Making an Uggla-to-Jays trade on paper


Recently, friend of the Maniac Ian Hunter of The Blue Jay Hunter talked about his thoughts on the whole Dan Uggla trade situation. It’s a good piece and something worth looking into even as a Marlins fan. Ian asked me what I thought would be a fair return for Uggla, and here’s what I wrote back to him:

"I think the only thing the Marlins can honestly get back for Dan Uggla is assets worth about $10M in surplus value. That equates to about a Top 75-100 prospect, which matches up nicely with someone like Travis d’Arnaud.With the catching depth the Blue Jays, they can likely afford to trade from an area of strength to acquire a big bat like Uggla’s. If the Jays opt for trading one of their surplus starting pitchers, the Marlins would also be interested.While Brett Cecil would be the most intriguing name given his left-handed status, he’s likely to provide too much value for the Jays to trade away. Shaun Marcum would be a more realistic offer, but the Marlins would be less likely to take Marcum because of his arbitration status.A left-hander like Cecil or Marc Rzepczynski along with low minors filler would be enough for the Marlins if we were being realistic. Unfortunately, I think the Marlins are valuing Dan Uggla a bit more than that."

You’ll recognize that those are some of the names that I brought up a few days ago when discussing the possible suitors for Uggla’s services. I honestly think that, if the Marlins were serious in an offer for Uggla, these are the sort of names they would be considering. In addition to the names mentioned, Ian threw in Brad Mills, who ranked 10th in the 2010 preseason top 20 for the Jays according to John Sickels.

All these names seem pretty interesting, and I figured it may be worth looking into a few of them and seeing what kind of value they would bring to the Marlins in any sort of Uggla deal. We’ll break them down into a look at the prospects and the pitchers.

The Pitchers

These pitchers are all particularly interesting because they are major league ready and, among the three names listed, there are two left-handers and the Marlins have mentioned a desire to acquire a lefty if possible. The three pitchers of interest on the Jays prospective major league rotation are Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, and Marc Rzepczynski. Here is how CHONE last saw them, projecting them past August 28th of this year:

PlayerK/9BB/9HR/9Neutral ERA

Those projections don’t look terribly great, but the key is that they don’t really have to be for the Marlins to gain an advantage. Take Marcum’s projection for example. A 3.92 park-neutral ERA projects to be worth around 2.5 wins (2.6 is my exact calculation, but who’s splitting those hairs?) in about 175 innings of work. For two seasons and at $4.4M / WAR, Marcum’s free agent value would be worth $22M. I consulted Ian and got a figure of about $1.5M and $3M for Marcum’s next two arbitration seasons. Even going with the higher $2M and $4M totals gives a surplus value of $16M, more than the value we’d be giving up in Uggla. And that doesn’t include the potential for draft picks at the end of the process.

Getting either Cecil or Rzepczynski, both left-handers, would yield presumably worse play but be compensated with more team control. Both Cecil and Rzepczynski could qualify for Super Two status, but would be under team control for four more arbitration seasons. With that kind of team control, the Marlins could be looking at surplus value upwards of $20M for either player, which would be a huge coup. And that would be if neither player improves (or declines) over the next five years.

As you can see, all three players could be worth well more than Dan Uggla can provide in terms of surplus value in return. The Marlins may even need to throw in something else of value to get one these guys one-for-one, though I suspect both teams are valuing these pitchers as a bit less than this method is showing.

The Prospects

I already talked a decent bit about d’Arnaud, but let’s discuss the 25-year old Brad Mills a bit further. Here’s what John Sickels had to say about Mills’ season in 2010:

"Brad Mills, LHP, Grade C+: 4.20 ERA, 85/39 K/BB in 96 innings for Vegas, 92 hits. Pretty solid numbers considering the environment."

That’s not too bad. Mills ended the 2010 season with 4.97 ERA in the high-scoring environment of the Pacific Coast League (average ERA 4.78), so he ended up slightly below average. His strikeout and walk numbers are acceptable and very similar to his career totals, leading to a very solid 4.36 FIP. His short major league stint wasn’t great, but it should be interesting to see how he continues in his career. As another lefty starter, he has prototypical light-throwing stuff (averaged 86.2 mph on his fastball in his brief major league time), so he would have to thrive on decent control to pitch well in the majors. That indeed could be his only downfall, as he didn’t display pinpoint control in the minors. However, his strikeout stuff may yet translate to the majors, and it could be enough to give him a job next season out of the pen.

According to research done by Victor Wang, a C-rated pitcher older than 23 years of age is worth an additional $1.5M in surplus value. Combined with d’Arnaud’s value between $7-12M and you have a surplus value of a d’Arnaud/Mills package of around $10-14M, which isn’t all that far off from Uggla’s value. A similar package that includes some filler on either side may make this deal happen for both sides. Conveniently, this trade would fit exactly what the Marlins want in a deal for Uggla, as it seems the team is looking for a pitcher and a catcher in any deal.

Can a trade happen?

I think these two teams can make something happen in a trade. The Jays have the requisite catching depth and interesting pitchers to make a deal happen. Mix and match these names and maybe a Jays-Marlins trade for Dan Uggla can happen. As we move forward in the week, I’ll take a look at a few other potential packages from different teams based around this pitcher/catcher parameter.