soler batting mbd

Now that Grantland has gone away, the excellent Jonah Keri has made his way into several new ventures. Among his new homes, you can find Keri hosting a new podcast within the Nerdist empire, as well as writing for CBS and Sports Illustrated.

If you’re not already following him on Twitter (@JonahKeri), you should.

I bring Keri up today, though, because he has just begun a three-part series on the top individual trade value of players in MLB at Sports Illustrated, and it is you’re must read of the day.

In order to answer the age old question – Would you trade this guy for that guy? – Keri dives deep into the top players’ value, ranking each athlete along the way. However, he doesn’t just rank any one player based on talent or raw numbers. Instead, Keri includes – among many, many things – contract status, advanced defensive metrics, age curves, pitcher attrition rates, and even how often certain agents steer their clients towards free agency.

The example he uses, to express the overall angle taken, is whether you’d prefer Clayton Kershaw (and his $32-$33 million/year) over, say, Chris Archer (who figures to make just about $20 million total, over the next four years with two affordable team options thereafter). While it might be tempting to take arguably the best pitcher in the world, you should at least consider taking a slightly less-awesome pitcher with a far more favorable contract.



In developing his list, Keri posed many of these questions to GMs, assistant GMs and other talent evaluators, before combining them with his own research, and compiling a list of the top 50 most valuable players currently employed by MLB organizations.

Part one, which was released today, introduces the idea, while covering those who fell off last year’s list, those who just missed (honorable mentions), and numbers 50-40. Part 2 will cover 39-21, and Part 3 will be the remaining top 20.

For more on his method, the variables, and other context, check out Part 1 here. I assure you, it’s worth your time. In the meantime, let’s discuss some of the results from Part 1.

Formerly number 44 on the list, Jorge Soler just missed the cut for the top 50, after what was ultimately a disappointing season in 2015. Although it’s kind of a bummer to see Soler fall, Keri recognizes his potential and believes he still has plenty of upside remaining.



Among the other honorable mentions and near-misses, you’ll find Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Luis Severino, Joc Pederson, Kevin Kiermaier, Julio Teheran and Cole Hamels (remember contract details matter). So, you see, Soler is in very good company.

There are about 20 “just-misses” and about another 15 or so honorable mentions – each with a short bio and description of the reasons for their value. It’s a seriously in-depth piece, with plenty of surprising names already.

Taking a peek at the first chunk of the top 50, starting with numbers 50-40 (former ranking in parenthesis):

  1. Salvador Perez, C, Royals (19)
  2. Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (Unranked)
  3. Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners (Unranked)
  4. Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians (Unranked)
  5. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins, (43)
  6. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins (23)
  7. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pirates (Unranked)
  8. Julio Urias, SP, Dodgers (Unranked)
  9. Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox (Unranked)
  10. Lucas Giolito, SP, Nationals (Unranked)
  11. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros (46)

As you can see, there are six starting pitchers listed in the final 10 of the top 50, already, underscoring their high value on the current trade market. As we saw with Shelby Miller earlier this offseason, teams are valuing young, cost-controlled starting pitching as highly as ever. Carlos Carrasco, a commonly-rumored Cubs target over the past year, you’ll note, is among them. If you are someone that hopes the Cubs will acquire Carrasco at some point, it’s important to take note of his relative value throughout the league – pricey.



Although we’ll have to wait for Part 2 and (hopefully) Part 3 of the list to see some more Cubs, there are a few players you should expect to see sooner than later. Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward, for a couple examples, are young, established major league players, who are among the best in baseball. That said, each has a contract that will pay them drastically different amounts over the next six years than, say, Kyle Schwarber or Kris Bryant – Heyward especially. So, while Heyward is a safer bet than Schwarber (performance wise), his trade value will probably be lower, due to his free agent level contract. In fact, his relative trade value will probably be the lowest among those four. Addison Russell could show up, too. Would Jake Arrieta show up, despite only two years of team control left? We’ll see.

For more on each individual player and ranking, check out Keri’s article here. Otherwise, we’ll keep you up to date as he rolls out Parts 2 and 3. It’s a fascinating series, so jump in now, and learn about/fight about* trade value.

*(You don’t actually have to fight about it.)


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