On to part four of this series. If you haven't read part one, you can click here and if you haven't read part two, you can click here and if you haven't read part three, you can click here. Again, here's a refresher of the guidelines that apply with these trade value rankings.
1. The value of one's contract: These rankings aren't set forth to assess how good someone is. Rather, we are trying to take a look at asset value. Pablo Sandoval is a better player than Sean Coyle at the moment, but Sandoval's contract ties down the Red Sox for a considerable amount of time and long term money. Coyle is a decent major league prospect under team control, but would likely garner more in return than Sandoval in his contract.
2. Everyone is in a vacuum: We aren't looking at someone's value relative to the rest of the team, except for the whole ranking thing. Just which player brings the greatest return.
3. Age: Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts perfectly encapsulates the value of someone's prime years. A player in their prime or heading into their prime is much more valuable than someone who is near the tail end of their career (David Ortiz for example).
4. Positional depth: There is a reason why the Red Sox wanted to keep Bogaerts at shortstop for as long as possible. Shortstop is a position where there are fewer elite offensive threats. That positional scarcity, as a result, increases Bogaerts' value. It is a lot tougher to find someone who can hit and handle shortstop than it is to find a player that can hit and handle first base. Top major league starters will always be more valuable than top major league relievers. The idea of positional scarcity is duly reflected in the calculation of Wins Above Replacement.
The list that follows is an amalgam of my personal opinion and insight from extensive conversations with multiple scouts, agents and writers around the league regarding player value. Because David Price and Chris Young were not on the 40-man roster when we started this list, they aren't on here. So without further ado...
Group 19: Controllable Pitching
10. Clay Buchholz (RHP), 9. Wade Miley (LHP)
It's easy to get frustrated with Clay Buchholz, there are the flashes, the stretches of greatness that anyone who follows the Red Sox on a consistent basis can see. The issue that frustrates everyone is the injuries. Buchholz can twirl one with the best of them. What we've come to expect at this point with Buchholz, is a half season of All-Star performance followed up by inconsistency and injury in either order. Despite Buchholz's constant injury woes, he's only due $13 million in 2016 and $13.5 million in 2017 on a team option. So considering Jeff Samardzija, owner of a 4.23 FIP and 4.96 ERA last season, got a five-year, $90 million contract, Buchholz is a bargain, even with his inconsistency.
Consider this: over the last two years, Wade Miley has posted a 7.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, and 3.90 FIP. In that same time, Shelby Milley has a 6.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 3.96 FIP. The Red Sox prudently signed Miley to a three-year deal last season with an option for 2016. If Shelby Miller is being talked about as one of the better starting pitchers on the trade market, Miley should be right there with him. Miley will make $6.2 million in 2016, $8.9 million in 2017 and has $12 million on the option for 2018. By any measure, Miley is, at the very least, a solid mid-rotation starter and, for his deal, an absolute steal in the aforementioned Samardzija world. Miley is a controllable, affordable, consistent starter, making him one of the most realistic, valuable trade chips the Red Sox have this offseason.
Group 20: Unproven Young Talent
8. Jackie Bradley (OF), 7. Henry Owens (LHP)
Jackie Bradley is a damn good fielder. Hell, he's probably one of the best in baseball. The big question is whether or not Bradley can hit. The 25-year-old had the best month of his career in August when he hit .354/.429/.734 with five home runs, 23 RBI, nine doubles and three triples. Bradley followed that up with a September in which he hit .222/.311/.456. The fact of the matter is that, to this point in his career, even Bradley's September is an outlier when considering a career OPS of .638. Bradley's glove alone will continue to give him opportunities at the major league level. Whether or not those opportunities are from the bench or in the starting lineup is completely dependent on how well he swings the bat. But between the guarantee of defense, the possibility of offense, and a whole bunch of team control, Bradley is one of Boston's more valuable commodities.
Owens, on the other hand, made his major league debut this year and received an extended opportunity. While making 11 starts, Owens posted a 4.57 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 0.6 WAR. The owner of the worst/best Twitter handle ever, Owens' ceiling probably tops out as that of a very good mid-rotation starter. Owens possesses a strong changeup and above-average curveball and should at the very least, be a back-of-rotation starter. Between that "high floor" and the fact that he's under team control 2021, Owens too is a valuable piece.
Group 21: Dude Just Got Traded for Margot and Guerra
6. Craig Kimbrel (RHP)
To say Craig Kimbrel is anything less than one of the best relievers in baseball is selling him way short. Yes, Dave Dombrowski probably gave up a bit too much for him in terms of prospects, but Kimbrel is a lockdown reliever, which nobody can deny. Kimbrel immediately shores up any bullpen and is one of the best closers in baseball. He's locked down for two years with a team option and has shown no real signs of decline.
Group 22: LASER SHOW
5. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
The heart, the soul of the Boston Red Sox, Pedroia is worth infinitely more to this team than he would be to any other. Pedroia failed to play 100 games for the second time in his career in 2015, the last having come in 2010 when he broke his foot. The injuries, especially with the way that Pedroia plays the game, are a major concern and a decline in fielding ability is certainly expected. For better or worse, Pedroia is locked up through 2021 and won't make more than $16 million in any of those seasons. Considering that someone is most certainly going to be making $40 million annually by the time Pedroia retires, his $12 million might seem like a pittance by then. If the injury situation is worth keeping an eye on, Pedroia is still a very good, underpaid player. He has trade value, it just doesn't much matter, since he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Group 23: Pretty, Pretty Good Prospects
4. Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP), 3. Blake Swihart (C)
Eduardo Rodriguez displayed enormous potential last season, twirling some absolute gems in his time in the majors last season. Despite going through some peaks and valleys, Rodriguez showed poise and confidence on the mound throughout. Rodriguez possesses a plus fastball that can hit the high-90s, which he mixes with a strong changeup and solid breaking ball. Rodriguez needs to improve his consistency overall, but if he does, he might prove the number two starter the Red Sox are looking for. And number two starters under team control are worth quite a bit these days.
Catchers notoriously take a lot of time to develop and Swihart likely won't be an exception as a high school draftee. After some struggles at the plate early in his time in the majors, which came much earlier than expected thanks to a rash of injuries behind the plate, Swihart came on strong in the second half of the season, hitting .303/.353/.452 after the All-Star break. The power will take some time to develop, but Swihart has the potential to hit 15-20 home runs. At just 23 years old with a good glove that's getting better, he has the potential to be one of the top catchers in baseball before long.
Group 24: I. Hate. This. Question.
2. Xander Bogaerts (SS), 1. Mookie Betts (OF)
I asked the question on Twitter for people to choose between three poll options: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts or "I hate Joon." Bogaerts and "I hate Joon" came out tied for first place, and I get it. The hypothetical universe where someone has to choose between Bogaerts and Betts is basically a nightmare world. That, however, is a slightly different question from who has more trade value.
It's Betts, although I wouldn't blame you if you said it was Bogaerts. Betts, who is eligible to become a free agent after the 2020 season, is under team control for one more season than Bogaerts, despite being basically the same age. While Bogaerts plays a more premium position, it can't be ignored that Betts posted a 6.0 bWAR versus the shortstop's 4.6 bWAR. Betts showed the ability to adjust after early season struggles and displayed the bat speed and ability needed to play at an elite level early on.
The fact of the matter is that Betts hasn't had a bad season at the major league level, albeit in a small sample size. In 197 games, Betts is hitting .291/.348/.471 while Bogaerts is hitting .281/.327/.392 in 318 games at the major league level. Betts is even a better defender at his position than Bogaerts is at his, despite having relatively little experience there. So when considering who holds more trade value, whom someone values more is dependent on how much weight is placed on Bogaerts' outstanding ability at a relatively shallow position league-wide versus Betts' outstanding ability at a more crowded position while tacking on the additional year of team control. You really can't go wrong answering with either player, though, and that's a pretty incredible situation for the Red Sox to find themselves in.