What is Alex Presley’s Trade Value?

When talking about the outfield depth that the Pittsburgh Pirates have, a lot of assumptions are made.  In the minors we assume that Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman will both arrive in the next year or two, while meeting their expectations.  Or, more conservatively, we expect just one of them to pan out.  In the majors we expect an outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Alex Presley to hold down the fort with good production until Marte or Grossman arrive.  Then we ask the question: what happens when Marte and/or Grossman arrive?

That question is pre-mature, as it ignores a lot of other questions that will come first.  Will Robbie Grossman continue his success in the jump to AA?  Will Starling Marte see any sort of drop off at the AAA level?  Can both prospects make the successful jump to the majors?  Can Jose Tabata improve on his numbers from 2010-2011?  Is Alex Presley really a .300 hitter with an .800 OPS, or are we just looking at a small sample size?

If the Pirates wanted to gamble, they could trade one of their outfielders in the majors and hope that Marte or Grossman arrived sooner, rather than later.  That is a gamble, because it ignores all of the questions above, and hopes for the best case scenario with Marte, Grossman, and whatever outfielders remain.

The two popular names that have been brought up in trade talk this off-season have been Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata.  McCutchen gets brought up in the “the Pirates could load up by trading McCutchen now”.  That’s possible, although it’s way too premature.  McCutchen is the best player on the team.  He’s the only impact position player on the roster.  I’d rather see him extended, rather than traded, because as I’ve pointed out before, it would be hard to get the proper value in return for McCutchen.

Next is Tabata, who signed an extension this year that puts him under team control through the 2019 season.  The team friendly contract that Tabata signed makes him an attractive option for any team.  That doesn’t mean the Pirates should trade him.  In fact, they can’t trade him, as the main reason he signed such a team friendly deal was because he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh.  Trading Tabata would kill the Pirates’ chances of ever getting another team friendly deal again.

This leaves Alex Presley, who I would trade over Tabata, even without the contract.  The odds of Tabata improving his performance are pretty strong, considering his production came at ages 21 and 22.  Meanwhile, Presley turns 27 next year, so the odds of him improving on his 2011 numbers going forward are slim.  So what could the Pirates get for Presley?  Let’s look at his trade value.

NOTE: The purpose is to see the values of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) – Salary]) and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values.

Alex Presley

2012 $0.4 1.2 $5.8
2013 $0.4 1.2 $5.8
2014 $0.5 1.2 $5.7
2015 $2.4 1.2 $3.4
2016 $3.6 1.2 $2.2
2017 $4.8 1.2 $1.0
TOTAL $12.2 7.2 $23.9

Explanation: Presley was a 1.2 WAR player in 2011 over half a season.  It’s hard to say where he will go from here.  If he maintains his 2011 numbers over a full season, he will be worth more than a win per year, possibly two wins a year.  However, he will be 32 by the end of the 2017 season, so he should see a decline at that point, even if he progresses in the next few years.  I’d say that a 1.2 WAR is a conservative number, as I don’t think his 2011 numbers were a fluke, based on what he’s done in AAA.  For his salary, he’s a league minimum player through 2014, and I used the 40/60/80 scale for his arbitration years.

What He’s Worth: Coincidentally, his $23.9 M value is the exact same amount as Gavin Floyd from our look at Floyd’s value last week.  A $23.9 M value is worth a top 26-50 hitting prospect, although I doubt such a trade would be made.  Presley’s value is driven by the fact that he has played in the majors and has had some success in his limited playing time.  Prospect values are lower due to the uncertainty with prospects.  If I had a top 50 hitting prospect, I’d probably go with the uncertainty, as it also comes with the chances that you could land more than Presley.  On the pitching side, a top 50 pitching prospect is worth $15.9 M.  So Presley would easily cover that, although again it’s up to the other team.  I can’t see someone dealing a Julio Teheran for Presley.

You also have to consider Presley’s value in his final years.  If a team doesn’t keep him for his final two arbitration years, that drops his value in their eyes.  In my preview above, it would drop his value down to $20.7 M.  If he was non-tendered before his first arbitration year, his value would drop to $17.3 M, although I can’t see that happening if he puts up a 1.2 WAR.

Overall it’s better to view Presley as a prospect, rather than viewing any potential deal as Presley for prospects.  Presley isn’t established enough that another team would deal prospects for him.  At the same time, his limited major league success drives his value up over what it would have been if he would have been a prospect with no major league experience.

Analysis: The Pirates could take two approaches with Presley.  They could deal him this off-season as a primary piece for an upgrade elsewhere on the team.  His value would ultimately depend on how other teams valued him, and how legit they thought his 2010/2011 seasons were, including his major league numbers.  That might leave a hole in the outfield for the short term, although for the long term the Pirates have guys in the upper levels like Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman who are both ready to take over.

The other approach the Pirates could take is to wait and see what they have with Presley.  What if his numbers are legit?  What if he puts up a 2-2.5 WAR over a full season just by hitting for a .300 average with an .800 OPS?  If Presley does that in 2012 over a full season, then suddenly his value goes up.  He jumps in to the $40-50 M value range, and becomes less of an unknown, and more of a guy that you can deal for top prospects.  The Pirates would definitely get a top prospect back if Presley put up a .300 average and an .800 OPS in 2012, with five years of control remaining beyond the 2012 season.

There’s risks either way.  They could trade Presley and he could go up in value.  They could keep Presley and he might go down in value.  Any team looking to trade for Presley would be assuming the same risks.  For that reason, it’s hard to get a read on his value, as it really depends on how other teams view his 2011 season.  Teams have to determine whether they see him progressing from those numbers, and combine that with how long they expect him to go until he starts his regression from his peak years.

From the Pirates’ perspective, it goes back to those unanswered questions.  Are they selling high on Presley, or was his 2011 season legit?  If they trade Presley, will Marte and Grossman arrive soon to replace him?  How do they fill the outfield in the short term?  The Pirates would definitely be taking a gamble by trading Presley, especially in the short term.  That said, if he can bring back an established player at another position of need, that’s something the Pirates can consider.  Worst case they use a guy like Gorkys Hernandez in the short term, who has strong defense, and who is capable of a .350 OBP from the top of the lineup.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t mind parting with Alex Presley if the right return could be found. I think he and Grossman are the two OFs the Pirates should considering moving at this time. If the right offer comes for one of the other 3, sure go ahead and trade them but I would rather it be one of Presley or Grossman.

    Anyway that .350 OPS you predict for Hernandez I am assuming is a misprint (OBP, maybe?). Surely the Pirates could do better than that.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Yes, I meant OBP.

  • Matthew Spicer

    In the las sentence, I think you mean .350 OBP, not .350 OPS. At least, I sure hope that’s what you mean.

  • Anonymous

    “Alex Presley’s trade value is zero because I will never trade a player that I have under control that can be paid league minimum.  Players like Presley help me keep the payroll as low as possible, which keeps Mr. Nutting happy and keeps me employed.”

    -Neal Huntington

    • Anonymous

      Can someone either remove this user or at least this dumbass comment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Mcelligott/1666219291 Jack Mcelligott

    I think its a mistake to trade Presley at this time unless the Pirates would be overwhelmed and thats not going to happen. He has great bat stroke, great speed, so its unlikely he will have extended slumps. He has shown some pop as well and hits from left side. The Pirates need pop at third(hopefully Alvarez), first and some better at bats at short. If they get this the Pirates will be much improved. The Pirates are not going to have the traditional power team but if you look at the Angels in recent years they have been pretty good utilizing speed and on base %. If Marte or Grossman show they are ready then the Pirates have some decisions. If we are looking to trade then to me its Hanrahan.

  • Anonymous

    Pressly and Hanarahan for Hanley Ramirez ;). Just kidding but the Marlins could have interest in both. I they do make a couple of these big signings theyve been rumored about, they will be looking for cheaper productive players. You would think something should happen this week roster wise? 40 man  needs settled for rule 5. But this CBA crap seems to be keeping everything on hold 

  • Anonymous

    I do not buy into the concept that a player cannot be traded because of the effect it will have on the team, players play for money, not for feelings, they have agents, they want money too, they will get over it, future contracts will be written, McClouth was a favorite, they signed other contracts after they let him go, the team was distraught, the fans were distraught, but they all got over it.

    I would trade Tabata, if he is not the 4th outfielder this spring, he will be in the near future. I do not believe Grossman is near the majors, he looks to me like he needs at least a year or two more in the minors and rushing him would be a mistake in my view.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      The difference between Tabata and McLouth is that Tabata received a very team friendly deal. He signed that because he wanted to play in Pittsburgh. McLouth’s deal was market rate for his three arbitration years plus control over his first free agent year. It’s not really the same situation.

  • http://twitter.com/mattweaver87 matt weaver

    More than anything, I think the Pirates should trade Hanrahan. Closers are much easier to replace, and coming off a huge season, Hanrahan could net a substantial return. I think Hanrahan to the Rangers for Jurickson Profar isn’t too crazy. It makes sense, as the Rangers intend to convert Feliz to a starter and Profar is blocked at SS by Andrus. Not to mention Pittsburgh could use a SS more than anything.

  • Anonymous

    Trade the whole team for 3 beer and a hotdog..as usual they will be terrible.. This is a plaything for the owner..he only cares about $$$$ .. Stipid fans go watch..or WRITE about the Pirates..including me.. hopless pirate fan… but not a fan of the owner. How can any team draft high for 18 years and still be terrible?????  I see nothing in the future except losing..30 years and counting… ha ha  we are all idiots…and he laughs all the way to the bank?????

    • Anonymous

      Careful, you don’t want to post negative things here and have your posts deleted.

      • Anonymous

        I can vouch for that.  Ironically, somebody called me a dumbass and my posts got deleted.

        • Anonymous

          Suggesting the Pirates will not trade Pressly because he fits their illogical internal value = dumbass.

          Suggesting the Pirates trade two top 10 prospects for one year of Gavin Floyd =awesome.

          That’s how this board rolls.

    • Anonymous

      You do understand that the current management has not been there for 18 years, right?

  • Anonymous

    Yes…every 5 years they fire and hire so fools like me will think maybe before I die they will win 81 games in a year..same owner same results.. If a team does not make the playoffs in ten years the owner should lose the team to the highest bidder. WE BUILT THE STADIUM.. FOR WHAT??? the promise was a winning team..remember??? With a pirate uniform..not visiting uniform.. I should not care..no one should are about this team..  Penguins and Steelers can win….RIGHT???? 

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