Trade: Hustle Loyalty Respect | We Talk Fantasy Sports

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Mike Leake ($14)
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: SP Lucas Sims (minors)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I think this is a pretty square deal for all sides considered. Sims is a prospect, but not a huge one. If he turns out, great, if not whatever. Mike Leake is useful, but not necessarily someone you need to keep around for that big score.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This is fine. I still don’t like Mike Leake, so there’s that. Of course, my dislike doesn’t mean he isn’t still a league average pitcher, which for 9-1 Hustle Loyalty Respect¬†is¬†considerably more¬†useful than a 50 FV prospect.

For WTFS, this move dumps some future budget, frees up a major league roster spot, and upgrades a minors spot. It works. I feel like there are probably a dozen pitchers akin to Lucas Sims sitting in free agency that could’ve been had at no cost, but what do I know? Prospect values vary a lot and if there’s a guy you really like, I won’t fault you for paying to get him.

Trade: The Foundation | Senior Squids

The Foundation sends: 1B/CF Wil Myers ($12), SP James Paxton ($3), LF Jesse Winker (minors), C Mike Zunino (FA)
Senior Squids send: CF/RF Bryce Harper ($109), SP Jaime Garcia ($16)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Independent of all else, I like the three-headed package of Wil Myers, Jesse Winker, and James Paxton. I’m a pretty big Myers fan and as he’s just 25-years-old and in the midst of what appears to be his breakout season (he’s very quietly a top-40 overall fantasy hitter), see him as a better bet than¬†most any prospect. He’s $12, but that’s really a fantastic¬†price for what he’s doing and the potential he has. His only big question marks¬†are¬†his ability to stay healthy and how much appeal he loses after this season, when centerfield eligibility is gone and he may only be able to slot in at 1B. There are positive question marks too though.¬†If the San Diego Padres opt to blow their team up — and they should — Myers is their one big chip. They’re more likely to try to build around him, but their roster is so bad that odds aren’t good they can re-build it in time to compete with him still on it. If he gets moved to any other ballpark, he ticks up.

Winker’s a nice piece whose bat should play up at Great American Ballpark, which may as well be the Midwest’s Coors Field. I’m only slightly down on him because he’s likely a left fielder only, and LF might be the easiest position to fill. That’s nitpicky. And Paxton is, to me, a fine dice roll as part of a package heading to a rebuilding team. He costs $3 now and $5 into 2017, which is basically nothing, and does have some track record of MLB success.

Having said all that, I don’t think it’d be unrealistic to see those three players swapped for $16 Jaime Garcia alone. Granted, I’m a big Garcia fan. I’m likely the high guy on him in our league. And I know he’s super prone to injury and has scuffled over his last four or five starts. I’m not saying Myers/Winker/Paxton for Garcia is perfectly even, but if that trade gets consummated, I’m not really scratching my head. You might see where I’m going with this.

I haven’t gotten to Bryce Harper yet.

To me, this is another example of Harper being undersold. I just don’t think there are enough pieces. Or maybe there are too many pieces, with Garcia being the superfluous one. Obviously, if I think the return¬†(I’m considering Zunino a throw-in and nothing more) is a fair trade for just the guy being included with Harper, I can’t justify saying the package is good enough for Harper alone, much less Harper and a 27 point per game starting pitcher that only costs $16.

Maybe Myers/Winker/Paxton is an okay baseline for Harper, all factors considered. It just looks, to me at least, like Garcia was dumped in here for free.

Again, I don’t think Myers/Winker/Paxton is a bad¬†starting point. Maybe there are so few pieces so as to keep negotiations simple. But I once again think Harper was sold without the seller sapping every possible morsel of value. I don’t care that Harper costs $109 now and will be $111 next year. He’s so transcendent a talent, you can make that work. I also look at Squids’ roster and see plenty of easy cuts that could be made to keep Harper (with $2 raises, the combined salaries of Revere, Parra, Martin, Grichuk, Inciarte, and Colabello will be $108 in 2017, or $3 less than just Harper), so it’s not like — especially in June — clearing his salary was an urgent matter.

Over the next three seasons, The Foundation has six second-round picks and a first-round pick in 2019. If I’m Squids, I want to tap into¬†those. I want Jeff Hoffman, a cost-controlled pitching prospect with enormous talent who will have to throw in an admittedly crappy home park, too. I probably want Brett Anderson, a perpetually injured $2 pitcher that can be safely stashed on the DL and decided on later. I want Zach Davies, a decent $2 flier that could provide depth to my rotation. I’d like to snare one more prospect piece as well, maybe Braves’ minor league shortstop Ozzie Albies, who reached Triple-A at just 19-years-old. Squids is also down $20 of auction budget next year. Why not ask for The Foundation to reimburse some of that?

The point is, I think once you’ve got the key components of a Bryce deal ironed out (Myers/Winker/Paxton), you can probably ask for all or most of those things and get them included without it grinding all the gears to a halt. That’s not nickel and diming. Most of those things listed above aren’t hot commodities that would’ve hurt Jordan to part with. But if you’re selling one of the most prized pieces in the game (plus a solidly above average pitcher!), you need as many potentially useful pieces as possible. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate holding out for every last drop every time you make a trade, but when you’re trading Bryce, or Mike Trout, or Clayton Kershaw, etc, then yeah.

Interesting to note: to date, Harper, who like Myers will also likely lose CF eligibility after this year, has been worth just 43.2 more points than Myers. Come the end of the year, I expect that gap to be significantly larger and I realize that using just net points is a rather dumb measure of anything. But¬†Monday morning we’ll be exactly halfway through the regular season and barring a monster weekend, Harper will only be something like 4-5 points/week better than Myers, but¬†with a salary $97 higher. Just interesting, is all. I guess the point is that Myers is really quite a valuable asset.

Trade: The Foundation | Preseason Double Stuffs

The Foundation sends: SP Braden Shipley (minors)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: 3B/LF Danny Valencia ($4)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This trade created quite a bit of buzz in our group chat and here’s why: since the beginning of 2015, Danny Valencia ranks 13th in the major leagues in wOBA (minimum 400 PA). He has the same wOBA as Manny Machado in that time and is just .002 behind Nolan Arrenado. He’s posted a higher weighted on-base than Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Kris Bryant, and… well, you get it.

And Valencia costs $4.

So the controversy was: sure, Braden Shipley is cost controlled and will be $1 next year assuming he debuts in 2016 (likely), but Valencia will be just $6. Maybe he gets hit with greed. Even if he does, he’ll cost around $20 maximum. For the thirteenth most productive hitter in baseball, 2015-present! He’s also just 31-years-old. He’s not over the hill. He’s certainly not¬†any more of a risk than a prospect, particularly a pitcher.

The problem, of course, is that Valencia has heavy platoon splits that make him questionable against RHP, though this year he’s crushing them too, to the tune of a .354 wOBA. And this isn’t totally new. He had a .351 wOBA in 2010. He had a .381 wOBA in 2013. Granted, he was a sub-.300 guy in every other year he played, but the point is that it’s not like he’s just all of a sudden hitting. He’s done this before.

For the Double Stuffs, I do like getting Shipley, who recent reports suggest has turned a corner and has been able to generate more K’s, in a vacuum. Even if he’s “just a number four starter,” as some lamented in our chat, that type of guy can be quite valuable in a system like ours where prospects get paid only if they produce. More valuable than Valencia? Likely not. But still.

I think the Double Stuffs wanted to “sell high” here, but to me, the definition of selling high isn’t simply exporting¬†a guy when he’s performing well. It’s being overpaid for that player at that time, which I¬†don’t think happened here. I do understand wanting to cash out¬†before he crashes back down to Earth though, but this is a case where I’m not sure that crash even happens. And if it does, it’s not like it was going to happen overnight (part of the controversy was along the lines of “we put him on our trade block and this is all we were offered,” which is true, though he was only on the trade block for less than 24 hours, so how thoroughly was the market tested?).

Ultimately, I don’t feel strongly about this for either team. But it’s boring to write a review where you just shrug. I can see it from both sides. I think landing Valencia is great for The Foundation. Jordan needed a 3B and some offense and got it without sacrificing any present day contributors. The Double Stuffs don’t really need Valencia, since they’ve also got Nick Castellanos and Yasmany Tomas at third.

I’m not sure the market has caught on yet to the value of productive veteran players¬†on cheap contracts. Like, how is any prospect’s cost control status worth a lot but a guy like Valencia being only $4 seems like an afterthought? I don’t know. If Shipley sucks,¬†his cost control status means you just never pay him until the day you eventually cut ties. If Valencia falls off between now and 2017, you just cut him and move on. If he doesn’t, he’s $6. I think cheap, productive players have as much risk/reward as prospects do. There’s a cost of acquisition involved, sure, but any asset you acquire has risk associated with it. With guys like Shipley (cost control) and Valencia (cheap), I¬†don’t think there’s any big difference. At least with the veteran player, you pretty much know what you’re getting.

Trade: Senior Squids | TBD

Senior Squids sends: SP Corey Kluber ($82)
TBD¬†sends:¬†C Gary Sanchez ($5), 3B Matt Chapman (minors), LF Peter O’Brien (FA)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This¬†just looks like theft to me.

Matt Chapman is clobbering minor league pitching, so there’s that. Scouts will tell you though: when it comes to minor leaguers, scouting the stat line is often a bad idea. But while Gary Sanchez and Peter O’Brien are “prospects” in real life, they are not cost controlled prospects here because they debuted in 2015. So to start 2017, which Squids is focusing on now, they’ll cost $5 (O’Brien) and $7 (Sanchez) — and that’s before potentially getting hit with any greed. Twelve bucks and two roster spots is an interesting investment. Those aren’t prohibitive salaries and ultimately five poorly distributed dollars won’t hurt you much. But the point of the cost control aspects for prospects is to mitigate against busts, which prospects do quite often. This is why I don’t like the idea of trading for a $32 Byron Buxton or for Sanchez/O’Brien here. There’s nothing padding you from these players busting. There’s no real incentive for risk.

To be clear: I don’t think trading for¬†salaried prospects is fundamentally wrong, but I don’t like making them the key cogs in a trade. If Gary Sanchez is an add-on to a larger trade, it makes sense because his salary isn’t so much an albatross that it’s not worth some¬†risk. But looking at this one, he’s like… the main piece.

Prospect lists are not gospel. I get that. But Chapman is¬†unranked on Baseball America’s list and Baseball Prospectus’ list (BP’s regular list as well as their dynasty fantasy list),¬†and ranks just 100th on MLB’s. Again, not gospel. You could argue that these rankings are altogether meaningless and I wouldn’t bother fighting you on it. But I’m just not sure how this is the only¬†prospect — and I’m defining the word here as cost controlled prospect in our league — in a trade for a pitcher of Kluber’s pedigree. I’m not sure how you send Kluber off without securing yourself¬†the type of prospect that is universally coveted.

With regards to Sanchez, he’s already being paid more than Wilson Ramos (#2 catcher), Yadier Molina (#5), Welington Castillo (#6), and Jason Castro (#12). It’s easy to say in hindsight just pick up those guys instead of acquiring Sanchez, but my point is just that all three of those catchers took years and years to be even serviceable options and still cost less than $5. Catchers develop slowly. The odds are good that Sanchez follows the same career path, except he’s already more expensive than them.

Sure, Sanchez has “upside.” But he just doesn’t strike me as a very good value. And that ignores all the catchers that are already producing and are priced more than Sanchez, but within just a few bucks. I still feel like in order for a catcher to be worth a lot, they have to be a Posey (or Lucroy!) type that really separates from the pack. Is Sanchez that guy? I don’t think he is.

Oh, and O’Brien sat in free agency for like six¬†weeks not that long ago. TBD added him on March 24, cut him on April 2, and added him back on May 16. Maybe that’s a bit like saying, six months after a draft, “well I took so-and-so in the secound round, I can’t give him up for this-or-that because you took him in the fourth.” Values change. But it warrants mentioning that for 43 days, O’Brien sat free to any team.

Trade: The Foundation | Capital City Ironmen

The Foundation sends: SP Brandon McCarthy ($3), RP Trevor May ($2), 2017 1st Round Pick, 2018 1st Round Pick
Capital City Ironmen sends: SP James Shields ($28), 2017 2nd Round Pick, 2018 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This was always kind of the point of getting James Shields back in my Johnny Cueto trade: to flip him later for a little something extra.

It’s easy to say now that the White Sox have acquired him, but I really wanted to deal Shields before he got traded in real life. The Chicago rumors made me nervous. That ballpark plus the DH does not seem like a great recipe for one of baseball’s most HR prone pitchers dating back to the start of 2015. Among qualified starters, Shields is seventh-worst in HR/9 at 1.40 over that time period and in terms of total homers allowed, he’s surrendered 42; only Max Scherzer and Hector Santiago have allowed more.

EDIT: ZiPS just got updated and Shields’ FIP went from projected 3.73 rest of season to 3.98 with the move to Chicago.

Admittedly, the return was¬†lighter than I would have hoped. I would’ve liked to get back one more piece, preferably a cheap major leaguer, but I just couldn’t find a piece that fit and, frankly, the market for Shields’ services was not very robust.

What makes Shields valuable is that he throws a ton of innings, thus recording a lot of outs and points. He got totally blasted in his last start and was pulled after 2.2 innings, but that’s the exception. Usually even if he’s off, his manager will leave him out there for six or seven innings. In fact, he’d gone six or more innings in his first 10 starts before that last stinker. He scored 25 or more fantasy points in eight of those starts. He’s also thrown 200+ innings in nine straight seasons and is on pace to make that 10 in a row. His floor is quite high.

Brandon McCarthy is mostly just a flier, but I should note that for their careers, McCarthy and Shields have comparable¬†FIP, xFIP, BB/9, and HR/9 rates. Over their last 30 or so starts, McCarthy’s numbers have actually been better across the board. Shields still projects better though, given how he hogs innings and McCarthy likely won’t pitch deep into games coming off injury (which is a whole separate risk component altogether). I’m just hoping McCarthy spends the rest of 2016 recovering and is in a spot to contribute in 2017 at a much cheaper salary than Shields.

With Trevor May, I’m just hoping something changes and the Twins convert him back into a starter. That seems unlikely though. He’s currently sporting a 13.67 K/9, so if not a starter, he could be a cheap RP option that strikes a ton of guys out. The price to find out what his future holds costs nothing but a RP spot, which I’d been mostly funneling guys in and out of anyway.

The main thing was getting the picks. Once my team decided to suck this year and I embarked on rebuilding, part of my strategy was to stock up on the highest picks possible. I tend to think picks are valuable but likely overrated, especially in baseball. This isn’t football where your rookie running back will start and make an impact from Week One. In baseball, prospects take time. But I’d rather have superior draft assets than not, and with my fifteen minors spots mostly accounted for, accruing picks is my only real means of adding cost controlled talent in the future.

For Jordan, the cost to add a stabilizing starting pitcher really wasn’t too much. To date, his team has lost the second-most points to HR allowed (interestingly, first place Team Canada has been stung the most), so Shields doesn’t necessarily fix that. But there’s a ton of positive regression due for the rest of his staff, so what Shields will really be doing is cutting down on having to use dice roll starts. That means not being backed into a corner where Aaron Blair, James Paxton, or Mat Latos has to be deployed.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | We Talk Fantasy Sports

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Collin McHugh ($25)
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: CF/RF Jason Heyward ($48)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†It’s easy to look at the context of both deals and smash them together. In fact, Bailey does this below. I’m going in a different direction. Looking at McHugh so far, K rate back up from last year. Good. BB rate down from last year, Good. HR rate up, Unlucky? Maybe, maybe not. Seems like a decent candidate to get things going. When the strikes are up, things are likely to trend positively. So I like McHugh to reach a place where he’s valued at, a reliable guy as your 5th or 6th starter.

121, 120, 110, 121, 77. Those are the last four years wRC+ numbers for Jason Heyward ending with his current number in 2016. Heyward isn’t a transcendent hitter, but he has five seasons of being really good, bogged down by one bad first half. Now, he’s going through is second bad first half. The K rate is up and power is missing. He’s likely hurt. Since he’s still playing, probably not seriously hurt. I like his odds to finish strong enough to get that number back to career norms. Good swap for both teams, I’d rather gamble on Heyward.

Andrew’s thoughts: Replacing Bryce Harper with Jason Heyward is¬†neat.

I actually like Heyward to get his numbers back in line with¬†his career norms, but I’ve always generally viewed him as¬†a streaky, name value guy. I do like him as a buy low target.

Either way, at $50 he’s not likely keepable in 2017, if that even matters in early June, and We Talk Fantasy Sports had no real need for him in center where they’ve got Andrew McCutchen (though he could be useful in right where Michael Bourn, believe it or not, is starting). McHugh is¬†alright. He’s struggled this year, but he projects better than league average.

Fair, uneventful deal.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Senior Squids

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: CF/RF Bryce Harper ($109)
Senior Squids sends: SP Zack Greinke ($78)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†It’s tough writing trade reviews sometimes because, as an owner, I occasionally have information and context to a trade or a player’s asking price behind closed doors that doesn’t really seem fair to publicize. That is true in this case. So I’ll be careful not to share how the information that I have influences my perspective of this trade. Let’s just say that I know what the asking price was for Bryce Harper, like, yesterday, and move on.

First of all, both these players are really good and quite valuable. I love Bryce and would give up essentially my entire team for him, $111 in 2017 be damned. I also love Greinke and at $78, he’s priced very well. He’s had a slow start to the season, but he truly is an ace of staff — and on the Oysters, joins Jake Arrieta and Max Scherzer in a horrifying trifecta of pitchers — that even at $80 next year doesn’t seem like a problem to keep.

I think my problem with this trade, as with Dusty’s first Bryce trade, is that pieces just seem to be lacking. The 1-for-1 is nice, simple, clean. And Bryce being traded three times suggests teams are scared of his salary. But I really don’t understand how you trade a transcendent, once in a lifetime talent twice and each time only get back a single pitcher. And you guys know how I feel about the value of pitchers. I just really feel like value is being left on the table.

I mean, Greinke is awesome and you could argue the top 8-10 pitchers or so make a greater difference to a team’s success than the top 3-4 hitters do. But how does Dusty not pry Dansby Swanson from the Squids here? How does he not get Hunter Renfroe and Carson Fulmer thrown in? How does he not get some draft pick conpensation? Is it that unreasonable to also get¬†Mark Trumbo or Kyle Seager back? Something else?!

Truthfully, I don’t hate the deal for either side and both teams may come out feeling alright. I just think, as Dusty does pretty regularly, the haste to get a flashy deal done quickly got in the way of sapping the most possible value out of his asset. And who knows, a week or two from now if Dusty’s great-on-paper squad keeps underperforming, maybe he’ll turn around and start unloading Arrieta, Scherzer, and even Greinke and just reshuffle the deck that way. Though this is twice now that Bryce has been traded for the bare minimum, so I would hope our stable of owners here are savvy enough to recognize that there’s a pattern here. Just wait it out, and eventually you can buy guys from the Oysters for a price that suits you best.

I don’t mean to beat on Dusty (again). I love that he can unleash those three aces on his opposition, plus deploy Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey on weeks where those guys only start once per week. But even that, I think, leads to an interesting point: how much pitching is too much, even in a format where they’re super valuable? I mean, isn’t having those five starters, plus quality arms in Collin McHugh just a big opportunity cost problem? In other words, did Dusty’s roster need Harper’s offensive production more than it needed Greinke? I think it probably did.

To date, the Oysters have been the second worst offense in the league… with Harper.¬†Dusty’s offense is now dramatically worse. I think another trade pretty much has to happen, and at what point are you chewing into values by making a thousand moves just to end up in roughly the same spot?

I don’t know. This deal is exciting and I love the rotation Dusty’s assembled, I just feel like Squids got off light here.

Jordan’s thoughts: Andrew just wrote so beautifully. I know RMO¬†could have gotten more. I know that Squids wasn’t getting more. Another head scratcher. I just have to shake my head and move on. There’s no reason here why Squids would say no to getting Bryce. There’s no reason Dusty should only ask for Greinke for Bryce. None. There’s been plenty of lopsided deals, but even at $111, Bryce is a value keeper piece next year. Just crazy.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Senior Squids

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Anibal Sanchez ($4), SP Matt Shoemaker (FA)
Senior Squids sends: RP Jonathan Papelbon ($5), SS/CF Danny Santana (FA)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This was actually two 1-for-1 trades, but they occurred within minutes of each other and I’m lazy so I’m calling it one trade.

For the Squids, I kind of like the low risk gambles on Anibal Sanchez and Matt Shoemaker. Anibal looks broken and Shoemaker has mostly stunk since looking fantastic in 2014, but the cost was a reliever and a SS/CF scooped off waivers. I doubt this one moves the needle for either team, but the greatest possible reward lies with the two starters.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I like the idea of sitting on Anibal. He’s cheap enough to keep, aging starters end up being these kind of weird coin flips. Either, he learns something different and returns to some form of himself, or injuries surface and he never turns into anything. I have always viewed pitchers as either ready or not ready, and right now Anibal is not ready. So while he’s old for the prospect tag, there’s low risk with potential for reward to betting on him returning to “ready” form at some point.

Starters of any ability level are very hard to find, and I think the price paid here was bottom barrel. I like what Squids did here. For Dusty, it frees up some roster spots and provides some flexibility. I don’t hate it for him, I know the pain of holding 10 SP and not being able to use a few of them.

Trade: Capital City Ironmen | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Capital City Ironmen send: RP Cody Allen ($10), 2018 3rd Round Pick
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: 2018 2nd Round Pick

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Cody Allen has had a rough start to 2016. He seems to be doing slightly better, but it’s tough to tell when a reliever has fallen off. However, the price paid here, a tiny pick swap, makes me favor the side getting the player every time.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This one is straightforward: my team isn’t in a position where relievers matter much and Dusty is scratching and clawing for wins. Since acquiring him, Cody Allen has actually pretty much returned to form. ZiPS loves him for the rest of the season. He could be helpful to the Oysters, whereas I’m happy just to acquire a future asset. And given yesterday’s return for Aroldis Chapman, I think it’s reasonable to suggest I wasn’t going to get a ton more from Allen alone.