02 November 2016

Cup of jO's: Bon Voyage, Zach Britton

Trades are a favorite topic of many blogs.  You can easily dream of excess pieces and rationalize why someone else might really, really want them.  It is difficult to make a reasonable column considering what possibly a player could command in return from another team.  Yet, here we are after so many blueprints over the past week with a resounding, repeated comment: what about trades?

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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2016.

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
2013 17 FRk 253 0 .248 .356 .290
2014 18 Rk 207 2 .269 .286 .408
2015 19 A 477 15 .279 .329 .449
2016 20 A+ 431 9 .202 .264 .325
All Levels (4 Seasons) 1368 26 .248 .307 .376
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2016.

Logan Allen, LHSP
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: B-
Value at Time of Trade: 7 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Cody Sedlock
Year Age AgeDif Lev ERA GS IP HR9 BB9 SO9
2015 18 -2.6 Rk-A- 1.11 8 24.1 0.0 0.4 9.6
2016 19 -2.7 A-Rk-A- 3.47 15 62.1 0.3 3.5 8.5
All Levels (2 Seasons) 2.80 23 86.2 0.2 2.6 8.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2016.

Carlos Asuaje, INF
Prospect Grade at Time of Trade: C
Value at Time of Trade: 3 MM
Orioles Comp Value: Adrian Marin
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2016.

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.


Pip said...

Puig is a head case. Do we really want all that potential trouble? And won't the Dodgers just keep Jansen anyway?
Isn't catcher a lower priority than any of our
other holes? I wouldn't want to trade Britton for a catcher, especially a platoon catcher, simply because there are bigger holes that need filling.
Finally, you asked the biggest question, how can a team acquire Britton without weakening what they already have?
But there probably are some, aren't there? Traditionally deep farms and teams needing only a closer. I don't know how many teams fit that description, but surely a few do?
(the Yankees probably do, but we don't want Britton getting 19 saves against us)
Do you think a Britton trade is likely?

Rob said...

i would think (hope?) Buck and the veteran team in the clubhouse could make sure Puig did things the "Oriole" way. I don't want to trade Britton, but if we do, I hope we're getting talent back at a Puig-like level.

Anonymous said...

His value will NEVER be higher, time to move!

Unknown said...

Ballplayers are not like stocks or bonds. They shouldn't necessarily be "cashed in" just because their "value" is "high." I believe that the Orioles are more likely to win a World Series with Zach Britton than they would ever be with the return on a possible Britton trade, hence they should keep him.

Pip said...

How about trading Brad Brach?
HIs value was also high, and if the powers that be are dead set against trading Zach, Brad would be more easily replaceable, and he would probably still bring back a good return.

Anonymous said...

Trading Brach doesn't make sense. His value dipped slightly in the second half (still good), but not great. He is cheap and controllable. I would stock him in the closer roll.

If you are going to spend 11 million on a closer, then you need to mess up the market. Sign a closer such as Chapman. Then trade Britton, then you can charge a higher rate because you are creating your own market. Worse case scenario, you then trade Chapman this year or next and build off the prospects you get for both.

That should be 4 top 100's and 2-4 power arm lotto tickets....that can be put in the bullpen as a closer. To build a dynasty you have to build off your strength.

Anonymous said...

1. Top 3 rp were paid $11m in '16. Maybe Chapman will get $14 for this year. Britton is projected for $11.4 so his excess value is low now. Overpays only happen in July.

2. Mets have good sp, OK rp, and lost their closer for 50 games. Trade partner!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, there's no way we would even get a goodbye on that phone call if we asked the Cubs for Schwarber for Britton. Considering they said no to every deal that included Chapman or Andrew Miller once Schwarber was involved, they're not doing it for Britton. Even with the lower ERA and great stuff, he's not as valuable as those guys and they were instant No Way's for Schwarber. Cubs aren't gonna move him for a reliever after saying no to two more valuable relievers. Soler maybe, bet his potential still gets him in the conversation for someone better. Happ and Jimenez no way either, Cubs love them.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Keep Britton.