Now that the trade deadline is over and (more or less) we know who the Padres possess going into 2015, it’s time for one of those posts/series where every player in the organization is ranked. This is especially necessary for a Padres blog since not a single Padre appeared in the Fangraphs Top 50 Trade Value series, as Padres Jagoff mentioned in our first podcast.
The series will present the Padres in value ascending order, starting with the Padres who currently have negative value.
Negative Value Players
In theory, the only way a player can be considered a “Negative Value Player” (NVP?) is when other teams would not accept him in a trade for literally nothing in return. Logically, this means that a player can’t have a negative value unless they are signed to some form of a guaranteed contract. Yonder Alonso may really stink, but since the Padres are on the hook for literally nothing, they can theoretically remove his “negative” value at no cost; hence his value is actually zero, not negative.
Bad players on non-guaranteed contracts who are overplayed don’t manifest negative value simply because they’re bad, but because they’re being erroneously played. This negative value belongs to the manager, not the player. I’m looking at you, Bud.
With this framework in mind, here are the Padres’ negative value players:
Carlos is a designated hitter whose body gave out before he ever got to peak. The Padres extended this player despite knowing all of this, and did so while his top three comparables at the time of the extension were all players who had retired before they could have played out the extension the Padres offered. (Padres sidenote: one of these players was Bubba Trammell.)
Carlos is under contract for 2015 at $8 million dollars and has an option for 2016 which almost certainly won’t be exercised. (There is a buyout clause that only vests if he can miraculously play in more than 200 games from now until the end of 2015. It won’t vest so long as he’s not somewhere where he can consistently DH.) He’s not worth $8 million – not when Nelson Cruz is getting the same deal, albeit in-part to the lost draft pick attached to signing him – but some team would probably take a flier on him for around half-that, so consider Carlos worth roughly -$4M. I’m not going to even entertain the but if he was healthy possibility because it is not a possibility.
To top it all off – and I don’t think this is a significant reason to sign a player or not – Carlos is awful from a marketing perspective. He’s boring, soft-spoken, an introvert, and NEVER PLAYS. He’s not going to sell tickets, so his value is what his contract value on the field is: -$4M.
If anyone in the league wanted him, he would be gone. The Padres would have accepted nothing for him and probably would have eaten some of the contract. That it didn’t happen is indicative that Carlos is officially an NVP.
This one’s a bummer and more poor luck than poor decision making.
He was never an ace – that was all Padres Goggles – but he was good and justified the risk the Padres took. The risk turned sour and there’s no guarantee he ever throws another pitch at the MLB level for the Padres. Most certainly, though, no one would ever think about touching his contract as is, at least not until he throws a pitch at the MLB level again.
The good news, despite the negative value, is that Luebke is only guaranteed $7M: 5.25 in base for 2015 with the remainder as a buyout. So while he’s a negative value, and signed to a long term deal, it’s really more of a “long term deal” that’ll very likely be irrelevant after next season.
I’m marking Luebke down for exactly 0.0 WAR in 2015, making him worth -$7M, the amount remaining on that contract.
Inconsistent play and inconsistent health do not go well with a consistent contract. That his value mainly comes from defensive metrics (which are less perfect than offensive and pitching metrics anyway) is another problem, as that skill scales with health and doesn’t age as gracefully either.
His contract isn’t too onerous – he’s guaranteed $16M over the next two seasons, including the $1M buyout – but Coco Crisp’s recent contract (2 / $14M total) suggests that Maybin is slightly overpaid. It’s not crippling, obviously, but it is negative value somewhere around -$3M.
The only way someone would take Maybin on his current guarantees is if they were still sold on his offensive potential. I’m not willing to say that all 30 teams have written him off, but I do think the number of potential suitors is low and they’d probably still require the Padres to eat part of the contract (in exchange for simply taking him for free). That’s a negative value, by definition, though I think he has a non-zero chance of getting back to the positive side of the ledger.
That’s it. The Padres don’t have many players under guaranteed contracts, which is what happens when you both refuse to keep players and refuse to add them through free agency. The other Padres with guaranteed contracts are Jedd Gyorko, Joaquin Benoit, Will Venable, and Seth Smith, who will be covered in future posts when the ranking series continues.