OK, here starts the first of a two-part regarding the incessant talk-radio, message-board and comments-section trade chatter.
So many things are overlooked when speculating on potential trades, but none more so than the economic factors involved. I’ll get deeper into that in the following post (about the supposedly available pitchers), but this one’s about Angel Pagan, a name frequently bandied about as trade bait for an ace pitcher.
There are plenty of obvious reasons the Mets shouldn’t trade Angel Pagan. He’s really good, for one, and a big part of the reason they’re even in contention this late in the season. And dealing Pagan because you’re relying on Carlos Beltran’s return to full health is just, well, you know. C’mon.
Inextricably linked to Pagan’s production, but perhaps less obvious, is his value to the team moving forward. Pagan will be paid $1.45 million this year, according to Cots. Per Fangraphs, he has already been worth about $9.9 million. And Pagan is under Mets control for the next two seasons. He’ll likely get a big raise in arbitration, but the total probably won’t come close to what he would cost to replace on the open market.
That means, if he stays healthy — no sure thing, of course — Pagan will provide the Mets with premium production at a bargain rate through 2012. He is precisely the type of player the Mets need more of: A low-cost contributor that allows them the payroll flexibility to pursue big-name free agents.
Obviously every angle in all trades should be explored, and if the D-backs come and ask the Mets for Pagan in a straight-up swap for Dan Haren, then, well, peace. But Pagan is worth more than a rental.
Using WAR as a quick-and-dirty reference point to evaluate players, Cliff Lee has been worth about 1.2 wins over Pagan this season. If they were to deal Pagan for Lee at midseason and both Lee and Pagan continue their torrid paces, the Mets will gain about 1.2 wins for the remainder of 2010, and that’s worth something. But the Mariners will receive Pagan’s cost-controlled production through 2012, which is worth a hell of a lot more.