In the past few days I’ve detailed the trade values for Joel Hanrahan and Paul Maholm, two players who could fetch a big return for the Pittsburgh Pirates based on their early season success this year. Continuing that series, today we’ll look at the two catchers, Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit. This has been a big topic lately with San Francisco’s Buster Posey going down for at least two months with a broken left fibula. The Giants should be looking for a catcher, unless they are comfortable with Eli Whiteside handling the duties.
Unlike Hanrahan and Maholm, the Pirates’ catchers don’t have much value. There are two reasons for this. First, they are basically only under contract for the remainder of the year. Second, their currently salaries provide little value from their current production levels.
Ryan Doumit had a 3.6 WAR in 2008, but over the last two years has been below a 1.0 WAR. That’s mostly due to a lack of offense in 2009 and 2010, after a strong year in 2008. Doumit has seen a spike in his offensive levels this year, although not nearly as high as the 2008 marks. He’s also been splitting time, which might be helping his numbers. Despite this, he currently has a 0.7 WAR after almost a third of the season.
Doumit is basically under control through the end of the year. He has two option years, although they both have to be picked up at once, and the combined cost of $15.5 M is way more than Doumit is worth. As far as value, the big issue with him is that he’s always been injury prone. Expecting him to continue his success as an every day player, and remain healthy is a bit of a reach. So when calculating his projected WAR, I’d say a 1.5 WAR would be appropriate, based on his performance this year, and the other circumstances that surround him. His performance might warrant a higher WAR in a full time role, although his injury history and the thought that he might struggle in a full time role both bring that WAR down.
Here is a look at the value the Pirates could expect to receive from Doumit:
Chris Snyder is in a bit of a different situation as Doumit. Just like Doumit, over the last few years he’s been below a 1.0 WAR, with the exception of 2008, when he has a 2.3 WAR. He’s off to a decent start this year, with a .264 average and a .341 on-base percentage, although his biggest asset, his power, has been down so far this season, with a .347 slugging percentage.
Snyder makes $5.75 M this year, and has an option for $6.75 M in 2012. This is where Snyder and Doumit differ. Snyder’s option might have some value, depending on how well he performs. Right now, with his lack of power, he’s probably not going to be more than a 1.0 WAR player. That actually provides him with negative value in 2011, and makes his option worthless in 2012. With a 1.0 WAR, here is how Snyder’s value would look:
You could pretty much eliminate his option year, and the Pirates would have to pick up salary in order to get any type of value in return. The figures above are based on a Snyder trade that happened on July 1st. In that event, the Pirates could pick up as much as $2.8 M, which would give Snyder a total value of $2.5 M. That would be worth a minimal return, something along the lines of a Grade C pitcher, and maybe a Grade C hitter.
If Snyder can start hitting for power, he might be able to get up to a 1.5 WAR. That would not only increase his value, but would make his 2012 option worth it:
Even in this event, the trade value wouldn’t be high for Snyder. The Pirates would have to pick up salary (NOTE: they can’t pick up anything in 2012, outside of his buyout), and even in that event the best they could expect would be two Grade C pitchers. Also, if we’re talking about the Giants, Snyder’s second year would be worthless, since Posey will be expected to return by 2012.
Ryan Doumit’s trade value is similar to Snyder. It is currently low, and would only be worth an older Grade C pitcher, or two Grade C hitters. The Pirates could pick up an additional $2.5 M, but at the same time that would only bring his value up to where he would be worth two Grade C pitchers. The best case scenario would be to envision one Grade B hitter in return. Looking at the Giants, we can rule out Brandon Belt, Zack Wheeler, and most likely everyone else in their top seven.
The best deal for the Pirates would be to trade Doumit, and pick up the rest of his salary to increase the value. They would likely have to accept multiple players from the lower levels. I suggest a Doumit trade because Snyder has more value to the Pirates. They don’t have a catcher for the early part of the 2012 season, with Tony Sanchez expected to arrive by mid-season. Doumit’s option years eliminate him from consideration for the 2012 season, but Snyder’s option year wouldn’t be as prohibitive. It wouldn’t make sense to trade Snyder, since his value to the team would be worth more than two lower level prospects.
Meanwhile, Doumit is more of a luxury right now. The Pirates can afford to deal him, since they don’t look like a contender this year. They also won’t have him beyond this season, which means that in the long term, they would get more value by trading him, rather than keeping him for the remainder of the year.
Keep in mind that, while San Francisco might be looking for a catcher, they’re only looking for a catcher for two months. As for any other team, the fact that Bengie Molina might be available for the price of his salary alone might make it difficult for the Pirates to get a huge value in return for one of their catchers.