Reaction to the potential Lee-Halladay trade

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It may not be Marlins news per se, but reports keep coming in about the blockbuster deal between the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners and involving big-time aces Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. The Maniac’s got his eye on everything baseball right now, and this is some big baseball news.

Here’s the skinny, as provided by the various sources feeding information to MLBTR:

-The Phillies get Roy Halladay, who will take a physical today, according to Ed Price, and $6MM from the Jays. They also get Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez from the M’s. (Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune confirmed that Ramirez is headed to Philly.)

– Halladay will also agree to a three-year extension that will pay him about $20MM annually through 2013, according to Stark. The extension won’t affect his 2010 salary ($15.75MM) and will include a vesting option.

– The Mariners get Cliff Lee from the Phils and they could be getting more.

– The Blue Jays get pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis D’Arnaud from the Phils.

More analysis after the jump.

This is a huge mess of moving parts. BtB reader Blicks had a nice FanPost using the awesome Trade Value Calculator to figure out the surplus values for each player involved and tally up the totals. His estimates are conservative enough to work with. Of course, you know that Dave Cameron has his take over at U.S.S. Mariner. For more coverage, R.J. Anderson over at FanGraphs talks a bit about Cliff Lee. Marc Hulet of FG has the prospects covered.

In any case, I like the values given in the article, and if we were to calculate the surplus value given everything that we know, we would likely arrive at a net deficit for the trade on the Phillies side. The Jays should be quite happy that they got the best prospects in the deal (all of the Phillies’ prospects, in particular top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek). The Mariners would be giddy to get Lee without giving their best youngsters. The Phillies return, which amounts to Halladay and the prospects Seattle is sending, does look to amount to a slight loss.

But the key for the Phillies is obviously the extension. For the Jays, Halladay would not have provided more than a season’s worth of surplus value; Halladay had already intimated that he would not resign with the Jays, as he was looking to sign with a contender. But for the Phillies, there was still a possibility to sign Halladay long term. Depending on how they evaluate his work and what Halladay felt would be a good value for his services, the Phillies could receive a deal at, above, or below the market rate. If you think Halladay was a 7 WAR player for this year and project him at that starting point (for reference, FanGraphs has him at 7.3 and 7.4 WAR, while Rally has him at 6.5 and 6.8 WAR for the last two seasons, the difference being mostly in replacement level), he would be extremely valuable over the next three years. At a decline of 0.5 WAR per year, using the current WAR rate, Halladay could be worth around $81M over the next three seasons. If the three-year, $60M extension holds, he’s bringing $21M in surplus over the lifetime of the extension, making the Phillies’ value even better.

There’s one final consideration to be made, and that’s the aspect of playoff probability. There are two things to consider here: the marginal value of a win and the value of playoff probability added. Both are sort of interrelated, obviously. Essentially, the crux of the argument is that the value of a win is going to be higher for teams around contention than it is for teams out of contention or far ahead of contention. Because the playoffs themselves are sort of a crapshoot, adding value to a team that looks to be safely in the playoffs is worth less than adding value to a team around the playoff cutoff. Similarly, teams too far behind the cutoff get less worth from their added wins. Of the three teams involved here, Seattle gets the most value for their wins, because they are closest to the playoffs without being in the big game. They look to be close to five or six wins behind a playoff team like the Los Angeles Angels, and the value of adding Cliff Lee’s wins is going to make the surplus even greater, especially since the prospects would not be figured into this calculation since their worth is so far away from affecting the team.

The Jays had the least to gain, and thus losing Halladay should hurt them less than it appears to here. The Jays were mostly out of contention even though they actually were a pretty good team, even last year. The fact that they place in the AL East, undoubtedly the toughest of divisions, makes the chances for a playoff berth really slim. On the other hand, the Phillies perhaps gain some value going from Lee to Halladay, on the order of perhaps 0.5  – 1 WAR. This could further strengthen their hold on the NL East.

Finally, what about the Marlins tinge on the move? Well, there won’t be a whole lot to say about it from that angle. If you expect the Fish to face Halladay four or five times this upcoming season and you buy that Halladay is worth a win over Lee, we would expect the move to cost the Fish 0.14 wins over the year. Not a big difference to us, though you might be inclined to think it was.

I’ll leave you with this bonus FanSided coverage, from our MLB side:

– Justin Klugh has That Balls Outta Here’s reaction to the idea of the trade. Don’t worry Justin, Halladay is extremely good. Likely better than Lee.

– Of course, you knew SodoMojo would have its take, and here’s Harrison with his reaction.

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Tags: Cliff Lee Miami Marlins Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay Seattle Mariners Toronto Blue Jays

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