Calculating trade value: Paul Maholm edition

Paul Maholm - ZumaPress

The July 31st trade deadline is just a few days away, yet things are mostly quiet on the Pittsburgh front. After wheeling and dealing at the past two deadlines, general manager Neal Huntington has few veterans left to unload in 2010. That being said, there are still potential moves to consider and assets to examine. Let’s start by evaluating the trade value of Paul Maholm.

Maholm’s name has popped up in connection with the Dodgers. With little to no starting pitching at the major league level, the Bucs cannot be eager to deal the dependable and affordable Maholm. Of course, as shown by last year’s Nate McLouth trade, Huntington is not one to shy away from bold and unpopular moves if he likes the return. If the Pirates were to trade Maholm, what should they expect in return?

First, let’s look at Maholm’s salary commitment. The southpaw is due about $1.5 million for the final two months of the season and $5.75 million in 2011. He also has a $9.75 million team option for 2012 that includes a $750,000 buyout. Those are very reasonable obligations for the production that Maholm provides. Based on Maholm’s updated ZiPS projection, we can expect him to be worth somewhere between 3 and 3.5 wins in 2010. That means that any team acquiring him should expect about 2 wins of value over the final two months of the season. Accounting for a bit of regression, let’s assume that he will be worth 2.5 wins in 2011 and 2 wins in 2012.

With some help from Sky Kalkman’s handy trade value calculator, we can now determine Maholm’s worth on the market. At $4 million per win, and adding in the potential of being a Type B free agent, Maholm has a surplus value of $15.95 million through the remainder of his contract. That number drops to $15.55 million if the 2012 option is not exercised, so let’s use the mean of $15.75 million.


Option Exercised

Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M)
2010 $1.50 2.0 $9.40 $7.90
2011 $5.75 2.5 $11.65 $5.90
2012 $9.75 2.0 $9.40 -$0.35
FA Picks $2.5
Total $17.00 6.5 $32.95 $15.95


Option Not Exercised

Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M)
2010 $1.50 2.0 $9.40 $7.90
2011 $6.50 2.5 $11.65 $5.15
FA Picks $2.5
Total $8.00 4.5 $23.55 $15.55


So what can that $15.75 million get the Pirates in the trade market? Using research done by Victor Wang, we can estimate the monetary value of specific prospects.


Top 10 hitting prospects $36.5 *
Top 11-25 hitters $25.1
Top 26-50 hitters $23.4
Top 51-75 hitters $14.2
Top 76-100 hitters $12.5
Top 10 pitching prospects $15.2
Top 11-25 pitchers $15.9
Top 26-50 pitchers $15.9
Top 51-75 pitchers $12.1
Top 76-100 pitchers $9.8
Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels) $7.3
Grade B hitters $5.5
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger $2.1
Grade C pitchers 23 or older $1.5
Grade C hitters 22 or younger $0.7
Grade C hitters 23 or older $0.5

* in millions


The Dodgers’ top prospect is shortstop Dee Gordon, ranked as Baseball America’s 28th best overall hitting prospect before the season. That makes him worth $23.4 million, a pretty steep return for Maholm. But it is possible that Gordon’s down 2010 season, after skipping High-A, has lowered his stock a bit. Another consideration is that the Dodgers are battling financial issues. If the Pirates include some cash to cover Maholm’s contract, Gordon just might be obtainable.

Would you make that trade?

EDIT (7/28/2010, 4:30 PM): For what it’s worth Jayson Stark tweeted the following this afternoon:

Not a chance. Heard from other clubs that LA won’t talk about Gordon. @Youth_Movement Dee Gordon for Podsednik? #tradesWed Jul 28 18:58:33 via web


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Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

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  • http://None Sam Fenley

    Maholm is about to have a break-out season….as early as next year. To trade him for a 28th rated player? That would be an absurd trade for the Pirates. Oh, but wait… is the Pirates (they will take the 1,000th rated player in exchange for a Potential Superstar!

  • Taylor Maricle

    Break out season? his k/9 is 4.50. Lol. He’s a #4 at best.

    Dee Gordon is not coming back in a deal with the dodgers, sorry.

    • joe m

      I tried to post this, but I think it got eaten by the comment monsters, so sorry if this comes across a couple of times.

      I think that $15 million of excess value is a little excessive for Maholm. The rest-of-season projection on FanGraphs has Maholm with a FIP of 4.05 in ~80 IP, which would be ~1 WAR (assumes a league average FIP of 4.09) for the rest of the season. I don’t think that you can subtract the pre-season projection from what Maholm’s done thus far to get what he’s going to do for the rest of the season.

      Also, and this is nitpicking, but according to Trade Rumors, Maholm is about 10-15 players below the Type B cutoff right now, so assuming $2.5M for the comp pick is probably a little wishful too.

      Changing the rest of season WAR to 1 and lowering the comp. pick value to $1M (which might still be too high given that Maholm is not a B right now), the surplus value goes from ~$16M to ~$9.5M, which drops the prospect return to a BA lower end pitching prospect or a Sickels B level prospect.

      • Matt Bandi

        Thanks, Joe. Good stuff.

        I believe I was using last year’s league average FIP (4.32) when I estimated the 3-3.5 WAR. It’s down quite a bit this year.

  • andy

    Since 2007 I’ve kept track of a Pirates ‘shadow team’. Coming into 2010, I traded Maholm to the Tigers for Robbie Weinhardt, Ryan Strieby and Dusty Ryan.

    That figures to be about $13M worth of value and I think was a very fair trade, if not a little low on my side. I tend to be very conservative in only making a trade I know could be done by the real team.

    Weinhardt could be an absolute stud in the pen and Ryan is an underrated defensive catcher with a big frame and a nice swing. Strieby put up good numbers in 2009.

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