Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tex On The Move Mid-Season Again

Another big-time deal going down, with Atlanta finally deciding to become sellers and the Angels upgrading for the play-offs.

The Angels got:

Mark Teixeira, 28 year-old 1B, hitting .283/.390/.512 this year. He's making $12.5 MM in his last year before free-agency.

The Braves got:

Casey Kotchman, 25 year-old 1B, hitting .287/.327/.448 this year. He's making $1.45 MM and is under team control through 2011.

Stephen Marek, 24 year-old RHRP, 3.66 ERA in 46.2 IP in AA this year with 57 K's, 21 BB's, and a 1.29 WHIP. No major league experience.

The updated Marcel projections for Teixeira has him at .289/.382/.524, while Kotchman is at .281/.343/.444. Lets take their value one at a time.

Teixeira is projected to have a .385 wOBA, making his bat worth about 2.2 WAR. He's a first-baseman (-1) in the NL (+2), but a good defensive one (+1). Add it all up and adjust for playing time, and he's worth about 3.8 WAR a year, which costs around $17 MM. That means the Angels will get about $1.5 MM in excess value ($17 - $12.5 times the portion of the season that's left).

If the Angels don't sign him after the season (and they very well may now that they'll have a spot open at first) then they'll also receive draft-pick compensation. Those picks would be worth (based on research done by others on average draftee value) about $16.6 MM in excess value. LA was already almost assured of a play-off spot, so Teixeira doesn't get any credit for improving their chances.

Casey Kotchman is projected to have a .342 wOBA, making his bat worth about 0.3 WAR. He's a first-baseman (-1) in the AL (+2.5), but also a good defensive one (+1). He's not that healthiest guy around, so he gets docked a little playing-time. Add it all up and he's worth about 2.3 WAR a year. Assuming some improvement as he approaches the normal peak years for a player, about 10% salary increases from the $4.4 MM per WAR teams pay this year, and arbitration rates of 40%, 60%, and 80% of what a player's worth, the Braves should get in the neighborhood of $20 MM in excess value from Kotchman.

The Braves also received an OK bullpen prospect in Marek, who I will consider a bonus for Atlanta. He has good stuff, but is old for his level and I don't want to project how much he may be worth (I'd say about $5 MM for the years that Atlanta controls him, but that's just an educated guess).

That means that, assuming LA lets Tex walk at the end of the year, the deal is pretty close to even. The Angels get $18.1 MM in value (and probably improve their chances a little once they actually get to the play-offs) and the Braves get $20 MM in value from Kotchman and whatever Marek ends up contributing. In any case, I think the Braves did pretty well, replacing Tex with a younger and cheaper (though not as productive) first-baseman. If the Angels win the World Series as Tex hits 10 homers in the play-offs, then I don't think they'll have any regrets.

The other thing to consider is what happens to the O's chances of signing Teixeira in the off-season. The Angels will now be major players for him, and they've shown in the past that they are willing to open up the check book. That he probably isn't going to be worth very close to what he's likely to get is an issue for me, as I'd like to see him in the middle of the O's line-up. The chances of the bidding being below $20 MM a year are remote, and so I recommend Andy MacPhail steer clear.

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