Trade: TBD | Who’s Your Haddy?

TBD sends: SP Kyle Gibson ($7), CF Lewis Brinson (minors), SP Amir Garrett (minors), 2017 2nd Round Pick
Who’s Your Haddy?¬†sends: SP Jacob deGrom ($64), SP Steven Wright (FA), 2017 4th Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Man, where to begin?

I guess it makes sense to link to the Johnny Cueto trade from over the weekend, because I think he and deGrom are close to the same guy. deGrom costs $4 more and is younger, but Cueto has the longer track record and is having the better season (by like 10 points/start) so far. For the sake of argument, I think we can just call them equals.

In that light, this trade comes up a bit short for Haddy, I think. Cueto netted a viable replacement for him in James Shields, two top-25 prospects, and a 1st round pick. deGrom brought back an okay starter in Kyle Gibson, who isn’t better than Shields but does cost $21 less, but he also tossed in Steven Wright so it kind of nullifies getting back Gibson. He also gets a top-15 or so prospect in Brinson (9th in our draft), and a top… I don’t know — 75? — prospect in Garrett (he went 83rd in our draft), plus a 2nd rounder. Compare that to the Cueto return. I guess what I’m saying is, deGrom appears to have been sold at less than market value. Anything can happen with prospects. Who knows? But that’s how I see it today.

For Haddy, I think getting back the blue chipper Brinson is a big deal. I know TBD was reluctant to deal him at all,¬†but if you want big time pitching you simply have to be willing to part with big time pieces. TBD’s been shopping their $10 Max Kepler for pitching for a while and the writing there just appeared to be on the wall. No one’s paying $10 and a premium pitcher for Kepler, without the cost control benefit of other prospects, to sit in their minors.

Brinson is a great get though. I’m less sold on Garrett. Baseball Prospectus ranked him 77th, Baseball America has him 73rd, and MLB.com slots him in at 65th. Rankings aren’t gospel and we should all probably discredit them more than we do, but Garrett’s the second piece here, right? He just doesn’t seem like a big enough Player B in a deal to land deGrom. A lot of the scouting reports I’ve read of Garrett say he could end up in the bullpen and if that happens, that’s a big loss for Haddy. There’s certainly upside if he sticks as a starter, but it’s a risky profile.

As I mentioned, Wright and Gibson more or less cancel each other out. I’d rather have Gibson personally, but both guys are just rotational filler.

I think, just like Haddy’s other deal, I come away feeling like a piece is missing. I try to look at picks less as rounds and more as where the pick will be, and in my deal for Cueto I got what is likely the 14-16th overall pick. Team Hydra’s 2nd rounder could realistically end up being 17th-20th or so, in which case the two picks are essentially the same. Never the less, I think Haddy should’ve pried a 1st away instead of a 2nd. I think that’s a small price for TBD¬†to pay to get deGrom on their¬†roster and for Haddy, every extra asset helps.

TBD looks so much stronger after this deal. The benefit of trading minor leaguers is that it does nothing to weaken your team today, so essentially TBD added deGrom without giving anything up (there’s a word for that, I think it starts with an “f,” but I can’t think of it; maybe I’ll peruse our Slack chat to see if anyone’s used this word?). That’s big. Aside from Madison Bumgarner, TBD’s pitching was kind of a mess, so this really helps to stabilize that. It seems possible that we look back at this trade in September and credit it for thrusting TBD into a postseason spot.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I’m actually going to disagree with Bailey here some. I think Haddy got a good price for deGrom here. I know he references his own trade with Cueto, and he’s not wrong in what he got. But, I am not sure that trade exists a second time in this market. I think Bailey got more value for Cueto than he should have, and this deal looks more in line with where I had players valued in my head.

TBD needed this piece and did pay a significant price to get it done. Brinson is a known quality prospect. Garrett less so, but I’m higher on him than Bailey was above. Garrett in 7 AA starts this year is killing it. I’d be shocked to see Garrett not climb those arbitrary lists that Bailey references.

Bailey references that there’s a piece missing. I’m not really sure. Brinson was one of the top minor league qualified prospects in our league, Garrett is a solid prospect worth paying attention to and we’ve both written about Gibson before in how he can be useful.

I actually like this trade for both teams. If you’re TBD you needed the ace capable pitcher. If you’re Haddy you need these assets. I think its a win win for both sides.

Trade: Team Hydra | Who’s Your Haddy?

Team Hydra sends: CF AJ Pollock ($49), CF David Dahl (minors)
Who’s Your Haddy?¬†sends:¬†CF Mookie Betts ¬†($61), SP Michael Wacha ($41)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†A decision was made here that was extremely rushed. Looking from Hydra’s side first. They trade away a minor leaguer and an injured semi-keepable all-star for an all-star and an above average pitcher. Easy trade. From Haddy’s side, I really don’t get this at all. I’m going to keep it short because Andrew sums this up in 800 words beautifully.

We just saw Bailey get two deals where he got back multiple assets for one player being sold. Haddy shot two bullets and got..maybe two… assets back. The price difference between Pollack and Betts isn’t worth swapping them for. I really don’t see how Hydra turns down Betts for Pollock/Dahl. If they did, fine, wait it out. Betts wasn’t likely to lose value over the next two weeks. Wacha is whatever, but he shouldn’t be a throw in to get a deal done.

Look Haddy, I don’t hate you playing the game, but I think the way you played it was blinded by an urgency that just did not exist. There’s 14 other teams in the hunt and looking to improve, I think you do better by opening the bidding than to quickly make backroom deals.

I can’t wait to see this deal in two seasons, who knows, Dahl could be the only piece worth anything.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†I get what Haddy was doing here, but I don’t like¬†it very much for him at all. At least, I don’t like the way the two big name outfielders seem to have been swapped so evenly for one another.

For Haddy, who sits at 1-5 with a very, very remote shot at the postseason, making moves that better his squad in 2017 makes sense. ¬†He’s publicly said that he prefers Pollock to Betts straight up and the $12 salary gap there helps, but I’m not sure I see it that way. I mean, I can see the two players being coin flips. I don’t agree that they are, but that’s not a complete stretch. I’m just not sure $12 is all that much of a difference for a player that is five years younger¬†and has more growth and development to do compared to a guy in Pollock that has, at 28-years-old, one full season of awesome production. He was great in 2014 too, but in just 75 games. That sort of speaks to the knock on Pollock: he’s suffered a myriad of injuries, including this year’s broken elbow that will likely keep him out all year. He’s less risky than a prospect but I think he’s far more risky than pretty much any outfielder with a salary of, say, $30 or more. Pollock might be the most risky major league outfielder, period.

Alex from Team Hydra had tried really hard to sell me on Pollock, but I just wasn’t interested. He’s $51 to start next season and vulnerable to greed and, to me, he’s a prime target to get a few bucks. A guy with a limited track record coming off a significant injury seems like a guy whose price you want to get up as much as possible to either force a decision or elevate the risk.

Interestingly, Jordan and I were talking about Betts earlier in the day before this deal went down and without even knowing Betts was available. One point I made to Jordan was this: with Mike Trout in center, Haddy was playing Betts in right. The impact of that is negligible, but I think you prefer to play your players in the slots where they are most valuable, and Betts is more valuable in CF than RF. Again, negligible.

Anyway, when we’re discussing game theory, we usually use our own players as examples, so one of the questions I pondered to Jordan is: if you concede Betts is going to be used in RF instead of CF, is the gap between him ($61, 232.3 points) and my right fielder, Nick Markakis ($4, 178.8), or his right fielder, Kole Calhoun ($10, 212.5), really that big? Betts has been worth 3.8 points per dollar, while Markakis has been worth 44.7 and Calhoun has been worth 21.25. Obviously, you’d rather have Betts on your team than Markakis or Calhoun. He’s objectively better, he’s more fun to root for, etc. We’re also looking at just a fraction of the season. But when you start talking about value, the conversation changes dramatically. I’m not suggesting Markakis or Calhoun are worth more, that Betts is worth less, or anything of that nature. I just think it’s interesting to look at this stuff through different lenses. My ultimate point, I think, is to say that while I may not like Betts-for-Pollock and while you may even think that’s an outrageous deal, the case could be made that neither player is all that good of a value long-term.

As for the other two pieces, I don’t think a Wacha-for-Dahl straight up deal is bad. As of this posting, Wacha is averaging 26.06 points per start, putting him right around the league average mark. Jordan and I have beaten this drum to death, but league average guys are valuable. If your team is in “win now” mode and the cost of a league average starter is a good prospect, you do it. Average pitchers are worth it. And Wacha is a very nice piece for anyone’s¬†pitching stable. But he strikes me as more of a SP3 or SP4 and at $43 minimum in 2017, I’m not sure he’s someone that gets kept. To me, Wacha’s a guy that could be dropped every year and bought back at auction, essentially existing in our league on a never-ending cycle of one-year deals. You may even overpay for him at auction knowing that you’ll dump him at year’s end, and that’s fine. He’s good, but he’s the 27th highest paid starting pitcher. He’s not that good.

Dahl, on the other hand, was the 33rd overall pick in our minor league draft and at the absolute worst gets to play all of his home games at Coors Field. That’s worth something. For a team that’s out of it in 2016, I have no qualms flipping Wacha, who Haddy could have a shot to buy back next year anyway, for Dahl.

I think a piece is missing here for Haddy. Maybe not a big piece, but something. A draft pick would have helped some. One of Hydra’s underpaid pitchers, a guy like JA Happ ($3) or Tyler Chatwood (FA) on a dice roll. I’m not one of those over the top Mookie Betts fans, but I think he was worth more than an oft-injured outfielder at a $12 minimum discount.

Trade: Team Canada | Capital City Ironmen

Team Canada sends: SP James Shields ($28), SS J.P. Crawford (minors), RF Aaron Judge (minors), 2017 1st Round pick
Capital City Ironmen send: SP Johnny Cueto ($60), RF Michael Reed (minors), 2017 3rd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Reviewing my own trade again!

First things first: after dealing away Miguel Cabrera and Sonny Gray, I was content to sit back for a while and hold my pieces for a bit. But Team Canada and I had sent a few offers back and forth for Cueto, and then a deal very similar was proposed to me that made me change my mind.

I’ll keep this succinct because I write about my team plenty: I love Cueto. He’s a top-10 starting pitcher and at $60, he’s one of the best values n the entire league. He pitches in arguably the most favorable park in baseball and in a league where half the league is rebuilding. He’s awesome.

But I viewed this deal as essentially saying this: the difference between Cueto and Shields is $32, two top-25 prospects (Crawford was taken 6th and Judge 27th overall in our inaugural minor league draft), and a first round pick (likely late, because Team Canada is really good). To me, the gap isn’t nearly that big, so the deal just made too much sense.

In Shields, I get a pitcher that chews up innings and keeps my team competitive in the short term. Even at $30 next year, he’s worth keeping. He’s also worth something in trade, so Cueto could keep giving in that regard too.

Michael Reed is an interesting prospect for Team Canada to get back, but I had picked him up from free agency not too long ago, so it’s not as if he was highly valued within our league.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†This is why we’re in a dynasty style league. Given the format, which it likely to be under discussion next year, it is not hard to understand the pressure to sell here. Bailey was looking at 1 win and 5 losses before coming back and winning in week 6. Even with the week 6 win, he stood a extreme long shot to get into the top 4. When you’re left with two options, spend to attempt to give yourself some better sliver of a chance, or sell to setup for 2017, I think he makes a reasonable call.

Standing pat for Bailey, who before both of his trades stood with the “5th” best projected line up, really was not an option. It was already under performing, he lost two pitchers to injury, and its still only 5th best. Just four make the playoffs. Bailey got back four huge assets for Cueto. Judge and Crawford may or may not make an impact in 2017. The chance that either do is enticing. The first round pick here does not project terribly well, but it has some value.

I really like that Bailey got back Shields here. Shields the last two years has floundered some, but this season Shields has regained some promise as a reliable starter. This means Bailey got back someone he can keep for a reasonable price, or sell yet again. Fun stuff.

For Team Canada, they paid one hell of a price for Cueto. Canada is in the drivers seat to get into the Championship Bracket and added a big piece to that ride. Cueto will certainly be a big help, but this price that Canada paid is extremely aggressive. You have to like it for them, the prospects can be replaced.

The first big “sell”…

Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on a 14-piece trade that could succinctly be described as the first “sell” move of 2016. That is to say, the first trade aimed toward improving a team in the future more so than the present.

The deal, agreed to with the Preseason Double Stuffs, is outlined and analyzed by third parties right here.

First things first: though there are a bunch of pieces in this trade, many of them are superfluous. Some guys went to the Double Stuffs that would have been cut from my end to make room for new guys and I received one player back that they would have cut. In my mind, the deal was this:

I sent 1B Miguel Cabrera ($71), SP Sonny Gray ($49), SP Nick Tropeano ($1), C Carlos Ruiz (free agent) and a third round pick in 2017 for LF/RF Jorge Soler ($14), prospects CF Brett Phillips, CF/RF Ian Happ, 1B Cody Bellinger, and a first round pick in 2017.

Right out of the gate, my decision to sell was really pretty simple: my team is last in record, last in points, and has two major injuries (Carlos Carrasco and Tyson Ross) that make digging out of that hole extremely difficult. If those two guys are healthy, I’m not selling yet (and frankly, my team is probably significantly better¬†to the point that selling parts hasn’t even entered my head).

Our championship bracket allows only four teams in, so I saw my team as being in a deep hole five plus weeks in and needing to jump 12 teams to get into that bracket.¬†That’s a tall order, particularly without the pitchers I mentioned before for at least a few more weeks (I’m not sure Ross makes it back this year, but who knows?).

When I ultimately decided to sell and set out to do so, I’m pretty sure I told everyone I spoke to that I wanted multiple pieces for any of my impact players. And my preference was to check multiple boxes. By that, I mean a minor league piece, a major league piece, a draft pick piece, and/or an auction cash piece. I didn’t need all four, but I wanted a multi-faceted return.

Without divulging private conversations, I can tell you that almost every team I spoke to was balking at that. Draft picks were being viewed at a premium and most teams seemed unwilling to offer more than one prospect in return.

The obvious question is: does waiting a while longer change that? If in the next month a contending team suffers a few injuries, do negotiations change? Probably. The flip side of that is, with Gray coming off three rough starts, he could conceivably just be broken and worth nothing in a month’s time. He’s suffered some velocity decreases recently and he’s a little guy, so that’s worrying. Personally, I think he’ll be fine. He’s a top-20 pitcher two years running and $49 for that type of performer is a bargain. But still, there’s a chance that he’s broken and the risk of waiting to find out just didn’t seem worth it.

Side note with regards to approaching Gray with trepidation: I don’t trust a word Billy Beane says and if Gray does end up getting traded this season, I think most logical destinations sting his value. Going to the Dodgers isn’t so bad, but the Red Sox? I don’t like that.

It’s also possible that a month from now, two or three other teams see the walls close in on their 2016 and enter the market. I’d rather just be the first buyer.

Anyway…

I look at this deal as getting five pieces back that check three boxes: minor league piece(s), major league piece, draft pick piece.

In Phillips, Happ, and Bellinger, I see three top-100 prospects — Phillips and Happ are, at least in my mind, top-50 types — that are relatively close to the majors. In our minor league draft, these guys went 25th, 57th, and 104th overall. MLB.com ranks them 29th, 72nd, and 97th on their prospect list. Baseball America says 57th, 87th, and has Bellinger way up at 54th.¬†Lists are what they are. Take them or leave them, whatever.

I don’t need these guys this year, so not debuting until 2017 is fine. Coupled with my recent addition of Clint Frazier, it’s conceivable that I have an entire outfield in 2017-18 that costs essentially nothing.

The low cost of prospects and the freeing up of over $100 of budget is an added bonus of this deal. In that sense, I could argue that my fourth box, auction cash, was checked as well. The Preseason Double Stuffs are now well over budget for 2017, which means there’s $100+ worth of cuts floating out there. Look at the Rocky Mountain Oysters as well. That team is also well over budget for 2017. It’s too early to put too much stock in future budgets, I think, but what I’m getting at¬†is, next year, I could have a shot at buying Miggy back, or at least buying back a few players that add up to Miggy because other teams will be in a position where they’re forced to make drastic cuts to keep those high salaried players.

As for Soler, he’s still just 24 years old and ZiPS/Steamer project him for a .322/.319 wOBA the rest of the season. Coming into the year, ZiPS pegged him¬†for a .333 wOBA and 17 homers. Playing time is a major concern for him, obviously, but a player with those numbers is useful. Maybe he gets sent down to AAA to get regular at-bats, maybe he gets traded, who knows? I think he’s a gamble worth taking. As Jonny pointed out in reviewing this deal, if we did our auction a year earlier, Soler likely goes for $30-$40 based on his performance the year prior, age, and upside. I mean, Byron Buxton went for $32 and his wOBA at the major league level is .066 points lower than Soler’s (small sample size, I know).

The last piece coming my way is a first round draft pick which, if the season ended today, would be fifth overall. Of course, adding Cabrera, Gray, and even Ruiz to improve the catching situation a bit likely improves the Preseason Double Stuffs enough to worsen that pick — perhaps¬†significantly. The pick could end up anywhere. Either way, I’ve now secured myself two picks in the top-16 and four in the top-32, so when our minor leagues expand by five slots, I’m in a¬†more favorable position. (Aside: I’ve got a 3rd rounder that I’d like to attach a useful player to in exchange for a 1st or possibly 2nd rounder, so get in touch if that’s something that might interest you.)

So where does my team go from here?

Offensively, a week from now I get Alex Rodriguez back and he slides into a UT spot, effectively replacing Cabrera in my lineup. He’s a lesser hitter, but I’m not sure the gap between them is going to be super noticeable given our head-to-head format. ZiPS says there’s a .042 difference in wOBA between them the rest of the way, which is significant but not disastrous.

My offense has a lot of similar, productive players — Nick Markakis, Corey Dickerson, Michael Saunders, Mike Napoli — that have made choosing a daily lineup difficult. I’ve had points on my bench instead of in my lineup a few times just from the coin falling on heads instead of tails, essentially. A fringe benefit now, I suppose, is having fewer choices and being able to just ride a core group of players. I’m only thinking of this now, it certainly wasn’t a driving force in doing a deal.

My pitching, which was supposed to be my strength, is probably going to suck, but it has sucked already anyway. As of today, I’ve lost more points to home runs allowed than any other team and I’m dead last in net pitching points by more than 100. Eventually Carrasco and hopefully Ross return and there’s a lot of positive regression due — the last I checked, my SPs’ HR/9 was somewhere north of 1.70 which just isn’t a thing that happens — but ouch.

Like I said, I do expect Gray to get it together, so not having him around when/if that happens will sting some. Tropeano would have been useful, but he was still likely a match-up play, as his 4.90 FIP and 1.71 HR/9 (with just a 13% HR/FB rate) alludes. And hopefully one or both of Blake Snell and Jake Thompson find their way into a major league rotation this summer anyway.

I’m also not sure at this juncture if there’s another big move in the pipeline. And by that, I mean whether or not Johnny Cueto ($60) or Joey Votto ($70) will get moved.

On Votto, I suspect he will not. He is available, but I never had it in my plans to purge both he and Miggy, so the offer would have to be compelling. He’s greed¬†protected in 2017 by virtue of being one of the 30 highest paid players, so he’ll get his $2 raise to $72 and be perfectly keepable as an offensive anchor.

Selling Cueto, on the other hand, is a more likely option, if only because pitchers are pitchers and in the sense that they are all ticking time bombs, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to get closer and closer to going off on a roster that isn’t competing. But I really don’t like losing. I want to keep competing. With Cueto, who is the 7th best starting pitcher based on points per start as of this morning, my team¬†can at least compete weekly, even if it’s futile in the grand scheme of things. Without him, my pitching floor is terrifyingly low until Carrasco comes back. And I’d absolutely love to have him back as a staff ace in 2017.

(So as I was looking up Cueto’s points, I noticed that he’s second overall in points for starting pitchers. He’s also started eight games, while most have started just seven. Anyway, Clayton Kershaw is predictably number one. He’s also started eight games. But get this: Kershaw has 128 more points than Cueto. 128! In the same number of starts! Jose Altuve is the top scoring hitter and he’s 113.4 points behind the Dodgers’ ace. My goodness, Clayton Kershaw is not of this Earth. He is so good that I am going to end this post that has absolutely nothing to do with him on a note about him.)

Trade: TBD | Beach Bum

TBD sends: SS Troy Tulowitzki ($46)
Beach Bum sends: LF/CF Charlie Blackmon ($27)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†The logic here is pretty simple: Beach Bum had too many outfielders and was relying on Jed Lowrie and Adeiny Hechavarria at short, while TBD has Corey Seager and a need at centerfield. By executing this deal, both teams fill a need without exposing any roster weaknesses. So good job.

Troy Tulowitzki is interesting. He¬†was good last year but significantly worse than he had been in his career and he took a considerable dive moving from Denver to Toronto. He’s been atrocious this year, though a .190 BABIP probably plays some role in his shoddy numbers. His .164 ISO is actually up a few ticks from last year. I can totally understand moving on from Tulo though, as it looks like even at his best he may just be a fringe top-5 shortstop play as opposed to being the undisputed kingpin at the position.

Long term, Tulo doesn’t look like a guy Dan keeps beyond 2016, and that’s fine. If Charlie Blackmon gets traded out of Colorado to make room for David Dahl, it’s conceivable that he doesn’t get kept either. Short-term, win-now moves are fine and as I said, this one has the hallmarks of that type of move. Both sides are better.

Big picture, I do like¬†the risk here for Beach Bum. On a day to day basis, he’ll be deploying Matt Holliday instead of Blackmon, which strikes me as a lateral move. No harm, no foul. Even broken Tulowitzki is better than Hechavarria, so there’s that.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I really do not have much to add to what Bailey’s already said. It is a win win deal for both teams. At this point, I figure Blackmon to be worth more going forward, but it should shock no one if Tulo regains some momentum before 2016 is over. I find both players to be questionable at best for keeping in 2017.

Both teams fill a need by sending from a position of abundance. I’m surprised more deals like this have not already sprung up in various areas.

Trade: In Line 4 The Win | Long Ball to LF

In Line 4 The Win sends: SP Matt Moore ($9)
Long Ball to LF sends: SP Mike Leake ($14), 2017 3rd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†I don’t mean to open this on a negative note, but my first thought upon seeing this deal was “wow, two pitchers I really don’t like.” I’m not really sure what it is, but neither Leake nor Moore have ever been guys I’ve been interested in on any level at all, really.

Leake is, to me, the definition of an okay emergency seventh starter. He’s got a career 4.24 FIP, a HR/9 of 1.13, and he barely strikes anyone out. He’s useful here and there, but it’s tough to predict when those games will be.

In Moore’s case, it seems like he’s still living a bit off the roto hype of 2012, when he had a solid first full season with a sub-4.00 ERA on a good Rays team. In 2013, he was a hot “sleeper” because he’d get wins and a presumably low ERA. But in our league, his linear weights just aren’t that enticing. He’s posted a 4.06 FIP and a 0.99 HR/9 in his career, which is meh on both fronts, while striking out 8.51 batters per nine and walking 3.99.

To me, these two pitchers are identical. Moore strikes a couple more batters out per nine than Leake, but he also walks a couple more to wash away any positive effect. Moore’s a year and a half younger, so I guess there’s “upside” at play, but he also pitches out of the tough AL East while Leake gets to throw in the NL, where half the teams are rebuilding.

I really don’t mean to be such a downer. It’s just… seriously, if you made me list five pitchers pre-auction that I would be completely out of the market on, these two guys would’ve made the list.

Having said all that, as a trade, this is fine. The pick is negligible — I feel like anything later than a 2nd rounder won’t carry much value — so essentially what you’ve got is a pick your poison move. Two identical guys but I like yours and vice versa, so let’s do it. And even with their flaws, as I said, both guys are solid as rotational depth. You won’t feel terrible starting Leake on a Sunday as your seventh. Back end starters like that are worth something (at least this is what I’ll keep telling myself as I attempt to sell Mat Latos, who isn’t all that dissimilar from either of these two guys).

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I really do not have much to follow up after Bailey’s thoughts. The one thing I want to hit on is that the projections systems still have Leake as the better pitcher. He has to face the Cubs and Pirates more often, and that sucks, but otherwise he’s in the NL which is great. I think Leake has startable starts available, and I’m not a big fan of Matt Moore except in emergency.

The draft pick is weird.

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Capital City Ironmen

Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: CF Clint Frazier (minors), 1B/2B/SS Ryan Flaherty (FA)
Capital City Ironmen send: 2B/3B Martin Prado ($4), SP/RP John Gant (minors)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I love this deal for Dusty. Martin Prado has been good. He fills two positions that makes Prado’s floor look a bit higher. Prado is decent enough to fill in the utility role as well. John Gant is an interesting prospect, he’s close to the majors, he’s a pitcher, could he make the jump? Sure! Or maybe not, whatever.

Clint Frazier is tough to lose, he was a prospect on my target list on the draft, and post draft, but he¬†does¬†not appear to a transcendent talent. He’s 21, he’s primed, but he could still be another away. Frazier could turn into a replacement level fantasy outfielder, or be a decent one, who knows. I know that’s such a cop out with prospects, but that is the point of their value in fantasy is it not?

Prado could go on for 3-4 years being useful to various teams. Frazier could go on to be anywhere from nothing to extremely useful for a whole career. How do you weight that value? This trade marks the first one that I can recall that a betterish prospect gets traded for something for today. Sure Gant’s value is there somewhere, but that’s like trading lottery one cost slightly more, has better odds, but either one ultimately could be worth more. Is Bailey selling already?

Andrew’s thoughts: When I acquired Chris Coghlan a while back, it was in part to give myself the flexibility to do something like this eventually. At the time I thought my pitchers would be healthy and team competitive, so I didn’t anticipate trading a vet for a prospect, but here we are.

For the Oysters,¬†Prado should be a good, inexpensive piece. Prado’s the definitive boring but productive player and starting at $6 in 2017, he’s got a couple years of good value left in him. Dusty can slot him into two positions, freeing up the versatile Josh Harrison to slide around elsewhere. What this move really does is boost his second utility spot, since he no longer has to play match-ups and lineup cards with guys like Sean Rodriguez, Ben Paulsen, and Ryan Howard.

He’s been absolutely lights out lately, including a streak of five straight games with multiple hits. But I also expect some regression from him, as he’s currently sporting a .440 BABIP that’s led to a .398 average and a .433 on-base percentage. He should still be good the rest of the way, but this was a good opportunity to sell at his peak.

For me, I feel like getting a¬†top-25 prospect in all of baseball is a big win in a year where I’m struggling to score points. In February, Baseball Prospectus pegged Frazier as the 23rd best dynasty league prospect, slotted between Rafael Devers and Austin Meadows. Frazier was the 39th guy off the board in our minor league draft and I remember thinking at the time that it was too low. Some guys that went ahead of him that I don’t think should have: Tim Anderson, Willson Contreras, Brady Aiken, and Anthony Alford.

With Prado gone, I can plug in either Coghlan, Chase Utley, or¬†Howie Kendrick at 2B and shouldn’t see too precipitous a drop.

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Long Ball to LF

Long Ball to LF sends: SP Anibal Sanchez ($4)
Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: 2B/SS/3B/LF Jose Ramirez (FA)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I still believe in Anibal Sanchez in that something will click and he could be fixed kind of way. He battled injuries last year while being useful when he was available. High strikeouts while getting deep into games was his calling card. Now days he’s padding his stat line with walks and homers, not ideal.

Utility men are useful but lose-able. I think this is a good deal for both teams. I’d rather have Anibal, but that’s more less because I’m a whore for pitching. Both teams can walk away from this deal a winner.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This is a fine trade for both sides.

Anibal Sanchez used to be very good but it’s now debatable whether or not he’s even serviceable. For the Oysters, he slots in as a wait and see emergency starter.

Jose Ramirez isn’t special as a slap hitter that makes consistent contact, but he plays a bunch of positions so there’s value as a utility man. As of typing this, he’s a 4.02 point per game, 1.064 point per plate appearance hitter. That’s essentially average. Average is good.

Musing on positional scarcity and age…

I always feel compelled at the beginning of these posts to remind the rest of the league: I swear, I’m not trying to sway your personal valuations or opinions. I just want to riff on fantasy baseball. If I happen to use a player on your team as an example and view him unfavorably, oops. I would hope we’re all capable of coming to our own conclusions. It’d be pretty boring if we all had exactly the same valuations.

So, having said that…¬†how valuable are good-not-great¬†players at super top heavy positions? Or positions that aren’t even top heavy, but rather mediocre all throughout?

Two positions immediately jump to mind here, and that is catcher and shortstop. Let’s look at¬†shortstops.

Through nearly three full weeks, here are your top five overall scorers with the salary they went for at auction:

shortstops
Carlos Correa was our league’s highest paid shortstop at $81, so it’s nice that he’s pictured here. He was also the fourth highest paid hitter in the league, which means he’s being paid to be an absolutely, unquestioned transcendent talent and fantasy producer.

The obvious thing that jumps out is that four shortstops who were practically free either at auction or in our minor league draft currently sit atop the landscape at the position. In fact, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Aledmys Diaz, and Eugenio Suarez cost just 11.1% of what Correa costs combined.

Granted, we’re only 19 days into our fantasy schedule. But our regular season is 148 days long, so we’re already over 12% of the way through the season. No one would be surprised if Correa ends up as his position’s best producer by the end of the season, but what we have so far shines an interesting¬†light on the shortstop group. It has paid to not pay for these guys.

Behind Correa in terms of salary at shortstop are Xander Bogaerts ($58), Corey Seager ($54), and Troy Tulowitzki ($46). Bogaerts ranks ninth in scoring, Seager ranks 28th, and Tulowitzki is 29th.

For the sake of argument, let’s just look at those three guys, whose average salary is $52.70, or $53 to simplify.¬†Of course, no one went for $53 at auction, but we did have¬†Francisco Liriano go for $54 and a couple¬†go for $52: Kyle Schwarber and Edwin Encarnacion. Some big names and reliable fantasy producers that cost in the mid-to-high¬†$40 range: Cole Hamels, Justin Upton, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Chris Davis, Jose Altuve.

Hypothetically, if that list of players played the same position as Bogaerts, Seager, and Tulowitzki, would they have gone for less? I’d argue not. There are pitchers mixed in, so the positional view is wonky, but what if the shortstops were left fielders instead? Is Seager getting $54 to play the outfield? Hell, right fielder Matt Kemp cost $11. If Seager played the same spot, are you really paying him $43 more? Go look at Kemp’s last two years worth of stats before answering, because they’re¬†likely to be better than you think.

In terms of having ever accomplished anything worth banking on, only Tulo has done it out of this group for more than a single season, but his age and injury concerns chew up some of his value.

The argument I’m making is that Bogaerts and Seager had “being a shortstop” baked pretty heavily into their price. Age was baked in there too, I’m sure, but whatever. Bogaerts was the top scoring shortstop in our format a year ago, so good for him and all, but Jhonny Peralta ($7) was number two and Brandon Crawford ($14) was number three. Peralta being hurt to start the year is a wrinkle, but those guys got pretty heavily punished for not being 23-years-old and presumably keepable for a decade. Maybe age was an even bigger factor than position?

Speaking of Bogaerts and 2015: he scored 810.5 points last year and yes, he led the way for shortstops. But compared to all other hitters, he ranked 55th. The two guys below him: Nick Markakis ($4) and Brandon Belt ($12). The two guys above him: Evan Longoria ($20) and David Peralta ($17).

So you could have literally bought the four hitters directly surrounding Bogaerts in 2015 net points and still had $5 left over!

Also, while Bogaerts was the 55th highest scoring hitter last year, he’s the 17th highest paid hitter this year. He’s also not priced to be immune from greed and his salary is going to grow by $2 a year. So… yikes.

Just as easily as it is to envision that $81 Correa being tops at short in August, it’s not crazy to see Bogaerts and Seager in the top five or even three. But it also seems fair to suggest that even if these guys lead the charge at their position, they’ll come out behind in the greater landscape of hitters at large.

Last year, Bogaerts averaged 40.525 points per week as the top shortstop. The 16th highest scoring shortstop, Erick Aybar ($3), averaged 27.325 points per week. So a 13.2 weekly edge between the best possible “starting” shortstop and the worst. (I grant you, this is a bit primitive. It assumes the top 16 scorers are spread across each of the 16 teams, it ignores platoons, guys got hurt and that screws up their net output, etc. I get it.)

Crush Davis, who you’ll recall went for less money and was just the second best right fielder (but also has 1B eligibility) behind MVP Bryce Harper, averaged 55.835 points per week. Kole¬†Calhoun ($10), the 16th best RF, averaged 38.805 points per week, a difference of 17.03 between second best and 16th.

So, through that lens, you’re better off just having the better overall player in Davis than you are having the top guy at a weak position. Having Davis instead of Bogaerts, again in this admittedly simplified example, gives you a 4+ point weekly edge over the worst possible starter at each¬†position.

Starting Davis/Aybar gets you 83.16 a week. Starting Bogaerts/Calhoun gets you 79.33. Also, the total cost of Davis and Aybar is lower than the cost of Bogaerts and Calhoun by $19, meaning that, at least theoretically, not overpaying for perceived positional scarcity affords you more resources to help your team.

Personally, I like to view players across their broader peer groups: pitchers against other pitchers, hitters against other hitters. Yes, a player may be the third best shortstop or the fifth best catcher, but that ranking is not interchangeable across positions.

Buster Posey is so good, he does not have a peer group at the catcher¬†position. He is a tier, the two tiers below him are filled with chirping crickets and sawdust, and then other guys start falling in line after that. Yeah, you’d like to have whoever is second or third best, but if you have to settle for that 16th guy, it probably won’t be overly painful.¬†The difference is negligible.

Trade: Capital City Ironmen | In Line 4 the Win

Capital City Ironmen sends: C Jorge Alfaro
In Line 4 the Win sends: 2B/LF/RF Chris Coghlan ($4)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†-This move struck me as a curious one when I first saw it. I’m not super familiar with Alfaro, but catching prospects are the lowest form of prospects available. So the cost is pretty low. I like players like Chris Coghlan. He covers you at three positions and if he’s facing off vs a lefty, he’s good enough to stick at utility on a daily basis. I like this deal a lot for Capital City they gain a low risk medium reward bench player for a prospect. it’s a win.

Andrew’s thoughts: I like Chris Coghlan a lot. Coming into 2016, he had a .358 wOBA against right-handed pitching over his previous 781 at-bats. That’s, like, really good. Particularly from a 2B. The bonus with Coghlan is that he’s also got LF/RF eligibility and has started a game at 3B this year, which means four more and he’ll have that unlocked. I’ve got a few decent outfielders that each qualify at just one corner spot, which means having to spend extra roster spaces on back-ups. It may not happen immediately, but adding Coghlan at least opens up some better opportunities for flexibility as the season goes on.

Meanwhile, Jorge Alfaro is a guy that just sort of fell into my lap on draft day, so I didn’t feel super connected to him. And obviously I don’t place a ton of value on catchers. His power and K’s profile makes him risky, but all prospects are. If he can make it to the majors without being converted to the outfield, the power alone could make him a league average catcher, which is valuable given that he’ll have cost control status.