Nationals & Cubs




Nationals & Cubs

January 4, 2020


Name Age Level P1 P2 Availablility Years AFV Salary Surplus Low Median High
Abbott Minors RHP 4.1 3.3 4.1 4.9
Alzolay Minors RHP 6.5 5.2 6.5 7.8
Bryant 27 Majors 3B Low 2.0 69.8 46.2 23.6 23.6 27 30.5
Contreras 27 Majors C Low 3.0 27.5 11.7 15.8 13.8 17.6 21.3
Darvish 32 Majors SP Low 4.0 78.1 81.0 -2.9 -4.9 0 4.9
Happ 24 Majors OF Medium 4.0 28.1 8.0 20.1 17.1 20.1 23.1


Name Age Level P1 P2 Availablility Years AFV Salary Surplus Low Median High
Doolittle 32 Majors LHRP Medium 1.0 7.2 6.5 0.7 0.7 1.1 1.5
Kieboom Minors 2B 3B 76.2 61 76.2 91.4
  1. Dave Sampsell

    This seems completely legit. Cubs get this prospect who was awful in a short call up to the bigs last year and an aging reliever. In return they give up one of the greatest strike out pitchers in a generation, a former MVP and ROY, a guy who immediately becomes the Nats best pitching prospect, a solid cost controlled utility player who actually has some decent big league experience and the most consistent starting pitcher in the Cubs farm system. Oh, and this keeps the Nats well under the luxury tax cap as well.

    • John Bitzer

      By that logic, the Indians should take back Corey Kluber and ask the Rangers for a haul, because he’s’ a former two-time Cy Young winner. But that’s not how this works. He netted DeShields and Clase, because he’s expensive, old, and in serious decline. Look forward, not backward. And follow the money.

      • Dave Sampsell

        Kris Bryant has averaged 6 war over a 4.x year ML career. Willson Contreras is a proven offensive performer and probably one of the three best offensive catchers in the game. Yu Darvish by FA standards is on a rational contract and just produced one of the best 4 month stretches from a performance standard of any pitcher in baseball. Alzolay and Abbott both project as 3-5 starters in MLB and Abbott has been insanely consistent in the minors (no one is saying they are ace candidates) and Ian Happ is a serviceable pro player who just posted another solid year of OPS+. That’s 25 years of control on four players who have proven themselves in the majors and two solid prospects (one of whom has already debuted at the ML level) for 6 years of Kieboom and 1 year of Doolittle.

        You cannot argue with a straight face that from an on the field productivity level this trade makes any rational sense. And your risk adjustments on Kieboom (i.e. your low surplus value) is also insanely high – as it would be for any prospect, much less one who isn’t even viewed as “can’t miss” by most scouts.

        The issue with this site is that it assigns surplus values to prospects that are not properly “risk adjusted”. The most incredible thing about this trade is if the Nats did it (before Epstein and Hoyer were sent to the insane asylum) they’d only be about 5-10M above the luxury tax cap – which they could move by doing a salary dump on another player of lesser expected production.

        • John Bitzer

          So lots to unpack there, along with other comments. Here goes:

          On the prospect side: We are not prospect evaluators. We leave that to the professionals. The numbers are not arbitrary; they are based on solid research, as we cite here:

          Of course many prospects will bust, some will be average, and a few will be stars. Those probabilities are baked into the numbers. There is always that risk with prospects, as all front offices understand.

          And yes, of course there is more certainty with proven major leaguers. But that comes with a higher cost in salary, as well as considerations of control length and injury risk. We explain our approach here:

          And as you are a clearly a Cubs fan, you seem to be cherrypicking only positive numbers on Cubs players. Kris Bryant has not averaged 6 WAR for 4+ years. On an fWAR basis, he was at 4.8 in 2019 and 2.3 in 2018. Using BP’s WARP version, he was worth 2.7 in 2019 and 2.9 in 2018. His defensive numbers have nosedived in those years as well. Contreras was worth 2.7 fWAR in 2019, and only 0.7 in 2018 (what happened there?). Steamer projects him for only 1.3 WAR in 2020. You might want to look up all these first. Darvish was horrible in 2018 (0.3 fWAR), way below the standard of his rich contract; his improved performance in 2019 helped get him back to the water level of his contract — you’re just getting what you’re paying for there now.

          In a separate comment, you also mentioned Arenado. We explain his valuation here, and yes it includes the opt-out:

          I think your larger point is that you think we rate prospects too high and established, productive major-leaguers too low. That’s a perfectly valid comment, and we welcome the feedback — provided it comes without snarkiness, and perhaps without homer bias and some objective research. All the research we’ve done suggests our methodology correlates well, and we’re quite transparent about how it’s tracking against real life trades.

  2. Dave Sampsell

    John – You not taking feedback because it is snarky is not really a valid point to take. The criticisms are beyond fair.

    You are placing massive valuations on prospects, not taking into account the real risk the prospects actually go bust and subscribing lower value to proven performance. Let’s say I yank Darvish out of the above trade since you literally think he has zero trade value despite his career numbers and his insanely good performance from June forward of last year. We’ll yank him and his zero value. The Cubs are sending 10 years of very solid major league talent just entering their prime at a total cost to DC of about 28M in 2020 in this trade as well as 12 years of control on two pitchers who project to hit the major leagues (one who already has been there and their Minor League pitcher of the year). A fair return per you is the No 20 ranked prospect in baseball and one year of a solid relief pitcher.

    And all you are doing is doubling down in defending these scenarios instead of taking feedback (which is admittedly very snarky). DC this year literally has 30M of space before they hit the luxury tax. I’ve proposed a trade that is highway robbery for them centered around one prospect.

    22 years of control from the Cubs, a former ROY, MVP and 3x All-Star, an all-star catcher, a solid utility man who can play 2B, LF or CF and two solid SP prospects (each of whom I can show at least one site that says they are each better than Rutledge on projected WAR) in return for Sean Doolittle and 6 years of control on Carter Kieboom. It’s beyond preposterous.

    Answer this simple question. If any GM actually did the trade above and took Kieboom and sent multiple big pieces the other way in terms of established productivity, what would happen to them in the media. They’d get destroyed.

    • John Bitzer

      As I mentioned above, I’m happy to take criticism. The snarkiness is not welcome.

      Most users of this site understand that there is more to trades than just matching the valuations. When a trade is “accepted” on this site, it is doing so based on those valuations only — it is not factoring the needs of each team, nor the budgets of each team. These are very real considerations.

      Most people here also understand that you could create lots of ridiculous trade scenarios by just matching up the values alone. It can be fun to do so. But we know those are not realistic.

      And once again, the prospect risk point is a valid one — but the research we base the valuations on suggests the numbers are appropriate.

  3. Dave Sampsell

    If the prospect risk point is valid as you say, then it follows the research being used is not providing you appropriate numbers. It goes without saying that Carter Kieboom is not going to yield the trade I’ve outlined above – with or without Darvish. Good luck with making ongoing improvements to the site. I think importing contract data to understand how trades move teams above or below the tax threshold, allowing users to determine whether that matters to a team and allowing users to input whether a team is focused on winning now vs. rebuilding would all be interesting options that would move potential values around. Also some sort of dial on what is available in the market for a player of comparable ability – NA’s value goes up if KB comes off the market, etc. But fixing prospect risk – which is a very real issue – is to me the biggest issue here. Yes, I can be an acerbic SOB, but I do admire the efforts.

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