Establishing Trade Value Part 1: The Pitchers

With the trade deadline approaching, I decided to try and figure out the trade value of each player on the active roster. Since I ended up writing something close to 10,000 words, I thought it might be better to break this thing up into three parts: first the pitching staff, then the position players, and then the prospects most frequently mentioned in trade rumors. I am mostly trying to determine the market value of each player, not his overall likelihood of being dealt (though I did make note of that). After the jump, the pitchers ranked in order of trade value:

1) Carl Pavano: Not just for his stats either, though his 3.26 ERA and 5 complete games are pretty shiny. He’s pitching himself into type A free agent status, so the two first-round draft picks a team would receive when he signs elsewhere, combined with his reasonable salary (he’s owed about $2 million the rest of the season), make him a pretty attractive rental. However, the Twins will probably want to keep those picks for themselves, and since they are still in contention, won’t be interested in dealing their second-best starter.

2) Francisco Liriano: With a 3.54 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 2.98 xFIP, and impressive 0.15 HR/9 rate, Liriano has quietly been one of the best starters in the American League. His injury history is a huge knock against him, but his previous record of dominance and the fact that he will be relatively cheap for the next years make Liriano a very attractive trade piece. The Twins would be selling very high on the lefty, but with Carl Pavano likely departing as a free agent next year, it’s unlikely they will consider dealing him.

3) Scott Baker: There is little doubt that Baker is pitching much better than his 5.15 ERA suggests, and is getting burned by a bit of bad luck and a sluggish outfield defense. He is essentially this year’s Carl Pavano, and it’s difficult to imagine a pitching-starved team would pass on him, especially considering his relatively team-friendly contract. The Twins would probably be shopping the right-hander right now if they weren’t in contention, but again, with the impending departure of Carl Pavano, the likelihood of Baker being included in any trade package is slim to none.

4) Kevin Slowey: Slowey isn’t pitching quite as poorly as his 4.94 ERA indicates either, though his peripherals still pretty mediocre. He isn’t too far removed from his impressive 2008 campaign, in which he posted a 3.99 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, and 5.13 K/BB ratio, so a team in desperate need of pitching might be interested. Since he’s due for a raise raise in arbitration, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the Twins to try to move him given their payroll constraints for 2011. However, they would be selling very low on Slowey right now, making it unlikely they would get much more than a C-grade prospect without throwing in a few top prospects as part of the deal.

5) Brian Duensing: A pretty average lefty who can serve as a long reliever or spot starter. Obviously he would draw some interest, but not enough to make it worth moving Nick Blackburn or Jeff Manship back into the rotation.

The market for relievers is odd. The demand is high, as a lot of teams need bullpen help, but there are a lot of arms available, and front offices are demanding a high price in return. Also, given that the Twins are in the playoff hunt, it’s more likely they will be adding bullpen depth than shedding it. Still, these guys are on the roster, so I felt the need to include them on this list.

6) Matt Guerrier: In truth, Guerrier, Rauch, and Crain are so similar in value, and equally unlikely to be dealt, that their rankings are pretty interchangeable. The Mayor is having a nice season, though he’s being a bit overworked, but will be a free agent at the end of the year. Like Pavano, he’s pitching himself into type A status, and the Twins just aren’t going to part with one of their best relievers (or the potential draft picks) with the division title on the line.

7) Jon Rauch: Rauch, according to the latest Elias rankings, is projected to be a type B free agent. He’s fallen out of favor with Gardy a little as closer, but considering no one else has really stepped into the role, the Twins aren’t likely to deal him. The sandwich pick would likely be more valuable than whatever prospects the tall one might fetch.

8) Jesse Crain: Crain might be the most valuable of the three, as teams tend to love power pitchers in the bullpen (it’s the reason Kyle Farnsworth finds steady employment). He’s been about as reliable as Guerrier, and is posting the best strikeout rate of anyone in the bullpen right now, so he probably won’t be dealt as long as the Twins are in contention.

9) Jose Mijares/Anthony Slama: Decent and cheap, it’s safe to say they aren’t going anywhere.

10) Nick Blackburn: With a 6.53 ERA, horrible peripherals, and a 4-year, $14 million contract, it’s safe to say that nobody wants Nick Blackburn. Well, maybe somebody would take him if the Twins ate most of his salary, but they certainly wouldn’t get anything of value in return.

11) Ron Mahay: Mahay’s peripherals are pretty good, but he’s worthless in terms of trade value. LOOGYs like Mahay are available on the waiver wire all of the time. He wouldn’t fetch even a low-level prospect.

Erin is a contributing writer for Twinkie Talk. Please feel free to email her at erinm725 [at] gmail [dot] com, or follow her on Twitter. She likes the attention.

Topics: Anthony Slama, Brian Duensing, Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, Kevin Slowey, Matt Guerrier, Nick Blackburn, Ron Mahay, Scott Baker

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