Yesterday, I haphazardly dreamed about Zach Britton being dealt for Yasiel Puig, Austin Barnes and Julio Arias. To me, that looks comical. Then again, all closers deals I have seen over the past year look incredibly comical. For instance, Craig Kimbrel going from the Padres to the Red Sox for four promising prospects. A few things to remember: (1) Kimbrel went from godly to just excellent in his lone season with the Padres, so he did not have a clean bill at the time, (2) the Red Sox dealt players who did not figure into any reasonable playoff attempt, (3) the Red Sox had both prospects and money to shoulder Kimbrel's contract, and (4) Zach Britton never did what Kimbrel has done.
I think it can be fair to say that the different variations of WAR do not properly value a closer the way MLB clubs value a closer. Therefore, I will use the value of the prospects that were sent to San Diego for Kimbrel as an indication of what Britton's value might be.
Manuel Margot, OF
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: A-
Value at Time of Trade: 50 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Nothing Currently in System
Javier Guerra, SS
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: B (backend 100 prospect)
Value at Time of Trade: 20 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Chance Sisco
|All Levels (4 Seasons)||1368||26||.248||.307||.376|
Logan Allen, LHSP
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: B-
Value at Time of Trade: 7 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Cody Sedlock
|All Levels (2 Seasons)||2.80||23||86.2||0.2||2.6||8.8|
Carlos Asuaje, INF
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: C
Value at Time of Trade: 3 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Adrian Marin
For these players, the Red Sox acquired three years of Craig Kimbrel. That is about 80 MM in surplus value in order to secure a shutdown closer. Any team acquiring Britton would be getting two years at similar salary, so the approximate surplus value may be around 50 MM. How does that look with the from the hip Dodgers' suggestion I had.
Well, Julio Urias is worth about 70 MM, so that kills the deal there. Austin Barnes is worth about 15 MM. Puig? If you think he is a 2 WAR player then his two remaining contract years make him a 14 MM surplus value. If you think he is a 3 WAR player, then his surplus value is 30 MM. That brings us to my second idea, which is that the package could be Puig, Barnes, and Chase de Jong. That would be more in the ballpark if Britton is rated similarly to Kimbrel.
Why would the Orioles do this? First of all, it would give the club a true right fielder who has the capacity to be one of the better players in the league, but has been lost for much of the past two years. Barnes presents as a more ready catching option for the Orioles. He could be paired with Joseph. Both are known as solid pitch framers. It enables the Orioles to pace out Sisco a bit longer and decide whether he or Barnes should shift to 3B or maybe LF. Finally, de Jong gives the club another successful potential starting pitcher option who would start the year out at AAA.
A pure prospect trade may look worse. A 50 MM value would probably net you Willie Calhoun and Jose De Leon from the Dodgers. They would arguably place first and second on the Orioles top ten rankings. De Leon is a backend top 50 arm while Calhoun is a backend top 100 second baseman. However, it would be hard seeing how this would improve the club in 2017. That really is the rub, how do you get value to improve the club for 2017 while trading with a club who also is trying to maximize their 2017 run?
Some have suggested Jorge Soler. I suggested him last year. This year, he continued to show he has a fringe bat and his defense is poor. He has a 4/17.5 MM deal remaining, which is actually quite affordable. That said, he looks like an 8 MM loss over those four year. His past two season in Chicago suggest he is a replacement level or bench player. What could the Cubs attach onto him? I would ask for Kyle Schwarber. Failing that, then Ian Happ or Eloy Jimenez. Failing that, then Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, and Bryan Hudson.
Schwarber was in play last offseason, but I doubt he is this year. Cubs might be willing to send out Happ with Zobrist around, but they would likely want to hold onto Jimenez to provide more long term outfield depth. The others are not make or break players for Chicago. Bryant blocks a sometimes shaky Candelario. Cease would be a middle inning reliever. Hudson is a glint in the eye and he had some minor league struggles. With the Cubs though, the deal is basically whatever Soler is and then players for the future. I doubt this is what the club would want.