The Deal As We Know It
The trade has had moving parts all day long, but as we understand it currently, it looks something like this from the M’s perspective:
Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and a third player rumored to be J.C. Ramirez for Cliff Lee.
There’s a bunch of other stuff going back and forth from the Blue Jays and Phillies, but this is the relevant portion of the trade to M’s fans. And, to that, I just have to say that this is so amazingly awesome, I’m still trying to figure out how on earth this is actually happening.
Aumont is a good relief prospect. He could be in the majors this year, and he’s got all-star closer upside. Gillies is a potential high OBP center fielder with speed. Ramirez has the best arm in the system. They’re all prospects. And the whole lot of them aren’t worth three months of Cliff Lee, much less an entire season. Breaking it down numerically, since that’s what we do here.
Lee projects as roughly a +5 win pitcher for 2010. Given the expected cost of wins on the market, that makes him worth about $20 to $25 million for the upcoming season. However, the dollar per win values for high end players are usually based on multi-year contracts, as players of this caliber trade a little bit of cash for long term security. Since the Mariners are assuming no long term risk, his value is probably more like $25 to $30 million.
If the M’s can’t sign Lee to an extension, it’s almost a mortal lock that he’ll be a Type A free agent, which means that the team will get two draft picks if he leaves via free agency. The combined value of the two compensation picks is another $5 to $10 million, depending on what specific picks the M’s would receive.
So, the asset that is Lee for 2010 plus potential draft picks is worth somewhere between $30 and $40 million. His 2010 salary? $8 million. He’s a $22 to $32 million net asset. That’s enormous – he’s one of the most valuable properties in baseball.
The three prospects the M’s gave up? None of them are top notch, elite guys. They all have potential, but their risk-reward profiles do not put them in the top tier of minor leaguers. Based on the work of Victor Wang, we can quantify the present value of Aumont and Ramirez at about $5 million each and Gillies at about $3 million. That’s $13 million in total, or about half of what Lee is worth.
This is, quite frankly, a heist. The Mariners are getting a Cy Young caliber pitcher for some decent-but-not-great prospects. They aren’t giving up Morrow. They aren’t giving up Saunders. They aren’t even giving up Triunfel. And yet, they walk away with one of the five or six best pitchers in baseball.
Forget that we probably only have Lee for a year. We’re paying for about two months worth of his services and getting four months for free.
Seriously, dance in the streets. Build a bust of Zduriencik and place it on your mantle. Name your first born son Jack and your daughter Jackie. When this becomes official, hug someone. This trade is that good.