Gerardo Parra

Gerardo Parra and Increasing Trade Value

Attempting to guess what [Player X] could bring back in a trade is often a fools errand. Outsiders like us don’t know how the teams in play value that asset. We don’t know what the trading team is looking for in return. We don’t know what the acquiring team is willing to make available. We don’t know either team’s financial situation. The list could go on. Too many variables are in play to venture an accurate or informed guess. With respect to Gerardo Parra’s trade value, though, we can at least look at what the Brewers gave up to get him in 2014 and ask if he’s done anything to increase or decrease his price.

Prior to last year’s trade deadline, the Brewers sent Double-A outfielder Mitch Haniger and Low-A lefty Anthony Banda to Arizona. Kiley McDaniel, FanGraphs’ lead prospect analyst, gave both those players a 40 grade. That grade connotes their potential future value on the 20-80 scale, where 50 is average. Thus, a 40 grade here would, at best, peg Haniger’s upside as a fourth or fifth outfielder and Banda’s as a middle reliever. That seems to fit their evaluation here, though Banda is described as having the upside of a back-end starter (or in other words a 45 grade).

If the Brewers do trade Gerardo Parra, they will likely not be getting an outfielder and a left-handed pitcher in return. There’s just no way of knowing what type of player the organization desires right now. Chances are they will seek the best possible return, so any comparison should focus on prospect grades, rather than position or minor-league level.

We have established that when the Brewers acquired Gerardo Parra he was approximately worth one 40-grade prospect and one 40-grade prospect with 45 upside, at least according to one prospect analyst. To determine whether Parra’s approximate value has increased or decreased, we must first establish what Parra was when traded.

Going into the 2014 season, the 28-year-old already had five major-league seasons under his belt. Scouts described him as a glove-first outfielder who fit best in right field but could also capably handle center field, if needed. In most seasons, he was an above-average defender; however, in 2013 his defensive value sky rocketed. From 2009-2012, he had a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of 0, +13, +14, and +8, respectively. Then, in 2013 he was credited with a +41 DRS! That figure is unbelievable and largely stemmed from his semi-permanent move to right field. The figure from 2009, though, is just league-average, so it’s probably better to holistically view his numbers and simply call him a good defender.

His offense has never been much better than league-average, and usually less than that. His production at the plate can be represented by the all-encompassing TAv (True Average) metric.

2009 .247 .290 .324 .404
2010 .240 .261 .308 .371
2011 .280 .292 .357 .427
2012 .260 .273 .335 .392
2013 .257 .268 .323 .403

As a frame of reference, a .260 TAv is considered league-average. Parra regularly checked in below that mark, aside from his 2011 campaign. In more traditional numbers, he hit a combined .277/.330/.401 in those years. His 7.0 percent walk rate was approximately league-average, as well.

Thus, leading up to the 2014 season, he was an outfielder with roughly league-average offensive numbers but above-average to plus defense who had just enjoyed the best overall season of his career due to absurd defensive numbers. That’s a low-end starting outfielder, or what the scouting community would call a “second-division” regular.

In 104 games with the Diamondbacks in 2014, he was a very different player. He netted 440 plate appearances, hitting only .259/.305/.362, with a 5.5 walk rate and a .247 TAv, which is comfortably below-average. His defense seemingly diminish as well (+2 DRS) though it’s best not to place much value on a partial season of defensive numbers.

When the Brewers acquired Gerardo Parra, he was an glove-first outfielder who had a number of average seasons and one really good season, but was in the midst of the worst stretch of his career. That caused his trade value to plummet. He did come with an additional year of team control. At the time of acquisition, though, it was fair to wonder if he would ultimately end up non-tendered over the winter because he was due an arbitration raise from $4.8 million in 2015.

Over the rest of the 2014 season, he steadily rebuilt his value enough for the Brewers to tender him a contract — one that would eventually be worth $6.237M. Post-trade, the native of Venezuela hit .268/.318/.390 with a 6.0 percent walk rate and a .250 TAv. While not significantly better, it represented upward movement from his early-season struggles that the organization desired. Defensively, he only played 45 innings, which is too small a sample size to responsibly assess. Of course, the ability to competently play all three outfield positions is incredibly valuable in itself and contributed to the Brewers’ decision to tender him a contract.

This year with the Brewers in 227 PA, he owns a .290/.320/.442 slash line, with a 4.4 walk rate and a .266 TAv. That’s the second-best mark of his career. He currently has a +2 DRS, so while it’s too early to truly evaluate his defensive value, it appears as though we can comfortably call defense at least league-average.

I argue that when the Brewers acquired Gerardo Parra’s extra year of control wasn’t worth much if anything at all. He was experiencing the worst season of his career, and with 2015 being his fourth-arbitration year, he was eligible for a sizable raise (which he did receive). When the Brewers acquired him, it was just as likely he would be non-tendered as it was that he would be brought back. The Diamondbacks certainly would have non-tendered him, so I don’t believe the extra year provided Arizona with much extra leverage or value in trade negotiations.

With that in mind, I assert that what we’re really comparing is Parra’s 2014 season with the Diamondbacks and his 2015 season with the Brewers. Since his defense is comparable in both seasons, we can further boil it down to just his offense in those half seasons: .268/.318/.390 vs .291/.322/.441 or .247 TAv vs .266 TAv. Clearly, the edge is with the 2015 version of Gerardo Parra. And as with anything, current form matters in a very fluid trade market.

Therefore, I believe we can claim that Gerardo Parra is worth more now than when the Brewers acquired him. How much more is anyone’s guess, but positive fluctuation in his value is still a benefit to the organization. I doubt he’s worth a ton more and much of this discussion is dependent on market value (which is still forming), who is interested in acquiring him (which is unknown), with what they’re willing to part (which is unknown), and for what the Brewers are looking (which is also unknown). What is known, though, is that anyone acquiring Parra this summer will be receiving a more valuable asset than the Brewers grabbed a year ago. That’s good news for Milwaukee.

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