With the non-waiver trade deadline, a little over a week away, there are rumors galore that the Rays are interested in beefing up the bullpen, adding a right-handed hitting outfielder and possibly a utility infielder.
Therefore it is time to update our Tampa Bay Rays Trade Value Index (TVI)…
The TVI ranks every player on the current 40-man roster and the top prospects in the organization. Our goal is to determine which players in the organization are the most valuable to the team. Ultimately, when looking at the rankings, the question should be, if the Rays could only keep one of two players (A or B) from the organization, which player would the front office choose to keep.
The rankings consider a number factors in addition to talent and good looks, such as potential, age, contract and depth of position in organization. This last factor comes into play if one player is stuck behind another player with more ability. For example, Fernando Perez would be a little higher due to his exceptional speed and strong OBP, but loses a little value because he has bad hair, and some more value because the team has BJ Upton in center field for years to come. Another factor is team needs. One player may be ranked ahead of a more talented player if he plays a position that is more needed at the major league level or has a lack of depth in the minors.
We do use a very rough mathematical formula that gives differential weights to the various factors. This gives the list a starting point which is then tweaked based on the discussions of several committee members that may or may not have been under the influence of alcohol. Keep in mind that in many instances there is only a very slight difference in value from one position to the next in which we could easily make a strong argument for swapping two players in the rankings. That being said we are fairly confident that most players are within a couple of spots of where they should be. Or not.
Feel free to tell us where we screwed up in the comments.
[More detailed notes about specific players, follow the Rankings]
- Scott Kazmir barely holds his grip on the top spot. Evan Longoria’s contract extension that keeps him in a Rays uniform for what seems like the rest of his life as well as his first-born, makes the Dirtbag extremely valuable. Still, Kid K is a power lefty that is nearing 50 wins and he is not even 25 yet. On top of that, the Rays secured him to an extension that should keep him with the team for the next 4 years. Nothing in baseball is more valuable than that.
- One could easily argue that BJ Upton is one of the more talented position players in all baseball, but there is some sense that he is not willing to negotiate a contract extension and will test the free agency waters when his time comes.
- Matt Garza shoots up the rankings based on the past month of starts in which the one thing that seemed to be holding him back, his emotions, now seem under control. He has the stuff to be a top-10 pitcher in baseball and if BJ Upton doesn’t want a contract extension, certainly The Garza Complex is next on the Rays’ list. Garza edges out James Shields by the slimmest of margins due almost entirely to being two years younger. But Shields’ contract makes this a virtual tie.
- Carl Crawford continues to slowly slide down the list as we near the end of his team-friendly contract and as it is becoming more clear that he may have already peaked as a player.
- Dioner Navarro and Andy Sonnanstine both crack the top 11. Neither is flashy, but both get the job done and have been keys to the Rays’ success this year. And oh yeah, both are young and cheap and will be around for a while.
- Wade Davis‘ strong start in triple-A has him eyeing a trip to the Rays’ bullpen in the fall and into our top 10.
- As we have always said…Show us something at double-A before we get too excited. Jeremy Hellickson has done just that and Hellboy shoots into the top 15.
- A lot of luster has come off of several players including Jeff Niemann, Carlos Pena and Chris Mason, but none have fallen farther than Jake McGee, who at this point has little value. As he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, he will inch back up the list, but until he shows he is 100%, there will be doubts. Also keep in mind that he wasn’t exactly lighting double-A on fire before the injury either.
- This year’s top pick, Tim Beckham, is a bit of a mystery. He has struggled early on in rookie ball. Still, he signed early and he will have that much more experience when ’09 rolls around. He is young. He would be much higher in other organizations, but the Rays have a ton of young, cheap talent that have already proven themselves. We need to see something before he gets much higher on this list, even if he was the top pick in the draft.
- Several players are lower on the list than their talent alone would necessitate. For example, Troy Percival is only #22. He retains a little value as a closer with tons of experience and his leadership qualities and the Rays do have him under control for ’09. But he is 39, he is overweight, has been on the DL 26 times this year and we get the sense that his career could end at any moment. A player like Al Reyes has almost no value due to his age, recent injuries and because he is a free agent after the season. Cliff Floyd is in a similar situation. Floyd is broken-down. The Rays couldn’t possibly trade him if they wanted to. He is a DH-only and they are not about to trade him to another AL contender, even if his health status is handcuffing the roster. And there are indications from Floyd that he will retire after the season. Eric Hinske is also a free agent at the end of the year, which takes away from his value.