Dave Cameron at FanGraphs just concluded a series of posts ranking the top 50 baseball players in terms of value above their contract. Not the fifty best players. The fifty players who have the most long-term value relative to their contract. Players like Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera don’t make it because of the size of their contract. The fifty players are listed in today’s final installment. Twenty six players also appeared on an honorable mention list.

A few highlights:

• The top 11 are position players: Trout, Correa, Bryant, Seager, Lindor, Rizzo, Betts, Arenado, Goldschmidt, Harper and Machado

• Boston, Houston, St. Louis and Pittsburgh have the most players, with five each; Cleveland has four

• Cubs: Kris Bryant (3B/OF, #3), Anthony Rizzo (1B, #6), Addison Russell (SS, #31), Willson Contreras (C/OF, HM)

• Cardinals: Alex Reyes (P/#46), Carlos Martinez (P, #50), Aledmys Diaz (SS, HM), Stephen Piscotty (OF, HM), Matt Carpenter (2B/3B, HM)

• Pirates: Gregory Polanco (OF, #24), Starling Marte (OF, #29), Gerrit Cole (P, #35), Austin Meadows (OF, HM), Tyler Glasnow (P, HM)

• Reds: /HTTP 404 – file not found/

• Only four organizations (Yankees, Mariners, A’s and Reds) have no players on the Top 50 list or Honorable Mention

What to make of Cameron’s analysis from a Reds perspective?

Competition in the NL Central will be difficult for years to come. The Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates have had modern, effective front offices for several years and it shows in their large group of players on this list. The Brewers may be on the way.

Rationalization: You could excuse the absence of Reds players on the list by noting it comes at a unique time of transition for the organization. The established players have at-value or expiring contracts and the younger players haven’t quite arrived yet. In two years, the Reds could have several players on this list. (… please, let this be right … )

At best, that rationalization indicts the management of the roster over the past few years. Short-term neglect allowed a gap to take place. Blame may fall on the owner for not allowing change or the general manager for doing a poor job, or more likely a combination. Well managed teams don’t have gaps like this.

At worst, the list reflects a disastrous, organization-wide failure over the past seven years or so. This sobering interpretation includes catastrophic breakdowns in talent evaluation, talent acquisition, talent retention and overall philosophy.

In either case, the poor fans had none.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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57 Responses

  1. WVRedlegs

    Man oh man. What an indictment of the Reds front office and roster management. This goes at the heart of what chafes my rear end the most about the Reds.
    Bad front office + bad roster management = bad team.
    It is time for early retirement for Jockett, like right now. “Catastrophic breakdowns” in crucial areas for small market teams have brought us to where we are today, last place with almost the worst record in MLB. Pathetic.
    No trust in “The Re-build” while Jocketty is still on board. None.

  2. Chuck Schick

    The Reds are bad and deserve all criticism that comes their way. However, it would be fair to note what other teams needed to do in order to create better contract value.

    The Pirates were bad for 20 years and they finally got it right. The Cubs transparently tanked for 3 seasons before their plan worked. Only the Cardinals saw the future and rebuilt their organizational infastructure while fielding a competitive MLB team. The Reds may very well screw this up, but their recent actions are consistent with those teams.

    Jocketty was a very good GM under the old “Boom-Bust” cycle that most teams operated under. Perhaps the Reds have changed their philosophy…perhaps not. My point is the teams who ultimately got it right generally endured a lengthy rebuild.

  3. Jeremy Conley

    Bob and Walt got too attached to their core players. They had some success in 2010, and then really looked good in 2012, but when that team didn’t win, they had to be able to let go of a few guys to restock the “cupboard.” They didn’t, they rode it all the way to the ground.

    The result is they don’t have anyone that valuable on the big league team (relative to the contract) and they don’t have a very stocked farm system.

    • eric3287

      I often wonder, in hindsight, if making the playoffs in 2010 wasn’t the worst thing that happened to the Reds as an organization.

    • Cullen

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it Jocketty wanting to do a full rebuild last season while Castellini drug his feet?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Haven’t seen any reporting like that. Lots of speculation on why Frazier, Bruce and Chapman weren’t traded at the deadline, much involving ownership. But never saw that Jocketty was in favor of trading all three at deadline.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Absolutely agree with what you said. The Reds should have done a mini-rebuild after 2012 to build for even a higher level success in 2-3 years (which could have been last year or this year) while still being competitive. Imagine what the Reds could have gotten for Bruce, Chapman and Phillips after 2012?

      • jveith1991

        I’m wondering if you meant to write “2013” instead of “2012”. The Reds had the second-highest win total in MLB in 2012. It was in 2013 that they limped into the Wildcard game and finished the season third in their division. It was at that point the rebuild should have began.

  4. IanD

    Has he done these rankings in the past? Would be interesting to see them from 2010, when the Reds likely would have been far better represented.

  5. reaganspad

    Bringing Jockety was, is and always will be a mistake. but owners do funny things.

    This organization would be light years ahead of where it is now had they kept Wayne Krivsky who knew how to find bats and churn talent.

    Why walt is left to nod off into the sunset at the helm of this team is beyond me but not beyond the stats that you mention in this article.

  6. Cullen Leugers

    Hamilton, Suarez, and Desclafani could have been Honarable Mentions.

    Castellini deserves the blame for dragging his feet and selling guys like Frazier and Chapman in the offseason at their absolute floors.

    Jocketty deserves blame for the Votto contract and partially unlucky on Mesoraco and Bailey (these appeared bad from the start). He deserves credit for the Simon and Latos trades and signing guys like Iglesias and Straily.

    • Cullen Leugers

      +Leake trade and the Cueto trade is looking strong.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yes, looks like solid returns for both so far. Those trades were almost mandatory, though, with both players facing free agency at end of the season.

    • lwblogger2

      I’m honestly not sure why so many people seem to hate the Votto contract. In a vacuum he’s been worth the money so far and although it will likely go upside down in the future, Votto’s skill-set ages better than some other skill-sets. Also, salaries are skyrocketing so $25-million/year may not be too much above what just quality MLB players are making in free-agency, let alone star players. In other words, it may not be that bad.

      As for the Mesoraco contract, it seemed like a decent bet on a player coming off a breakout year. I’ll chalk that one up to bad luck. I’ve never liked the Bailey contract much but that’s a general feeling I have on long-term pitching contracts, especially for small/low-mid market teams, more than an indictment against Bailey in particular. We don’t know if they tried to sign Latos or Leake to longer deals and were denied. The Bailey contract paid him as a good #2/#3 pitcher, which his performance for 2 years leading up to it suggested that he probably was. It hasn’t worked out.

      The Phillips contract was a bad one, even at the time. I was happy as a fan of BP’s but didn’t like the deal for the Reds. It’s my understanding that the deal was more Big Bob’s doing than WJ’s doing though. The buyouts on some of the secondary contracts were bad (Ludwick, Schumaker….).

      • Mike

        Agreed LWBLOGGER2. His contract so far has worked out very well. He has produced 22 war so far in the contract. That should be roughly 150 million in value with years to go.

      • IndyRedMan

        Joey’s last 30 days per my yahoo fbb team

        .301 11 runs, 3 hrs, 7 rbis, 2 steals

        Meager production but that’s more on his supporting cast! At the same time he’s still got to find a way to hit more than 3 HRs and drive in more then 7 in a full month! I think he’s still rounding into form after being a first half funk. What does it take though to break even offensively w/a $25 mil player? I’m guessing a .900 ops minimum?

      • Patrick Jeter

        And an OBP of .468… so, there’s that.

        The guy didn’t get out almost 47% of the time for the last month . Not getting out is the single best thing a batter can do.

      • thecoastman

        Votto was Big Bob’s Grandson’s favorite player. He forced that signing on Uncle Walt, which goes completely against Walt’s philosophy on long term deals. BP’s contract was also a Castellini directive.

      • thecoastman

        That said, I think the Votto signing is paying off — only question is; can he put up another 3 or 4 stud years to make it pay long term — I’m betting he can.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Agree. By the end of his contract, a 2 WAR season will be worth about $25 million.

      • SabrChris

        More of a panic move by the team. That winter saw Pujos and Cabarrea 10 year deals and Reds got scared that if they didn’t act then Joey would hit free agency with Toronto, Yankees, etc offering 30mil+ per year.

  7. Steve Mancuso

    Went back and looked at previous years.

    2011 – Votto #7, Bruce #22

    2012 – Votto #26, Bruce #36, Cueto #40

    2013 – none

    2014 – Hamilton #36, Mesoraco #43

    2015 – Frazier #46, Billy Hamilton in list of players “value nuked by sucking”

    • Patrick Jeter

      Thanks for the legwork, Steve. I was about to do this but figured I’d check the comments first.

      Cameron also noted somewhere this week that the natural progression is for a player to move down the list. Just about every single good player moves down every year, given that’s 1 year closer to FA.

  8. Scott E. Disney

    Àrticle on MLB.com proposes a trade of Bruce to the Nationals for Michael Taylor and their #7 prospect AJ Cole. This sounds like a horrible trade for Reds, am I just missing something?

    • Steve Mancuso

      Two players with little chance of really helping the team. Taylor is good glove, but washout at the plate. Cole has been a low-K pitcher the past two years. Pretty good on BB though. Would expect Bruce can get a better player. Wish the Reds would ask for one plus player instead of two or three meh ones.

      • thecoastman

        Fresh quote from Jocketty — concedes Bruce may go nowhere:

        “We still have some clubs that are interested in him and we’ll still talk with them. There’s nothing imminent or even on the front-burner,” Jocketty said. “I think most clubs right now are looking for pitching. We’re not going to move any pitching. Most clubs are looking for pitching that’s why I think anything with Jay may not happen right away if it happens at all.”

      • PDunc

        “I think most clubs right now are looking for pitching. We’re not going to move any pitching…”

        If most clubs are looking for pitching, and our organizational depth is on the pitching side, why aren’t we going to move any pitching? Wouldn’t DeSclafani’s combination of MLB success, low cost and years of control remaining make him attractive to contending teams looking for pitching? The Reds would still have talented arms in Bailey, Lamb, Reed, Stevenson, Garrett, Finnegan, Iglesias and Lorenzen to sort out the rotation and bullpen for 2017 and ’18.

      • reaganspad

        I agree PDUNC that I would trade anyone in the right deal including Disco. I like Disco a whole bunch but if you could get and Addison Russell, Betts or Boegarts right now in return for Disco and another piece, you have to look at that. Shoot, I would trade Adam Duvall in the right deal. I just hate to think that we are giving away guys for nothing

        He would have to bring back a kings ransom right now for me to part with him. But Boston got some very good players trading off a bunch of their team a few years ago that are now 22 year old all stars.

        I am much more interested in what we could get for Disco, versus what we would have to pay to trade Phillips, or how we might give away Cozart for nothing and heaven forbid what they will “take” for Jay Bruce.

      • IndyRedMan

        Trading Disco would take a monster return but I would deal Disco too if the return was there! He might be our best pitcher for the near future but my feeling is that if he’s the best you’ve got then you don’t have enough to compete anyway!

      • Patrick Jeter

        I’ve long ago come to the realization that nothing coming out of Walt’s mouth can be believed. Maybe he’s telling the truth this time, but there’s no way to know.

        I can’t wait until we never have to talk about him again.

      • greenmtred

        Aren’t the teams looking for pitching now mostly the teams who feel that they can contend this year? If that’s the case, they are presumably looking for established major league talent which (as Jeremy documents in another article) the Reds have little or none of at this time.

      • lwblogger2

        Well, I guess if the market isn’t there then you almost have to keep him. Maybe try off season? Of course that didn’t work out well for Bruce, Frazier, or Chapman last year.

    • Patrick Jeter

      This would be disappointing, I agree… but Bruce really doesn’t have as much value as many around here think.

      Taylor’s upside is basically Chris Heisey, in my estimation. I saw Cole’s debut last year against ATL and he gave up something like 8 runs in an inning. First impressions stick with you! 😉

      Like Steve said, a single OK prospect is much better than two probably washouts.

    • Hotto4Votto

      That sounds like a poor match for the Reds. #1 they are stocked with pitching prospects, even back end ones. #2 they already have a better version of Taylor (good glove-light stick OF’er) in Hamilton, and Taylor K’s way too much, something the Reds need to get away from.

  9. thecoastman

    Great article, Steve. I really got a good chuckle out of the Red’s 404 page not found.

    • vegastypo

      And to think, I remember when ‘404’ merely meant the reference to how far it was to dead center field in Riverfront Stadium.

  10. WVRedlegs

    It is a sellers market for starting pitching this trade deadline. No Cueto to trade this year.
    What can the Reds get for Straily? Is there a contending team that would trade for Straily? Finnegan?

    • Patrick Jeter

      Straily has no real value. Finnegan has been one of the worst regular starters in all of MLB this year, so his prospect sheen has worn off and his value is probably at an all-time low. Although, higher than Straily’s I’d day.

      • vegastypo

        My only hope was that Straily might make a trade already involving Bruce or Cozart just a little nicer. Probably a pipe dream, but it seems like everybody wants pitching, so I wonder if/when the market for bats is going to shape up.

  11. IndyRedMan

    I don’t see how Addison Russell (.237 / .731 ops) is outplaying his contact in any significant way? Just because he’s the Reds new Billy Hall doesn’t make a great player! If Duvall could face the Reds pitching that often he’d be OPS’ng .950!!

    • eric3287

      Russell is a tremendous defensive SS that is just 22 years old. His wRC+ is 93, so just below league average. He’s walked 37 times this year, 12 times more than any Red not named Votto.

      You know how we talk about how Billy Hamilton would be an All-Star/MVP type if he could only hit almost league average? That’s what Russell is doing now (minus the stolen bases) at age 22. Billy was getting blown away by AAA pitching at that age.

      Any team outside Cleveland and Houston would probably trade SS’s with Chicago in half a heartbeat.

      • IndyRedMan

        He is only 22 but I just don’t see the hype at this point. I watch the Cubs all the time and he only stands out when they play us! Again the article doesn’t mention factoring in age….just the production vs the cost.

      • IndyRedMan

        Cozart 1.4 def war this year….Russell 1.0 def war and I don’t know/care what war is except for use to advance my argument…lol

        Imo…Russell won’t even be the best pro SS in his city! Tim Anderson wouldn’t walk at this point if they spotted him 2-0 every atbat but the ball jumps off his bat and he’s only made 1 error in 28 games so far! A .798 ops so far and he stole 47 bases in 2014 in the minors

      • Patrick Jeter

        Age is an inherent part of projecting production. Notice the projected WAR fields for young players go up every year, while they go down for older players.

        Being younger is better, and at 22 Russell still has offensive projection.

        His “hype” is gone. He’s not an MVP-type player, but he’ll be a very good shortstop for years and years.

      • PDunc

        Russell was worth 2.9 Wins Above Replacement last season and is on pace for another 3 WAR this season, all while making about half a million a year. The cost of 1 WAR on the free agent market is in the $7 million range. So in his rookie season the Cubs payed Russell around half a million dollars for about $21 million worth of production.
        Also while Russell gets a lot of his value from defense, he still has been the 12th best SS in terms of WRC+ since the beginning of last year.

      • IndyRedMan

        I guess I’m totally confused then? If .739 ops is worth $20 million/year and his defense is rated 1 war compared to 1.4 for Cozart then Duvall must be worth $45/mil a year? What was Josh Hamilton worth for the 1 year w/the Reds? $100 mil/year? Addison Russell is a good young player but that’s insane?

      • Steve Mancuso

        The projections are multi-year. Lots of doubt that Duvall can replicate his first half on offense or defense. When Hamilton played for the Reds, WAR was worth a lot less on the open market. Probably less than $5 million/WAR. He produced 2.3 WAR (according to FanGraphs) in 2007. So he probably produced around $10 million in value.

  12. Gaffer

    This value chart does not mean very much more the what we already know. The Reds got old, got expensive, did a poor job of retooling, did poor in trades (not all), and have young prospects that are not “worth much yet.” Next year this could be different, but Walt still stinks. This is old news. Back when it really mattered, I fault him for giving up too much for Latos, not picking up a replacement for Stubbs in 2011/12. Resigning Ludwick in 2013 was dumb and then not replacing him when injured on opening Day. Oh and signing crappy relievers to 2 year deals in arbitration!!! Is that all?

  13. Stuck in RedBird Land

    Not trying to defend the current leadership but I have two words for you Jim Bowden. By comparison they have done great! Remember the pitching prospects under Bowden? You’re not alone, there were none. In fact player development during his tenure was terrible.

  14. TR

    Very true but Jim Bowden did make things interesting. Somewhat like Marge Schott.

  15. doofus

    “At best, that rationalization indicts the management of the roster over the past few years. Short-term neglect allowed a gap to take place. Blame may fall on the owner for not allowing change or the general manager for doing a poor job, or more likely a combination. Well managed teams don’t have gaps like this.

    At worst, the list reflects a disastrous, organization-wide failure over the past seven years or so. This sobering interpretation includes catastrophic breakdowns in talent evaluation, talent acquisition, talent retention and overall philosophy.”

    You’ve paraphrased my comments when you exhorted Red’s fans to be patience in a recent post.

  16. David Silverwood

    I am a Red fan since 1952 and I believe the Reds screw themselves by hiring Jocketty ,also sadly their owner belongs behind enemy lines he is the pits—-we need a GM who wants to be a GM and not an idiot on display for other clubs to laugh at . If the the Reds don not clean house we should hope that someone will buy them and move them from the terrible stink created by this Reds adminstration.