Yesterday at FanGraphs Craig Edwards broke down where the fWAR comes from for teams in an article titled Building a Baseball Team Through Free Agents Versus Homegrown Talent.
The one thing that sticks out in the 2019 wins the Tampa Bay Rays have received is it’s diversity.
It’s not surprising that the Rays find themselves near the top at most of the rankings as their combined 28.3 fWAR is fourth in the majors behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers (34.0), Minnesota Twins (32.3), and Houston Astros (30.1).
There are two primary ways to bring in homegrown talent into the organization. The amateur draft and the international free agent market.
Brandon Lowe, Blake Snell, and Kevin Kiermaier have been the big hits for the Rays. Ryne Stanek has performed admirably as the face of the opener. Brendan McKay was the one pick the Rays have had at the very top of the draft in recent years and looks to be another hit.
The rest of the draft has helped fill the bottom of the roster of up and down guys.
The combined 7.6 fWAR from draft picks ranks tenth in the league with the Dodgers having a big lead over the field.
International Free Agency
The international free agency market is starting to pay dividends. Yonny Chirinos, Jose Alvarado, and Diego Castillo represent the first wave of a group that headlines three of the top five Rays prospects with Wander Franco, Jesus Sanchez, and Vidal Brujan.
1.6 fWAR doesn’t sound like a lot and in the grand scheme of things it isn’t. However 1.6 fWAR was good enough for ninth in the league. Only four teams cleared 2.0 fWAR.
9.2 fWAR combining the draft and IFA markets for the Rays ranks eighth in the league in homegrown talent.
Receiving wins in trade come in two different ways. A win in trade can be from trading for a major leaguer like when the Rays traded for Tommy Pham from the Cardinals last year or come in the form of a prospect like Willy Adames being brought in as part of the David Price trade years ago.
It is not surprising to see the Rays have so many players brought in via trade. The three top performers were brought in last year’s trade deadline with Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows, and Tyler Glasnow.
They aren’t always in the same style trades. Pham was brought in for minor leaguers. Glasnow and Meadows were part of the return for Chris Archer. Then Yandy Diaz was brought in as a young MLB player for young MLB player challenge trade last winter for Jake Bauers.
Some are pieces of major trades and some are brought in to fill out the roster with things you don’t have from within.
The 14.0 fWAR from trades third behind only the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.
Overall around 200 fWAR has been homegrown with a similar amount being brought in via trade. Free Agency has only brought in about 100 fWAR counting for roughly 20% of the fWAR produced in the first half of the season.
The Rays aren’t typically big spenders in free agency. This winter they made their largest ever free agent commitment signing Charlie Morton to a 2 year $30MM deal. It has paid off better than anybody could have imagined. Morton’s 3.4 fWAR leads all free agents from last year’s class barely edging out DJ Lemahieu with 3.3 fWAR. Other big signings Patrick Corbin (2.7 fWAR), Bryce Harper (2.0 fWAR), and Manny Machado (1.9 fWAR) have helped their teams win games.
The 4.9 fWAR received in free agency ranks ninth in the league. Somewhat surprisingly the leader is the Texas Rangers who are just ahead of big spenders Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees.
There are some other ways to acquire players that don’t fit in the other categories. Generally this will be claiming a player off waivers, selecting somebody in the rule 5 draft, or signing a player as an undrafted free agent.
Michael Brosseau has been a pleasant surprise in his short time in the majors. He was signed as an undrafted free agent that worked his way up through the Rays minor league system.
Chaz Roe and Erik Kratz were claimed off waivers.