With the great Bill Simmons on long-term IR from writing — until February 17th, 2016, when he announced his new website “The Ringer”—there was a gigantic void to fill, as his excellent NBA trade value column usually came out around this time. Here at SportsBlogNewYork, we decided to borrow the premise (thanks Bill!) and put a little New York spin on it. Since this is a hard concept to do over the four major sports, especially football, where trades are as rare as a sane Kanye West tweet, we will first need to establish some rules. Some rules will be borrowed from Simmons’ NBA trade value column, which you can find right here.
Here are the rules:
- Salaries and contract lengths play a big part in this. For instance, would you rather have Henrik Lundqvist locked in for five more years with a $8.5 million cap hit or Cory Schneider locked up for seven years with a $6 million cap hit?
- Value of their position in their respective sport matters. For example, a quarterback—widely considered the hardest position to find—would net a better return than a star goaltender, or a star pitcher, or basically any other position in sports. An outfielder might net more value in a trade than a pitcher, considering the abundance of arms in baseball and the scarce amount of impact hitters.
- This list, like Simmons’ NBA trade column, works in reverse order, so No. 1 will have the highest trade value, and would likely net the most expensive haul.
- This isn’t a list about talent or who the best player is. It is about who would be the best asset if they were to be put on the block and/or traded.
* All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac
15) WR Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
Contract: Three-Year/$26 million (signed in 2015) 2016 Salary: $9.5 million
If this column was written last year, Brandon Marshall wouldn’t crack the top-30, let alone the top-15. Coming off of a season where, outside of his rookie season, he put up career lows in games (13), receptions (61) and yards (721), the Jets absolutely stole Marshall when they got him for a fifth-round pick (yes, you read that correctly). If Marshall were to be put on the market today, that draft pick would, at minimum, be a third-round pick. The man is a stud and if it weren’t for his age, he would easily crack the top-10 of this list.
But Marshall has made one thing clear: the Jets are his last stop, and he has no intention of playing past that. Since we’re dealing in hypotheticals, Marshall makes the list even though he’s on the record as saying that if the Jets were to cut or trade him, he would just retire. Never change, B-Marsh.
14) Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Contract: Five-Year/$124 million (signed in 2014) 2016 Salary: $22.85 million
If this were two seasons ago, Melo is easily in the top-5. But with knee problems—he was shutdown after the All-Star game last year and has had recurring problems with the knee this year—and a new contract that heavily features a no-trade-clause has diminished his value greatly. The Knicks could still get a nice haul for Melo; recent reports were saying that they could have gotten some of the many Celtics picks. Since he has the vaunted NTC, it hurts his value since the Knicks wouldn’t be able to get full value—multiple young prospects and multiple first-round picks—for him since there would be a short-list of teams that he would actually want to go to.
Melo is still an elite NBA player, but age is starting to catch up to him, and his NTC makes him harder to move, especially for full value.
13) Andrew Miller, New York Yankees
Contract: Four-Year/$36 million (signed in 2015) 2016 Salary: $9 million
This spot on the list was either going to be Miller’s or Jeurys Familia’s, but I decided to go with Miller for a few reasons:
- Millers has a proven track record, while Familia, who has been excellent the past two years, has been doing it for shorter period of time.
- Miller’s contract is a bargain; he is one of baseball’s best lefty relievers, and he is signed for three more seasons, making a high, but not too high, salary of $9 million a year. Familia is set to make $4.1 million this season, his first year being arbitration eligible, and will be a free agent after the 2018 season.
- Miller’s not a “power arm” so the chances of an injury might be lower and there is a lesser chance for a significant drop in production because of that.
The real scary part about Miller: He isn’t even the Yankees closer, and might be the third best reliever on the team. That’s how deep the Yankees bullpen is. The Yankees are trying to build their team like the Kansas City Royals—average to above-average starting pitching, solid position players and a dominant bullpen. Miller would net a good haul in return, similar to the Padres and Red Sox Craig Kimbrel swap, and was even mentioned in trade rumors this offseason before the Yankees ultimately decided to hang onto him.
12) Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
Contract: Projected at $500,000 (2.078 Service Years) Arbitration Eligible in 2017
Did I mention how deep the Yankees bullpen is? On almost every other team in the league, Dellin Betances is the closer. No questions asked. He is one of the best power-arms in the league coming out of the pen. He’s led all relievers in strikeouts (135, 131) the last two years, and has the second lowest ERA among qualified relief pitchers. And again, he won’t even be the Yankees closer this year. Simply amazing what Brian Cashman has done with that pen.
If ever put on the block, I’m sure Betances would net a huge return. He will be under team control until 2019, and won’t be arbitration eligible until next season. However, I don’t foresee the Yankees trying to move this kid for a long time.
11) Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Contract: Seven-Year/$155 million (Signed in 2014, additional $20 million posting fee to Rakuten Golden Eagles, opt-out after 2017 season) 2016 Salary: $22 millon
Three straight Yankees, I know. I’m not happy about it either but real recognize real. Tanaka is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he’s healthy. He’s got a loaded pitch repertoire and is as crafty as they come; while Tanaka might be only entering his third MLB season, he was playing professionally in Japan before being signed by the Bombers. His elbow problems are somewhat concerning, but both Tanaka and the Yankees have downplayed any long-term problems with it.
Would the Yankees consider trading Tanaka? If they don’t go far in the playoffs, I wouldn’t put it past the Steinbrenners (Yari voice) and Cashman to make some big moves, but with the amount of money the Yankees have coming off the books soon, it would be unlikely that they would explore trading Tanaka because of his contract.
10) Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Contract: Seven-Year/$59.5 million (Signed extension in 2014, kicked in at start of last season) 2016 Salary: $8.5 million
Long live the King. Henrik Lundqvist is still one of the top-three goalies in the world, but he’s starting to get up there in age, even if his majestic flow doesn’t show it. Three years ago, Lundqvist might be number one on this list; the only reason he isn’t is because he is 34 years old, and typically, father time wreaks havoc on goaltenders over 30.
But like I said, Long Live the King. If ever put on the trade market, Lundqvist would net a huge haul. It would depend on the buyer, but considering he is a win-now goalie, a Lundqvist trade would probably get multiple first-round picks, a highly touted goalie prospect and maybe even a young roster player.
He was the NHL’s MVP through the first quarter of the season and, after a mid-season swoon, he has returned to his all-world form. His contract is pretty hefty—he’s the league’s highest paid goaltender and is the ninth highest paid player in the NHL—but it is completely well earned. No player has carried his team for longer, and hopefully Lundqvist is rewarded for his years of carrying mediocre team with a Stanley Cup at some point before father time claims him for his trophy shelf.
9) Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Contract: One-Year/$4.325 million (first year of arbitration) Under Team-Control until 2018. 2016 Salary: $4.325 million
The first of our Mets’ young guns to appear on this list just happens to be the toughest one to pin down. We all know Matt Harvey the pitcher: gamer, competitor, ace. Also, we all know Matt Harvey the off the field sensation: selfish, drama queen, arrogant.
Harvey the pitcher is excellent. No one can get Citi Field going like the Dark Knight. His stuff is electric, and he wants the ball no matter what (see World Series, Game 5). The problem with Harvey is his off the field drama and the notion that he will be leaving Queens once he becomes a free-agent in 2018. Harvey has said that he would be open to an extension with the Mets, but that is all just conjecture. We know Harvey will likely be with another team. The Mets payroll went up when they re-signed Cespedes, but we all know the Wilpons are sitting in a dark room counting the amount of returns they have because they want to save every penny they can.
Would the Mets ever trade Harvey? I’m sure they would/will when the time comes. He’s too talented of a pitcher to lose for nothing. And, given his star nature, it would take a massive haul for another team to pry Harvey away from the Mets. Think about what some of the rental pitchers get at the deadline, then imagine what kind of players/prospects the Mets would get for a star. For now though, we’ll just enjoy Mr. Harvey exactly where he is.
8) Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
Contract: Seven-Year/$42 million (Signed extension in 2014, kicked in for this season) 2016 Salary: $6 million
The lone New Jersey Devil on this list, a team that is forgotten in the New York sports landscape, is goaltender Cory Schneider. The Devils might not be the most exciting team to watch, without big names, minimum goal-scoring, and tough defense, but man oh man, do they have a stud goalie in Cory Schneider. He even beats out his Metropolitan Division rival, Lundqvist, for a few reasons:
- Age. Schneider will be turning 30 soon while Lundqvist will be turning 34. I mentioned before about how goalies usually fall off a cliff after they turn 30.
- While you might be asking why Schneider, it is because he has had a low workload in the first portion of his career, while Lundqvist has been been ridden like a pony for most of this time; Schneider has only started more than 33 games twice, and is headed for a third time, with both times coming with the Devils. On the other hand, Lundqvist has started 60+ games every year he’s been in the league, minus the lockout year and last year, where he suffered a throat injury.
- The Devils, as mentioned before, are an overachieving team; if not for Schneider, the Devils are most likely in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes. Lundqvist has played great, and he does carry the Rangers a lot, but Schneider is the Devils. The Devils only average 2.18 goals per game, the worst in the NHL, while the Rangers are fifth in the league with 2.85.
Is Schneider a better goalie than Lundqvist? No, not even close really. But, due to the aforementioned reasons, he comes in higher than the King on this list.
7) Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
Contract: Six-Year/$28.2 million (Signed in 2013) 2016 Salary: $4.7 million
McDonagh, the captain of the Rangers, is one of the best bargains in the NHL. While he had a down year last season, he is beginning to get his game back to the level that thrust him into Norris Trophy conversations during the 2013-14 season. He’s one of the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL, consistently logs minutes against teams top opposition, plays in every situation and is discovering how he can take over a game on both ends of the rink.
The real thing that gets McDonagh on the top-10 of this list is his contract. This was masterful work by then Rangers General Manager Glen Sather. Sather and the Rangers’ brass realized how special McDonagh was, and instead of offering him the usual bridge deal after he become a RFA, they decided to lock up him up as soon as possible; and they were 100% right in doing this.
McDonagh is under contract until the end of the 2018-19 season, and his cap hit is only $4.7 million. Most upper echelon defenseman—and some lower echelon ones (looking at you Dan Girardi)— make anywhere from $6-$8 million a season. Young, top-pairing defenseman with unbelievable contracts don’t grow on trees; if for some reason McDonagh was ever put on the market, he would net a huge, huge return.
6) Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Contract: One-Year/$556,875 (Under Team Control) Arbitration Eligible in 2018
I should apologize to Jacob deGrom for saying that Matt Harvey is the ace of the Mets. The real ace of the Mets is deGrom. He’s been outstanding in his year-and-a-half-plus in the MLB. Everyone remembers that he won the Rookie of the Year; everyone remembers him striking out the first eight batters he faced during a game two years ago; and everyone remembers him dominating the All-Star Game. But what people might not remember is the game he pitched in Game 5 against the Dodgers this season; he didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled, and showed some huge guts getting out of jam after jam after jam. Daniel Murphy gets the hero award for his home run and his (shockingly) heads up base running play, but deGrom kept the Mets in the game.
Like Steven Matz and Harvey, deGrom has already had a run in with Tommy John. He underwent the surgery, missing the entire 2011 season in the process. deGrom’s pitch repertoire isn’t loaded, but the four pitches he does throw often—fastball, changeup, curve and slider—are just flat out nasty. His fastball has incredible movement, and his changeup has gotten better each of the last two seasons.
The only downside with deGrom is that he is already 27 and will turn 28 in late June. But he is not eligible to be a free agent until 2020. While everyone talks about Matz’s and Syndergaard’s upside and Harvey’s moxie, deGrom is the silent assassin, the ace of the best pitching staff in baseball. He’s not going anywhere, but I’m sure there would be 29 other teams lining up with offers to blow away the Mets if he ever were to be traded.
5) John Tavares, New York Islanders
Contract: Six-Year/$33 million (Signed extension in 2011) 2016 Salary: $5.5 million
A couple of years ago, when Steph Curry and the Islanders were both just beginning his ascension, I used to compare Curry and Islanders’ captain John Tavares. Curry’s ball-handling reminded me of Tavares’ stick-handling; both players did things with their respective item (ball and puck) that I had never seen before. Curry behind the back left hand passes; Tavares no-look spinning backhand passes. Curry split the screen, between the legs, no-look to the corner; Tavares dangling in and out of traffic, dishing to a wide-open player in front.
Obviously, comparing the two is a little more difficult now. But nonetheless, Tavares is a top-10 player in the NHL right now; he’s that freaking good. Did I mention before that Ryan McDonagh has a bargain contract? Well Tavares’ deal makes McDonagh’s looks like the David Clarkson contract. A top-10 player only making $5.5 million? You know how hard that is to find in the NHL today? Guys like Brooks Orpik and Nathan Horton got that type of money in free-agency a few years back and they are sieves.
The Islanders are a team on the rise and it is no surprise that they have risen as Tavares has. He is an elite talent in the league, someone who teams can build around for decades. However, he will be a UFA after the 2017-18 season and, given the Islanders current game of hopscotch with arenas right now, it is uncertain if Tavares will stay or bolt for greener pastures when his contract is up. Regardless, Tavares is still an elite NHL player, and teams would break the bank to try and pry him away from Long Is…… I mean Brooklyn.
4) Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
Contract: Arbitration eligible in 2018 (Under Team Control until 2021) 2016 Salary: $ Projected $500,000
Noah Syndergaard is the highest ranked on this list out of the Mets dynamic pitching rotation. Given his age, 23, his size, 6’6″, and contract, under team control until 2021, he is one of the best pitching assets in baseball. He has (knock on wood) been healthy and hasn’t had any real off-the-field issues, other than the infamous lunch incident during last year’s spring training: Syndergaard has joked about the incident on Twitter (S/O for the follow, by the way, Thor, we see you!)
If you put aside the fact that the dude does look exactly like Thor with that ridiculous cabbage he has, you have to realize that, much like deGrom and Harvey, this kid is a gamer. Sure, every Met fan already love Syndergaard, but the pitch he threw inside at Alcides Escobar, and the subsequent comments, escalated that relationship to some Anchorman brawl type love. His stats were remarkable—3.24 ERA, 150 innings, 166 strikeouts in 24 starts—but just watching him pitch is something else. He can blow is fastball past anyone and his curveball is backbreaking; once Syndergaard gets that changeup down, the sky is the limit.
Syndergaard is going nowhere. Given how talented he is, and given the fact that he proved he can hang with the big boys last year, he has to be considered one of the untouchables in baseball. I think I can speak for most Mets fans in saying that we hope Thor is here for a long, long time.
3) Odell Beckham Jr. , New York Giants
Contract: Four-Year/$10.4 million (Team Option for Fifth Year, signed in 2014) 2016 Salary: $2.8 million
There has never been a talent like Odell Beckham Jr. in the NFL, at least not that I have seen—some old-timers might argue Bo Jackson or Jim Brown. But for the 21 years and change I have walked this earth, I have never seen someone like OBJ on the football field. He can do things that just seem impossible. Of course, “The Catch” is the best catch ever without context (David Tyree wins best catch ever with context because that just still doesn’t make sense); the diving one-hand one vs. the Redskins this year might be even better. But in my head I can picture in my mind three or four Youtube Hall Of Fame worthy catches just as good, if not better, than those two snags.
The point is that despite all the BS that comes with Beckham, the man is still a baller. Is it a coincidence that Eli Manning has had two of his best statistical seasons with Beckham as his main target? I think not. Him and Eli have excellent chemistry, and he is the Giants’ most important player already; we all remember the romping the Vikings gave them when Beckham was serving his suspension.
Are there legitimate concerns about his discipline? Absolutely. If a player has gotten fined four times in only two years of play, especially as a wideout, he has a little temper problem. But you know what? That’s all fine. I love to see the passion. The hit on Josh Norman was disgusting, and as someone who has played football before I hate seeing stuff like that. But it just doesn’t matter. The guys too good. And if he learns to control that anger, who knows where he could go; he’s already set about every record possible for a player through their first 27 games.
In the NFL, it’s tough to really gauge a player’s trade value because trades are so rare. But since the entire point of this article is to speak in hypotheticals, I would think Bechkham would be one of the highest valued players in league history. Multiple picks—most likely nothing below the second round—would be required to pry this guy from the Giants. But he’s not going anywhere and I’m happy I’ll get to watch a generational talent every week for the next couple of years.
2) Eli Manning , New York Giants
Contract: Four-Year/$84 million (Team Option for Fifth Year) 2016 Salary: $24.2 million
This is where this list gets a little murky. Is Eli Manning— Two-Time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning—the most talented player on this? Absolutely not. But, since we are taking into account position played because this is spanning four sports, and given that Eli Manning plays and excels at the most important—and hardest to fill—position in all of sports, he has to be high on this list.
Manning is a franchise quarterback and those, ladies and gentleman (Joker voice), do not grow on trees. In all seriousness, think about how many teams trotted out quarterbacks this season ranging from awful to shouldn’t-be-in-the-league-awful. Think about all the passes you saw thrown (or attempt to be thrown) by the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Sam Bradford, Brian Hoyer and Nick Foles. Then think of a reason to tell my why Eli isn’t one of the most valuable assets in the NFL, and in the entire city of New York.
He’s 34 years old, but he’s as durable as they come; Eli hasn’t missed a start since he took over for Kurt Warner way back when. And as long as he has that OBJ fellow to throw to, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Eli a little more if the Giants can ever put some talent around them.
1) Kristaps Porzingis , New York Knicks
Contract: Four-Year/$18.4 million (Signed in 2015) 2016 Salary: $4.1 million
Knicks fans, there is a light at the end of that terrifyingly dark tunnel. That light is none other than the Latvian savior, Kristaps Porzingis.
The Knicks are really bad again; they just got blown off their home floor by the Toronto Raptors and are fading fast in the Eastern Conference playoff race; they don’t own their own first-round pick this season; and they can’t seem to find a coach that can keep his personal life out of the news.
None of that matters, though, because Porzingis is the savior. He is the one who is going to lead the Knicks out of the dark days and into a future that produces playoff appearances, and, just maybe, some playoff series wins. Porzingis is an evolutionary big man: he can shoot; he can protect the rim; he can post up; and he has a high basketball IQ. To make things even better, he actually wanted to come to the Knicks and try to turn this thing around. He used the ruthless booing as motivation to become New York’s next big thing.
There are things the two-time Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month still has to work on though. He is paper thin and can get bullied around by bigger centers, but since he is so skinny he can get roasted by quicker power-forwards; Draymond Green had his way with Porzingis when the Warriors visited the Knicks earlier this month. And given the fact that Porzingis is ahead of schedule—a player who is deemed a “project” doesn’t put up 14 and 7 out of the gate—expectations might get high real fast.
But he’s only 19, and there will be plenty of time for him to figure out how to add weight and play faster. For now, though, we can all revel in the fact that the Knicks actually got it right for once and got one of the best assets in the NBA—a league that values high-end assets more than any other. He is one of the NBA’s untouchables and would net Melo circa 2010 returns if he were ever traded.