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Should the Astros trade for the Tigers’ Matt Boyd?

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Taking a look at a potential Matt Boyd Acquisition

What Matt Boyd would look like in an Astros uniform

As we’ve officially kicked off the trade season, I figured it was worth taking a long one of the top trade targets this season: Matt Boyd.

Who is Matt Boyd?

As a 175th overall draft pick as a senior bargain signing, he was not a blue chip prospect by any means. But a 28 year old left hand pitcher with a prototypical pitcher’s body (6’3, 285 lb), with the results he’s having now will draw some attention. He topped out as a C+ prospect that ranked 16th according to Minorleagueball who wrote an article that he deserved a closer look in 2015, with this note:

“Many saw Boyd as a finesse back end starter at the beginning of the season, but as his fastball has progressed and his numbers continue to be stellar, I see him as, if all works out, a solid #3 starter. Boyd has good composure on the mound and has very good control and command, walking few and striking out many. “

MLB Performance

Boyd has had anything but a conventional path, with results ranging from mediocre to downright terrible. From 2015-2018, Boyd amassed a 22-35 record supported by a 5.07 ERA (4.79 FIP), 7.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. So why is he viewed as such a valuable trade chip? Well to put it simply, he’s a different pitcher in 2019.

So far in 2019, he’s 5-5 with a 3.35 ERA. His FIP (3.01), xFIP (3.40), and SIERA (3.25) indicate the results are not a simple fluke. Looking at wOBA (.290) vs xwOBA (.282) also supports the notion.

Furthermore, his strike-out rate has jumped all the way to 11.37 K/9, his BB/9 dropping down to 1.73 K/9.

That K/9 ranks 7th in the MLB for Starters just ahead of Caleb Smith, Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom and Charlie Morton (and obviously a countless number of other “name-brand” pitchers. Of the top 30 pitchers from K-rate, his BB/9 ranks 3rd behind only Justin Verlander and Carlos Carrasco.

That’s a devastating combination.

What Changed?

Fangraphs did an excellent article in regards to the changes to Matt Boyd. And while I highly recommend reading the whole article, a few exerts were the amount of muscle mass he added, the change in release point, increased spin rate, basically abandoning the sinker - and changing his approach to attacking the strike-zone to maximize the use of tunneling.

Boyd’s Salary going forward

Using Fangraphs formula for Modeling Arbitration Salaries, (I used the traditional stats method) and simply duplicating his current performance this season x 2 as an estimate for counts of strike-outs, wins, etc (obviously this a best “educated” guess as we don’t know what his performance will be for sure going forward).

2019 - $1,300,000

2020 - $ 4,711,000

2021 - $6,822,000

2022 - $8,933,000

Grand Total - $21,766,000

**Note, these numbers are rounded down to the lowest thousand for simplicity sake**

For all of those of you who were frustrated as we talked about Super 2, this is a perfect case of how much it impacts from a salary perspective and trade value perspective. You may have seen that Boyd made the Super 2 cut off date by 2 days... those 2 days will cost the Tigers Millions in either salary or trade value.

If the Tigers had called up Boyd 3 days later, his salary would have been roughly $14.3 Million... approximately a $7.5 Million dollar impact for 3 days

So What would It Cost?

This part of the article is always the most challenging with trading seeming to be as much art as science. With that said, we’ll try to do it as mathematically sound as possible looking at excess value for the player and estimated prospect value based on Fangraphs Prospect Valuation and the one for players outside the top 100.

Using our estimated WAR/year above, we’d have 3 Seasons @ 3 WAR and I’ll estimate the remainder of the year at 1.5.

So 10.5 WAR @ $9 Mil / WAR = 94.5Mil in Value

94.5 M in Value - 21.7 M in cost = $72.8 in excess value

Fangraphs
Fangraphs

Here was the list of Astros top prospects and their FV, these are pre-season but will work well enough for us to build proposed packages.

Fangraphs

Conclusion

His years of control magnify his value probably past what most people expect, and my initial ballpark estimates put him in the range of a Tucker-esque prospect and a couple back end top 20s- although obviously if they’re willing to take quantity (diminishing returns) the Astros could build a package around their second tier pieces.

I do believe that Matt Boyd’s changes are sustainable. There’s nothing in the advanced stats that screams regression. He is truly a different pitcher than he was in previous years. I know everyone on here loves to think of the Strom magic, but truthfully, I think that will be somewhat minimized with Boyd, because honestly the bulk of what Strom implements Boyd implemented this year. Obviously, I think there’s still some aspects that can improve, but I wouldn’t expect the normal “magic” we’ve grown accustomed to.

I’m torn on this as there are very few top of the rotation pitchers that are upgrades to our rotation that are both controlled over multiple years AND cost-controlled. There’s a reason most of these assets don’t change hands and even the Tigers could decide that Boyd is a piece to build around with 3.5 years left of control. I personally think with his current track record, even with how much I believe in the changes he’s made the cost is too high for me.

Tell us your thoughts. If you’d want to trade for him - what would your package look like? Is there any parts of my methodology you disagree with (I’m completely open on this one as there were a ton of variables).

Poll

Would you want the Astros to trade for Matt Boyd?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Yes
    (153 votes)
  • 22%
    No
    (72 votes)
  • 30%
    Meh
    (99 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now