Scott Downs’ Trade Value

There's always demand for quality left handers at the trade deadline, but this year, they're in short supply. Bruce Chen, Will Ohman and Javier Lopez could probably be acquired and Alan Embree and Scott Schoeneweis could be signed as free agents. There are not many left-handers to choose from, and that only increases Scott Downs' trade value. 

The Blue Jays, below .500 after a June-long slump, would presumably listen on Downs, who hits free agency after the season. The 34-year-old lefty has an affordable $4MM salary and some impressive stats. In 35.1 innings, he has a 2.80 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. He is allowing less than one hit per inning pitched and boasts a characteristically high 55% ground ball rate. He's arguably the best left-handed reliever available this summer.

The Blue Jays have no reason to settle for anything less than a highly-touted prospect. Not only is Downs pitching well, he now ranks as a Type A free agent in the latest Elias rankings. That means the Jays can obtain two high picks in next year's draft if Downs turns down an offer of arbitration to sign elsewhere. We can't assume that the Blue Jays are willing to offer Downs arbitration, but they have just $39MM committed to next year's payroll, so paying Downs $5MM or so in 2011 appears possible under the team's budget. 

Essentially, the Blue Jays can't lose as long as Downs stays healthy and continues pitching well enough to maintain his Type A status. Either someone offers a compelling package and the Blue Jays get talent now, or they keep Downs and offer arbitration. If he accepts the offer, the Jays have a quality reliever on a one-year deal. If he declines and signs elsewhere, they have two top picks in next year's draft.


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26 Comments on "Scott Downs’ Trade Value"


dc21892
5 years 22 days ago

He would be a nice fit for the Red Sox.

Sniderlover
5 years 22 days ago

Downs for Ryan Kalish?

TheodoreRoosevelt
5 years 22 days ago

Good, thoughtful article, Ben.

Downs certainly isn’t in the “Great” class of lights-out relievers, but he is very good for the most part. He’s been a solid piece for a while now, so I see no reason why he should lose his A-status (I’m far more concerned about Jason Frasor).

Any thoughts on trade partners that’d be willing to pony up the kind of prospect required?

bjsguess
5 years 22 days ago

$5m for a non-closer seems pretty steep regardless of how good Downs is. Not that I agree with the market but you don’t see those contracts handed out all that often.

BaseballFanatic0707
5 years 22 days ago

Fernando Rodney (6 saves don’t really qualify him as a closer, as those came mostly when Fuentes was hurt), Scot Shields, Brandon Lyon, Takashi Saito, David Riske, Latroy Hawkins, John Grabow, George Sherrill, Jeremy Affeldt, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Frank Francisco, Dan Wheeler, Hideki Okajima, Rafael Betancourt, Manny Corpas, Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Linebrink, Damaso Marte. All of them either: Currently make 4m+; will see their contract increase to 4m+ by next year; have performance bonuses that will bring their current salaries to 4m+ by season’s end.

bobes6
5 years 22 days ago

A little off the subject, but Javier Lopez who is mentioned int this article was once traded for David Riske. He has done nothing for the past 4 years and has average $4,000,000. per year. People bitch that the Pirates never spend any money, but could you hear the outroar if they signed someone like that for WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t guarantee contract you fool owners.

BaseballFanatic0707
5 years 22 days ago

I’m confused. Are you blasting Riske or Lopez?

bobes6
5 years 21 days ago

I am not trashing either Riske or Lopez, but the dumb owners of MLB teams. They fall all over each other to throw tons of money at average players and when they perform below expectations they have to pay much of their salaries current and future just to dump them. That is why although they have been horrible for the past 18 years I don’t get to upset when the Pirates don’t plunge into the free agent market. Their track record there is bad and when they do sign someone to an extension it usually has an expensive back loaded option that they get stuck paying.

BaseballFanatic0707
5 years 21 days ago

That’s how businesses work, dude. you have to take big risks.

5 years 22 days ago

That groundball rate and overall improvement over Flores spells out a nice fit for the Rockies. Also, if the Blue Jays offer arbitration, Downs will almost surely accept it because 5 million guaranteed dollars is a lot better than risking the market where nobody wants to give up draft picks. What would most Blue Jays fans want for him? I’d imagine someone (a very good lefty reliever prospect such as Matt Reynolds) who could replace him now and lower end prospect with upside should equal his value given the volatility of relievers.

5 years 22 days ago

I forgot to finish a thought. The Blue Jays fans and management can’t expect value equal to 2 draft picks because there’s no way they would get the draft picks themselves if they hold onto Downs.

TheodoreRoosevelt
5 years 22 days ago

I think the Jays would ideally want outfield prospects; they have a glut of pitchers in the minors. That said, if the best deal on the table is for another pitcher, I’m sure they’d take it.

As for not expecting value equal to two draft picks, well, that’s really the trick. If there’s only one team seriously in for Downs, then they could perhaps call the Blue Jays’ bluff. But if the market truly is as scarce as we think it might be, then I figure teams would consider ponying up just to seal the deal.

5 years 22 days ago

Don’t get me wrong, I expect for there to be a market for Downs, but with what happened to the Dodgers with Sherill, and the recent trend of Type A relievers accepting arbitration (such as Betancourt and Soriano), I don’t think the Blue Jays aren’t going to get what they want. For a pitcher like Downs, the Blue Jays should want to replace Downs with someone younger (I don’t know if they someone on their team in mind now who could fulfill his role) and get maybe a toolsy player or two in the low minors that could turn into something.

TheodoreRoosevelt
5 years 22 days ago

I think the fundamental difference of opinion here (and it’s a classic one) is whether a contending team is prepared to both sacrifice their own chances of short-term success AND boost that of other contending teams by allowing Downs to move elsewhere because they don’t feel it’s a fair price to pay.

This was the same debate concerning Halladay last year. Many fans felt the Jays were asking for a ransom that they wouldn’t get, but fair value eventually reared its head as the Jays took three excellent prospects in return.

Downs is no Halladay, but he’s one of the few high-quality lefty relievers on the market. You’d have to believe that any contender with a hole in their bullpen would be willing to pony up; it’s just not worth having a hefty “win-now” team if you aren’t willing to go that extra mile. I think the Phillies may discover that to their cost this year after failing to hold onto Lee.

Roll Fizzlebeef
5 years 22 days ago

The Blue Jays do not need someone to replace Downs in a trade for him. There are a couple of lefties in the minors that could come up to the bigs on an experimental basis if he does get traded. Tim Collins, a 5’7″ fireballer in AA has been on a tear this season and could get a look if he keeps it up until the deadline. Hell, Sean Henn has actually produced something noteworthy in AAA and could see his second… third… umpteenth shot at being a Major Leaguer.

Right now, what is needed is a good 3rd base prospect that can be projected as an everyday starter and more depth at the other infield positions. Pitching prospects can be subbed in for the later if they have appeal.

5 years 22 days ago

Thanks, I do not know Blue Jays organizational prospects/candidates at major league jobs very well.

TheBunk
5 years 21 days ago

I’m not so sure that you can apply the term volatile to Scott Downs, go check out his last three years.

rzepczynski
5 years 22 days ago

No love for drabeks no hitter? It has nothing to do with downs but kamon

Roll Fizzlebeef
5 years 22 days ago

Whoops accidentally pushed the like button.They talked about it in a previous post.

Sniderlover
5 years 22 days ago

They mentioned it in one of their post. They didn’t speak in detail, just that Drabek threw a no-hitter.

Encarnacion's Parrot
5 years 21 days ago

In reality, Downs now has less than $2mil left on his contract this season since the season is now half over.

I don’t see why the Jays can’t trade Downs + cash if need be for a top 100 prospects 3B. I wouldn’t go anywhere near as far to say that Scott Downs = Josh Bell, but maybe Josh Vitters?

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=paP07004&position=3B

5 years 20 days ago

regarding what the Jays would most want back – first priority is a high-upside 3B prospect. Nothing else is CLOSE to being as big a need (with all due respect to Brad Emaus, whom I love). Barring that, an outfielder or SS capable of being a quality lead-off hitter (they have a set of interesting OF coming and only one potentially open slot – but only one of those guys has lead-off skills and he might not ultimately be the best player among the group.

5 years 20 days ago

regarding what the Jays would most want back – first priority is a high-upside 3B prospect. Nothing else is CLOSE to being as big a need (with all due respect to Brad Emaus, whom I love). Barring that, an outfielder or SS capable of being a quality lead-off hitter (they have a set of interesting OF coming and only one potentially open slot – but only one of those guys has lead-off skills and he might not ultimately be the best player among the group.

5 years 22 days ago

The money is not the problem. The problem is that unless they’re investing in Downs as a closer, which I doubt, the team signing him essentially giving up a first round pick for a set up man, which many teams aren’t willing to do.

TheodoreRoosevelt
5 years 22 days ago

Downs is a “high-leverage situation” relief pitcher. He’s not a long relief man brought in to eat up the innings.

To be able to use a closer, you need to give him a chance to close. That’s where Downs’ value is. He can be used in the 8th (two innings on occasion) to pass the baton on. He could be perceived as just another reliever, or he could be perceived as a gamechanger for a team that has almost everything else going for it.

Incidentally, Downs did have a spell as closer for the Jays (and he’d be my preferred choice right now), so that backup option is an added bonus.

Sniderlover
5 years 22 days ago

set up man are very important to the team to actually set up the closer. A lot of teams around the league are in dire need of good reliable relievers and you don’t have to be a closer for that.

Downs won’t accept arbitration. He’s going to want a contract extension since he is getting older and needs some security.

As for the return: Jays will be looking for an outfielder or 3B, especially a 3B (hopefully AA or AAA)