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December 2011

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COMMENTS

Going Selling – Part Two

Written by , Posted in General

For Sale

While I doubt I gave Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer the idea to trade Sean Marshall sooner rather than later, I do have to start this post by noting that the rumors of  Sean Marshall’s trade to the Reds for left handed starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and infield prospect Ronald Torreyes started in earnest just after part one of this little two part series, I have to at least say it is nice to know that great minds think alike.

This week, though, I am going to examine players I think the Cubs are unlikely to receive peak value for this offseason.  I am not saying that the Cubs should not trade these players if they are able to get good value in return, but instead that I do not think they are likely to get that value at this time.  These are also players who I think are unlikely to lose significant value this season, barring injury.  As a preliminary note, I will not be discussing Carlos Zambrano, largely because I already discussed this issue as it pertains to him in early November.

Geovany Soto- A couple of weeks ago, FanGraphs’ Dave Campbell tweeted that Rafael Furcal may be the most inconsistent player in player.  He has a point.  Since signing with the Dodgers prior to the 2006 season, Furcal has posted the following wOBAs each season in chronological order: .357, .311, .440 (albeit in very limited duty), .316, .366 and .288.  If Geovany Soto has a good year next year, he could compete with Furcal for that title.  In his 2008 rookie of the year campaign, he posted a .371 wOBA, followed by a .310 in 2009.  In 2010, he surpassed his rookie season with a .385 wOBA, and then sank back to a .316 in 2011.

With Soto’s inconsistency, you might think other teams would look on a hot 2012 from the Cubs’ catcher with some skepticism.  But you should also remember how bad most MLB catchers are at the plate.  In 2011, only five catchers with at least 300 plate appearances posted a wOBA higher than .350, three of whom posted unsustainable BABIPs of .344 or higher.

Catchers who can hit are a rare, valuable commodity, and Soto does have a history, at more than one point in his career, of being one of the better hitting catchers in baseball.  If Soto has a strong first half of 2012, some teams would be willing to part with significant prospects to pick him up for the last year and a half of arbitration for a potentially dynamic hitter who is also at worst a serviceable defensive backstop.

Marlon Byrd- My philosophy for putting Marlon Byrd on this list is different than my philosophy for Soto because Marlon Byrd is not a mystery.  Rather, Byrd has been quite consistent over the past three seasons.  He does not walk, but he also does not strike out a lot while hitting for above average power for a slightly above average defense center fielder.  Also, while a cursory glance at Byrd’s 2011 may make it look like he declined, that was largely caused by an awful September largely caused by a miserably unlucky .185 BABIP that pulled his season numbers down significantly in part because he missed nearly two months of the season after getting hit in the face by a fastball.  He is also signed to a reasonable contract, as he will make $6.5 million in the final year of the three year deal he signed before the 2010 season.

I just do not believe teams give up equivalent value during the offseason for 33 year old center fielders who do not have histories as elite players.  I can, however, all but guarantee you there will be a team with playoff hopes in spring training who will lose their center fielder for several months due to injury by the end of April, and there will be a team contending in July who has a below replacement value player somewhere in their outfield.  In that situation, Marlon Byrd could be worth a fair deal more to a team contender as the season progresses.

I would like to note that I do not think Byrd will ever have elite trade value the way Soto could if he comes close to replicating his 2010 numbers.  However, right now I do not think the Cubs would get much more for Byrd than they got for Kosuke Fukudome last July, which were a couple of organization guys with upside they are very unlikely to meet.  Considering Byrd’s ability to play center field defensively and hit fairly well for the position, I think a desperate team might be willing to give up someone who is a real prospect for Byrd as the season rolls along.

You may notice that I did not mention Alfonso Soriano in either list.  The reason for that is simple: he has essentially no trade value now, and I think the odds of him gaining any real trade value with his contract are somewhere between slim and none.

Are there any players you think I missed on either list?  Is there anyone on either of my lists you think I am dead wrong on?

  • guy44

    I think the only other person on the Cubs who has any trade value at all (well, besides Starlin Castro but that ain’t happening) is Ryan Dempster, and word is that Jedstein is holding talks about him now.

    Dempster is a 2 to 3 starter, who is extremely reliable and healthy every year. He’s no great shakes but I think at midseason he should pull in a solid B prospect at least. I’m not sure his value is highest right now, given that a lot of contending teams seem decently happy with their SP situation for the moment. But by midseason, injuries and poor play mean almost every team still in the race will be desperate for a starter.

  • Noah

    Guy, I agree that Dempster is an interesting situation. I think he’d invoke his no trade clause at this point, though (he’s a 5/10 guy). Mid-season he might not.

  • BLPCB

    But Dempster has a full no-trade clause (10-5 veto), and can veto any trade. Do you think he will accept a trade?

  • Buddy

    If the Cubs can find a taker for Byrd, act now!

  • Re: the statement about an unlucky BABIP. Oh, I don’t know. Never mind.

  • Doc Raker

    Holding talks about moving Dempster? Most probably open to talk about moving anyone other than Castro, as they should. You go Jedstein!
    * I would of been in the bigs if I wasn’t so unlucky. My BABIP was .489, it was that Korey Patterson strike out rate that killed me and I consider that unlucky for me.

  • Norm

    Unfortunately with Byrd, that BABIP was in only 86 plate app’s. His .422 BABIP in May in 71 PA basically level that out…on the year, he was pretty much in line with his career.
    I think the Cubs missed the boat on Byrd by not moving him before the deadline.

  • Doc…what sort of fMAR were you averaging? Seems like a solid Fangraph Moxie Above Replacement may have offset some of those Ks.

  • Doc Raker

    Jswanson-I had a great batting practice fMAr. I would never strike out in BP and hit a ton of HR’s, fans loved me during BP, I was like Glen Allen Hill. Trouble was I never got to many BP fastballs during games.

  • Batting Practice Batting Average for Balls In Plan is a pretty stupid statistic if you ask me. BPBABIP is going to be inflated, since the only plays made by the shaggers are on cans of corn and direct line drives. I prefer the oldie but goodie BPCMNICOCADLDIP, or Batting Practice Contact Made Not Including Cans Of Corn And Direct Line Drives In Play.