Trading For Brett Myers Makes Cents

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 28: Pitcher Brett Myers #39 of the Houston Astros throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Astros are looking to trade veterans Brett Myers, Carlos Lee, and Wandy Rodriguez this offseason. In Myers and Lee’s case they are reportedly willing to cover up to half of their contracts in order to help facilitate a trade. Even with the salary relief it seems doubtful that Carlos Lee will be able to be traded as external factors such as his partial no trade clause and the fact that even with half of Lee’s salary covered, the receiving team would still be responsible for about $9 million which is a lot of money for Carlos Lee. However, at the same 50% discount Myers seems to look more appealing to a potential receiving team.

Myers has been a workhouse for the Astros the last two seasons, and there is no reason to believe that he can’t pitch 200+ innings again this upcoming season. Over Brett’s nine year career he has averaged an ERA of 4.24, and an FIP of 4.36. Given the fact that last season’s ERA and FIP were close to his career totals there is no reason to expect these numbers to deviate that far from his career totals for the 2012 season. Basically, Myers would be a decent 4th starter on most contending teams.

The graph below compares Myers 2011 season to the 4th best starter as determined by FIP of each team that made the playoffs this past season:

Player Team IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP WAR 2011 Salary
Brett Myers Astros 216 6.67 2.38 4.46 4.26 1.5 $11M
Joe Saunders Diamondbacks 212 4.58 2.84 3.69 4.78 1.0 $5.5M
Jeremy Hellickson Devil Rays 189 5.57 3.43 2.95 4.44 1.4 $0.418M
Jake Westbrook Cardinals 183.1 5.11 3.58 4.66 4.25 1.1 $8M
Brad Penny Tigers 181.2 3.67 3.07 5.3 5.02 0.8 $3M
Alexi Ogando Rangers 167 6.68 2.32 3.56 3.68 3.5 $0.430M
Chris Narveson Brewers 158.2 7.03 3.63 4.54 4.08 1.5 $0.444M
Freddy Garcia Yankees 145.2 5.87 2.72 3.58 4.12 2.2 $1.5M
Roy Oswalt Phillies 139 6.02 2.14 3.69 3.44 2.5 $9M

Myers ranking:

Innings Pitched = 1st

Strikeouts per nine innings = 3rd

Walks per nine innings = 3rd

Earned Run Average = 6th

Fielding Independent Pitching = 6th

Wins Above Replacement = 5th

While not being extremely flashy in any particular category other than innings pitched Myers 2011 season compared favorably to most of the other 4th starter types on last season’s playoff teams. The one glaring fact that hurts Myers trade value is his salary. He was paid the most out of all of the other pitchers on this list when taken into account the $7 million the Astros sent with Oswalt to cover part of the $16 million he was due. However, if the Astros cover half of his 2012 salary as reported then Myers will only cost the receiving team about $5.5 million, and at that price he would be a solid investment for a competitive team.

There are better starting pitcher options available in the free agent market as well as other trade options, but they would require longer commitments. As OremLK mentioned in another thread discussing Wandy’s trade value, the free agent pitching class next offseason figures to be significantly stronger than this year’s group. Therefore some teams may not want to overpay in free agency or in prospects via trade for a mediocre starter this year when better options should become available next offseason. Picking up a short-term commitment like 1-year of Brett Myers at a reasonable price could buy the big spender’s time until the pitcher they want becomes available next offseason.

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