Trade: Capital City Ironmen | Hustle Loyalty Respect

Capital City Impalers send: $1 2017 Auction Cash
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: SP Felix Hernandez ($70)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†2016 Felix Hernandez is definitely not worth¬†14% of a team’s budget space heading into 2017. But 2015 Felix Hernandez might be, and 2009-2014 Felix Hernandez most definitely is.

Truthfully, I think all of King Felix’s innings have caught up to him and going forward, he’ll be more 2016 than 2015 and definitely more 2016 than 2009-2014. But here’s the thing: I got $1 of 2017 auction budget last May for Wilmer Flores, so I’m really just sending that dollar for the option to decide what to do with Felix in January or February. I suspect that the¬†Mariners will continue to¬†manage him like he’s their ace regardless of the numbers he’s putting up, which means squeezing seven innings from him when they’d probably pull Tai Walker or James Paxton after six. More innings means more outs, and more outs means more points. He averaged more than six innings per start last year.

On a normal team, the choice is easy: cut him and send him back to auction. What does he go for at auction next year? $25? $30? But I’ve run my projected keeps and cuts, even with $15 greed built in, and I project to have an ample surplus of auction cash. That’s before factoring in Felix’s hefty $70, but even after accounting for it, I should still be among the leaders in budget space (and if I’m not, that means several teams took machetes to their payroll, which means there should be plenty of talent to go around at auction).¬†My pitching staff for next year looks to cost less than¬†$10/starter without Felix. With Felix, that jumps over¬†$15/starter. If you look at it as just an overall cost of a pitching rotation, Felix’s $70 becomes easier to absorb.

For HLR, it’s clear Felix was never going to be kept anyway. He was acquired solely for a playoff run.¬†Compared to his price on August 2 (a reasonably priced MLB outfielder and two quality prospects), $1 of auction budget is nothing. I realize we’re not comparing apples to apples, but whatever. Anyway, HLR turns a player he was¬†going to cut into an easy $1, which maybe makes the difference in a bidding war. He’s up to, I think, $507 in total budget now, so he’s incrementally improved his freedom to spend.

Long story short: HLR gets something instead of nothing, I get a decision to make come roster cut time.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Mmmm, Felix.

Trade: Capital City Ironmen | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Capital City Ironmen send: 2B/3B/SS Wilmer Flores ($1)
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: $1 2017 Auction Cash

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This one is slightly more exciting than the Ross Stripling trade.

It’s quite simple: Dusty wanted another player at shortstop and I had Wilmer Flores coming off the DL and didn’t really need him. Bonus: he plays 2B and 3B as well and will get some time at 1B with Lucas Duda hurt, likely unlocking eligibility there. The downside, of course, is that while Flores destroys left-handed pitching, he can’t hit righties and thus only gets limited playing time.

Anyway, this one’s a big meh. I get a dollar next year (woop!) and Dusty already has a bunch of extra budget cash in 2017 so bleeding a buck for a player he wanted is no skin off his back.

The Call Up: Our league’s first cost controlled minor leaguer has been promoted

One of interesting details of this league are cost controlled minor leaguers.  In a nutshell:

Cost Controlled Keepers:

All players acquired through the minor league draft are cost controlled eligible. They are free to keep until after their first MLB season.

1st off-season: $1
2nd off-season: 20% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
3rd off-season: 40% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
4th off-season: 60% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
5th off-season: 80% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
6th off-season: Graduate to Major League Keeper eligibility.

In the fifth round of this year’s inaugural minor league draft, following a trade with Beach Bum, I took Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. He was my primary target at the time of the trade for reasons I’ll get to, but I thought I could trade down, add a higher pick later, and still get my guy. Luckily, I did. Anyway, he’s an interesting prospect in an even more interesting situation.

In short, Story’s¬†a power hitter with a whole lot of swing and miss in his game. He’s a bit like Ian Desmond in that regard. He¬†plays a tough position to fill¬†too, and now that he’s won the starting gig, plays in the most favorable fantasy park in the game. The guy presumed ahead of him, Jose Reyes, is likely to be suspended and even if he’s not, he’s yet to join the team. And the Rockies didn’t seem to like Reyes too much anyway.

When I drafted him, I did so gambling that a few dominoes would fall. First and most importantly, that he’d earn playing time. With Reyes’ legal issues, I knew he’d be mostly out of the way through spring training and the Rockies didn’t look to me like a team plentiful with options. They could’ve signed Desmond, but that never felt like a viable fit to me. So first, I picked him hoping he’d get ABs sooner rather than later.

Next, I obviously love the park. Who doesn’t want their fantasy players taking the field 81 times at altitude, where pitchers can only serve them meaty fastballs? My logic was that at the absolute worst, Story’s skill set lends him to being roughly average at home. Unless you have an elite shortstop, average is valuable. And because he’d cost me nothing in 2016 and a buck in 2017, an average starting shortstop meant I could punt the position at auction (which I obviously did).

The last thing that led me to Story in our draft was his projections, specifically how ZiPS pegged him. ZiPS generously projected him for a .244/.308/.441 slash line with 18 homers and a .322 wOBA. That’s pretty good at a weak position. To lend that some context, here are the qualified shortstops who had higher wOBAs in 2015: Xander Bogarts, Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Crawford, Jhonny Peralta (also on my team!). That’s it.

In 2014, only Hanley Ramirez (no longer a shortstop), Peralta, and Starlin Castro and Ian Desmond, whose shortstop eligibility expiration date is rapidly approaching, had higher wOBAs.

So basically, I saw a guy¬†that ZiPS was projecting as a top four or five player at a weak position. Admittedly, I viewed these projections as optimistic. But even if you take some of the helium out, you’re looking at a serviceable player. Marry that to the other stuff — limited competition, opportunity, ETA, a dream of a ballpark — and this was a very enticing player at draft.

That brings us to this past Monday.

Trevor Story

With these cost control guys, there’s an advantage to letting them season in the minors. Of course you’d like to siphon as much value from them as possible while their cost is nil.¬†But most prospects don’t hit the ground running, and adding a sub-par, developing player to your major league roster means effectively playing a guy short. Which in itself is something to consider. If you promote your prospect, what’s the opportunity cost of adding a viable major leaguer? In more cases than not, I don’t think promoting a guy in this league is as simple as “well he got called up by his major league team.”

But with Story, it sort of was that simple. I drafted him for this exact situation. I like Marwin Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores just fine — in fact, they’re bad asses against lefties — but these aren’t every day guys. How bad would Story have to be to be worse than a guy that isn’t in the lineup that day?

So I called him up and put him in my lineup. For the first time in the very young history of our league, a player drafted as a minor leaguer was in a starting lineup.

And he hit two homers. And another the next day. And another the day after that. For a player that costs nothing, it’s been a fun half week.

But it’s still just a half of a week. It’s totally conceivable that he stops laying into hangers and starts striking out at a 35% clip. There’s always a hitter that tears through the league for a week, then descends back into anonymity.

For now at least, the plan is unfolding about as well as I could’ve wanted. I wanted this player and got him, and the dominoes that needed to fall have fallen. Now I just need the toppling to continue for another five or six months.