Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Andrew McCutchen's trade value

Before people totally lose their minds, I am not advocating this move. I don't think it will happen and I am not saying that the front office was just trying to build up McCutchen's trade value so they can ship him off to the highest bidder. However, since I have seen a few people mention this and considering how McCutchen's enormous trade value was a hotly discussed topic before the extension, I figured I'd at least crunch the numbers and see what I came up with.
Andrew McCutchen's fWAR was 5.7 in 2011 and his rWAR was 5.5. In the interest of fairness, let's split the difference and give him an annual WAR of 5.6 for the life of his extension. Over seven years, McCutchen would be worth 39.2 WAR. At $5MM per marginal win, that would make 'Cutch worth a whopping $196MM. Including the team option, the Bucs will pay McCutchen $66.25MM during over the life of the contract, meaning his surplus value would be $129.75MM. Read that again. Oh yeah.

This means that McCutchen would be worth a top-10 hitting prospect, a top-10 pitching prospect, an 11-25 hitting prospect, an 11-25 pitching prospect, a 26-50 hitting prospect, a 76-100 hitting prospect and (just for fun) a C grade hitting prospect under 23. Clearly this would be quite a haul but nobody has a system this loaded.

So is there any farm system out there that could hypothetically afford the Pirates' star centerfielder? Well, Toronto could try gutting their entire farm system. A package of Travis d'Arnaud ($23.4MM), Jake Marisnick ($23.4MM), Anthony Gose ($14.2MM), Noah Snydergaard ($12.1MM), Justin Nicolino ($12.1MM), Drew Hutchison ($12.1MM), Deck McGuire ($9.8MM), Daniel Norris ($7.3MM), Aaron Sanchez ($7.3MM), AJ Jimenez ($5.5M), Joel Carreno ($1.5MM) and Adeiny Hechavarria ($0.7MM) would be worth a total of $129.4MM. Let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt and say the Bucs will eat the remaining $350K.

The Royals could offer up their entire system too, I guess. A package of Wil Myers ($25.1MM), Bubba Starling ($23.4MM), Cheslor Cuthbert ($23.4MM), Jake Odorizzi ($12.1MM), Mike Montgomery ($7.3MM), Kelvin Herrera ($7.3MM), Yordano Ventura ($7.3MM), Chris Dwyer ($7.3MM), Christian Colon ($5.5MM),  Elier Hernandez ($5.5MM) and Brett Eibner ($5.5MM) would be worth $129.7MM. It also might be more interesting because of the star power involved.

The Mariners have a top-heavy system that might get it done. Offering Jesus Montero ($36.5MM), Taijuan Walker ($15.9MM), Danny Hultzen ($15.9MM), James Paxton ($15.9MM), Nick Franklin ($14.2MM), Vinnie Catricala ($5.5MM), Francisco Martinez ($5.5MM), Alex Liddi ($5.5MM), Phillips Castillo ($5.5MM), Brad Miller ($5.5MM), Stephen Pryor ($2.1MM), and Victor Sanchez ($2.1MM) would have a total trade value of $130.1MM so the Pirates might have to kick in a few thousand bucks to make it work.

Again, none of this is meant to suggest that the Pirates are going to trade Andrew McCutchen. This is not the same thing as Nate McLouth. Even if they were looking to shop him, none of the teams above would be willing to completely obliterate their farm system for one player, even one as special as Andrew McCutchen. Still, it's a pretty shocking way of seeing just how valuable #22 really is.


  1. You can't be serious. do you really think McCutcheon has that much real value to a GM of a major league baseball team?

    1. Based on his contract status, age, past performance and talent level...well...yeah. As I said above, No GM out there would be willing to gut his farm system like this for one player. That doesn't change what McCutchen is actually worth, though. A man much smarter than I am named Victor Wang went through quite a bit of effort determining the approximate value of prospects. It's really a tricky thing to do because we have no idea if a guy like Jake Marisnick will be the next Evan Longoria or the next Andy Laroche, Brandon Wood or Andy Marte. All I did here was cruch the numbers.

      Let me ask you this: what part of this do you think is incorrect? Do you think I overvalued McCutchen by saying that he's good for 5.6 WAR per year? Do you think it's inaccurate to say that a win is worth $5M? Do you think Victor Wang made a mistake in his research regarding the value of prospects?

      If a trade were made for Cutch (and as I said above, I do not think it will be or should be) it would have to include major league players. They are worth more than prospects. Think about it, the Giants gave up six years worth of Zack Wheeler (who is currently the #35 prospect in baseball) for two months of a 34-year old Carlos Beltran. At a cost of $4MM no less.

      Hope this cleared things up...

  2. Like the analysis, but I don't think you can assume that McCutchen will be worth 5.6 WAR a year. Sure, he will probably be worth around that next year, but an average of that over the course of the 7-year deal? Probably not.
    The 39.2 WAR you project would make McCutchen a border-line hall-of-famer (most players who surpass 50 WAR get into the Hall)--during this deal alone. Basically, you are assuming that McCutchen will have a hall-of-fame career. Sure, this is possible. But I would say your projection lines up with the 90-95 percentile of optimism on a projection scale (if 0 is the least optimistic and 100 the most optimistic projection). I hope McCutchen has a hall-of-fame career and continues his level of success while avoiding major injuries, but I wouldn't count on it. Keep in mind, he will have to improve his offense to sustain your 5.6 WAR projection for each year in order to cancel out the inevitable losses in defense as he ages, loses range, and ultimately lands in a corner outfield position.
    Personally, I would put the over-under on 25 WAR for McCutchen's next seven seasons--an average of 3-4 WAR a year. He still is extremely valuable and a great asset for the Pirates, whether they trade him or hold on to him. However, instead of being worth $130 m in surplus value, he is probably worth more like $65.