJ Wilson and they have built up a strong working relatonship with the Os.  Scott Feldman would be the MLB ready arm here.  He is at best a back end starter for second division team and really only has one good season to his name.  Feldman is also costing about 4 or 5 MM after arbitration.  I could see Feldman paired with Cody Buckel or Tanner Scheppers.  Both of those pitchers are prospects with a mid-rotation ceiling, but a strong middle relief floor.  Personally, I'd want Robbie Ross and Christian Villanueva as a good southpaw prospect and a corner infielder with some breakout potential.

Washington Nationals
The Nationals would be helped by being able to provide a veteran boost to their starting rotation and fill the role Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis have provided.  A problem though with this matchup is that the Nationals do not have many tweener starting pitchers that could be a buy low proposition for the Orioles.  It could also be argued that with Strasburg, Peacock, Zimmerman, Detwiler, and Lannan among other they already have enough depth.

St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals have been rumored to be on Mark Buerhle, but the Albert Pujols sweepstakes is locking up a great deal of their ability to spend.  Jeremy Guthrie may prove to be a good secondary option for them.  Setup man Lance Lynn I would think would be the guy the Os would zero in on.  He works in the low 90s as a starter and mid 90s as a reliever.  He would provide the Os with a player with a solid base as they try to make a starter out of him.

Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have Yonder Alonso and no place to play him.  The Orioles could find him a place at first with Mark Reynolds returning to third or going to left field or even DHing.  They could also add another fringe piece like a Nolan Reimold and see if they could wedge Edinson Volquez out.  I think the Reds would be better off just making Volquez into a reliever.  I think Guthrie would be a great fit for the Reds.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have a good number of older pieces and high upside young players.  The only pitcher I could see meeting the Orioles' needs is Nate Eovaldi.  He profiles more as a reliever, but the Dodgers are trying to use him to spell a rotation slot.  The Orioles could take back Juan Uribe to offset cash costs, but would likely get a prospect added.  Chris Withrow would be who I would want as the added prospect.  He has been passed by other arms in the system, but has a plus breaking ball and can produce high heat.

With the new CBA rules, Guthrie's value is at its highest now as any team who trades for him would not be able to pull back compensation draft picks.  If he is dealt now, the receiving team will receive that protection.  That single item has a value of about 2 MM attached to it.  As much as Guthrie means to the team with his mid rotation arm, he likely has more value being dealt out to another team.  The hope is the Orioles do not sell themselves short as they may have done in the Uehara deal by chase 'now' value as opposed to seeking 'future' value.


Kyle said...

With David Freese better at third than people thought, maybe Zach Cox is a possible trade candidate, although maybe it takes more than Guthrie, maybe Reimold. And the Nationals have a lot of depth in their minors right now especially pitching, so I think we could find the right parts. Maybe Matt Purke and Tom Milone, who was filthy last year although his AAA numbers might not translate well.

Jon Shepherd said...

Maybe...Matt Purke cannot be dealt until February 14th.

Nick J Faleris said...

And Purke can only be traded as a PTBNL in February, not named until next August. So he'd have to spend the full year in the Nationals's system before coming over to Baltimore in August. In short, not going to happen.

Jon Shepherd said...

Correct...it would be tricky and involve a whole lot of faith that another organization will have your best interests at heart. I think the most amount of time I remember for a player to continue playing was about three weeks and, I think, there were injury contingencies included just in case.