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The Two Sides of Value: Andrew Bailey

November 15, 2011

Susan Slusser has a piece up in the A’s Drumbeat today where she talked about Andrew Bailey as a potential trade piece this offseason (she also talked about Gio Gonzalez as another possibility to move). She wrote,

“Bailey’s value might not be at an all-time high, considering he missed the first half of last season with elbow issues, but the skyrocketing price of closers might make a lot of teams look trade first – particularly when it comes to a two-time All-Star who’d be under team control for three more years. Bailey showed he was healthy in the second half – and didn’t blow a save after the break.  What cost-conscious contender wouldn’t want him?”

Slusser, who is one of the best in the business, rightly acknowledges the two sides of value here. The first being the players actual performance value. Bailey does well there: 4.4 WAR in his three MLB seasons, with a 2.07 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 9.0 K/9 to only 2.5 BB/9. Most of all he has been consistent. If you aren’t enamored of advanced statistics and if you think they count he has 75 saves in that time too. This value speaks for itself, it is why Bailey will do well in arbitration which he goes to for the first time this season with Billy Beane and the A’s brass.

There is a second side to the value though, and that is the market scarcity. Though I feel proven closers are a dime and a dozen and a lot of relievers can be easily converted into “shutdown closers”, the market disagrees with me and feels there are few that can be entrusted to such duties. This is where Bailey’s value really skyrockets – he is a good closer in a market largely devoid of them and in a market that is willing to pay top dollar. My analysis hasn’t really changed since last Wednesday when I wrote about what seemed like a pending Ryan Madson re-signing in Philadelphia. That deal fell through, but instead it was Jonathan Papelbon – the best closer on the market – who went on to earn himself a slightly over $50M four-year deal. Madson still thinks he is worth the $44M he was allegedly offered (there is some conspiracy about what exactly went down now) and may just find it somewhere. Heath Bell is another closer that looks to make a big payday. This is why Bailey is perhaps more valuable to the A’s than ever before. Slusser’s saying that Bailey’s value might not be at “an all-time high” is correct in the first sense of value, performance – yes he did miss time with injury – but in terms of the marketplace there are no other options comparable to Andrew Bailey.

Alex Anthopoulos, GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, has according to the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott left him with the impression that,

“the Jays have been shocked at the dollars that agents are asking for their closers.”

In that same article, when the GM was asked was the Jays’ surplus is, it was simply “prospects”. If the Jays value having $5 or 6M more payroll flexibility more than they value what they say is a surplus – and we have to expect Anthopoulos who got out of the contractual burdens of Alex Rios and Vernon Wells does feel that way – the A’s may have just the man for the job in Bailey. A trade looks perfect on both sides. The A’s, clearly will be out of contention in 2012 can rid themselves of a bullpen surplus, even though they don’t have a closer surplus per se, the need for a shutdown closer on a non-competitive team is virtually non-existent. The trade value of Bailey far surpasses his value to the team. For Toronto, they feel they need a closer to get into contention and rival the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. They have what they perceive is a surplus of young talent with no room for them on the MLB roster, they also value cost savings to use their payroll more efficiently. This is a win-win. Bailey’s value is higher than it likely will ever be at this point, and it is primarily because of the second side of value.

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