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EVALUATING TRADE DEADLINE DEALS

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There has been a lot of discussion about trade deadline deals, and which ones we should and should not do.  To evaluate these kinds of things, I am going to analyze a couple of players currently on the trade market and figure out what we really want to know here—how much do they increase our chances of winning a World Series?

I am going to discuss the value, as measured by numbers of World Series wins added, of a few different players.  I am not going to discuss the financial aspects of this directly, though I will consider some effects on future payroll of having certain players on the roster.  Throughout this, I will make a number of simplifying assumptions.  These will obviously make the results not as exact, but I think it will help establish if a deal is definitely good, definitely bad, or if it is a judgment call.

The players that I will analyze: Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Greg Golson, and random compensatory picks.

 

ERIK BEDARD

How valuable is Erik Bedard to the Phillies right now? 

Bedard is under contract for 2008 and 2009.  Conditional on trading for him, I would say that there is a probably a very good chance that he is healthy.  Baseball Prospectus valued Bedard as a 45-VORP player through 30 starts projected in 2008.  As Bedard has disappointed and as he may be hurt even if the Phillies believe he is healthy, then I will slightly downgrade that to a 40-VORP player, which is worth approximately 4 wins better than replacement level pitcher, such as say, Adam Eaton.

 

How much does that help the Phillies in 2008?

We need to consider that the Phillies according to a number of odds-making venues (tradesports.com, baseballprospectus.com, coolstandings.com) seem to currently have about a 60% chance of making the playoffs.  Adding a 4-win pitcher for the second half of the season probably adds about 2 wins on average.  Current wins seem to add about 5% onto our chances of making the playoffs if you follow these websites day to day; so with him, let’s put that at 70%.

 

The next thing to do is to consider the odds of the Phillies winning the World Series with their rotation as is, and the odds of the Phillies winning the World Series with Bedard added to their rotation.  In a five-game divisional series, Cole Hamels would probably pitch games one and five.  Adding Bedard would probably put Bedard in a game that may have been pitched by Eaton or Happ.  The odds of the Phillies splitting the other four games of the series, if each has a 50% chance of victory, are 37.5%.  I will assume that Bedard pitching that game gives the Phillies a 53.3% chance of winning, as opposed to 40% with Eaton, or Happ.  Those numbers may be debatable but if you assume that Bedard wins four more games than those guys over 30 starts, then he probably adds about 13.3% over one start.  Therefore, Bedard increases our chance of winning the five-game divisional series by just about 5%.  Using similar analysis to determine the odds of winning a seven-games series where Bedard pitches two games instead of an extra start by Moyer (an average pitcher with a 50% chance of winning a playoff game) and a replacement level pitcher (with a 40% chance of winning a playoff game), are about 5.2%.  Overall, the odds of winning the World Series once in the playoffs, if Bedard is on the team, is about 13.9%; without him, it is about 10.2%.

Taking that into account, the odds of winning the World Series with and without Bedard are, respectively 9.86% and 6.21%.  Tradesports.com has the Phillies between 5.9%-8.2%.  Given the uncertainty about whether the Phillies make a deal, my numbers seem pretty good.

Hence, Bedard’s value for 2008 is about .0365 World Series Added (WSA).

 

What about 2009?

 

Bedard is probably about a 4-win pitcher 2009.  Judging how the Phillies are likely to perform next year with or without him is clearly a judgment call.  Odds are that the Phillies will be competitive next year, and I would guess that given their current team, and the fact that they will probably spend a little bit more than they currently have allotted for next year, that the odds of making the playoffs are about 40% if they do no deal.  However, going into next year with about $10MM committed to a pitcher worth 4 wins is valuable.  Instead of spending that money on a 3-win player on the free agent market, this would probably increase those odds to about 45%.  Within the playoffs, Bedard probably increases the chance of winning the World Series once there from about 10% to about 13.3%, given that they probably won’t spend much more money on players this offseason if they trade for him.  As a result, Bedard increases the odds of winning the World Series next year from about 4% to about 6%.  This is another .0200 World Series Added (WSA).

 

Does that mean that the Phillies value of Bedard’s contract, as measured in WSA, is .0565?  Not quite.  We need to consider how much a compensatory pick adds to this.  After all, Bedard will probably be a type A free agent and will net two draft picks between the 16th pick of the 1st round and the 15th pick of the 2nd round.  I assume that the Phillies do not resign him afterwards, or equivalently, that if they do resign him, their surplus value added will be approximately equal to the opportunity cost of two draft picks, just a nice little free market assumption.

 

COMPENSATORY PICKS

 

For simplicity, I will make a few assumptions about draft picks:

1)      That the odds of a draftee succeeding are approximately equal to that of 1999-2001 draft picks in this range, which is about: 0.75% chance of being a 7-win player, a 3% chance of being a 4-win player, a 2.2% chance of being a 3-win player, a 3.7% chance of being a 2-win player, and an 8.9% chance of being a 1-win player.  The odds of never making the majors or being a replacement level player are 81.5%.

2)      That players will be worth the same number of wins for six years, rather than varying from year to year.

3)      That a random team has about a 1/30 chance of winning the World Series, and with each costless win added in terms of player value, that goes up about 0.25%.  This is based on my assumption that a team has a 26.7% chance of making it to the playoffs in general, and that a random free 7-win player increases those odds to about 40.7%)

4)      That teams receive three free years of a players service time, then in their 4th year, they pay for 1/3 of their free agent value, at the expense of losing a free agent of 1/3 the value, and then in their 5th and 6th years, they pay for 2/3 of their free agent value, at the expense of losing a free agent of 2/3 the value.

5)      That we can ignore the compensatory picks that a team will receive as compensation for these draftees in the future (i.e. compensatory picks in 2019 for free agents who were originally drafted in 2010 as compensation for losing Erik Bedard).

 

Using this, I effectively consider each draft pick to be worth about .00375 WSA and each pair of compensatory picks to be worth about .0075 WSA.

 

TOTAL GAIN FROM TRADE

 

Therefore, the total value of getting Erik Bedard to the Phillies is:

 

.0365 WSA in 2008

.0200 WSA in 2009

.0075 WSA in 2010-on for draft picks

.0640 WSA. TOTAL

 

 

CARLOS CARRASCO

Next, I will consider how value Carlos Carrasco is to the Phillies.  Carlos Carrasco has apparently the upside of a 4-win pitcher, and the downside, like any prospect, of being completely valueless.  I am not an expert on prospects, so I am going to simply work with information I have and try to adjust it.  These are ballpark estimates.  If you do not like what follows, adjust it accordingly.

For simplicity, I will assume that without Carrasco contributing, the Phillies odds of making the playoffs in 2009 are 40%, and in 2010 are 30%, in 2001 are 20%, in 2012 and 2013 are 10% (as Howard, Rollins, Lidge, Victorino and others will all become free agents, with Hamels following in 2012), and back up to 20% or so for 2014-on.  Then I cooked up odds of them making the playoffs if you add a 1-win player, a 2-win player, a 3-win player, and so on.  I divided each of these by eight playoff teams to get a rough estimate of the odds of a prospect helping the Phillies win the World Series in a given year.  For instance, a 5-win player increases the Phillies odds of winning the World Series in 2013 from about 1.2% to 2.9%.

 

With Carrasco and other prospects, I consider two paths—one where he potentially becomes a major league contributor in 2009 (with slightly lower probability), and one where he potentially becomes a major contributor in 2010.  In the former example, his odds of success are lower and he becomes a free agent after 2014.  In the latter example, his odds of success are the same for each year between 2010-2015, at which point he would become a free agent.

For Carrasco, I made the following guess;

 

2009 odds

carrasco

0.05

4-win pitcher

0.05

3-win pitcher

0.1

2-win pitcher

0.15

1-win pitcher

0.65

valueless

 

2010-on odds

carrasco

0.15

4-win pitcher

0.15

3-win pitcher

0.15

2-win pitcher

0.15

1-win pitcher

0.4

valueless

 

I have no idea if this is correct.  Using his PECOTA projection, this seems on the optimistic side, but he has had some success at AA this year, and probably those odds have gone up.

I considered each path to have a 50% chance.  Using this, my estimated impact on World Series Added of a given quality player, and my assumptions about compensatory picks (specifically, my assumptions about arbitration costs and service time), Carrasco’s World Series Added would be:

 

Carrasco

WSA

2009

0.008438

2010

0.008625

2011

0.007313

2012

0.00347

2013

0.001938

2014

0.001935

2015

0.000968

TOTAL

0.032685

A few things to notice—Carrasco’s value is particularly high for 2009, even though he will not necessarily be in the majors, because the Phillies will be a competitive team in 2009.  As he is will he only be paid the major league minimum for 2010 and 2011, and the Phillies will still probably be somewhat competitive, he is still pretty valuable.  As time goes on, his value decreases as he will likely be receiving arbitration salaries if he does succeed (otherwise, no salary assumed), and because the Phillies odds of winning the World Series, in my estimate, are particularly low in 2012 and 2013 compared with 2014 and 2015 which I do not believe that I can assess, his value is pretty close in these years.  In 2015, his value is lowest as there is a good chance he may be a free agent already by then. 

 

I am ignoring the chance of compensatory draft picks for Carrasco in the future.  If those odds are, perhaps, 25%, then Carrasco’s new WSA total becomes .0347. 

LOU MARSON

 

2009 odds

Marson

0.025

5-win catcher

0.025

4-win catcher

0.025

3-win catcher

0.15

2-win catcher

0.2

1-win catcher

0.575

valueless

 

2010-on odds

Marson

0.05

5-win catcher

0.05

4-win catcher

0.05

3-win catcher

0.25

2-win catcher

0.3

1-win catcher

0.3

valueless

 

Again, I do not know if this is necessarily right.  I do think Marson is probably a bit overvalued right now as his BABIP is preposterously high in AA, but I do not pretend to have much of a guess.  This is definitely an optimistic projection according PECOTA and a pessimistic projection if you ignore anything other than 2008 so far.

Using this, I get the following:

 

Marson

WSA

2009

0.00875

2010

0.007875

2011

0.0065

2012

0.003167

2013

0.001813

2014

0.001812

2015

0.000906

TOTAL

0.030822

 

Adding in a 25% chance that Marson yields a couple of draft picks in the future, his WSA is .0327.

 

It is clear that Bedard for Carrasco and Marson would clearly be a negative value trade.  The upside is .0640 and the downside is .0663.  Even taking into account the smaller likelihood that either of them contributes during meaningful playoffs, the net World Series loss of a trade like that would be too high.  Someone impatient might see the gain, however.

 

A.J. BURNETT

Looking at A.J. Burnett is a bit different.  Burnett is probably a 3-win pitcher right now.  Using the same logic as with Bedard, I think that he increases the chance of making the playoffs by about 7% and of winning while there by about 2.5%.  This means his value added is about .0229 WSA directly.  Taking into account what would happen if he departs for free agency and the Phillies get a couple of draft picks, his .00304 WSA. 

This would be slightly less than a one-for-one swap for Marson (and therefore a stupid deal for ownership that would owe him money to be less valuable than Marson), except A.J. Burnett has a tricky contract.  It doesn’t merely expire—he can opt out or get $24MM for two years.  Chances are that he will opt out…unless he’s injured.  If he’s injured, he will likely be of little to no value.  If he’s actually willing to opt out, I would guess it means that the team is on the hook for $12MM in 2009 with no value (if he’s willing to opt out, it’s probably rotator cuff or elbow ligament issues, which would require a year to rehabilitate at least)—which could have bought about 4 wins worth of players, thereby lowering the chances of making the playoffs by probably 20% of so, and of winning the World Series by about 2.5%.  Add in that he is still unlikely to be worth in 2010, and he probably costs them another 1.25% World Series from what they could have done with $12MM vs. spending it on him.  Therefore, he would be worth a negative value, -.0375 WSA, if he gets hurt.  What are the odds of that?  Maybe 10%?  I have no idea, but just for argument’s sake, go with 10%.  Then his value on average would be:

 

 

.0229 in 2008 WSA

.0075 in draft pick compensation WSA

-.0038 in money wasted for 2009-2010

.0266 WSA TOTAL

 

 

GREG GOLSON

 

I have really no idea how good Golson is.  I imagine that his upside is quite high, but his odds of success are low, and his odds of being a mediocre player are pretty low, from what I’ve heard.   So maybe he looks like this:

09 odds

golson

0.05

4-win player

0.0125

3-win player

0.0125

2-win player

0.05

1-win player

0.875

valueless

 

10-16 odds

golson

0.15

4-win player

0.025

3-win player

0.025

2-win player

0.025

1-win player

0.775

valueless

 

Golson

WSA

2009

0.007227

2010

0.004406

2011

0.003875

2012

0.001829

2013

0.001

2014

0.000998

2015

0.000499

TOTAL

0.019833

 

Add in another 1/8th chance of getting a couple of compensation picks later on, his WSA value jumps to .0207 World Series Added.

In other words, Golson and another guy who was drafted around the end of the 1st round but doesn’t have much more value than he did at the time he was drafted would probably be a fair exchange for Burnett.

GOOD TRADES

 

There are lots of other reasonable players that I could do this for, but the idea was just to get a baseline.  A decent trade for Bedard would be Carrasco and Golson.  A decent trade for Burnett would be Golson and a guy like Drabek.

If you disagree with any of my odds, let me know and I’ll try to throw in some other numbers and see what comes up.  This is just intended to be a framework for how we should look at trades.  As far as how a team should look at trades, they need to consider their budget in the future, the cost of paying these players now, the chances of making the playoffs, and how much money that would bring.