Was Mariners Offer an Overpay?

Dave · January 11, 2013 at 10:36 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Now that we have a pretty good idea of what the Mariners offered for Upton — a package of Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor — the question on most people’s minds is whether that was a good deal for the Mariners had Upton not rejected the trade. Or, should we be happy that Upton said no, as some people suggested after the pieces were reported?

I wrote up my thoughts on the relative value of Upton versus Walker/Franklin over at FanGraphs this morning. While some are going to compare it to the Erik Bedard trade, the reality is that this isn’t anywhere close to that kind of deal, because trading a pitching prospect for a hitter is a lot different than trading a hitting prospect for a pitcher. While people tend to simply lump all “prospects” into the same basket, that’s simply not an accurate way of viewing their expected future value, and while Taijuan Walker might have serious upside, he also comes with huge amounts of risk.

In the piece, I never suggest that this was anything other than a good deal for Arizona, and conversely, I don’t think this was any kind of bargain for the M’s. This was something like paying market value for a +4 win player, just like signing Josh Hamilton to a 4 year, $100 million contract with some vesting options would have been paying market value for a +4 win player. Either could have gone badly. No player’s performance is any kind of future guarantee, whether big leaguer or guy working his way up the ladder. Walker could turn out to be a beast, and Upton might never develop any further than he has already.

But, this wasn’t some kind of absurd offer to try and save Jack’s job of desperation. Throw those comments in the trash where they belong. Upton is a very good player, and the Mariners offered up some very good prospects in order to get him. It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t change his mind and accept the trade, since they’ll still have Walker, Franklin, Furbush, and Pryor in that case, but it’s also a trade I’d have been willing to make. It’s a high price, but it’s not too high of a price.


74 Responses to “Was Mariners Offer an Overpay?”

  1. Ralph_Malph on January 12th, 2013 10:21 am

    Greentunic — it’s cool. I haven’t seen enough of the Uptons to have an opinion so I accept your concern as legitimate. Maybe what Justin needs is some veteran leadership…….

  2. ck on January 12th, 2013 10:46 am

    Overpay? YES…several good prospects for a short contract with a good player.
    NO…the M’s must improve quickly, and must pay above market price either to free agents, or trade partners.
    Losings seasons, declining attendance, rivals huge TV deals, agents pushing their players into big markets, Mariners are the bottom of MLB barrel.

  3. vetted_coach on January 12th, 2013 1:40 pm

    Of course it was an overloaded offer. There was no risk because everyone knew it would be rejected by Upton. If Z meant business, he would transfer the same offer – plus Casper Wells – to Miami for Stanton. Miami would consider that offer, and Stanton has no control. But the M’a are not interested in a $15M/ year talent, so that won’t happen. Z does need to save his own rear end, so perhaps he will pare down the offer (remove Walker/Franklin) and obtain Kubel for Furbush and Pryor. Still an overpay, but the M’s offense, left as is, represents an embarrassment. I expect 70-72 wins. Bye bye, Jack!

  4. greentunic on January 12th, 2013 2:20 pm

    Lots of assumptions there. I’d love to believe the one that says Miami would consider that offer especially.

  5. Jopa on January 12th, 2013 2:37 pm

    Knickers—I’m not sure how old you are, but I’ve been following the M’s since day one and it’s shocking how very few of their players they’ve ever extended. Ichiro is somewhat of an exception because of the Japanese ownership willing to do whatever it took to have kept him.

    After Ichiro, Edgar is about the only star player that was extended. Present and prior ownership have all been very tight fisted. They extended Boone when he was on the juice and that was a huge failure.

    Often, these players did enjoy playing in Seattle, but ownership simply wouldn’t compete with other offers to keep them in town. This has been the case as far back as I can remember.

    I know Jack is feeling some pressure, but this is not time to go all Bavasi on us. Another year or two of stockpiling talent and they’ll be in a much better position to trade.

  6. Westside guy on January 12th, 2013 3:28 pm

    It takes to to tango, as far as extensions go.

    Griffey refused to stay. RJ made it abundantly clear he was unhappy here. A-Rod signed an extension when young, but he was a Boras client – they rarely extend (and Boras made it known he was against that first extension).

  7. kinickers77 on January 12th, 2013 4:23 pm

    I moved to WA in ’93 as an eleven-year-old who had grown up an Angels fan up until that point. The M’s magical ’95 season made them my new favorite and I’ve been following them ever since. I hadn’t started following the M’s blogosphere until last year so my knowledge about the farm and how baseball team operations tend to go is still pretty new.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten the impression players don’t want to come to Seattle but once they do, they enjoy their time here. Kinda like how much Felix loves it hear and says he wants to be a Mariner for life. I believe him. Or David Aardsma’s recent tweet about Upton:

    “Upton missed out big time not going to Seattle, great city, great fans. #doesntknowwhatheismissing”

    I’m not making any statements about our ownership, though. You are probably right that they don’t tend to extend players much. They lost Griffey, ARod, Johnson. All I meant to say is that even if Upton doesn’t like Seattle now, if he played here and a time for an extension came in three years, I think the city and fans will have grown on him enough that he would legitimately want to stay. But I don’t know if the FO would pay him what he’d rightfully demand, though. I would hope they would.

  8. smb on January 12th, 2013 5:20 pm

    Any offer that includes Walker is too high a price, IMO.

  9. smb on January 12th, 2013 5:28 pm

    Regarding ownership and them not extending the handful of stars that have left and gone elsewhere, I’ll give them credit for at least attempting at times (they made Alex an offer, at least), and the Felix extension, but the track record isn’t very good. I’d attribute that to chronic undervaluation of under-contract talent and chronic overvaluation of their own skills and abilities in roster management and building a franchise to win above all else. I’ve never gotten the impression from M’s ownership that winning is their highest priority…”guest/fan experience” and making money seem to be the top priorities of the ownership group. It’s my single biggest beef with them, that they don’t understand that winning baseball games is the best medicine for their bottom line, both short and long term.

  10. Badbadger on January 12th, 2013 6:17 pm

    But wouldn’t you expect those two sets of numbers (Swisher’s and Upton’s) to pass each other by over the next 3 seasons?

    Maybe, but I also expect some good value from those prospects.

  11. bongo on January 12th, 2013 6:48 pm

    I am ok with this deal because the WAR benefits are positive to neutral until the 2016 season, and I need a watchable baseball team before then.

    “Walker was a couple of years away at best, while Franklin is blocked at SS/2B. ”

    [Bongo] I agree that other pitchers on the roster are much more likely to have impact in 2014 or before than Walker (Erasmo Ramirez, for one). My bet is that Walker spends all of 2013 plus a good portion of 2014 in the minors, and has no major impact the season he is called up. If Jack doesn’t get a decent team on the field soon, he won’t be Mariners GM in 2015 when Walker *might* have an impact.

    WAR estimate: 2013 (not on roster), 2014 (0 WAR)

    Based on Ackley’s 2012 season, he cannot be said to be blocking Franklin. Neither can Brendan Ryan if he continues to hit as he has.

    WAR Estimate: 2013 (not on roster), 2014 (1 WAR)

    “We currently have three lefties in our pen, so giving up Furbush wouldn’t be too much of a loss. Pryor is a nice talented right arm, but…”

    [Bongo] This, I agree.

    WAR estimate: 2013 (1.5 WAR), 2014 (2 WAR)

    Overall, in 2013 we only give up 1.5 WAR, and 3 WAR in 2014, and we potentially get a 4 WAR player for 2013-2015. The deal probably only goes slightly negative in terms of WAR dealt/received in 2015, and only a major negative (since Upton will probably be gone in 2016) in 2016 and beyond.

    If I were Jack, I’d be willing to look stupid in 2016 in return for the chance to remain a GM until then.

    Just sayin’.

  12. kennyb on January 12th, 2013 6:50 pm

    You want to send Franklin, Walker, Pryor, Furbush and Wells to Miami for Stanton?
    Me too! Unfortunately, Miami is not going for that.
    They are in a very similar position as Seattle, would you take that group for Felix?
    Put another way, the difference between Upton and Stanton is more that Wells.

  13. stevemotivateir on January 12th, 2013 6:54 pm

    After Ichiro, Edgar is about the only star player that was extended. Present and prior ownership have all been very tight fisted.

    Maybe you have a different definition of what a “star player” is, but most of the players I would call stars, were extended, including our current pitching ace, Felix Hernandez.

  14. bongo on January 12th, 2013 6:55 pm

    Adding Wells into the mix changes the equation significantly, because unlike Franklin and Walker, Wells can contribute in 2013 and 2014, and his contribution in those (and other years) is significantly more than Furbush and Pryor put together. For example, if we believe Wells is a 2.5 WAR player, then we have given up 4 WAR in 2013, 4.5 WAR in 2014 and as much as 7.5 WAR in 2015.

    Is Stanton really worth that much??

  15. bongo on January 12th, 2013 7:09 pm

    “One difference also between this deal and the Bedard deal is that the Bedard deal filled one hole by creating another.”

    [Bongo] This trade is way different from the Bedard trade because it makes the Mariners better for the first two years and only becomes a major negative in year 4 (2016). The Bedard trade did *not* “sacrifice the present for the future” because it made the team worse immediately. See:

    Of the players dealt for Bedard, Jones and Sherrill had impact the first year, and the combined WAR we dealt has been equal to or greater than received WAR every year of the trade, even including the prospects we received when we traded Bedard (e.g. Trayvon).

  16. bongo on January 12th, 2013 8:44 pm

    “Is Stanton worth that much?”

    [Bongo] To answer my own (stupid) post, yes, he is worth that much! Stanton only played in 123 games in 2012, and still was worth 4.2 WAR. He is only 23 and is likely to only get better if he stays healthy. So he could easily have an OPS of 1000, be an MVP candidate worth 4.5+ WAR in 2013, and more each year after that. Even with Wells thrown in, the trade would be WAR positive every year from 2013-2016. Stanton is a free agent in 2017.

  17. Jopa on January 13th, 2013 5:44 am

    @Stevemotivateir – Please name the stars that have been extended.

    I fully agree with you regarding Felix, though I don’t consider this an “extension”, per se, but rather the buyout of his arbitration years in exchange for a two-year extension. It’s a type of extension, though I’m referring to a pending free agent who gets his one big contract. Even Felix has yet to be extended in this way.

    Let me be clear on this—this is an awesome technique for management. This is why I don’t trade a bundle of top prospects for a guy with 3-years of eligibility. I don’t consider your best prospects to have only six years of eligibility, I consider them to have eight years of eligibility because of what you pointed out with Felix—nearly ever young star player will accept that type of deal such that you really have them for eight years, not six.

    This is why I love what the M’s are doing so far. If I were GM:

    1) Never rush a player to the majors so you don’t waste their eligibility.

    2) Buy out their arbitration years, adding a two-year extension.

    3) Let most of them sign a big contract elsewhere for their post-prime years when they are 30+ years old.

  18. Jopa on January 13th, 2013 5:51 am

    @smb about nine posts above-

    Brilliant. Couldn’t have been said better. I share the same frustration.

    I’ll point out a couple exceptions. They refused to offer Randy Johnson an extension. He actually offered them a very fair extension and they declined, for fear of back injuries. He went on to be one of the best pitchers in the history of the game.

    Carlos Guillen was crushing it at Safeco and they dumped him.

  19. stevemotivateir on January 13th, 2013 6:15 am

    You really need me to name names? How about Buhner, Griffey, and Johnson? They all spent considerably more years than you seem to realize. Maybe you don’t wanna call those extensions, but they were.

    Most players don’t spend their entire careers with the same team. Some spend the bulk of their prime in one place, and maybe that’s what you were trying to get at, but you can’t say the M’s haven’t extended stars. And that applies to Felix as well.

  20. currcoug on January 13th, 2013 11:39 am

    In regards to the Bedard trade, it should be remembered that the Orioles subsequently traded Sherrill to the Dodgers for Steve Johnson/Josh Bell. Accordingly, in giving up the oft-injured, enigmatic Bedard…the Orioles gained Jones, Tillman and Steve Johnson.

    Moreover, the hole left by Sherrill arguably solidified the decision to make Morrow the closer, which was a mistake in the long run for Seattle.

  21. bongo on January 13th, 2013 4:18 pm

    For the Orioles, the Bedard trade was the gift that kept on giving.

    In April 2012, the Orioles traded Josh Bell to the Diamondbacks for a PTBNL which turned out to be Mike Belfiore, who turned things around in 2012 at Visalia (A+) and Bowie (AA).

    Steve Johnson by himself was worth 1.3 WAR in 2012, which was more than Bedard (-0.8 WAR for Pittsburg). Then there is Tillman (1.5 WAR in 2012) and Jones (3.4 WAR in 2012).

    Similarly, the haul that the Indians got by obtaining Shin Soo Choo and Asdrubral Cabrera was astounding. In 2012, Choo was worth 3.1 WAR, Cabrera 3.0 WAR.

    Put altogether, the 2012 value of the players our “trading partners” obtained in these two trades was 12.3 WAR and the 2012 value we obtained (Trayvon Robinson) was 0.4 WAR.

    Add 12 WAR to the 2012 Mariners performance and you get a *very* different baseball team to watch.

  22. MrZDevotee on January 14th, 2013 12:09 am

    Here’s a “happy” link–

    A completely petty, feel-good collection of video of Justin Upton hacking wildly at Mariners pitchers over the years, including back to back incredibly ugly swings at Noesi “stuff”…


  23. kinickers77 on January 16th, 2013 8:45 am

    Buster Olney just wrote an interesting piece and mentioned this quote from one nameless evaluator on this blocked trade:

    “The Marlins will move Stanton at some point, whether it’s before, during, or after the 2013 season, and he’s universally considered to be a better player because of his upside as a potential 50-home run monster,” the evaluator said. “Upton is a really good player, but there are questions as to whether he can be a superstar; there are no such questions with Stanton — and he’s less expensive and under club control for four years as opposed to the three years of Upton. Remember, the Rangers are a pretty good team even without Upton, and he comes with a lot of questions and that isn’t the case with Stanton.”

    I think the Mariners might want to thank Upton for blocking this deal because it allows them to keep crucial assets to deal Miami for Stanton when the time comes. Patience is key here. If we have to wait a year, I’d much rather have Stanton than Upton.

  24. kill55 on January 16th, 2013 1:34 pm

    The best comp for the reported Seattle offer would be Cincinnati’s trade of Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger to San Diego for Mat Latos. One difference is that the Reds needed a starter while the Mariners ostensibly need a big bat.

    Alonso, Grandal, Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin were/are Top 50 or so prospects, although the Seattle pair is younger than the Cincinnati duo. Boxberger and Stephen Pryor were/are promising relievers of the same age. Volquez was a former All Star with only two years of team control while Charlie Furbush comes with five years of team control.

    Mat Latos was nine months younger at the time of the trade than Justin Upton is today. Upton has been valued at 17.1 WAR, including 6.4 and 2.5 the past two seasons. At the time of the trade, Latos had been valued at 7.6 WAR, including 4.1 and 3.3 the previous two seasons. Latos came with four years of team control while Upton comes with three years of team control.

    Perhaps the Reds overpaid for Latos, but the reported Upton trade proposal was similar.

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