David Wright: One of the Most Undervalued Players in all of Baseball
One of the greatest parts of fantasy baseball is how much it emulates what actual general managers do on a daily basis, trying to "buy-low" on players in different organizations. The idea of "buying-low" is something that GMs and their staff must think about all the time, spending countless hours upon hours researching who to target and when to make that first phone call in order to get the best possible deal for their franchise. The tricky part is, you cannot wait too long, otherwise the player will re-establish his value and you will have to give up a lot more to acquire him.
This list of 30 players is not simply the worst players on every team, but rather the players I believe have the lowest value to their current organization, as compared to what their value could be somewhere else. There are former all-stars, MVP and Cy Young candidates, and even a 49-year-old pitcher that make the list, and I would not be surprised to see a good portion of these players on new teams by the beginning of the 2013 season.
As fantasy general managers or stock-portfolio managers, we have all tried to "buy-low" at some point in our lives. Here is my list of 30 players, one from each team, that I would try to acquire while their values are so low.
Parra is not what we would call a bust, but rather a player that is being denied the opportunity to start. With an outfield of Jason Kubel, Chris Young and Justin Upton, the Diamondbacks have decided Parra will be their fourth outfielder, and I believe his value is much higher than that.
Coming off a gold glove season where he hit .292, Parra belongs in an everyday role. If the rumors that the Diamondbacks are listening to trade offers for Parra are true, a team that needs an outfielder, like the New York Mets, should step up and acquire Parra while they have the opportunity.
His skills on the field and winning attitude in the clubhouse will not be underrated for very long.
For a pitcher to have a 2.93 SO:BB ratio and be underrated is hard to fathom, but let me introduce you to Mike Minor.
The Braves have tremendous pitching depth in their minor league system. Even with the injury to Arodys Vizcaino, with Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado projected to have higher upsides, Minor may be sent back to Triple-A to start the season.
The idea of being sent down again did not sit well with Minor and he spoke to the media about his frustrations, potentially lowering his value even further. So while he may not have the upside that was first predicted, with a K/9 of 10 over 235 minor league innings and a 2.82 ERA over two seasons at Triple-A, a team would be very smart to try and acquire him before a spot opens up in the Braves rotation.
Let me preface this by saying that I would not "buy low" on Kevin Gregg to be my team's closer.
Having said that, I do believe that if my team needed help in the bullpen, to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning perhaps, I think Kevin Gregg would be more than serviceable and could be acquired for a very cheap price.
Gregg is still only 34 years old. His cumulative ERA over the past six seasons is 3.94 and he has never posted an ERA higher than 4.7 in any of those seasons.
Is he perfect? No. However, because of his outlandish contract that will pay him $5.8M this season, not only would a team acquire a reliable bullpen arm, but they would not have to trade very much, as the Orioles are looking to trade him.
When talking about the great first basemen in the game today, Adrian Gonzalez is always one of the first names that comes up and for just about everyone in Boston, it brings a big smile to their face. Except Lars Anderson.
Anderson ranked in the top 100 of Baseball America's top prospects from 2008-2010, and despite being a 24 year old heading into his third season at Triple-A on the brink of a starting job in the majors, his future in Boston is still very much in doubt. So while Anderson's stock as a prospect has dwindled down over the past season, he still has a ton of potential looking towards the future.
With Adrian Gonzalez under contract until 2018, Anderson's greatest value to the Red Sox is as trade bait, and despite a great spring training, his value will never be anything more than that for them, constituting the perfect buy-low candidate.
Acquired for Sean Marshall this offseason, the only way Travis Wood would have lost a spot in the Cubs rotation is if he was beyond awful.
Well, with a 17.28 ERA in just over eight innings, Wood has done just that.
Combine that with the tremendous spring that Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad are having, and Wood has reportedly lost a spot in the rotation and his value has plummeted.
Over the last two seasons with the Reds, Wood has been good pitcher, but with some considerable upside. He appeared in 39 games, pitched over 200 innings and despite struggling a bit last season, he had a 3.51 ERA as a 23 year old in 2010.
Wood's value is as low as it has been in a long time, and this would be a great opportunity for a team to acquire him on the cheap.
There have been many "top prospect" catchers that have flamed out in the big leagues. J.R Towles, Jeff Clement and Jarrod Saltalamacchia come to mind recently as guys who were predicted to be All-Star catchers, but never panned out (although Salty had a decent season with the Red Sox last season).
Tyler Flowers is slowly sliding into that same category.
In 2009 he was Baseball America's 99th best prospect, and before 2010 he ranked 60th coming off of two great minor league seasons. While his 2010 season was a terrible year, when he played consistently at Triple-A in 2011, he reverted back to the form that had him listed as one of the top catching prospects in the game.
With A.J. Pierzynski, the White Sox have their catcher for 2012 if not longer. I believe with consistent playing time Flowers would shine, and with the dearth of hitting catchers throughout the MLB, acquiring a kid like Flowers while his value is low would be a wise move.
The Cincinnati Reds have a stacked rotation. Even with Aroldis Chapman likely headed to the bullpen to help cover the injury to Ryan Madson, Jeff Francis still does not make it into their projected rotation.
Jerry Crasnick reported that because of an out clause in his contract, Francis can become a free agent on March 28.
Guess what day today is folks.
Francis just got shelled in his last outing, giving up 11 runs in three innings to the Rangers. This would be the perfect time to give the Reds Walt Jocketty a call to see what he is looking for in exchange for Francis.
Without a spot in the rotation to offer and Francis' out clause taking effect today, Jocketty could not be asking for much and that is exactly the price I like to pay.
Earlier this offseason, I listed Ubaldo Jimenez as one of my underdogs to win the Cy Young.
While that may not come to fruition, I still believe the Jimenez that went 15-1 in the first half of 2010, with a 2.20 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 113 strikeouts is still in there somewhere.
The Indians gave up a ton to acquire him, so the price will not be as cheap as some other players on this list. However, after a year and a half of subpar performance, and a spring where he has already given up the same amount of runs he gave up in 2010 and 2011 combined, his value is not where it was even eight months ago when the Indians acquired him.
Whether he is available or not is a completely different discussion, but if I had the chance, I would try to acquire Jimenez before his value climbs back to where it belongs, which I believe it will in 2012.
This guy is unbelievable.
If my arm has the same range that Jamie Moyer does with his 49-year old left arm when I am that age I will be ecstatic, What is even more amazing is that he is pitching in the major leagues with a 1.00 ERA, with seven strikeouts without walking a single batter, all while coming off Tommy John surgery!
I do not quite understand how his 78 MPH fastball still gets people out, but if the Rockies decide to go young in their rotation and leave Moyer off their Opening Day roster, I would do everything I could to acquire him. Not only does he still look more than capable of pitching in the big leagues, but considering he has been in the league before I was even born, he has the type of experience that would be incredible for young pitchers to lean on and learn from.
The Tigers have been trying to get rid of Inge for years, and without a spot in their starting lineup, I think it could be time for the Tigers to send him packing...right into another team's lap
Inge is having a terrible spring, hitting .174 in 46 at-bats. With tons of depth at every position, even Inge's incredible versatility does not provide the same amount of value to the Tigers that it would for another team. He is one of the very few players in baseball that can play catcher and other positions in the field, and play them all very well.
In 2011, Inge hit below the mendoza line in over 300 at-bats, so his value with the Tigers is as low as it has ever been. The Tigers are very fortunate to have a deep team, but for those without the multitude of options on their bench, Inge would be a great buy-low candidate because of his defensive versatility and power.
Before last year's implosion, Brandon Lyon had been a quality major league reliever five consecutive seasons. From 2006-2010 Lyon had a 3.38 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and two 20-plus save seasons.
Unfortunately for the Astros last season, Lyon succumb to a wide variety of injuries, ranging from a sore shoulder, to bicep tendinitis, to a partially torn rotator cuff then finally ending his season on June 30 with surgery to reattach his bicep tendon and fix his torn labrum.
Entering 2012, Lyon is in the final year of his three-year deal with the Astros and with Brett Myers the new closer in Houston, Lyon is quite the expensive middle reliever. As is my strategy in fantasy baseball, if a player shows me five consistently good seasons, I try to look past the one off season and revert back to his previously established value.
Brandon Lyon signed a three-year contract worth $15M for a reason. He is finally feeling healthy again and it shows in his spring numbers, posting a 2.25 ERA in eight innings. For many teams, it would be wise to try and acquire him before he re-establishes his value.
As of right now, the Royals website does not list Luis Mendoza as a member of their rotation. If this is still the case when Opening Day rolls around, Mendoza easily becomes the most undervalued player on the Royals roster.
After dominating Triple-A last season with a 2.18 ERA in 144 innings, I monitored Mendoza's performance this spring. Normally I do not look into spring training statistics that much, but when I look, the two things I watch for a pitcher are his SO:BB ratio and what scouts are saying about his performances. With a 16:3 SO:BB ratio, and numerous articles like this promoting Mendoza's work, he is proving to people that he deserves a chance in a big league rotation.
If he gets sent to the Royals bullpen, a team that needs a starting pitcher would be wise to give Royals general manager Dayton Moore a call.
The case of Peter Bourjos is very similar to that of Gerardo Parra in that the Angels roster has too many bodies that it may prevent him from getting in the lineup everyday.
The Angels have Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu to play the outfield and Kendry Morales lined up to DH every day. We cannot forget to mention Mike Trout, one of the game's two best hitting prospects, who is going to be ready to play every day at some point this season if not now. To keep any of those names out of the starting lineup would either frustrate the fans (Trout, Hunter) or the owner, as Abreu and Wells are simply making too much money to not play if they can perform at some level.
Where does that leave Bourjos? Undervalued.
The Angels are a very talented team capable of making a run at the World Series and Bourjos could bring back some value if he is put on the market. The best part for other general managers is, the value Bourjos would bring to their franchise would be a lot greater than the one he is currently providing the Angels.
Early Tuesday, the Dodgers optioned Jerry Sands back to Triple-A. When you consider the fact that instead of giving the every day left fielder's job to Sands for 2012, the Dodgers opted to sign Juan Rivera who has slugged a combined .395 over 882 at-bats over the last two seasons, it does not show a lot of faith.
Looking at this from the perspective of another general manager in the MLB, I would pounce on a hitter like Sands.
Heading into the 2011 season, Sands was the Dodgers fourth-best prospect according to fangraphs.com. While he struggled in his debut last season, hitting .200 in his first 125 at-bats, he rebounded nicely in September, hitting .342 for the month and slugging .493. He is a patient hitter who can take a walk and will hit for power.
There is plenty of value here, I just am not sure the Dodgers see it.
Akin to the story with Peter Bourjos, the reason Coghlan makes this list is not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of opportunity. With Logan Morrison, Emilio Bonifacio and Giancarlo Stanton young and established quality outfielders already on the Marlins, I do not see that changing any time soon.
Coghlan won the Rookie of the Year award with a spectacular 2009, but his last two seasons were marred by injuries, limiting him to 156 games combined. However, this spring Coghlan said he feels great, and with his value for the Fish limited to a backup role, a team looking for a starting outfielder should see Coghlan as a great buy-low opportunity.
Once upon a time, Carlos Gomez had enough potential to be one of the main pieces in the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets.
While his offensive skills have never fully developed, Gomez is one of the game's best defensive center fielders. Many people gave up on Cameron Maybin, but he showed last season that a player's breakout season may come later than expected.
Gomez will only be 26 next season, and if you combine his 2010 and 2011 numbers you would have three WAR player who hits 13 home runs, steals 34 bases and plays outstanding defense heading into his prime.
Gomez looks like a player who could thrive if given the opportunity to play every day, but because he is stuck as the Brewers fourth outfielder, his ceiling is limited in Milwaukee.
For years Scott Baker has never gotten the praise he deserved.
From 2008-2010 Baker won double-digit games every season accumulating a 9.5 WAR along the way, and 2011 looked to be his legitimate break out season. However, Baker injured his elbow in August, and only returned in September to pitch three more innings.
Coming into 2012, Baker is still listed as the Twins third starter, so while his value is not low, there is plenty of room for it to grow, giving teams a small window to try and acquire him before it is too late.
Has David Wright had a few "down" seasons? Yes. Does that change the fact that David Wright is still one of the top five third basemen in all of baseball? Not even close.
Coming off an injury plagued 2011 and a partially torn ab this spring, Wright’s value has never been lower. Despite that, third base has become an offensively challenged position and I challenge you to name five third basemen currently better than him.
Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre are three names I would agree with. Everyone else on the other hand, and that includes Ryan Zimmerman, A-Rod and Pablo Sandoval, would not displace Wright. Even if Hanley Ramirez is outstanding at third base, which I believe he could be, Wright still makes it to mambo number five.
I cannot deny that his production has slipped, but the idea that a package built around Peter Bourjos, rumor or not, is capable of acquiring Wright is ridiculous to me. For a player who still averaged 22 homers and 95 RBI over these three "down" three years with a .284 batting average per 162 games to be traded for a package like that just shows you how far his value has fallen, and I cannot blame every GM in baseball for trying.
Can you believe it was only two years ago that Phil Hughes won 18 games for the Yankees?
After being chosen in the first round of the 2004 four draft, Hughes rose as high as the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball in 2007, and finally began living up to that potential in the aforementioned 2010 season. Until 2011, the following spring where Hughes had the terrifying "dead-arm" period where his velocity dropped mysteriously and get got bombed in April, posting a 13.94 ERA in three starts.
Heading into 2012, Hughes was supposed to compete with only Freddy Garcia for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation, a spot he was likely going to win, until the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte out of retirement. For now, Hughes has the spot until Pettitte is ready, but once he is ready to return, Hughes will be out of a spot in the rotation and back to the bullpen.
Hughes is only 25 years old and heading into the prime of his career. The Yankees have a lot of pitching depth, and in order to make a World Series run, they may be willing to trade Hughes during the season if another need arises.
If that happens, every general manager should jump at the chance to trade for Hughes, because his value will not be this low for very long.
This picture demonstrates the type of player a team would be acquiring. Daric Barton has always been a hard-nosed player who plays the game right that can get on base and well, get on base.
In 2010 Barton walked 110 times and in each of the last three seasons, his OBP has been more than 100 points greater than his batting average. The problem for Barton has been his inability to stay on the field consistently and his low batting average.
Barton is still only 26 years old, and with a shoulder injury this spring, he lost the first base job in Oakland to Brandon Allen. As a former first-round pick who was once traded for Mark Mulder to a player who has had an OBP over .400 over the course of a full season in the majors, Barton certainly has proven he can succeed at the big league level.
He just needs another opportunity.
Here is another player that is not getting the attention and praise from his own organization that he deserves.
In 2010 as a 22-year old, Domonic Brown split the year between Double-A and Triple-A and had a slash line of .327/.391/.589. The only reason he did not expand on those numbers is because he was called up to the Phillies and played sparingly. The following season, Brown again split time between the minors and the Phillies, and without the opportunity to play every day, his performance suffered.
This season, with both Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez gone, it was supposed to be Brown's time to shine. However, after injuring his neck sleeping on the team bus, Brown missed his opportunity and was optioned back to Triple-A.
For whatever reason, the Phillies continue to deny Brown the chance to play every day. It does not seem they value his abilities as much as they should, and if another team gets the chance to acquire Brown, they get in line as quick as they can.
Of all the pitchers on this list, I think McDonald would top my list as the greatest bargain potentially available.
According to the Pittsburgh Pirates website, James McDonald will not be in the Pirates rotation once A.J Burnett is ready to pitch. With Eric Bedard scheduled to start Opening Day, the Pirates have Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton, leaving McDonald for the bullpen of Triple-A when everyone is healthy.
McDonald is a former top prospect for the Dodgers, who found limited success in L.A., but was never given the chance to start. In Pittsburgh, despite a rough April, McDonald strung together a brilliant four month stretch, where his ERA from May-August last season was 3.36 with 111 Ks in only 126 innings.
If he is anywhere but the Pirates rotation, McDonald would represent an incredible buy-low candidate for any team in baseball.
Standing tall at 6'6, 270 pounds, Kyle Blanks has always shown tremendous power throughout his young career. Thus far however, he has been unable to stay on the field.
Blanks had Tommy John surgery in 2010, and returned briefly in the second half of 2011 but had enough time to put on a power display, even playing his home games in Petco Park. With seven home runs in the month of August, he showed that his surgery did not drain his power.
It does not look as if Blanks will be getting much playing time in San Diego, so he could be an underrated piece either off the bench or an incredible value as a DH in the American League.
With Brandon Belt hitting .370 and slugging .630 thus far in spring training, it seems Aubrey Huff's value decreases every day.
Despite solid spring numbers in his own right, Huff is on the wrong side of 30, and is coming off a terrible 2011 season where he only hit .246 and slugged a paltry .370. The mysterious thing about Aubrey Huff's career is that for the most part, is that after every good season he has a bad year, and vice-versa.
Two good things for general managers will find in Huff's value is that the Giants are looking to move his $10M salary, so they will not expect much in terms of prospects in return. On top of that, since he was not very good in 2011, he should be a lot better in 2012.
I agree it is not an exact science, but this has been a consistent pattern for Huff for the greater part of a decade, why stop believing now?
Trayvon Robinson has put together back-to-back outstanding seasons, albeit at the minor league level.
In 2010, Robinson hit .300 and stole 38 bases in Double-A, showing off his speed and ability to hit for average. This past season in Triple-A, Robinson showed off his power, jumping from nine homers up to 26 for the season, a number that would have continued to climb if he had not been called up to the Mariners for August and September. While his debut did not go very well, hitting .210 in 143 at-bats, his 2010 and 2011 seasons show off his total package and the potential he represents.
After finding out Tuesday that despite hitting .529 this spring Trayvon Robinson was not a member of the Mariners Opening Day roster, he became my No. 1 sleeper player for the Mariners organization that would represent some real value for another organization if they were to acquire him.
Part of what makes Kyle McClellan such a great value, is that he has proven himself both as a reliever and as a starting pitcher.
From 2008-2010, McClellan had a 3.23 ERA over 202 appearances as a reliever, and transitioned beautifully to the starting rotation last season, winning 12 games and helping the Cardinals win a World Series title.
The Cardinals have reportedly been looking to deal McClellan this offseason, and even with Chris Carpenter's recent injury, it still looks like McClellan will be a reliever. The Cardinals shopping him on their own inherently lowers his trade value, and when you add his versatility on the mound, it makes him even more valuable to a team outside of St. Louis, than the Cardinals and their pitching depth.
When the Rays announced Wade Davis was headed to the bullpen, it immediately made Davis' potential value greater for other teams than it would be in Tampa.
After starting 29 games each of the last two seasons, the only reason Davis was demoted to the bullpen is because of Matt Moore's emergence and the incredible strength that is the Rays rotation.
Davis is a proven starter whose value would be lowered a great deal by pitching only 60 innings a season as a reliever, as compared to his average of 176 in 2010 and 2011. If a team has room in their starting rotation, Davis would be a great buy-low candidate
Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Rangers have some pitching depth to spare, and one name that has continuously popped up this offseason is Koji Uehara.
Since he came to the US to pitch, Uehara has been excellent with a 3.13 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 175 innings.
In spite of his great overall numbers, Uehara was not as good with the Rangers after they acquired him last season, and since they have been looking to trade him, now would be a great time to acquire him, before he regains his 2010 form.
Travis Snider was the Blue Jays first-round draft pick in 2006 and has always had loads of potential. In 2008 Baseball America ranked him as the 11th best prospect in all of baseball, and in 2009 he ranked sixth overall.
However, after the 2009 season, his stock has dropped considerably because his performance did not translate to the major league level.
After a mediocre spring where he struck out in 35 percent of his at-bats, Snider was demoted to Triple-A this week in favor of Eric Thames. For the 2012 season, Snider will still only be 24 years of age, so he has yet to hit his peak as a ball player, and thus he represents another player who would be a great buy-low candidate for another organization.
After three down seasons in a row, Mark DeRosa may have found his stroke one final time.
As I mentioned earlier, I rarely take any value away from spring training stats, but when a guy has 10 walks against only one strikeout, it gets my attention.
DeRosa has been terribly injury prone these last three seasons, but he finally feels healthy again and believes he can help out the Nationals win games this season. He has not shown any power thus far in spring training, but if he is feeling healthy and can keep up the plate discipline he has shown, he could provide some excellent veteran leadership and versatility to a bunch of teams hoping for a bounce back season.