Last week we updated our 40-man and 25-man roster projections for the 2009 season. With free agency now in full swing, the Hot Stove is upon us. Therefore it is time to update the Tampa Bay Rays “Trade Value Index” in which we rank the value of top 50 players in the Rays organization.
The TVI ranks every player on the 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. 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 we have to keep reading stories about how he overcame his handicap of having been a Columbia University student, and some more value because the team has BJ Upton in center field for years to come.
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]
Notes on the Rays TVI top 50…
- Notice that 10 of the top 11 are under team control for at least the next 4 years, and we expect the 11th (Dioner Navarro) to be locked up to a longterm deal this winter.
- We have been updating this list every few months for over two years now and this is the first time that Scott Kazmir was not in the top spot. This time, there were arguments for everybody in the top 4 (Evan Longoria, David Price, James Shields, BJ Upton) to be #1. And while there was some sentiment that Matt Garza has surpassed Kaz, the concerns about Garza having a tired arm in 2009 and the fact that Kazmir is both a lefty and the youngest pitcher in the rotation gives him the edge.
- After Garza, the next group of about 12-13 players consists of the top-tier prospects and younger key contributors to the everyday lineup. This group is led by Tim Beckham. The top pick of the 2008 draft would be in the top 3 of most organizations.
- Carl Crawford is starting to slip down the list. With only two years left on his contract, a history of injuries and a talent-level that appears to have already plateaued, he is no longer the most valuable position player.
- Jake McGee was the biggest wild card. There was some sentiment that he was still a top 10 commodity, while others felt he had little value until he was back on the field. Keep in mind that many pitchers need two full years to get back to 100% after Tommy John surgery and some never get back at all (Wade Townsend).
- One of our rules of thumb is to not get too excited about most prospects until they do something above single-A. But we made an exception for Matt Moore and Nick Barnese. The early reports on both are very promising and the numbers are too good to ignore. But if the 19-year olds slip up even a little, they will tumble down the list quickly.
- While there are currently openings on the 40-man roster, should the Rays need additional spots in the future, the most likely DFA candidates will come from the bottom of this list. Jason Hammel, Juan Salas, Jonny Gomes, JK Ryu, Troy Percival and Chad Orvella make up the least valuable players on the 40-man roster. Percival is safe, but his age, $4 million salary and questions about his health leave him with very little value at this point.
According to the TVI, the Rays top 15 prospects, in terms of value, are as follows…
- David Price
- Tim Beckham
- Wade Davis
- Jeremy Hellickson
- Jake McGee
- Reid Brignac
- Matt Moore
- Nick Barnese
- Jeff Niemann
- Mitch Talbot
- John Jaso
- Fernando Perez
- James Houser
- Desmond Jennings
- Eddie Morlan