The Marlins gave Cody Ross away for nothing but salary relief this week, forfeiting the chance to trade him this winter. Let’s see what we can infer about Ross’ trade value from the Marlins' decision.
It doesn't seem like the Marlins believe Ross had trade value going into his final season of arbitration. If Florida had determined that teams valued Ross more than the estimated $5.5MM he would make through arbitration in 2011, they could have held onto him. They would have had to pay him $1MM or so between now and the end of the year, but could have flipped him for prospects this winter. Instead, the Giants pay the remainder of Ross’ 2010 salary and the Marlins save themselves $1MM.
Anyone who followed last week’s signing deadline knows that some highly touted draftees sign for $1MM or so. In theory, the Marlins could invest their savings in the draft or international free agency, but at this point, they don't have anything to show for Ross.
It’s noteworthy that the Marlins didn’t feel confident in their ability to peddle Ross for a more concrete return. They handed the 29-year-old and his .265/.316/.405 batting line over to the Giants despite his ability to play right and center (UZR suggests Ross is an competent defender) and a track record of success.
WAR, which measures a player’s contributions on defense and at the plate, suggests that Ross has been a league-average player in three of the past four seasons. In the other season, 2008, he posted 3.7 WAR, which is considerably above average. Clearly, the Marlins don’t think MLB teams perceive Ross to be anything special. Otherwise, they would have held on and traded him for more this winter.