MLB Anti-Trade Value
As requested by multiple people in the comments of the MLB Trade Value post, here’s the Bizarro version. Instead of going forty deep, I’m only going to list what I consider to be the ten players with the least trade value in major league baseball. Obviously, on this kind of list, the contract is going to play a huge role – there are some good players who are just greatly overpaid, and their price/performance ratio is so far out of whack that they’re nearly impossible to even give away. These guys have significant negative trade value. For the sake of making this an interesting list, I excluded any player in the last year of their contract – otherwise it would just be a list of injured pitchers who are making some amount of money to not pitch this year. So guys like Kerry Wood, Kris Benson, and Matt Clement aren’t eligible.
Anyways, without further ado, here’s the top ten:
1. Mike Hampton, LHP, Atlanta
The Braves are paying Mike Hampton $14.5 million to not throw a pitch this season. They’ll pay him $15 million next year, and then owe him a $6 million buyout on his 2009 option. That’s $35.5 million for the hope that he strings together some mediocre innings in 2008 before he comes off the books. Ouch.
2. Garret Anderson, OF, Anaheim
Garret Anderson has been a below average major league regular since 2004, as his various injuries have zapped his power and his secondary skills have never been up to par. Now that he’s losing his bat speed at age 35 and he can barely play defense anymore, he’s a guy who belongs on the bench. Unfortunately for the Angels, they owe him $11.6 million this year, $12 million next year, and then a $3 million buyout of his 2009 contract. $26 million for two years of a bad player? Yikes.
3. Barry Zito, LHP, San Francisco
He’s not off to a strong start with the Giants, only reinforcing the general belief that he’s a middle of the rotation pitcher and a shell of his former Cy Young self. The ridiculous 7 year, $126 million contract he signed this offseason looked bad when it was signed, and there’s no reason to think any better of it now. There’s not a team in baseball that would claim Zito right now were he to land on waivers.
4. Michael Young, SS, Texas
In general, I think Rangers GM Jon Daniels is a smart guy. However, the extension he just gave Michael Young was the kind of move that can sink a franchise. I know Young is beloved in Arlington as the heart and soul of the franchise, and keeping him around is a move the fans wanted to see. But the problem is that Young just isn’t that good, and they’ll be paying him $16 million per season from 2009 to 2013, his age 32 through 36 seasons. His defense has already degraded to the point that he shouldn’t be playing shortstop, and his offense is consistently overrated. By the time the extension kicks in, he’s going to be a below average starter, and the Rangers will be throwing large amounts of money at a utility player by the time it ends.
5. Magglio Ordonez, OF, Detroit
Like Zito, Ordonez is a better than average player who isn’t as good as his reputation, and is inexplicably being paid like an MVP candidate. He’s basically been the same player the last three years, putting up slightly better than league average offensive numbers while playing mediocre to poor defense and having a hard time staying on the field. In terms of performance, he’s about as average as it gets. For the right to show off his averageness, the Tigers will pay him $12 million this year, $15 million next year, $18 million (!) in 2009, and then have a $15 million option in 2010 with a $3 million buyout that becomes guaranteed with certain playing time incentives. They’re out a minimum of $48 million for the next three years, and it could turn into $63 million over four years if he stays healthy. For that kind of money, you need to get an awful lot more than Magglio Ordonez offers in return.
6. Randy Winn, OF, San Francisco
Randy Winn’s been a generally underrated player for most of his career, and he only makes $4 million this season. So why is he on this list? Because after a disappointing 2006 season, he’s off to a miserable start to his 2007 campaign and is on a short leash before Todd Linden starts eating into his playing time. With a decent chance to be a fourth outfielder by the end of the year, the Giants can’t be looking forward to paying him $8 million next year and $8.25 million in 2009. He also has a full no trade clause this year, but it doesn’t matter much, because the Giants couldn’t give him away if they tried.
7. Jason Varitek, C, Boston
Yea, he’s the captain, the emotional leader of the Red Sox, and a beloved player in Fenway. He’s also done as a major league hitter. His batspeed is gone, his catch-and-throw skills have diminished, and he’s about as effective as the average major league backup catcher. He’s also due $8 million this year and next year before his contract expires. $16 million might be a drop in the hat for the Red Sox, but for most teams, it’s a pretty large chunk of change to have to eat for a guy who is getting paid for what he did two years ago.
8. Todd Helton, 1B, Colorado
Todd Helton’s still a very good baseball player. He hasn’t posted an OBP under .400 since 1999, and even with a drop in power, he’s still sustaining his production through a high average and a lot of walks, as well as being one of the better defensive first baseman around. The problem, however, is that Todd Helton is under contract through 2084. Okay, not quite, but the Rockies are paying him $16.7 million through 2010, then owe him $19.1 million in 2011, and have a $23 million club option with a $4.3 million buyout for 2012. He also has a full no-trade clause that he’s exercising, making it tough for the Rockies to move him even if they’re willing to eat a huge chunk of his remaining contract. He’s a near all-star player right now, and he could even be worth something close to his 2007 salary, but the back problems all but guarantee that the power isn’t coming back, and as a 33-year-old who is under contract for another 5 years at escalating paydays, the contract is an albatross.
9. Gil Meche, RHP, Kansas City
Whether you think the market has changed and the cost of pitching is only going to continue to explode or not, the fact remains that Gil Meche is still a very mediocre pitcher, and he’s due $55 million through 2011. That kind of money may not buy an ace anymore, but it should sure buy a lot more than Gil Meche.
10. B.J. Ryan, LHP, Toronto
B.J. Ryan has been one of the best closers in baseball the past two years, and the Blue Jays have used his arm to get a lot of high leverage outs late in games. The problem, however, is that relievers have notoriously short shelf-lives, and after blowing two saves where his mechanics looked terrible, Ryan has landed on the DL and is headed for an MRI on his shoulder. Uh oh. The fact that he’s due $39 million over the next four years, and is now looking like damaged goods, makes him a very risky proposition. If the MRI comes out clean and he can return to form, he’ll regain his value, but right now, you’d have a hard time finding a team who would want to bank that kind of money on him being healthy.