Ben Sheets’ Trade Value

At first glance, Ben Sheets doesn't appear like much of a trade target. He has an ERA over 5.00, he's walking a batter every two innings and his team is just two games out of a playoff spot. Not only that, he's making a base salary of $10MM this year. But if the A's fall from contention and Sheets builds on his current hot streak, he could attract interest on the trade market.

Sheets started the season poorly and even gave up eight-plus earned runs in back-to-back starts, but he may have been tipping his pitches early on. Only the hitters who faced him know if he was tipping his pitches, but this much is clear: Sheets has pitched much better recently. Since May 8th, he has a 2.52 ERA, has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and has 29 strikeouts with 12 walks.

Still, Sheets, who has generally had low walk rates, is now walking more hitters than ever. It's less worrisome when you consider that his walk rates have traditionally improved over the course of the season. Sheets missed all of 2009 with elbow surgery, so he may still be finding his way around the strike zone. That's what Sheets thinks, anyway. He recently told Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle that he's "starting to settle in."

Most MLB starters will look good if you highlight their best four-start stretch of the season, but Sheets' recent success is just part of the reason his trade value is picking up. His average fastball is 91 mph this year, just a bit lower than his career norms. That suggests he's healthy after last year's operation. The A's aren't taking any chances, however; they have only allowed Sheets to reach the 100 pitch plateau twice in his ten starts.

Teams could have interest if the A's fall from contention, but they would probably want to see improved control and continued health from Sheets. He cannot be offered arbitration after the season, so no acquiring team will have the chance to obtain draft picks. Even if Sheets stays healthy, the A’s would likely have to eat salary in any trade, since there are many cheaper, more predictable options available.

16 Responses to Ben Sheets’ Trade Value Leave a Reply

  1. jacobjackson 5 years ago

    Sheets was hitting 94 mph on Sunday. I remember watching his first start of the season, and I don’t think he topped 90 back in early April. So, his recent velocity may be right back at what it was in his peak.

  2. aap212 5 years ago

    His peripherals are much closer to his career norms than his ERA. I imagine this conversation will be much different in a few weeks. Either his ERA will catch up or he’ll get injured (it is, after all, Ben Sheets we’re talking about).

  3. Sheets being offered arbitration only applies if he’s a Type A free agent, and it’s basically impossible for that to happen. He’s not even close to being a type B guy (his score is ~15, and I think the lowest Type B guy is in the 60s).

    • melonis_rex 5 years ago

      I think its very feasible for Ben Sheets to make Type B status. Justin Duchscherer was Type B last year, and he didn’t pitch at all in ’09, and missed part of ’08. And, a lot of those Type B guys had their rookie seasons last year.

  4. Threat_Level_RedSox 5 years ago

    Sheets numbers will level out to a norm for a carear NL pitcher in the AL (think Peavy) and He’s in a better position then Oswalt too. Odds are he gets traded to a contender at the deadline looking for good rental. Im sure the contending teams would rather have him for 2-3 mounths then oswalt for a year and a half, he could really cash in with with a good august-september and maybe october.

    Theres going to be 12-15 teams with a true shot at the playoffs at the deadline odds are atleast half will be looking for starting pitching.

  5. There’s no point in Oakland dealing him unless a team overpays for him with a blue chip prospect or an everyday power hitting LFer.

    • Zack23 5 years ago

      Um, why? If they’re out of the race he’s going to walk away for nothing, better to get a mediocre prospect than no prospect.

      • Because Oakland can win the division with him, not with a medicore prospect.

  6. If he’s really improving in a meaningful way, why not extend him? He’s still young enough that it’s conceivable for him to have a few more strong seasons in him.

    Even though he’s been injured fairly regularly in his career, a lot of those injuries are less common, non-arm problems. I’d rather have a guy fall down with an ear problem that complain of elbow issues over and over. As far as I know, Sheets hasn’t had shoulder issues, ever, so that’s a big plus in my book.

    Just saying, for folks that having seen him dominate for long stretches in a Brewer uniform, sometimes in sparsely attended games and for bad teams, it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes off on a 2, 3, even 4 year run of being very good, if not dominant. He has (had) a ton of talent.

    • Zack23 5 years ago

      “The 2006 season saw Sheets begin the year on the DL due to a posterior shoulder strain.Tendinitis of the right shoulder landed him back on the DL in early May. He spent a great deal of time on the DL with this injury—a span of 72 games passed before he returned to action.”

      link to

  7. Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

    I was shocked that Beane was foolish enough to give this guy $10MM when he is clearly a rehab project. I would be shocked again if anyone traded for him and didn’t make the A’s eat at least half of his salary. Because Sheets would be a 3 month rental, at best, I can’t see anyone giving the A’s any significant talent, in terms of prospects, for him. Maybe I’m wrong, but I still believe that this was the worst FA signing of the offseason. I think that would remain true, even if he maintained his 2.52 ERA and peripherals throughout the remainder of the season. Fair value on this guy is $7.5MM at best, and probably $5MM, given that this is his first season back after surgery.

    • Worse are you kidding me? If Sheets keep pitching the way he has his trade value will be a top prospect. The A’s will not eat any of the value of the contract unless they get a top prospect back. I can name 5 FA signings that are much worse than Sheets signing even the 2 big name starters in Pinerio and lackey has not even pitched better than Sheets. The a’s knew he was not going to be 100% at the start of the season but now he is pitching like a good starter would. Beane took a big gamble but now it might pay off big.

    • Uh, Ben Sheets actually WAS maintaining his sub-3 ERA until he started tipping his pitches for 2 games and got smashed. Here’s his game log:

      1st 4 starts: 23 IP, 2.74 ERA
      2 games where he tipped his curve: 7.1 IP, 20.86 ERA
      Last 4 starts: 25 IP, 2.52 ERA

      Its clear he has been outstanding in 8 starts this year, and very much worth the $10MM when you consider what $10MM has brought other teams (a lot less than that).

      You cannot seriously tell me 8 quality starts out of 10 is not a good sign. You are insane if you believe that to be true.

  8. melonis_rex 5 years ago

    I can’t see the A’s falling far enough out of contention for it to happen. Since the team sitting above them might have a few huge roadblocks before they can make a big-time trade/assume large amounts of salary, they’re very much in this race.

    If Sheets makes Type B, then the A’s should offer arb, as the opportunity for the A’s to have a stud pitcher on a 1 year deal is awesome. He won’t make Type A.

    I would love to see the A’s use their payroll flexibility to take on a player approaching FA with a big contract, so they don’t have to give up much in prospects.

    • Agreed, the Rangers cant really take on any money and that means no Oswalt. Wilson and Lewis are starting to look human and after those 2, their only dangerous SP is Holland. Oakland has Brett Anderson coming back this week so their rotation will be Anderson-Sheets-Braden-Gio-Cahill. That’s good enough to win a division with. I like the idea of re-signing Sheets too.

  9. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood say otherwise. Jason Schmidt too.

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