Now going on year five of the trade value rankings, the list has become more inflexible given the current climate of player movement. The big league club is showing fewer holes than previous years, and the biggest potential pending free agents turned trade chips are re-signing with their club. In what could be a slower or less exciting year of trades (maybe Anthony Rendon if the Nationals keep struggling?), the Dodgers will nonetheless look to improve the parent squad using their deep farm system, but moves might be more on the margins this time.
Like the previous lists, I limited the rankable players to the top 20 from the TBLA 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 that season:
- Overall Talent: This is self explanatory. Essentially each player started in their ranking I gave them in the top 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 primarily to 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 Single-A ball.
Lastly, this is a reminder that this list is completely arbitrary and primarily a discussion starter.
20. Jeren Kendall- Still in the process of an offensive rebuild and has little performance value for a trading club.
19. Diego Cartaya- Still awaiting his first professional game, teams would probably be loathe to part with the talent the Dodgers would likely feel they would need to deal their top international free agent from 2018.
18. Michael Grove- Early returns from Grove’s professional debut after recovering from Tommy John surgery are quite impressive, which makes him a bit of a wild card. Dodgers would not likely want to trade him before they have a better read on his potential.
17. Josh Sborz- Standard fare of big league ready reliever. Sborz is likely a complementary piece for a depth or role player.
16. Matt Beaty- Think of Beaty having Kyle Farmer value without the ability to catch. Might be just as valuable for future bench role/injury insurance.
15. Connor Wong- Gets a boost as a catcher, especially one with at least one offensive tool (power). Too far from majors to be a solo trade chip.
14. Alex Verdugo- His performance as a big leaguer has dropped him on this list, as the replacement cost is now much higher. Could generate a good return on his own, but at what net value?
13. Will Smith- Big bump as a near big league ready catcher, but likely more valuable to Dodgers as he fits their hitting philosophy and is tooled up behind the plate.
12. Robinson Ortiz- Hasn’t started playing this season, but his age and quality make him the best lottery ticket trade piece in the organization.
11. Tony Gonsolin- Health permitting, he’s probably the next prospect in line for a promotion to either the rotation or bullpen with a chance to make a significant impact on the playoff run. He could fetch a nice return, but is close to providing value to the parent club.
10. Josiah Gray- I believe the largest value gap lies between No. 11 and No. 10, starting with Gray who has had a fast start to the year. He’s already proven his market value in being traded to Los Angeles, and is far enough from the majors that he could be replaced on the depth chart in time.
9. Gavin Lux- Lux looks like either the second baseman of the future, or the shortstop if Seager eventually kicks over to third. That said, the Dodgers aren’t presently hurting in the infield and could be moved in the right blockbuster, but that’s a small band of prospective deals.
8. Dustin May- The Dodgers rightfully love May and resisted dealing him last season, but pitching prospects are volatile and the Dodgers are deep in right handed arms. Like Lux, he’s probably only leaving in a blockbuster, if that.
7. Crisitian Santana- He’s had a terrific start and his value has never been higher as a tooled up corner infielder with performance in the high minors. There’s still plenty of risk in his game, making him more palatable to part with in the right deal.
6. Jeter Downs- Like Gray, we have already seen Downs market value in a trade, and he plays a crowded position in the Dodger system.
5. Mitchell White- White is near big league ready in an organization brimming with competition for spots in the rotation or the bullpen from the right side. The Dodgers could deal White for a decent return and not suffer much of a drop off on the depth chart.
4. Edwin Rios- Talented slugger that doesn’t really have a position with the big league club. Like Willie Calhoun a few years prior, Rios would best benefit a move to an American League club with some flexibility to move him in and out of the DH role.
3. DJ Peters- The big league club already has several talented young outfielders on pre-arbitration contracts, so despite Peters huge upside and right handed power, he could be dangled like Verdugo was the last few seasons.
2. Dennis Santana- The highest rated in trade value from the mound, Santana occupies a 40-man spot which brings additional benefit to a trade for the Dodgers. Also should attract rival clubs with his big league readiness and upside.
1. Keibert Ruiz- The best trade chip in the system, Ruiz has big time name recognition, extra positional scarcity value, and represents an already strong spot in the Dodger organization. You don’t just give Ruiz’s away, but if you need to pull off the summer blockbuster, Ruiz is a centerpiece that won’t feel as painful with Smith and Cartaya still in the organization.