What Would It Take To Trade For Cliff Lee?


With the news reported by the Rosensquirrel that the Twins would be the team most gung ho in trading for Mariners starter Cliff Lee I decided to take a look at what the Twins would likely have to part with to acquire him, and whether or not it would be too much.

First, Cliff Lee’s trade value, from, as always, Sky Kalkman at BtB:

The salary portion of this cut off, but estimating that the Twins will be paying 4 million to Lee (half of his 2010 salary) and estimating that he is going to be worth 3.3 WAR*, his surplus value is 17.1 million dollars, when factoring in the value of his compensation picks due to his Type A stats.

*I estimated this thusly: Lee has been worth roughly 1 win every 4 starts over the past three years, when he really emerged as an ace type starter. If we assume he makes 15 starts for the team he is traded to, Lee will be worth 3.45 wins. I knocked Lee down a tad due to possible injury and regression, although it could certainly be argued I could have regressed a little more.

To take this a different way, the marginal value of a win is somewhere between 4-5 million (closer to 5 seeing as teams have more information than they did in the offseason). If you take Lee’s 3.3 WAR times 5 million, he is worth 16.5 million dollars.

Using our farm system values, Lee would be worth a good hitting prospect (or a great pitching prospect) and some lesser players.

Because the Mariners have made it known they want a bat to come back (in the same link I posted above) let’s start with Wilson Ramos. That covers about 15 million of the 17 million in surplus value (the official number is 14.2 million, but we’ll give him a bonus for being a catcher).

The next prospect to give up is more complicated: Gibson, Hicks, Sano, and Revere are too much to give up, but Valencia, Kepler, Bullock, etc. are not enough. Honestly I’d be find with Angel Morales, as I don’t think his plate discipline will translate to the majors, but Twins fans probably won’t be happy with me.

In the end, Ramos is likely to be the centerpiece, and as long as the Twins avoid giving up Slowey, Baker, Sano, Gibson or Hicks it will be a good trade.

My proposed deal: Wilson Ramos, Carlos Gutierrez and Nick Blackburn for Lee

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  • evoxx

    You haven’t factored in the market. There is a very limited supply of difference-making starters (2~) available and at least 5 teams with prospects that would entice the Mariners (Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Rangers, Twins), there are even more when you consider three team deals. You may have crafted a very equitable offer that will ultimately be too low because others will offer more. Getting this deal done will require over-paying.

    • Fetch

      True. I guess I was more trying to figure out what a fair deal would be, but you’re right they would probably have to overpay to get Lee.

      My only nitpick is the Mets probably don’t have enough to get Lee as they’ve said they won’t part with Ike Davis, and the Rangers probably can’t take on the salary, so that lessens the demand a little.

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