2013 Trade Value – Fangraphs Ranks Blue Jays Encarnacion #45 and Bautista #35

If you aren’t familiar with the Fangraphs annual Top 50 Trade Asset piece, here is a quick primer:

So, this list is my attempt to figure out what players have the most value in the league. Essentially, the best way to look at a player’s placement on this list is “would you trade him, straight up, for any of the guys listed ahead of him?” I’ve asked that question about every player on this list, and done so from what I would perceive the perspective of both current organizations would be. Over this coming week, I will lay out my view of the 50 most valuable assets in Major League Baseball.

Basically, there is no such thing as as a risk free asset. Everyone gets hurt, and even great players can stop playing like great players with little or no warning. When evaluating a player’s trade value, teams have to make the best bets they can, but the failure rate of even the best assets reminds us how unpredictable baseball really is.

Dave Cameron does a great job of ranking the top 50 assets in baseball based on skill, salary, controllable years and rare talent.  Saying that he has ranked the top two Blue Jays and no surprise they are Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.  Here are the reports:

#45 Edwin Encarnacion (3B)

Under Team Control Through 2016: $9 million, $10 million, $10 million option

Encarnacion’s breakout 2012 season has carried over into 2013, as the Blue Jays first baseman has proven himself as one of the game’s premier power hitters, and has actually even lowered his strikeout rate again this season.  Encarnacion’s combination of power and contact are extremely rare, and serve to make him a highly valuable player even though he’s a defensive liability who doesn’t do much besides hit.

There are other good sluggers who won’t be on this list, though.  Encarnacion is here primarily because of the Blue Jays decision to lock him up last summer.  That contract has turned out to be a fantastic decision, and even after this season, the Blue Jays will still control his rights for three more years at a total cost of $29 million.  Guys who signed similar contracts as free agents last winter: Cody RossJeremy GuthrieJonathan Broxton.  Yeah, I think Encarnacion is underpaid.

His skillset isn’t one that generally ages that well, and his success record is still on the shorter side, but Encarnacion is an elite slugger in his prime signed to an absurdly team friendly deal.  He might not be a household name, but there aren’t many players in baseball providing this kind of power at a reasonable cost.

#35 Jose Bautista (3B/OF)

Under Team Control Through 2016: $14 million, $14 million, $14 million option

$14 million for a player of Bautista’s quality is a serious bargain. That said, his isolated slugging percentages for the past four years: .357, .306, .286, .239. Now 32, it’s probably unrealistic to expect Bautista to resume dominating the sport like he did a couple of years ago. He’s still a tremendous hitter, one of the best right-handed sluggers in the game, but he doesn’t appear to be other worldly anymore.

So, Bautista would be a short term value play for contenders looking to put themselves over the top. I’m not sure sure it’s a given that his 2016 option gets picked up, depending on how he ages over the next couple of years, so it’s probably best to look at this as 2/28 with the possibility of being 3/42. You’re getting elite performance for a few years at a significant discount, but there’s not a lot of long term value.

Still, if the Blue Jays did decide to blow things up and put Bautista on the block, the bidding war would get intense. He still projects as a +4 to +5 WAR player, and even mid market teams could afford his salary, giving them a shot at a legitimate star in order to make a deep playoff run. Toronto seems likely to hang onto him, but he’d be a fascinating trade chip if they did decide to get a little younger.


4 Responses to “2013 Trade Value – Fangraphs Ranks Blue Jays Encarnacion #45 and Bautista #35”

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  4. 4 Idiot Fan July 18, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Those are fair rankings. Maybe a tad low on Bautista given his extremely team friendly contract. My guess is if he didn’t slump this year he would’ve been higher.

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