Annually, FanGraphs creates a top-50 list that ranks players based on their perceived trade value. According to the series, “The central question I considered is straightforward: how much value could a team expect to receive in return for each player on the list? It’s not who would solicit the great number of offers, or the highest average value of the trade offers a team would receive if they put this player on the trading block – it’s who would fetch the highest return if the entire league were making trade bids on each player.”
Players closer to free agency rank lower because the value of their current contract is declining. Stars on big contracts also don’t rank well because there isn’t a lot of surplus value in their production. On the Twins, Carlos Correa fits both of these areas as he is on a large contract and can opt to hit free agency at the season’s conclusion. Other younger players, like Jose Miranda and Alex Kirilloff, are just starting to come into their own, so their big-league track record makes it harder to predict future value. Again, these aren’t necessarily the players Minnesota will trade before the deadline, but they are the ones that could receive the highest return. So, who are the team’s most valuable trade assets?
5. Max Kepler, RF
Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$32.13M (19-23) & 24 team option ($10.00M)
At this point last season, Max Kepler ranked 45th on FanGraphs’ list because he had multiple years of control on a team-friendly deal. He’s having a resurgent offensive season with the second highest OPS+ of his career. Defensively, he may be compiling his best numbers in the field as he is currently on pace to be a Gold Glove finalist in right field. FanGraphs moved him out of their top 50 because he is one year closer to free agency.
4. Jorge Polanco, 2B
Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$25.75M (19-23) & 24-25 vesting/team option ($10.5M/$12M)
Last season, FanGraphs included Jorge Polanco on its honorable mention list because he was close to the same contract situation as Kepler. They dropped him from the list this year, but the author had a tough time leaving him out of the top 50. Polanco has three more years of team control and is underpaid relative to the value he produces. Many teams would be more than happy to regularly plug Polanco’s name into the line-up.
3. Joe Ryan, SP
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2028
Joe Ryan is one of baseball’s best young starters and is under team control for five more seasons. Minnesota can also pay him close to the league minimum until he becomes arbitration eligible in 2025. It’s still hard to believe the Twins got Ryan for two months of Nelson Cruz, but baseball can be a funny game sometimes. Solid young pitchers under team control are one of baseball’s most valuable assets, and that’s why Ryan ranks higher than the players behind him.
2. Luis Arraez, UTL
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2026
FanGraphs ranks Luis Arraez as having baseball’s 42nd highest trade value, which is quite the jump since he wasn’t even an honorable mention last season. Arraez is near the top of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage while leading the Twins in Baseball-Reference WAR. Arraez loses some overall trade value because he doesn’t have a strong defensive position, and all of his offensive value is tied to one skill. Overall, he’s one of baseball’s best hitters, and he has yet to hit arbitration.
1. Byron Buxton, CF
Contract Status: Signed thru 2028, 7 yrs/$100M (22-28)
Thankfully, the Twins were able to sign Byron Buxton to a very team-friendly deal for him to remain in Minnesota throughout the prime of his career. Buxton is rewarding the team handsomely with the best season of his career, including his first All-Star appearance. Buxton checks all the boxes regarding trade value as he is one of baseball’s best overall players, and his base salary starts at $15.1 million. Obviously, injuries have been part of Buxton’s professional career, but the Twins have given him regular rest this season, and he has continued to produce.
How would you rank the Twins according to trade value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.