Youth Movement

Is Texas getting fair value for Mark Teixeira? With a haul of prospects from the Braves, it would appear so

WITH YOUNG, inexpensive talent at a premium, the Rangers got excellent value on Monday as they nailed down a six-player blockbuster trade that would bring them 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and an exciting pair of prospects, shortstop Elvis Andrus, 18, and pitcher Neftali Feliz, 19, in exchange for slugger Mark Teixeira. (The deal, which also sent reliever Ron Mahay to Atlanta and a player to be named later to Texas, was pending only a review of medical records.)

Teixeira excels offensively (averaging 38 home runs over the past three seasons) and defensively (he has won two Gold Gloves). More important, he has a year left on a relatively inexpensive contract. According to Baseball Prospectus's Marginal Value Above Replacement Player (MORP) statistic—an evaluation of a player's worth based on his projected performance and recent contracts signed in the free-agent market—Teixeira is valued at approximately $20 million in 2007 and $22 million in '08. Prorated over the balance of his contract, he'll provide about $27 million worth of value while actually earning only slightly more than $11 million.

But Saltalamacchia could be an even bigger bargain. Baseball Prospectus already rates him as a $10 million player. Consider that between Double A and the majors this year he had hit a combined .293 through Sunday, with a .360 on-base percentage, 10 homers and a .486 slugging percentage—stats similar to those in a good season for Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who makes $10 million a year. And Saltalamacchia is just getting started. By BP's calculations, the Rangers are due to save more than $50 million. "You have to give Texas credit," says an AL executive. "Salty could hit 35 homers in that park." And in Andrus they add a shortstop who has the look of a young Miguel Cabrera.

The Angels had made a solid offer to the Rangers of first baseman Casey Kotchman, 24, and pitcher Joe Saunders, 26, but balked when asked to throw in either Nick Adenhart, Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood. Instead they went back to their best offer with Atlanta. Bottom line: The Braves, 4 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East race, are stronger with the addition of Teixeira to a lineup that includes Andruw and Chipper Jones. The Rangers, who probably would have lost Teixeira to free agency after next season, instead have a brighter future.

PHOTOMATT SLOCUM/APGOOD CATCH In exchange for the Gold Glove-winning Teixeira, Texas gets backstop Saltalamacchia (inset). PHOTOMARVIN GENTRY/US PRESSWIRE[See caption above]
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)