Mondays are the best days for brain exercises, right? Right. Today's reposter has a few articles that focus on how teams place value on several of the moving parts of the biggest trades and signings we see every season. With the recent flurry of moves at last week's Winter Meetings, the timing seemed apropos given that the Cincinnati Reds actually participated in much of it.
Monday morning be damned. Grab some coffee and let's dig in.
Calculating the value of a Compensation Pick
As most of you know, baseball and the players union restructured one of the more complicated portions of their old CBA to create a new way rewarding teams that lose quality players to free agency. With it died "Type A" and "Type B" free agents, and born in its place was the new Qualifying Offer slash Compensation Pick format. The comp pick has become a major bargaining point in contract negotiations since its advent, so Jeff Quinton of Baseball Prospectus attempted to break down the various components that teams use to place a fixed value on said pick.
The sample of these is quite small - and the track record for how each contract plays out is nonexistent - but Quinton does find at least a little bit of a pattern in how teams approach players with comp picks tagged to them. The gist: teams are very reluctant to forfeit their ability to draft in the 1st round, but become much more willing to do so if they've got a year with multiple 1st round picks either in the year prior or projected for the year to come. WIth the recently traded Mat Latos joining Johnny Cueto, potentially Mike Leake, and eventually Aroldis Chapman as "Reds potentially getting extended a Qualifying Offer," knowing how Walt Jocketty & Co. value that pick will go a long way towards understanding why the many moves we can expect in the next year plus go down.
What the Yoenis Cespedes trade says about Justin Upton
On a related note, FanGraphs' Mike Petriello attempted to find exactly how much trade value Atlanta Braves OF Justin Upton has at this point of the offseason, and he used the recently completed Cespedes-for-Porcello deal as a benchmark. Why? Well, because Cespedes and Upton have had a reasonably similar last few seasons and both will make roughly the same amount of money in 2015, but the main difference (to relate this back to the first link in this reposter) is that Cespedes' contract prevents him from being extended a Qualifying Offer after the season while Upton will undoubtedly receive one.
So, how does that kicker make the players' value in trade different? How does Rick Porcello's situation - who also projects to get a QO at some point - affect the value of return the Tigers got for him? How was Latos' situation similar to Porcello's?
If you're at all interested in the comings and goings of player exchanges beyond just "Reds need bat trade for Kemp," getting a feel for this will help target your expectations. Also, considering Upton is one of the players many at RR have clamored for as the LF for 2015, this will give you a glimpse into the kind of package the Reds would have to come up with.
How the Reds quietly won at the Winter Meetings
Also from FanGraphs (sort of from Fox, too), Jeff Sullivan becomes one of the few writers to a) notice that the Reds made some newsworthy moves last week, and b) notice that despite what naysayers will naysay, the Reds' recent moves aren't indicative of punting 2015. He opines that dumping Alfredo Simon for anything was wise (and getting the return they got was both short-term and long-term killer), and that getting Anthony DeSclafani for Latos is, again, a great short-term and long-term decision to make.
Sullivan worries about Latos' 2014 as something that could continue to affect his 2015 numbers, meaning that the Reds could ill-afford to both be intent on trading him and willing to wait for him to improve his overall value. Trading him when they did was prudent, removed the worries that his 2015 would still show diminished velocity, and brought in return a guy who may well have a 2015 season very similar to Latos himself (for a lot, lot cheaper).
Ultimately, trading Latos allows the Reds to chase a LF, while keeping him would not have freed up enough money to do so and would have included the team holding on to a volatile asset. Now, they've got a near-comparable arm, money for a bat, and still have the ability to punt at the deadline if things don't work out.
Latos spoke with the Miami Herald
This isn't groundbreaking analysis. Far from it, actually, but it is Mat speaking with the hometown paper of his new team, and that's some closure, I suppose. As Latos told the Herald's Clark Spencer, he's "pitched pretty good in the new ballpark," and he's surely looking forward to home games there as opposed to in the Great American Bandbox.
It was a trade that needed to be made, but I already miss Mat Latos the Red. Reading this just makes it real.