Trade: TBD | We Talk Fantasy Sports

TBD sends: LF/CF Charlie Blackmon ($28), 2017 3rd Round Pick
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP/RP Michael Kopech (minors), 2017 1st Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: I like this one for We Talk Fantasy Sports. They needed a centerfielder anyway because Byron Buxton sucks, but that need grew over the weekend when Buxton was demoted to the minors because of the lingering issue of him sucking. Also, WTFS has some guy named Andrew McCutchen. Enter Charlie Blackmon!

Personally, Rockies players frustrate me because you never know if they’re good or if Coors is just gassing them up. Often their home/road splits make them platoon players, but Blackmon has been good both in and away from Colorado. He’s got a .369 wOBA at home and a .350 on the road, though his career road wOBA is just .299. Maybe he’s just played at altitude long enough to finally be able to make the proper road adjustments.

Michael Kopech is a decent enough prospect and that pick is nice, but as of today, it projects to be 10th overall. Good, not great. Best case for TBD, it’s probably eighth overall. I think I’d rather just have Blackmon. His salary is reasonable and he seems like a guy you can ride until the Rockies eventually trade him. They were slow to pull that trigger with Tulo and have been equally slow, if not slower, with CarGo. I imagine they won’t rush to deal Blackmon.

For TBD, I get it. Leonys Martin has been useful and Andrew Benintendi just got promoted and is indisputably the greatest baseball player that ever lived before ever actually accomplishing anything and an immediate marked upgrade over literally any other outfielder, so Blackmon was expendable. This way they free up some future budget space and get a couple assets. This trade works for both sides, I just like the side getting the finely priced proven commodity amid a playoff race.

Jordan’s thoughts: I read the Benintendi line and immediately thought about the last player to have that tag… Buxton. So with that, Blackmon is a useful upgrade here. Paid a smallish price of a couple of future assets that may or may not be interesting. Seems like a great deal for both sides.

Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Rocky Mtn Oysters

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Kyle Hendricks ($18), 2017 5th Round Pick
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: CF Byron Buxton ($32), 2017 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: What a great, great deal for Dusty’s Oysters.

First of all: I love Kyle Hendricks. You can ask Jordan, I privately gushed about him leading up to the season. I still ended up with no shares of him, but that’s fine. Here’s why I liked him so much: between 2014 and 2015, Hendricks posted a 3.34 FIP and a 0.73 HR/9. In our format and in the real world, those are some pretty fantastic peripherals. After striking out barely anyone in 2014, he K’d more than eight batters per nine innings last year, which showed growth and the promise for more.

I also loved that Hendricks came into this season largely underrated. In fact, I remember reading debates about whether he or Adam Warren would win a spot in the rotation. He’s responded to the tune of a 2.89 FIP and a 0.39 HR/9 rate. For comparison’s sake, Jake Arrieta is currently putting up a 2.47 FIP and a 0.29 HR/9 rate. Arrieta is striking out more guys and going deeper into games, but those numbers are otherwise interchangeable. Hendricks is really, really good. On a points per game basis, he’s SP28. He’s basically a team’s number two starter.

As proof that the 26-year-old (he’s super young, too!) Hendricks was being undervalued, I present this: he went for $18 at auction. Eighteen! I’m embarrassed not to have him at a price that low. Even with a $2 raise and every team slapping him with their greed buck, he’s still a good value a year from now. And beyond, probably. Given that every single team competing in this league has been actively pursuing pitching, it’s not a stretch to suggest Hendricks as one of the league’s ten or so best values.

And then there’s Byron Buxton.

Just to lay some groundwork, here are some centerfielders paid comparably to Buxton and what they’ve done this year:

Yoenis Cespedes: $32, 334.4 points, 8.36 PPG, 2.03 PT/PA

Christian Yelich: $24, 299.1 points, 7.12 PPG, 1.71 PT/PA

Charlie Blackmon: $27, 169.9 points, 5.66 PPG, 1.32 PT/PA

You know what, I need to just stop there. Because there are so many productive centerfielders that went for so, so much less than Buxton did at auction that I’d be doing this all day. Adam Eaton went for $15, Jackie Bradley Jr. went for $3, Dexter Fowler went for $12, Charlie Blackmon went for $27, Brett Gardner went for $14, Odubel Herrera went for $2, Denard Span went for $4, Colby Rasmus went for $7, Marcell Ozuna went for $14. You get the point. There are a bunch of nicely priced centerfielders.

And then… there’s Buxton.

We all know who this guy is and what he represents. He’s a stud prospect that some have boldly compared to Mike Trout (uh, okay). He’s got all the skill in the world: speed, gap power, and athleticism to burn. He’s raked at every minor league stop. The one thing he does not have — not even a little bit — is Major League production.

Over Buxton’s first 187 plate appearances, he’s put up 117.5 points*. So he’s hitting thus far in his young career at a 0.62 points per plate appearance clip. To put that futility of inefficiency into perspective: Billy Hamilton, who can steal bases and do nothing else offensively, is hitting at a 0.91 PT/PA rate through 124 PAs this year. Jeff Francoeur has had 98 plate appearances this year and has scored at a 0.83 rate. It’s only 187 plate appearances, so take it for what it is, but the point is that Buxton has been arguably the worst possible hitter on the planet in those opportunities. Factor in his salary, and he’s just been an absolute vortex of suck.

*Let the record show that in 2011, Trout debuted and had 135 plate appearances. He slashed .220/.281/.390, so he was quite bad in his first taste of the big leagues. He amassed 141.1 points, meaning he hit at a 1.04 PT/PA rate. So while Trout was bad, he was 67.7% more productive over his first 135 times in the batter’s box than Buxton in his first 187.

This is a good time to point out that Buxton is still a phenomenal talent that was likely rushed to the majors and then mishandled by the Twins (who buries their elite prospect ninth every day?). He could be special. He could be called back up this week and suddenly hit everything thrown his way. Two years from now, he could be a top three or five centerfielder. There’s really no ceiling to what this guy could do. I still like him a whole lot as a prospect, but the underlying theme here is that he is paid like a regular in your lineup, not like a prospect.

He’s being compensated $32 to be a question mark. (Might be totally irrelevant but since our league is comparable to FanGraphs’ Ottoneu, I was curious so I looked it up: across all Ottoneu leagues, Buxton’s average salary is $11.54.) Technically, since we have no in-season cap, he’s being paid nothing and WTFS can sit on him for 2016 before making a decision leading into 2017. This move is obviously WTFS’ way of looking ahead to next season, but he’ll cost $34 minimum on Opening Day. Buxton is also a great target for every team’s greed. You want to make risky players like him more expensive to either force a decision from that team’s owner or make their risk even tougher to pay off. It’s conceivable that Buxton costs $40 heading into 2017 on the glimmer of hope that he becomes Trout (uh, okay), all the while getting out-produced by lesser paid players. Guys like Fowler and Span are “boring” and “old,” maybe, but I’d rather have boring, old, productive, and cheap than possibly exciting, young, unproductive, and expensive.

I guess what it boils down to is that on the spectrum of good and bad values, Hendricks is one extreme and Buxton the other. Hendricks at his current rate of production won’t be priced out by raises and greed (assuming teams even hit him with greed) for two or three seasons minimum. He’s young and he plays a position that’s coveted. Every pitcher is risky, but it’s just great process on Dusty’s part to flip someone he probably would’ve had to cut for someone that will make an impact for his team now and that he can plan to keep at a good rate going forward. Hendricks’ price and production dictate that you make cuts to accommodate keeping him, not the other way around.

Buxton, meanwhile, appears at this moment in time to be unkeepable into next year at $34+, and acquiring him at that price is not particularly good process. Again, maybe he hits. Maybe he emerges. It’s just that he has to hit at such a level to be worth the bloated salary he’s already getting, and then even more to provide surplus value, especially when compared to his centerfield peers, most of whom are already producing and many of which are doing so at a significantly lower cost.

Jordan’s thoughts: ((picks mic off the floor))

Holy shit Bailey how do you really feel? Good lord that’s a lot to dig through and it’s about a player who offers very little for his value. I think Kyle Hendricks offers quite a bit of value to about any team in DG. So far in 2016 Hendricks has been one of the more reliable starters in the league:

h2016

This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Bailey already said, here’s what he did in 2015:

h2015

So far he’s avoided the “awful” starts, and been pretty damn good this season. I don’t need to pile on what Buxton’s worth. I think for Buxton to be worth keeping for me next season, he needs to be something sort of a top 30 hitter from the All-Star break on. I don’t believe he’s that good period, so he’s not worth keeping around.

The fact that Dusty got something for a mirage, bravo. Even if Buxton does come back and blow through and create some sentiment of an argument, great. You hit the 5% projection. Bad bets still hit.

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.