Cardinals Trade Value 2011

All right boys, girls, and robot, it's that time of the year again. Time for the Third Annual Cardinals Trade Value list of destiny and awesomeness. I've done these lists twice before, in 2009 and 2010, and both posts generated interesting and worthwhile discussion. Last year's list ended up being prescient, with Ryan Ludwick being traded at the deadline and netting us Jake Westbrook (who had a really solid two months with the Cardinals) and Nick Greenwood (lefty reliever in AA; potential future LOOGY). This is all based on the Fangraphs series that Dave Cameron has done the past few years (doesn't seem to be doing it this year, however) where he looks at all of baseball and comes up with top 50 players in terms of trade value. Here's Dave now with an assist on what I am looking at when formulating this list:

Essentially, the idea is to take all the information that goes into encapsulating a player’s value to an organization - his present skills, his future potential, how long he’s under club control, the expected cost of paying him over that time, and the risks involved with projecting his future performances - and figure out which players currently have the most trade value in baseball.

As with the previous two years, this is not a prospect list, and players that look to be injured at the trade deadline will be included (Tommy Pham, Adam Reifer). The higher a player is on the list (1 being highest), the more value he would bring bag in a hypothetical trade. And screw no trade clauses, that won't stop me from putting a player on the list.

Things have changed pretty significantly since this time last year, when Pujols, Colby, and Waino were 1,2,3 on my list. Pujols is about to get PAID and is coming off a "wrist" injury. Waino tore his UCL in spring training and underwent Tommy John surgery, effectively putting him out until next year (unless you are a dreamer). Colby is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle with an extra helping of mystery to top it all off. Let us get to it.

*1. Shelby Miller-- I know, I know, I said this wasn't a prospect list, but come on now. Miller is arguably the top pitching prospect in all of baseball (and certainly in the top 4), dominated high A ball to start the season, and has shown no signs of slowing down since moving to AA Springfield. The point of this list isn't to give in-depth prospect scouting reports, so I won't, but suffice it to say, Shelby is a future ace. Teams like to get their hands on future aces and will pay handsomely for them. Add in the fact that he is cost and team controlled for 6 seasons, and...well can you say Yay Trade Value!?!?!?! Oh, and I have no doubt he could be pitching in the majors right now.

2. Carlos Martinez-- Ok, it's starting to look like a prospect list. Same blurb I wrote for Miller applies here (except being top 4 in all of baseball, he's probably more like top 6). I put Shelby higher because he is dominating at a higher level and has a better "pitcher body." Also, not ML ready right now.

3. Jaime Garcia-- If Garcia had not accrued a year of service time while rehabbing from TJ surgery, he would be tops on this list. He is team controlled for three more seasons, but being up for arb for the first time decreases his value slightly, as he will cost more than ~400K/year. Solid number 2 stuff with ace potential coming from the left side? Yes, please. He's already had TJ, so the UCL should be sound, and I don't see any shoulder-shredding mechanics. Jaime is the type of player that could bring back a ML star in a trade, or a cache of choice prospects. Disclaimer: Potential extension could change his value on this list, both for better and for worse.

4. Colby Rasmus-- Teams looking to trade for him see untapped tools, not-yet-reached potential, and 3 years of team control at below market value. Add in to that the fact he plays a premium position, and you have the type of player that teams salivate over. The fact that trading him now would be selling low certainly hurts his value, but I bet there is a team out there that would offer some nice value in return for Colby.

5. Albert Pujols-- Let's face it: Even though a team would only get him for two months, he's coming off an injury, and he's about to make more money than even he is worth, Albert would still bring back a couple of nice prospects if traded right now. Still, he can only play first base (stop it Tony) and he's heading to his decline phase with no assurances that he will playing for you past October, which obviously limits his value. Type A FA gets team two draft picks.

6. Lance Berkman-- He's arguably been the first half MVP in the NL. Can play 1st base or OF and would only cost a pro-rated $8M. No options years means teams can reap the benefits of his FA ranking for draft picks. He's currently a Type B, but is on the cusp of Type A status. A strong second half probably gets him there.

6. Chris Carpenter-- Pitching is always a premium at the trade deadline. Salary is a little high (pro-rated $15M). I know he is a 10 and 5 guy, but no-trade clauses are stupid, so I will let the teams work that out. If a team declines his option, he is a type A FA, so draft picks cometh. Still, ace-ish pitcher with post-season experience.  He would definitely bring back one nice or two ok prospects.

7. Yadier Molina-- I don't think most teams value catching defense as much as the Cardinals do, but there are a ton of contenders looking for catching help right now. Fact is, Yadier is having a great season at the dish, and still does a nice job handling the pitching staff and controlling the opposition running game. Team has a relatively cheap option on him next season ($7M), so any trade would not be for just two months. Also a type A, so if option is declined, team gets two draft picks.

8. Fernando Salas-- Good stuff with balls of steel and closing experience. 5 years of team control after this year is always nice. Teams are salivating over bullpen help this time of year, and Salas has proven thus far that he is up for the challenge. Even if you don't see him as a closer long term, he clearly has the stuff and mentality to be a consistently good 8th inning guy, and at ~400K over the next few years, that is always a nice value.

9. Lance Lynn-- Starting pitcher with three average to above average pitches. Already had some success at ML level and is team controlled for 6 more years. Floor is as a middle relief pitcher, ceiling as a #3. There is a lot of value in that and teams looking to trade off veterans look for players like Lynn in return.

10. Jon Jay-- At worst, he is a solid semi-regular 4th outfield that plays good CF defense. At best he is a lead-off type who can play every day. Team controlled for 4 more seasons, and will be cheap for most of those. He is a secondary piece in a big trade that teams value.

11. Trevor Rosenthal-- OK you know I was gonna have him in here somewhere (even if I did have to create another spot). Call me biased (I am), but this is how I looked at this. SP prospect who has been near-dominant in A-ball. Various scouting reports have said that Rosenthal really knows how to pitch. Other reports show that he has a projectionable frame with good stuff. Would a team trade Yadier Molina for Trevor Rosenthal? I think if they needed a catcher, they would strongly consider making that deal.

Untouchable players are denoted with an asterisk (*)

Just Missed- Allen Craig (injury, no real ML track record), Joe Kelly and Jordan Swagerty (future relievers)

Honorable Mention- Matt Carpenter (no power), Matt Adams (playing in a LH hitters haven), Adron Chambers (dime a dozen), Tavares (to far away to be sure he's for real (and yes, I know the same can be said for Rosenthal))

 Cox and Wong are not eligible due to signing date

Let the debate begin!

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