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Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Trade Value Rankings

alexvanderlaan
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In a pastime almost as old as the game itself, armchair GMs for decades have sat around and discussed hypothetical trades that would never take place in real baseball for a variety of reasons.

These include vast over/under estimation of a player’s worth, hometown bias, players being deemed ‘untouchable’ by a franchise, financial purposes… the list keeps going. But, just for a moment, let’s take a break from reality and think about what if MLB teams were run like fantasy baseball, where even the best players often get traded multiple times each season.

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Would Mike Trout be worth more than Bryce Harper? What top prospects would be more valuable than established MLB stars? We’ll never be able to know for sure (unless, that is, more leaks like that of which happened to the ASTROS take place), but while we wait patiently for the season to start, these rankings take a theoretic look at which Blue Jays hold the most trade value.

Now, before we begin, let’s re-emphasize that this list isn’t necessarily ranked best to worst player, but rather in order of which player carries the most trade value. Trade value is based on a number of things, such as a player’s age, salary, past success and future outlook. You can find a great set of league-wide rankings by Jonah Keri at Sports Illustrated league wide rankings.

Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Trade Value Rankings

1 – Josh Donaldson, 3B
The first name on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. As the reigning AL MVP, an argument can be made that not only is Donaldson the most valuable player on the Blue Jays, but also in the entire league.

The only knock against Donaldson in these rankings (albeit, not a huge concern) is his contract, which only lasts up until the end of the 2017 season followed by one final year of arbitration. Despite its shorter length, it’s rather team friendly, as the third basemen will be making an average salary of just over 14 million in the next two seasons.

Compared to some of the mammoth contracts being handed out these days, this should be considered a steal. Outside of his contract, Donaldson is far and away the most valuable Blue Jay. He has a proven track record (three straight top ten MVP finishes), is still only 30 years old, and his best years may still be ahead of him. Due to the fact he didn’t reach the majors until his mid-twenties, his body doesn’t have the same type of mileage that other players his age may have. There should be no question that Donaldson is the most valuable Blue Jay.

2.  Marcus Stroman, SP
Stroman has only made 24 major league starts, but there is a good chance that he will be first place in these rankings at this time next season. Blue Jays fans (and MLB followers alike) are still wondering how the 24-year-old managed to come back and still start four games after what looked to be a season ending knee injury. Not only did he come back, but he out pitched everyone on the Jays staff (including David Price), en-route to a 1.67 ERA.

It’s scary to think about how much better he could be this season. Stroman is under team control until at least the 2021 season, and if all goes according to plan, he should be the ace of this ball club for much longer after that as well.

3.  Roberto Osuna, RP
Finding a pitcher who can consistently close out games is rare, never mind finding one who can get the job done regularly for a number of seasons in a row. Toronto may just have found this rare commodity in Roberto Osuna.

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The young Mexican was thrust into the 9th inning role last season and was able to perform admirably, successfully closing 20 games last year and finishing fourth overall in Rookie of the Year voting. Yes, there were a few rocky outings. That’s to be expected by a pitcher who was still only 20-years-old. What adds even more additional value to Osuna is that he has the ability to either be a starting or relief pitcher; in the minor leagues he was primarily a starter.

As with Stroman, he still has plenty of team control remaining. This year will show the Jays what they really have in Osuna, but if last year was any indication, he has all the skills to be a star for years to come.

4.  Troy Tulowitzki, SS- True baseball fans know that 2015 wasn’t Troy Tulowitzki’s best season in the MLB. Still, even in a down year the slugging shortstop smashed 17 home runs and played stellar defence, teaming with Ryan Goins to create an All-Star caliber combination up the middle.

Now that he’s had more time to adjust to Toronto, don’t be surprised to see him put the same sort of numbers (25 home runs and a .300 average) that were normal for him in Colorado. Playing in what will be his age-31 season, Tulo surely still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and being under contract until 2022 ensures the Jays will be the benefactor of this production. His contract does slightly bring his worth down (he will be paid 20 million in each of the next four years), but Toronto paid a premium to acquire him and his trade value hasn’t slipped since.

5.  Anthony Alford, OF- No Bautista or Encarnacion in the top 5? I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let’s take a moment to admire the freak athlete that is top prospect Anthony Alford.

Not that long ago, Alford was committed to football. Fast forward to 2016, and he’s being ranked as a Top-100 prospect by experts across the country who believe his his power/speed combo will be able to transform him into a high-level ball player in the near future.

While he may not be a household name just yet, he could form into an ideal leadoff man; he has all the tools needed for this spot in the order.

Next: Yes, even Josh Thole is trying to add more power

So where are Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion? Make no mistake, both are still premier players in the big leagues and just missed out on making the cut for this list. Their trade value just isn’t on par with the rest of the names on this list.

Both are scheduled to become free agents at the end of this year (meaning there is a chance that a team trading for either player won’t be able to retain them at season’s end), both will likely be seeking raises (well deserved), and both are in their mid-30s (Bautista is 35, Encarnacion is 33). These three things negatively affect their trade value to the point where it would be hard to judge how large a return Toronto could get on either player. This isn’t to say that they couldn’t net a solid package, but it does mean that the five names ahead of them on this list are worth more.

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