FanPost

Did the Cubs give up too much for Garza? A sabermetric approach

We have discussed our opinion of whether or not Matt Garza was worth the package given up. I had mentioned that there had been some excellent studies done on the value of prospects. I thought I would use these studies and try to put together a valuation of the package they gave up, as well as the excess value of Matt Garza at 3 different levels of perfomance.

Full disclosure: I am by no means a sabermetrician, but I do read a number of sabermetric websites regularly and I am trying to replicate what I have seen done there.

Victor Wang and the writers at Beyond the Boxscore have done a significant amount of work on the value of different levels of prospects. The following table taken from John Sickels' website represents their work.

EDIT: If you want to better understand how the table works, I suggest that you read Wang's article at the Hardball Times. The Table isn't meant to estimate what any of the prospects will be worth if they pan out, but rather to estimate their current value based on their likelihood of becoming productive MLBers.

 

Top 10 hitting prospects $32.5M
Top 11-25 hitters $22.3
Top 26-50 hitters $20.8
Top 51-75 hitters $12.6
Top 76-100 hitters $11.1
Top 10 pitching prospects $13.5
Top 11-25 pitchers $14.2
Top 26-50 pitchers $14.2
Top 51-75 pitchers $10.8
Top 76-100 pitchers $8.7
Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels) $6.5
Grade B hitters $4.9
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger $1.9
Grade C pitchers 23 or older $1.3
Grade C hitters 22 or younger $0.62
Grade C hitters 23 or older $0.45

 

Baseball America has not yet released their prospect lists, so I am going to project a ranking based on what Jim Callis has said in chats and tweets, and based on the consensus view of the prospects involved. I am going to rate Archer as a top 50 pitcher and Lee as a top 100 position player. Brandon Guyer is a B- prospect and Robinson Chirinos is a C+ prospect. I place no value on Sam Fuld, Fernando Perez or Zachary Rosscup. Fuld and Martinez are borderline MLB players and Rosscup was rated a non-prospect by John Sickels. This yields the following values for the players

 

Prospect

Projected Ranking

$ Value

Chris Archer

Top 50 Pitcher

$14.2

Hak-Ju Lee

Top 100 Positional Player

$11.1 ($20.8 - $11.1)

Brandon Guyer

B Positional Prospect

$4.9   ($4.9 - $620k)

Robinson Chirinos

 >23 y.o. C Positional Prospect

$450k

 

This means the Cubs gave up a total value of $30,650,000. Again, these are not estimations of the excess value that the players will produce. They are approximations of current value based on likelihood of success. 

For example, if Archer develops into a 3.0 average WAR pitcher in 2012-2016, the excess value that Archer will have could be well over $40 million.  Odds are that the Cubs will either win this trade or lose it by a very large margin depending on how Lee and Archer pan out.

EDIT: Tomas21 raises a good point that Guyer is rated a B- by Sickels.  The difference between a B- prospect and a C+ prospect isn't very significant, but the difference on this table is $4.3 million. Considering how close Guyer is to the majors, I think he has more value than $650k, but probably a little less than $4.3 million. I also should add that I put HJ Lee as only a top 100 hitter, when he could be ranked top 75 or top 50 by some evaluators. These rankings have values of $12.6 and $20.8 respectively. So, the range of value that the Cubs gives up could be between $40,950,000 on the high-side and $26,370,000 on the low side.

The following are Matt Garza's career statistics:

Year

IP

fWAR

bWAR

ERA

FIP

xFIP

HR/FB %

2006

50

0.7

-0.1

5.76

4.57

4.89

8.7%

2007

83

1.4

 0.9

3.69

4.18

4.54

8.2%

2008

184

2.9

 3.2

3.70

4.11

4.48

8.4%

2009

203

3.2

 3.8

3.95

4.17

4.21

10.2%

2010

204

1.8

 2.0

3.91

4.42

4.51

10.0%

 

I think a more than reasonable projection for the next 3 years is 3.0 WAR. Especially considering that his statistics really show no upward trend. Garza-pessimists argue that his HR/FB rate will lead to more HRs at Wrigley Field as compared to Tropicana and that he no longer has the stellar TB defense behind him.  Garza-optimists argue that the move from the AL East to the NL Central will lead to improved performance. Finally, some argue (including perhaps the Cubs managent and scouting team) that Garza's raw stuff is better than his statistics and that he is bound to break-out with a new team.

I am going to use salary projections of $6m, $9m and $11m. These are the numbers that most believe he will get in arbitration. I am going to use the same salary numbers for each projection for simplicity, although I recognize that he would likely receive different amounts based on his varying performance. I am using $4.5m for 1 WAR. This is the figure that Fangraphs has been using this off-season.

For my low-end projection I will use 3.5 WAR for Garza. This is still a very optimistic projection for him considering his previous career high in 2009 was either 3.8 bWAR or 3.2 fWAR. This yields the following valuation:

Year

Projected Salary

WAR

$ Value

Excess Value

2011

$6m

3.5

$15.75

$9.75

2012

$9m

3.5

$15.75

$6.75

2013

$11

3.5

$15.75

$4.5

Total

$26

10.5

$67.50

$21.0m

For my middle-end projection I will use a 4.0 WAR average for Garza. This is an extremely optimistic projection for him. Basically he would have to become one of the best pitchers in either league. There were 25 pitchers with over 4.0 bWAR last season in either league.

Year

Projected Salary

WAR

$ Value

Excess Value

2011

$6m

4.0

$18

$12

2012

$9m

4.5

$20.25

$11.25

2013

$11m

5.0

$22.5

$11.50

Total

$26

12

$60.75

$34.75

For my high-end projection I will use 5.0 WAR.  This is a pretty ridiculous projection for Garza. He would have to consistently become an elite pitcher for this valuation to come to fruition. Here is a complete list of pitchers with over 5.0 bWAR in 2010: Roy Oswalt, Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jon Lester, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, and David Price.

Year

Projected Salary

WAR

$ Value

Excess Value

2011

$6m

5.0

$22.50

$16.50

2012

$9m

5.0

$22.50

$13.50

2013

$11m

5.0

$22.50

$11.50

Total

$26

12

$60.75

$41.50

So to summarize:

  • If Garza stays the same pitcher (3.0 WAR) he has been throughout his career he has an excess value of $14.5 million.
  • If Garza meets optimistic projections he has an excess value of $ 21.0 million.
  • If Garza becomes consistently one of the top 25 pitchers in MLB he has excess value of $ 34.75 million
  • If Garza becomes an elite pitcher he has excess value of $41.50 million

In my opinion, the Cubs management (Jim Hendry and Greg Maddux) must believe that he will be the middle projection of a 4.0 WAR pitcher in the NL Central with possible upside of the third projection.  Otherwise, this trade doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Garza has to perform at a very high level (beyond what he has to this point in his career) to make this a good deal for the Cubs.

 

*If anyone has any corrections or ideas to make this more accurate, please post and I will edit and credit as necessary.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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