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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Morning Rewind: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Matt Boyd. Shaky early, Boyd settled in and gave the Tigers a strong performance. The southpaw went 7, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, while racking up 5 punch outs. In fact, Boyd probably should have just given up 2 runs, but a mental mistake by Jim Adduci put a runner on base that eventually came around to score. Boyd has been solid in all but one of his starts so far this season.

The Bad: The Tigers offense couldn’t solve their old friend, Mike Pelfrey, after a promising start to the game. The Tigers scored two early runs off Big Pelf and were threatening for more, but an inning ending double play snuffed out the threat. The Tigers didn’t muster much more off Pelfrey after that, though he only went 4.2 IP due to a rapidly mounting pitch count.

The Ugly: Nicholas Castellanos’ defensive deficit was on full display last night. While Castellanos usually makes the plays he can get to—the big knock on him, according to most defensive metrics, has always been his range—Castellanos booted three balls, including two in the eighth inning that helped the White Sox to the 7-3 win. It was particularly disheartening to see a player who seemed to be making strides on the infield have such a lousy game defensively. Castellanos, for his part, stood up to the media after the game and answered every question. This is just the kind of ugly night you have to put behind you, if you’re Castellanos, and hope it doesn’t repeat itself. If anyone can do it, it’s probably him.

Also ugly was Joe Jimenez’s rocky ninth inning. The young flamethrower struggled to start off the frame, allowing a couple add-on runs in the form of a 2 run homer to Tim Anderson. Jimenez relied heavily on his fastball early, which the Sox hitters were teeing off on, but eventually began mixing in his slider and changeup. (All three hits Jimenez allowed were off the fastball.) In fact, Joe threw 10 straight fastballs before finally going to his changeup. He was much more effective after he began mixing in his offspeed/breaking stuff.

It’s just another bump on the road for a promising prospect who still has much to learn as far as being a big leaguer is concerned. There’s also a very good reason the Tigers have moved him relatively slowly through the system and haven’t thrown him directly into the fire yet. Though Joe is as big league ready as any Tigers prospect, he also might benefit from going back to Toledo to work on refining and polishing his command and consistency (as well as regaining some confidence).

Let’s Try That Again: Tigers Prevail on Opening Day 2.0

Justin Verlander pitched into the seventh inning and the Tigers got timely homeruns from rookie outfielder JaCoby Jones and third baseman Nick Nicholas Castellanos as the team rocked White Sox ace José Quintana to the tune of a 6-3 win.

Verlander was dominant, leaning on an overpowering fastball as he whiffed ten White Sox to set a personal Opening Day high. The Tigers’ ace limited the hapless Sox to 2 runs over 6.1 IP on 6 hits, while walking 2. Verlander then turned the ball over to the much-maligned bullpen and an entire fanbase held its collective breath.

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