Trade Values: Alex Rios and Nate Schierholtz

There has been a lot of talk about the Pirates trading for Alex Rios or Nate Schierholtz this year. Most of that has been looking at a struggling team with an expensive veteran, and a contending team with a need. In this case the White Sox and Cubs have productive right fielders and aren’t contenders, and the Pirates have a need at right-field and are contenders.

I don’t do Trade Value articles based on connecting the dots between teams. However, if there’s an actual rumor connecting the Pirates to a player, I will look at the values. That hasn’t been the case with Rios and Schierholtz until now. Rob Biertempfel reports that the Pirates have been checking on both right fielders. To get an idea of what they would cost, let’s look at the trade values for each player.

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) – Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects.

Alex Rios Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2013 $12,500,000 3.0 $15,200,000 $900,000
2014 $13,000,000 3.0 $15,200,000 $2,200,000
2015 $14,000,000 3.0 $15,200,000 $1,200,000
TOTAL $39,500,000 9.0 $45,600,000 $4,300,000

Finding the Value: Rios is under club control through the 2015 season. If traded, his future salaries increase $500,000 per year. He has a club option in 2015 which would be for $14 M in a trade. Rios hasn’t been consistent recently. He was a 5 win player in 2007-2008, but has been hit or miss ever since. In 2009 he had a 0.0 WAR. In 2010 he had a 3.4 WAR. In 2011 he had a -1.0 WAR. In 2012 he had a 4.3 WAR. So far this year he is at 1.9. I thought it would be fair to give him a 3.0 WAR each year for his value. That’s lower than his best years, but takes into account that he has been inconsistent. I also set the trade date in 2013 as July 31st, so the Surplus Value reflects the final two months of the 2013 season.

What He’s Worth: Rios would be worth $4.3 M, which would be a Grade B hitting prospect. If his 2015 option was declined, he would be worth $2.1 M. The White Sox could get a better return if they picked up salary. Paying half of his 2014 salary would increase the value to $8.6 M, if you don’t exercise his 2015 option. That would be worth a Top 51-100 hitting prospect or a Top 51-100 pitching prospect and a Grade C prospect.

Analysis: Jim Bowden had a trade idea of Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez for Gregory Polanco, Nick Kingham, and Jordy Mercer. I estimated Ramirez to have an $18.8 M trade value through the 2016 season. UPDATE: I took a closer look at Alexei Ramirez. I wouldn’t even consider that deal for a lot of reasons. Number one is the value of Polanco. He is a top 11-25 prospect, and would be worth $33.36 M. The White Sox would have to pick up the entire 2014 salary for Rios, and include Ramirez, just to match the value of Polanco. Also, I don’t think Jordy Mercer is a long-term option at shortstop, but I’d take him as a league minimum guy for the next few years, rather than an expensive Alexei Ramirez who is already 31 and turns 32 at the end of the year.

Sticking only with the value of Rios, he’d be worth a Grade B hitting prospect with no salary relief, or a top 51-100 pitching prospect and a Grade C prospect if the White Sox picked up half of his 2014 salary. Nick Kingham is probably going to be a top 51-100 prospect, so that aspect of the trade would be correct. A lesser deal would be a Grade B hitting prospect and two Grade C pitching prospects, similar to the Wandy Rodriguez deal last year. Rios would be a good everyday player for the Pirates through the 2014 season. I think Gregory Polanco will be ready by mid-season next year. If that happens, the Pirates will either have great depth for a mid-season injury, or they’ll be able to shift someone to first base if that’s still in a platoon. I wouldn’t want to give up Kingham, since I think he will also be in the majors this time next year. I’d aim for the Rodriguez-type trade, centered around an A-ball Grade B hitting prospect and a few good Grade C pitching prospects, which the Pirates could spare.

Nate Schierholtz Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2013 $2,500,000 1.5 $7,700,000 $1,700,000
2014 $4,000,000 1.5 $7,700,000 $3,700,000
TOTAL $6,500,000 3.0 $15,400,000 $5,400,000

Finding the Value: Schierholtz is having a career year, and is already a 1.5 WAR player this year. I put him at a 1.5 WAR value since he’s averaged 0.8 WAR over the previous four seasons. That should be fair value, especially since he’d be worth 0.5 WAR the remainder of the 2013 season. He’s arbitration eligible after the season, and I put his salary at $4 M. I also set the trade date at July 31st.

What He’s Worth: Schierholtz would be worth a Grade B hitting prospect. You could probably try to go the quantity approach and give up a few Grade C pitchers, but I doubt that gets the deal done.

Analysis: I don’t see a reason to trade for Schierholtz. The Pirates don’t have a right-fielder who can hit left-handers. Schierholtz also can’t hit lefties. This year he has a .505 OPS against left-handers, working as a platoon player. In his career he has a .691 OPS against lefties. Jose Tabata has an .843 OPS in 85 at-bats this year against right-handers, which is a much smaller sample size than Schierholtz. He also struggles against lefties with a .632 OPS, so he wouldn’t be a good guy to pair with Schierholtz. The Pirates might get more comfort by trading for Schierholtz, but they’d still need a guy to hit lefties. If they’re giving up a top prospect, I’d rather see them take on more money by trading for Rios, which would give them an everyday player at a lower prospect value.

Tim Williams

Author: 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, 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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