If Colby Rasmus were to be traded, what would be a reasonable return?
Note:I don't want to see Rasmus traded. Sending his level of cost-controlled talent out of town seems irresponsible to me. Doing it because a bad manager (and Tony LaRussa has been a bad manager this season) can't work with him would make me sick.
If Rasmus would be traded, though, what kinds of deals might be reasonable?
The reasons are simple. He plays a premium defensive position well, he can hit, he has not yet reached his probable peak-production years, and he is under cheap team control for four more years.
The Cardinals would need to get something similar in return (especially in terms of premium position and cost control), in order to make a trade reasonable. We don't have needs in the easy-to-fill defensive spots (1B, LF, RF), but we have glaring needs in the more difficult infield positions (3B, 2B, SS) and in starting pitching. Minus Rasmus, of course, we would also have a need in CF (which may or may not be able to be filled well by internal options, such as Jay).
In this post, I look at the players we might be interested in who rank below Rasmus according to Cameron. He may or may not know what he is talking about, but his list is at least a decent place to start. This ranking came out in mid-July, and I would expect some re-ordering by now.
I've excluded anyone with a contract valued at more than $5M per year, as well as any player not under team control for at least the next three years. The numbers in front of the names indicate Cameron's Trade Value ranking. The numbers in parentheses following the names are their 2009 and 2010 WAR according to FanGraphs.
#21 Ubaldo Jimenez (5.7, 5.3)
#27 Clayton Kershaw (4.2, 3.8)
#29 David Price (1.6, 3.6)
#36 Tommy Hanson (2.6, 3.5)
#39 James Shields (4.1, 2.0)
#44 Brian Matusz (0.8, 1.9)
#46 Mat Latos (0.1, 3.3)
#48 Ricky Romero (2.7, 3.6)
#49 Phil Hughes (2.2, 2.1)
#47 Martin Prado (3.1, 4.0)
#32 Elvis Andrus (3.1, 1.7)
For reference, here is Colby's line:
#14 Colby Rasmus (2.3, 2.6)
The list is obviously heavy on starting pitching, with young starters seen as valuable commodities. With respect to CF, 3B, 2B, and SS, everyone listed below Rasmus (except for Andrus and Prado) makes a lot of money-or they have an untradeable contract like Troy Tulowitzki. Teams lock these players up quickly and keep them (perhaps a lesson we should learn from...).
On the good side, one can see why Rasmus would be a valuable trade commodity. The performance, position, and price are a rare combination. On the bad side, getting what we need from him may not be easy, if we want a position player.
In my opinion, there is not enough difference in value between Elvis Andrus and Brendan Ryan to justify that trade. It would just not be a Rasmus-sized increase. Martin Prado is different. He would be a significant upgrade, if you believe that all-performance-no-tools players can sustain excellence. He is arbitration eligible 2011-2013. Atlanta's current starting CF is Rick Ankiel.
Regarding pitching, I have to express doubt that a number of the players listed would be traded by their teams for Rasmus. Pitching is also much more of a crapshoot than a position player because of injury risk. However, if the Rays want to ship us David Price....
What think you? Again, I do not want to see Rasmus traded. However, if he does need to go, what would be the best (reasonable) option?