02 August 2018

Brewers Paid for What They Thought Jonathan Schoop Could Be

In the weeks and months leading up to the July trade deadline, you likely read an idea that we repeated and repeated: if Jonathan Schoop would not be extended, then he needs to be dealt for players who would play more of a role in the Orioles future.  The morning of the trade deadline, I reiterated on Twitter that any serious attempt at rebuilding must include Schoop being dealt because arbitration would take away much of his value in the off-season.

Well, he was traded.  The Orioles were able to acquire from the Brewers, Jonathan Villar who is a different kind of player than is Schoop, but one who has arguably had a better season.  In addition to Villar, the Orioles acquired the once shiny Luis Ortiz and a very young shortstop, Jean Carmona.

Was this deal one that produced a fair value?

Jonathan Schoop surged back up into being a meaningful bat in the past couple weeks and put himself back on track for what was expected of his this season.  Moving forward, we would expect him to produce about 1 WAR this year and another 2.4 next year.  That is worth about 34 MM.  He has roughly 3.5 MM coming to him this season and is expected to almost double his salary for his walk year increasing it from 8.5 MM to 15.1 MM.  In other words, he costs about 18.6 MM.  That is a surplus of 15.4 MM.

The first player I will visit is Jonathan Villar.  Whereas Schoop has 1.5 years left on his control, Villar has an additional year to offer.  The Orioles are currently on the hook for 1 MM this year, about 3 MM next year, and somewhere between 5 and 10 MM in his walk year.  That difference comes from whether he continues his current spell or if he returns to his excellent 2016 season.  If, the expectation is that he continues his 2017 and 2018 puttering around, then he has about 0.5 WAR left this year, 1 next year, and 1 the year after that.  That is worth about 25 MM.  On the conservative end, that puts his value around 10.5 MM.

Why would the Brewers deal Villar and prospects for Schoop when Villar has similar and potentially more value than Schoop?  Two things.  One, Schoop concentrates that value into one player and into a third less games.  Two, Villar has not shown star level competence in two years.  For a team that needs a potent now this year and next, Villar probably was just too much of a gamble.  And, maybe, a gamble no one really puts much faith in.  In general though you would kind of expect a talent like Villar to be paired with a second tier prospect. Villar has value and is useful, so that should eat up a lot.  However, it really did not seem to do that.

The Orioles took a post-shine pitcher in Luis Ortiz.  Ortiz used to be a solid top 100 arm with the Rangers, but injuries and conditioning took him off that path.  AA ball has been a bit of a struggle for him.  This is his third year at that level after a taste in 2016, an uneven 2017, and now 2018.  He seems to have solved his issues there and is still quite young for the league, but is at a stage where his package appears to be what it is with only pitchability being what can improve.  As a starter he has a strong low 90s fastball with a little bit of life and a change up that pairs up very well with it.  His third pitch, a slider, is less impressive.  This is sort of a Kevin Gausman-lite kind of a deal.  Ortiz has a package that looks like a decent backend rotation arm with mid-rotation upside or, if he has trouble seeing the batting order more than once, looks like a potentially dominating closer as his fastball has ramped up to high 90s when he has seen time in relief.  Grades on Ortiz range from 45 to 50, so that is a value range of 10-15 MM.

Jean Carmona is the other prospect and, to some, is the prize of the deal.  However, there is a wide range of views on him.  FanGraphs evaluators peg him as a 40, MLB Pipeline puts him as a 45, and one of my scouting contacts who was floored by this deal has him as a 50+ (same scout put a 45 on Ortiz and that Villar was a fringe MLB player).  Carmona is 18 and fairly raw.  He possesses a strong arm and shows good reactions in the field.  He is projected to be a solid shortstop, but is thought to be able to slide to third if he thickens up too much.  Good runner, but just learning the nuances of the running game.  He shows strong gap power and, for his age, shows a good approach at the plate.  The 40 grade evaluators see him as just a raw player who likely will flame out.  The value then on him would range between 5-20 MM.

With all that in mind, if you take the middle road, you wind up with a 10 MM value for Villar, 10 MM value for Ortiz, and a 10 MM value for Carmona.  That is a 30 MM overall package for a 15 MM surplus player in Schoop.  If you think Schoop is truly a 3.5 WAR or a 4.5 WAR player, then you add another 10 to 20 MM on top of that.  My assessment is that the Brewers see Schoop as a true 3.5 WAR player and was willing to pay for him what they think he is rather than what he has shown himself to be over time.

This contrasts with the Gausman deal where he too has inconsistently shown an All Star level of play.  While Gausman returned to the Orioles a package on par with his mid-rotation performance to date, no one appears to have been willing to toss in an extra 20 MM in value that would have been more reflective of the ace-quality talent he shows from time to time.  Many evaluators think getting away from the Orioles will help tap into that, but no club banked on that.

Also different from the Gausman deal is that this one did have a trophy prospect in Luis Ortiz.  Although his reputation has been shaken a bit by those injuries and inconsistent play at AA, he still is considered a desirable arm to have in your system.  He really is the kind of player I expected the Orioles to get two or three of in the Gausman deal.  By pairing him with Carmona, the Orioles have mixed together a dependable high floor prospect with a much more exciting and volatile commodity.  And, somehow, Villar is there too.

I have no complaints.


Unknown said...

Please pardon my ignorance, but can you define a "trophy prospect" for me? Google didn't provide a sufficient answer.

Jon Shepherd said...

I spoke to it a bit more in yesterday's column about the Gausman trade. You tend to see more trophy hunting mid-season in trades. A trophy prospect is one that is well recognized as a high quality prospect with a strong future. Think of a prospect in discussion for the top 100 rankings list. You could also refer to them as 50 and above rated prospects.

Generally, you see those well established names involved in mid-season deals instead of a collection of high helium or widely ranging in value prospects.

Unknown said...


Thanks. I picked most of it up from context, but appreciate a real definition. I read yesterday's article, but must have been too brain addled to remember that bit. Two year olds will do that to you.

Pip said...

Jon, I really enjoy these articles, and have always appreciated your clear eyed analysis. I have a question about top draft picks who are traded multiple times. The first time a top pic is traded it’s because of his potential.
But if he’s traded a second and even a third time, isn’t it more a reflection that he hasn’t met that potential and the team is more willing to get rid of him? I worry about both Tate and Ortiz as guys who once had a lot of potential but then just got dumped because the teams gave up on them. I think specifically of 4rth round pick Alec Asher, Who was reluctantly traded by the Rangers to the Phillies, but then enthusiastically given up by the Phillies and has bounced from team to team since then. Is there any danger that Tate and Ortiz are in that category?

Jon Shepherd said...

Tate and Ortiz are traded because their teams do not find them untouchable. They are dealt because their outcomes are wide ranging, but they have decent ceilings. So yeah there is a high failure rate here.

I would not put Alec Asher in this group. He always had fringey stuff that you wondered could ever play at a high level. I dont think the Rangers really coveted him.

Unknown said...

I appreciate your column, what makes you such an expert? Is it perhaps, because you have a degree in journalism? When was the last time you got on the field? We can all be a judge from the sidelines!! That was a great trade for the Orioles, (look at Schoop has he gotten of the bench yet??) Nice column!!