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Viva El Birdos' "Monster Trade with Rays" not in the Cards

We offer a rebuttal to a Viva el Birdos trade proposal.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Markham over at Viva el Birdos, the St. Louis Cardinals blog site for SBNation, wrote up a monster trade scenario between the Cards and Rays in which the Rays would give up their three best players for a return of the four prospects and a serviceable major league utility infielder.

With all due respect to our brothers and sisters in the Gateway to the West, we find their proposal underwhelming.

The proposal not only has the Rays giving up their three franchise players; the Rays would also be giving up the three best players in the trade overall, by any stretch of the imagination.

Perhaps if St. Louis had a historically deep farm system and if the Rays were in full rebuild mode -- which has never been their modus operandi -- a conversation about trading franchise anchors for prospects could be considered, but even if either of those conditions prevailed we don't think this is a good deal.

Here's our take on why.

Comparing Surplus Value

The Rays would be sending franchise 3B Evan Longoria, all-star RHP Chris Archer and platinum glove winner CF Kevin Kiermaier to St. Louis for top 10 overall prospect RHP Alex Reyes, two back end top-100 prospects RHP Luke Weaver and OF Harrison Bader, prospect RHP Jack Flaherty who is probably just outside the top 100, and major league INF Jedd Gyorko.

Here's the graphic created, showing which players are moving and the surplus values VEB calculated for each, based on the anticipated performance, cost and years of control:

If part of the case for this trade is that this is some kind of salary dump (despite Archer and Kiermaier being on great contracts), then why are the Rays acquiring Jedd Gyorko? He is a serviceable utility infielder to fill the hole Longo will be leaving behind, but he's set to make $28M over the next three years, and that doesn't include the option after that. That's not a price the Rays are going to pay if they are rebuilding.

Tampa Bay would rather run Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin or Daniel Robertson out there on rookie contracts until Willy Adames comes up within a year to take over.

Gyorko and his contract would not be coming to Rays.


RHP Alex Reyes' surplus value was calculated as if he was a proven major leaguer. But here's the thing, he's only pitched 46.0 innings in the show. The kid has a ton of potential, but it's still mostly unrealized. There is still room for error there, specially when you see his 4.5 BB/9 in those 46 innings and almost identical rate throughout the minors. He's still considered a prospect and should be valued as one, or at least partially. Somewhere between the Point of Pittsburgh's $70M valuation for a top 10 pitcher and the $159M Ben proposed might work, but the valuation used in the proposal is way too high.

RHP Luke Weaver was probably valued in the same manner, but it wasn't detailed. Ben has him at $87M, which looks like about 10 WAR over his six controllable years. That is a bold statement for a barely top-100 prospect that has pitched all of 36.1 innings in the majors. Pitchers valued in his range average 3.5 WAR over their rookie contract. He could outperform that, but no one is going to trade for a prospect that is valued that way. Again, somewhere between TPOP's $15.6M and Ben's $87M seems fair considering Weaver's proximity to the majors and prior limited exposure.

OF Harrison Bader is the back end top-100 hitter that was valued purely as a prospect, which makes sense considering he hasn't seen the majors yet. The valuation looks fair here.

RHP Jack Flaherty is not a consensus top-100 prospect but the midseason Baseball America list places Flaherty there, so he is valued as such. The valuation in that range isn't going to make a huge difference either way, but it's another point where VEB may ave overvalued a piece in the trade, as all fans do for their team's prospects.

Historical Comparisons

If this is how Major League Baseball general managers looked at players in trades, we would never see events where the Rays receive 6 years of Wil Myers, 6 years of Jake Odorizzi, 6 years of Mike Montgomery and 6 years of Patrick Leonard for 2 years of James Shields and 2-5 years of then-swingman Wade Davis.

The surplus values just wouldn't match if you valued Wil Myers as a 4-5 WAR/season outfielder or Jake Odorizzi as a 2 WAR/season starting pitcher. You have to factor in the bust potential of prospects, which is a big reason why TPOP values a top 10 pitcher at $70M and not the $159M that was proposed, and $15.6M instead of $87M for a low top-100 pitcher.

Another trade to look at is when the Rays shipped Matt Garza up to the Cubbies for multiple top prospects in Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, as well as Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos and Sam Fuld.

Six years of all of those guys for three years of Matt Garza.

The numbers just don't work unless you value prospects as prospects, not already-proven major leaguers. Hak-Ju Lee was a top 100 prospect in that trade and he never spent a day in the majors. Alex Reyes has, but he's far from proven. The same can be said for Luke Weaver.


The hypothetical proposal overvalued the Cardinals players by at least $100M, while including Jedd Gyorko's contract, in which the Rays would have no interest.

With proper valuations, the same package (without Gyorko) might fetch Longoria and Archer or Kiermaier, but certainly not all three.

If I had to do this deal I'd pick Archer and Longo because the Rays develop pitching well and have a better chance of replacing Archer internally than KK. That leaves Tim Beckham/Nick Franklin/Daniel Robertson to cover 3B until Rays top prospect Willy Adames comes up, while the hole at the top of the rotation vacated by Archer would require one of the young guns to step up and take charge.

Cardinals Trade Surplus Value Rays Trade Surplus Value
Reyes $70.00 Archer $114.9
Weaver $15.6 Longoria $62.9
Bader $20.0
Flaherty $15.6
(+7 WAR?)
Total to Rays: $177.2 Total to Cards: $177.8

What do you guys say about the new deal? Would this make sense for both clubs?