In its fourth iteration, the trade value rankings have never felt so topical. After a rough April that has seen the Dodgers stumble out of the gate and lose their most valuable position player to season ending surgery, the World Series or bust aspirations might be in jeopardy without serious roster augmentation. Luckily, the system is well stocked to both provide for the organization down the road while also offering tantalizing prospects to lure big fish in the trade talent pool.
Like the previous three lists, I limited the rankable players to the top 20 from the prospect countdown. I followed the same guidelines from 2015 when making this year’s list, so here is my explanation of the variables that I wrote last season:
- Overall Talent: This is self explanatory. Essentially each player started in their ranking I gave them in the Top Prospect Prospect List.
- Future Value to Trading Club: This is essentially the same thing as the above factor, but additional weighting was given to players closer to providing value to the major league team. If a trading club is parting with a valuable major league piece, they may want a more immediate return on their investment.
- Present Value to Parent Club: The closer to filling a need for the current team, the less incentive the team has to trade the player. As you’ll read below, some players are too high up the organizational depth chart that trading the player might create a decent enough hole behind them to make any trade a wash or even a loss.
- Organizational Depth Chart: Similar to present value, but speaks to primarily how replaceable a player might be. If a prospect has several major league names to leapfrog to reach the Dodgers, they might be of less present value than a player with few alternatives or a placeholder in front of them.
- Distance from the Majors: Like the depth chart, but time to mature factors into trading players as well. A player may have a high ceiling but could be three years away, giving the Dodgers both time to replace the player’s potential, but likewise time for the player to lose luster, struggle to develop, or fall short of his ultimate upside. Until recently, you rarely saw teams trade for players below A ball.
Lastly, this is a reminder that this list is completely arbitrary and primarily a discussion starter.
20. Imani Abdullah: Early season struggled and arm strength work leave Abdullah as a work in progress. Interesting potential not worth the acquiring team’s risk of developing him.
19. Morgan Cooper: Until he pitches and proves his shoulder healthy, he probably has negative trade value.
18. Walker Buehler: On one hand, Buehler could be the centerpiece of a monster deal (ala Michael Kopech in the Chris Sale trade). On the other, he’s producing now and the value added over trading Buehler could be minimal in the near future, and negative in the long term.
17. Kyle Farmer: Good utility option for the parent club that is plugging a needed hole and might not fetch a ton in return.
16. Starling Heredia: Good potential, but years away from the major leagues and acquiring teams would likely want to see more success at the full season level.
15. Jeren Kendall: He has loads of name recognition and tool shed qualities, but he’s in the middle of a swing rebuild and the Dodgers may be loathe to abandon the project so soon, especially with the potential payoff.
14. Dennis Santana: Could be ranked higher, because he’s probably the name teams will ask for as a pitcher if Buehler is hands off, but he could provide value to the Dodgers in 2018, which might be needed in either the pen or rotation.
13. Jordan Sheffield: Another long scouted player with name recognition, Sheffield has struggled as a starter but has the arm talent for relief. Value not helped by results, but Dodgers also have plenty of options to replace his value.
12. Gavin Lux: Shortstops are always in demand, even if their outlook is good-not-great. A mid year promotion to Double-A could make Lux more interesting to teams. (His position of shortstop does not factor into team needs with Seager being out, Lux is at best still a year and half out.)
11. Mitchell White: Would be ranked higher if you saw him as a solid starter. I still see reliever, potentially elite at that, and a second half contributor if healthy. Would rather keep than deal.
10. Caleb Ferguson: Hot start ups his trade value, as performers and risers always seem to be in more demand in trade.
9. Will Smith: The Dodgers are awash in catching talent, but Will Smith is the new Dodger prototype, so he might be held a little closer than the other backstops.
8. Yadier Alvarez: Big arm and name recognition, plus a bevy of pitchers at a comparable level makes Alvarez more fungible. His trade value has dipped given his struggles, but he has tools that can’t be taught.
7. Edwin Rios: Big bat that should entice American League clubs when healthy. Dodgers’ offensive woes might make Rios a call up candidate, but defensive fit still an issue.
6. Cristian Santana: Young toolsy bat that is performing. He’s probably more complementary piece than marquee, but could be a valuable chip in a blockbuster deal.
5. Dustin May: May might be the best compromise between potential value to the acquiring club, and mitigated loss for the parent club. With May still being two years away from the major leagues, the Dodgers would have time to develop players to replace his loss to the organization.
4. DJ Peters: Three of the top four are outfielders, and Peters ranks behind the other because of his right-handed power that would be a little tougher to replace. Still, the system and the parent club are deep in outfielders, so they have bodies to move.
3. Yusniel Diaz: Could almost be listed as 2B, as Diaz has a similar profile to Verdugo and almost similar value to an acquiring club.
2. Alex Verdugo: Verdugo gets the nod over Diaz because he is big league ready. He might even have returned to the top of the list had he not recently received the big league call. Still, he’s probably behind enough in the pecking order to be moved in the right deal.
1. Keibert Ruiz: Teenaged blue-chipper performing at Double A and playing a premium position. Keibert goes from “untouchable” to top chip because of the tremendous catching depth in the system. Dodgers would still likely hold their noses when dealing him, but hew players in the system could fetch a better return without leaving a gaping hole in the organization.