In theory, no sport makes it easier to rank players' value than baseball does. The game's statistical revolution started 55 years before Moneyball, when Branch Rickey lured Montreal Royals stats keeper Allan Roth to the Dodgers, making Roth the first full-time statistician in major league history. The ensuing six and a half decades allowed future Allan Roths to create and refine a series of advanced metrics, to such an extent that we could measure a player's worth by how many games he helped his team win. Other sports would eventually follow suit. But where value in other sports could be dictated by hard-to-measure factors such as help defense, interior lineman blocking, and proper spacing on a three-on-two rush, baseball remained the simplest to track: pitch ball, hit ball, catch ball. Incorporate factors such as age, salary, and service time, and you could take it a step further, ranking baseball's top trade commodities.
Then the Dodgers — the new, $2.15-billion-to-get-a-seat-at-the-table Dodgers — had to go and screw everything up.
Welcome to the first edition of Grantland's MLB Trade Value Rankings. The premise of this column is simple: If every team declared every player in baseball available to be traded, who would fetch the biggest return?