Trying to figure out the trade value for any given player, and their expected return in a trade, is tricky. That's why Silverman gets paid the big bucks, and I'm just sitting here writing this article. But I'm willing to give it a shot.
On Monday, we looked at what the Rays could offer the Giants in a potential deal, landing on outfielders Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer as trade targets for San Francisco. Desmond Jennings comes with two years of team control, not becoming a free agent until after the 2017 season, but Brandon Guyer comes with even more control and he is cheaper.
Guyer is also less of an unknown. He might have played less time in the majors than Jennings, but going into his first arbitration this year, there seems to be a very clear market for his type of services.
The value of a platoon player
This afternoon the Twins traded OF Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for C John Ryan Murphy. This may be all the comparison we need.
Aaron Hicks and Brandon Guyer are nearly identical, when it comes to facing left handed pitching:
|Aaron Hicks ('15 vs LHP)
|Brandon Guyer ('15 vs LHP)
Hicks boasts a switch hitting ability that drags his overall stats down considerably, although the Yankees have been quick to call him an everyday player. But with that consideration, Guyer looks even more rounded, boasting a 91 wRC+ in 188 plate appearances vs. the same handed pitching, as opposed to Hicks's 82 wRC+ in 101 PA's.
Guyer is older, and his contract ends about a year earlier, but at the plate is at worst the same bargain, and potentially a shade better as an everyday option.
As for the return, J.R. Murphy was ranked as a top ten prospect in the Yankees system heading into the 2015 season, and is starting to become a known commodity. Across three seasons he's totaled 284 plate appearances, or something like 80 full games of work in the majors, and last season showed some competence facing LHP's as well with a 108 wRC+.
Murphy is likely to have a major league career built on good framing and a decent bat, which is enough to last as a back up, with the potential to break out into an everyday catcher should any of his skills come into full bloom.
The value of a young outfielder
The best comp for Guyer might be Gerardo Parra, who was traded in July of this year by the Brewers for Orioles prospect Zach Davies. Here is what MLB Trade Rumors' Jeff Todd had to say:
Milwaukee drew fairly wide interest in Parra... The club had been hoping to add two prospects in exchange for Parra, but ultimately decide to take one more highly regarded prospect from Baltimore...
Zach Davies currently rates as the Brewers' #10 prospect according to MLB.com. Parra does have more of a full time role with a club, and although Guyer does have the potential to have a full time role, his value will be smaller than Parra's due to being a platoon bat.
Let's compare Guyer's 2015 to Parra's at the time he was traded to the Orioles:
|Gerardo Parra ('15)
|Brandon Guyer ('15)
Parra does strike out a shade more and walk a shade less than Guyer, but the difference if offense is a little stronger that would make this comparison perfect, but it's pretty close. In a best case scenario, the Rays can sell Guyer as a player in the Parra mold.
Gerardo Parra is, of course, a free agent in 2016, but in his last three arbitration eligible years made $2.3 million, $4.8 million, and $6.2 million respectively according to Baseball Reference. Brandon Guyer on the other hand is going through arbitration for the first time this year and is expected to make $1.3 million according to MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes.
Even if we project Guyer as an every day outfielder, we still have recent evidence that a top-ten prospect my be reasonable to expect in return.
What the Rays are looking for
Would the Rays want a John Ryan Murphy? Are they interested in another prospect?
For the most accurate trade projection it might be best to look at what the Rays have done in the past, and this front office executed a similar deal to what Guyer might net just last year, sending a platoon outfield bat in Matt Joyce to the Angels in return for big league reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Jepsen was a clear cut, high-leverage reliever with two years left on his contract, and his arbitration was soon to become expensive. That's a different sort of return, but is it a fair comparison?
Below, we pit Matt Joyce's split against RHP in 2014 vs Brandon Guyer's split against LHP in 2015:
|Matt Joyce ('14 vs RHP)
|Brandon Guyer ('15 vs LHP)
Guyer's split against LHP is significantly better compared to the one Joyce offered, although a left handed platoon player likely sees more action. But if you add the plate appearances in which Guyer faced RHP back into the comparison, like we did with Parra, Guyer still comes out better than Joyce by a squeak, with the exception of Joyce's impressive walk rate.
Guyer's contract is also cheaper than Joyce, with Joyce earning $2.45 million in his first year of arbitration, compared to Guyer's $1.3 million. Perhaps the Rays could be in line for yet another high leverage reliever. Rumor has it their current stock is already on the trade block, and if so, the team will need the depth.
Jepsen's time with the Rays didn't last long, and after a strong season was traded at the deadline for Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia. Hu made big strides in the past year, and now ranks as the Rays' #15 prospect on MLB.com, closing in on top-10 status and balanced in value by the "lottery ticket" prospect Tapia thrown in.
The Jepsen deal took advantage of some desperation on the part of the Twins, who were looking for a closer in their playoff pursuit, but the value still comes out about even.
If the Rays cannot land a high-leverage reliever in the Jepsen mold, a top-10 prospect (Hicks, Parra) or two top-30 prospects (Jepsen) could be a reasonable return should the Rays trade Guyer.
Editor's Note: Daniel Russell contributed to this article.