Happy New Years everyone! Did you know that TCB turns 7 this season? On May 2, 2005, the site was launched. It's gone through changes over the seasons, but one thing we've always striven to do is provide a great place for Astros fans to discuss the team.
This upcoming season will be my third writing for the site, and I plan to do what I always do, which is get better and better while providing you readers with the best coverage possible. In the past year, we added some very talented writers who have been great additions to the site, covered the draft, prospects and trades with some depth. Oh, and launched a pretty awesome podcast that I hope is as fun to listen to as it is to record.
The last thing I want to do is get predictable, but I couldn't help myself when I saw this story about how the Tigers are thinking of moving uber-pitching prospect Jacob Turner in the right deal for a starter. They were in on Gio Gonzalez and are now making noise about Matt Garza.
My question almost immediately was: is Wandy worth enough to bring back Turner in a trade? How can we humble internet writers figure something like this out? Well, I broke out one of my favorite tools, the Trade Value Calculator to figure it out.
As with every time I've used this, let's break down the parameters of the calculations (in case you don't want to click the above link and read Sky Kalkman's original breakdown).
The Calculator looks at salary remaining less the player's value based on WAR to get a surplus value for trade purposes. There is an adjustment for free agent compensation as well as arbitration eligibility seasons.
It also assumes the value of one Win Above Replacement on the free agent market as $4.5 million. Since it was dreamt up back in 2009 and the value of a win fluctuates, we can then fluctuate with it. For instance, with Wandy's number, I adjusted it up for the two season's he's got left (before the option) to $5 million per win. That still may be low, but it's closer than the Calculator allows by itself.
The other thing I did to Wandy's value is assume he'll be a Type B. The thing we can't determine yet is how valuable player compensation will be due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I'm tempted to take it out entirely, since there's no way to know whether Wandy would even count in that Type B group by then.
So, we've got the values set, with his salary at $10 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013 and we know the cost per win on the open market. The only thing left is projecting what his WAR values will be for the next two seasons.
That gets harder. Do we assume Wandy can bounce back to his 2010 levels of around 3.5 WAR? Or, will this decline in 2011 forebode more decline in coming seasons? My thinking was that he'd split the difference next season, giving him 2.5 WAR and then decreasing that to 2.0 for the final year of his deal.
Plugging those numbers into the system nets us a surplus value of $2.6 million.
Of course, we also have the question of his option year for 2014. If the team decides to decline that option, Wandy would get an extra $2.5 million, which means his value drops even further. If he doesn't get compensation at that point, his value would swing about $5 million and would be negative.
That explains the slow market for Wandy somewhat, as the lefty is coming off a so-so season and doesn't have a lot of extra value for a team. It also means his value is much less than Turner's, since a Top 10 pitching prospect has a surplus value around $15.2 million.
What does that mean for this trade (besides the fact it's not happening)? The Astros would have to kick in a whole lot of money, possibly covering his entire 2012 salary just to bring back Turner in the deal.
That's right. A one-for-one swap would have to be heavily loaded with money going to Detroit to make it balance.
Obviously, this is not the end-all, be-all of trades. GMs don't weigh things like this, so if Detroit got desperate enough and Jeff Luhnow proved to be a Jedi in training, this could still go down. But, it's not likely at all, especially because Houston would probably need more in return than just one player who may or may not get injured.
Now, running these numbers for Bud Norris proved a slightly better trade scenario. Bud's value, assuming Type B compensation and not projecting any growth in his WAR total, would end up around $22.6 million for the next four years of control. That would easily net Turner in return plus another prospect or two.
Of course, trading Norris does not save Houston any money and turns a proven young guy into an unproven (yet impeccably resume-d) even younger guy. Most of you are probably saying you'd do that deal in an instant, but I'm not sure Detroit will.
See, even if the Tigers liked Norris a lot, he doesn't have the same reputation as Gio or Garza and is much lower profile than those other two. Norris also has only one season with a big inning total that suggests he could be a top end starter on a playoff team. Would he make Detroit feel better as the No. 2 behind Verlander? I'm guessing not.
Even though the Norris deal makes value sense, it wouldn't fly practically. The Wandy deal seems to pass the practicality test, but doesn't fly value-wise.
That's the problem Houston is facing on the trade market, compounded by the lateness of things. Teams probably are less willing to spend big in prospects so close to the season. I'm not saying it won't happen, just that it's less likely. My dreams of a Turner-Lyles-Cosart rotation can probably rest for now.
Do you agree with Wandy's value? Do you think it should be higher? Would you be happy with a trade of Wandy-for-Turner straight up?