Valuing the Tigers Trade Chips at the Deadline

One of the side effects of spending way too much time on Twitter is that you find some interesting questions about baseball to write about. Today’s comes from Jerry Mackinnem, who asked a good question about valuing trade chips at the deadline. Normally for big trades, good analysis would use future projections of WAR/$ (essentially, valuing players at the going rate of $9 million per WAR they expect to put up) and compare that to prospect valuations to try to work out fair trade value. The wrinkle that Jerry adds is an interesting one: how do you value a low WAR player at the trade deadline? Obviously someone like Shane Greene isn’t going to post gigantic WAR totals, but he’s a coveted trade chip. Can we do the math to figure out what he’s actually worth?

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Looking at Players in a Potential Matthew Boyd Trade

Major League Baseball is about three weeks out from the trade deadline, and the Detroit Tigers, with one of the worst records in the league, have some assets to deal.

Will he stay or will he go? (Photo by Alexandra Simon)

Shane Greene, the All-Star closer, will almost assuredly  be traded, while a team desperate enough for offense (like, say, the Cleveland Indians) might be willing to pay for Nicholas Castellanos.

But the real prize on the Tigers’ roster is Matthew Boyd, who has broken out to the tune of a 3.56 FIP/3.34 xFIP season. Boyd has been worth 2.8 fWAR in the first half, making him the fifteenth most valuable pitcher in baseball. However, given that Boyd is under team control through 2022, the price tag is sky-high. Complicating things is that the Tigers want an elite bat in any trade package, limiting the number of teams that have the ability to acquire the new Tigers ace.

Thanks to Chris Brown (via Twitter) we know that Boyd is worth roughly $65 million in surplus value. That’s enough to return one elite prospect, in the top 10 range, or a package including a top 25 prospect and a top 100 prospect, with maybe a throw-in or two. Given that the Tigers want an elite bat, though, not ever team is going to be able to pay the specific asking price they’re interested in. Let’s try to piece together what those trades might look like from every contending club. For this exercise, I’ll be using Fangraphs’ THE BOARD!, recently updated post-draft. I’ll toss in some scouting reports here and there, but this one’s gonna be long, so they’ll mostly be for key pieces.

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How ‘Bout Those Tigers?

OR: Fun With Small Sample Sizes

April 5th was the Detroit Tigers’ first offday of the 2019 season. The Tigers, as one might expect, sit at 5-3 and are currently in second place behind only the Minnesota Twins despite a -4 run differential. It’s what we all expected, right? Right!

How have the Tigers done it? Most fans expected a dismal start to the season, considering the Tigers did next to nothing to improve on a team that staggered to a 64-98 season the year before. So, what gives? Well, the starting rotation, which one might reasonably expect to be terrible, especially with the absence of Michael Fulmer due to Tommy John surgery, has been carrying the team this first week.

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