gleyber torres cubsWhile watching twitter discussions regarding the (at the time) potential Aroldis Chapman trade, it seemed like there might be a useful discussion in diving briefly into prospect valuation.

In short, when making trades, prospects are a currency that has both absolute and relative value. In money terms, a twenty dollar bill is worth twenty dollars. You can buy twenty dollars of stuff with it. That’s absolute value. However, if that twenty dollars is all you have to eat lunch on this week, the relative value of that twenty dollars is higher to you than it would be to, say, Bill Gates. It will still only buy you twenty dollars worth of stuff (absolute), but it will be more valuable to someone without much money than to a billionaire (relative).

The same holds true for prospects. The relative value of Gleyber Torres to the Cubs arguably isn’t all that high. The Cubs are loaded with young middle infield talent, so trading Torres doesn’t hurt the Cubs as much as trading Trevor Clifton or Dylan Cease might (given that the Cubs are much weaker in pitching talent). In the above example, the Cubs are closer to the Bill Gates category.

When people, including me, were expressing skepticism that Torres (plus a laundry list of potential other names that at various times included Jorge Soler, Adam Warren, and Jeimer Candelario) for a couple months of Chapman was a good trade, the question focused on the absolute values involved. On the relative side, trading Torres makes all the sense in the world. On the absolute side, that is a lot to give up for maybe thirty innings of relief pitching, no matter how good that pitching is, and particularly when the Cubs may well benefit from making additional trades (to shore up the starting pitching, for example).

It would, perhaps, be comparable to spending that hypothetical twenty bucks on a single hot dog.  Sure, it is a really good hot dog … but that’s a twenty dollar hot dog. I suspect someone else was bidding for that hot dog and that in part results in the high price, because there is no questioning that that is one really expensive hot dog. Someone would have to be very hungry to do that.



Adding in another prospect or two makes it a still more expensive hot dog. At some point the hot dog costs too much to be worth it no matter how much you want the hot dog. The hot dog, after all, is just a hot dog. It isn’t a magical ticket that guarantees access to the World Series. That ticket does not exist and can’t be traded for.

Sometimes it happens that a player has a relative value to his current team that is higher than his absolute value on the market. In those cases, that player probably won’t be traded. That arguably lies at the core of the Cubs refusal to deal Kyle Schwarber for Andrew Miller.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Memphis 5, Iowa 1
The Cubs led for half an inning, and trailed the other eight and a half.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Mississippi 8, Tennessee 5
Once again, the Smokies let a lead slip away in the late innings.



High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Myrtle Beach 6, Wilmington 4
All the Pelicans’ runs came in a third inning outburst.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 4, Peoria 3
I would pay a fair bit to see Chris Sale pitch in the uniforms the Cubs wore yesterday.

Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Eugene 5, Vancouver 3
A three run eighth lifted the Emeralds to their fifth straight win.

Rookie: Arizona Cubs
Cubs 3, Athletics 2
This win might have secured the Cubs a trip to the postseason.



Other Notes

  • Judging from the comments from the Smokies radio booth, it sounds like Soler’s timing is still a little off. I still suspect he’ll be rehabbing for most of the rest of the month.
  • Balguert has developed slowly since he joined the Cubs organization, but I’m starting to think he might develop into potential major league first baseman. For the month of July his line now reads .314/.368/.477 with eight walks and 25 strikeouts over 21 games. The strikeouts are still on the high side, but the walks and power are coming along and he is producing some good looking at bats. We may be hearing more about him.
  • I believe the first half in the Arizona Rookie League ends to day, and if it does the Cubs have secured a playoff slot. Thanks to yesterday’s win they hold a two game lead over second place Arizona. I am not certain, though, because the official playoff rules on the Rookie League website do not give the exact end date. Still, if it isn’t today, it is likely soon enough that a two game lead is a healthy margin.
  • The South Bend Cubs were in Star Wars jerseys yesterday, and not the greatest of Star Wars jerseys as Star Wars jerseys go. Still you can see them in all their Vader-i-ness in the highlight reel:




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