As we move past the all-star break and closer to the trade deadline, we will start hearing more and more rumors regarding potential players on the move. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few of the top pitchers who have been rumored as potential trade candidates and try to determine the kind of package their teams could command. The pitchers I'll focus on are Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels who, excepting Matt Garza, will all be free agents at the season's end.
Ryan Dempster-35 years old (RHP)
First off, explaining the chart. The "Trade Value Calculator" is a tool created by Adam Guttridge and Victor Wang a few years back. "SAL (M)", is obviously the player's salary, "PV (M)" stands for prospect value in dollars and can also be the value of compensatory draft picks, "Val (M)" is "fWAR" converted to dollars and "Net (M)" is a player's net value, or his salary subtracted from his value. In this model wins are worth six million dollars a pop which might even be a little low considering the teams acquiring these pitchers placement on the marginal win bell curve. In order to determine a player's value, I weighted his previous production and accounted for age. I relied on Victor Wang's article on prospect value where he determines the value of prospects and draft picks. I projected all pitchers to throw 75 innings during August and September.
Anyways, Dempster is getting up there in age, but is having a very good season. His ERA is currently 1.99, but his 3.79 SIERA is more indicative of his true value. He's projected to accrue another 1.4 wins from the trade deadline until the season's end. What kind of prospect, or combination of prospects, is worth $6.34MM? In a one for one, the Cubs could either come away with a Grade B prospect or a few Grade C level prospects and in the best case scenario, they could end up with a Grade B hitter and a Grade C pitcher under the age of 22.
For example, if Dempster was traded to the Orioles, we could expect either Jonathan Schoop, or a package similar to Parker Bridwell, Glynn Davis and David Baker.
Matt Garza-28 years old (RHP)
Matt Garza is arguably the most valuable asset coming into the trade deadline for the simple reason that he's under contract for next season as well. According to my calculation, however, even though Garza is under contract for an additional year, Greinke is projected to be more valuable overall. Matt Garza is only 28 years old and, for some reason, tends to pitch very well in odd years and worse in even years. This has been going on since 2008, so there's a good chance that my conservative projection is underestimating Garza by up to a win of surplus value. In that case, I do not believe Theo Epstein would give Garza up for anything less than a top 20 pitching prospect or a package of a couple top 100 prospects.
If Garza is traded, you should expect the Cubs to receive a player like Jameson Taillon in return. If the Cubs prefer a couple prospects, then I could see them acquiring both Robbie Grossman and Luis Heredia, in a potential trade.
Zack Greinke-28 years old (RHP)
Zack Greinke, a top three pitcher in all of baseball, has a very good chance of being traded by July 31st. This guy is just ridiculously talented. He's projected to produce more wins over the last third of the season than average players produce over a season's entirety. The issue is, the Brewers probably don't have enough money to lock Greinke up long term, which, unlike the Cubs, makes trading him by the deadline a more urgent matter. Another problem is Greinke's history with anxiety. Big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will probably shy away from acquiring someone like Greinke with his checkered mental past, further lowering his value.
At the end of the day, I could see Texas and both LA teams getting into it over Mr. Greinke. They'd probably have to give up a couple of highly touted pitching prospects. A trade I could see happening is Greinke to the Rangers for prospects similar to, if not, Cody Buckel and Robbie Ross.
Cole Hamels-28 years old (LHP)
Cole Hamels is the only left handed pitcher out of the available top flight starters. The truth is I really don't see the Phillies trading Hamels. They have too much invested in their current roster to be selling off integral pieces like Hamels. Hamels has put together a three season run unmatched by most pitchers in the MLB and is probably at his peak in terms of production. If I were Ruben Amaro, I'd seriously consider trading Hamels for prospects, but then again if I was Ruben Amaro I definitely would not have signed Ryan Howard to that ridiculous contract. That being said, if a team like the Angels would be willing to overpay for him and offer a package of Jean Segura and Nick Maronde, for example, I don't think Amaro would be able to decline.
While it looks like Dempster and Greinke will be pitching for other teams come August, I really can't see teams acquiescing to the desired packages for Hamels and Garza. While not trading Hamels at the deadline might end up being a mistake for the Phillies, holding onto Garza makes a lot of sense for the Cubs.