The Evil Otters trades away 2022 Draft Pick, Round 4 (The Evil Otters
The Process trades away Aguilar, Jesús ($12)
The Evil Otterstrades away Cabrera, Miguel ($53)
The Processtrades away Amaya, Miguel
HUSTLE’S TOXIC $.02: I guess we can look at this trade as 1 trade, or 2, it doesn’t really matter. Miguel Cabrera seems like an easy cut at his contract after this season, but I probably would have shopped around harder than to settle for a catcher in A ball who doesn’t particularly have a high ceiling. I’d argue a 3rd round pick might be better than Amaya. Fangraphs does have Amaya at 55 hit and power, which if it comes true would certainly be an above average catcher, but this seems like years away and Amaya might need a team change. Not a prospect I would have targeted per Hustle Media’s Prospect Rankings™. Perhaps Kyle should have put Miguel Cabrera on the #tradeblock, but then again in this league a guy over 30 with an expensive contract it’s basically implied “no interest”. I like this trade a lot for Ferns because he got a guy who fits a positional need and will play almost every day, and has a chance to be better than he has shown this season, and he got him for close to free. As Miguel Cabrera wasn’t going to be part of the Evil Otters following this season, it’s not like Kyle lost much. After his team’s previous owner traded a bunch of draft picks and quit the league, Kyle has been rebuilding through prospect trades and pickups, so it makes sense to get a guy at least interesting.
The second trade actually does do quite a bit to balance this in my eyes for Kyle. Getting Jesus Aguilar for basically free seems like a nice gamble. Aguilar was borderline elite last year and through struggles and playing time has been an afterthought. It’s not a bad decision to keep him on your bench to see if he gets traded or hot (and starts games) for the price of nothing. Aguilar is a potential keeper, whereas Miguel (Cabrera to be clear) has no potential keepability. For Ferns, he was in a roster crunch. I’ve been there, so I get it. Better to get something than nothing.
This was kind of too many words to talk about Miguel Amaya and Jesus Aguilar today, but I’m at work and had nothing better to do. However we spend Memorial Day, let us all remember the great trades over the years in Dynasty Grinders history. Kyle may have gotten Jesus Aguilar for free after Ferns got Miguel Cabrera for free, but free players has been an institution in Dynasty Grinders since 2016 as well as trading Miguel Cabrera
Let us take a stroll back down memorial lane 3 years ago when Ferns once again acquired Miguel Cabrera.
Capital City Ironmen trades away Gray, Sonny Ruiz, Rio Zunino, Mike 2017 Draft Pick, Round 3 (The Foundation) Tropeano, Nick Ruiz, Carlos Lee, Zach Cabrera, Miguel
Jordan’s Thoughts: Miguel Cabrera is that old guy who seems to continue to be good. Last year he had a bad year. Injuries are painful. STEAMER projects him to be over 900 points again and I think that makes his price at $51 more then fair. Miggy’s ceiling seems potentially high to me as well.
Jose Urena was pretty good last year, scoring 846 points. STEAMER does expect some what of a step back, I’m not sure that’s warrented or not. Either way following Hustle’s rule of any starter under $10 being valuable. That’s an asset. Both Diaz and Brujan are prospects that on first glance of a fangraphs search both look pretty good. Brujan in A+ league last year looks really talented. 55 steals last year, but also has power and plate patience.
Marshall Law clearly rebuilding and the pieces he got back for Miguel Cabrera seem pretty great. I wouldn’t be surprised that the market for Miggy is pretty low and he got a decent haul. For the Evil Otters, you’re still getting a future Hall of Famer coming off an injury plagued year. Have to like the deal for both teams. I know that declaring a winner will make me look stupid in three years when I look back, so I’ll go ahead and do it now…. Evil Otters will regret trading Vidal Brujan (hi future Jordan!)
Andrew’s Thoughts: Here’s a fun fact: while playing injured last year, Miguel Cabrera put up a .360 wOBA and a 128 WRC+. All the Statcast and xStats stuff looked good too. I know he’s old, big-bodied, and brittle. I know that $53 pre-greed is a pretty sizeable cost. But as long as he’s on the field and playing, he’s still a damn good hitter and if you have any intention of winning, well, you need damn good hitters and I don’t really think you can twiddle your thumbs all off-season and hope you win one or two at auction.
I like that Marshall Law, who is rebuilding, was able to get two top-100 prospects and a serviceable, cheap pitcher back for him. And more than that, I like that the Evil Otters paid that price. Miggy is exactly the type of player that I felt would be hastily given away for practically nothing rather than a viable package, so I’m just happy to see this deal at all.
Carlos Santana signed a 3 year $60 mil deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, after 8 MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians. It was the Los Angeles Dodgers that signed him as an amateur free agent back in 2004, before trading him to Cleveland for Casey Blake, near the 2008 trade deadline. He started out as a catcher, but by 2014 he would no longer play the position, moving to 1B/DH.
With the addition on Edwin Encarnacion last offseason, the Indians felt comfortable letting Santana walk in free agency. They also just signed Yonder Alonso for 2 years and $19 mil, a bargain compared to Santana’s price tag. Cleveland also has two 1B prospects in Bobby Bradley and Nellie Rodriguez. Both are big HR and SO guys.
Philly and Santana were not exactly a perfect match, but they worked things out. The Phillies already have a future 1B in Rhys Hoskins, who took the MLB by storm this past summer, hitting 18 HRs in 212 PA. That was a 58 HR pace! Hoskins will turn 25 before the 2018 MLB seasons throws its first pitch and now has to share an OF with Nick Williams (24), Odubel Herrera (26) and Aaron Altherr (27). There is also Tommy Joseph (26), who is likely to get his ABs at 1B. The Phillies either have a trade in mind, or they just stunted the growth of some of their top prospects who might never reach their full potential. Only time will tell.
Overall, the switch-hitting Santana has turned in a .363 OBP in nearly 4600 plate appearances since establishing himself as a Major League regular back in 2011, averaging 153 games played and 24 homers per season along the way. One would think that a move to a much more hitter-friendly environment, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, should help to improve his power output as well (though his .196 ISO in that time is already plenty strong). – MLB Trade Rumors
Let’s take a look at how Carlos Santana compares to other 1B and the rest of the league over the past two seasons. We will look at HRs, ISO, wOBA, OBP & BB%. When sorted by each category, we will find Santana and then list the players ranked 3 spots above and below him.
Of the 22 qualified 1B, according to FanGraphs, Santana ranks 10th over the last two seasons in total home runs with 57. The average total is 51.2 with a high of 80 (Edwin Encarnacion) and a low of 18 (Joe Mauer).
When looking at these five categories and focusing on just 1B, Santana ranks very similarly to Goldschmidt, Abreu, Cabrera & Belt. When you take it into the league, of 1B that cost at least $20 and have scored a total of 1,000+ fantasy points over the past two seasons, Santana has the 2nd highest fantasy points per dollar, behind Belt, while Goldschmidt & Cabrera sit at the bottom.
Per Dan Beachler’s request, here is a “how I went from worst to first” post. I suppose technically I wasn’t worst last year, and by head-to-head record I wasn’t first in 2017 either. (I was first in points!) But hey, here we are.
I should preface this by pointing out what should already be obvious: there’s a ton of luck involved in fantasy sports. Even if you talk fantasy sports a lot, for example, you’re going to find that you won’t uncover all the answers.
I thought the team I assembled in 2016 would compete. Then, Miguel Cabrera (.340 wOBA in April/May) and Joey Votto (.276 wOBA in April/May) started painfully slow. They were supposed to be my offensive anchors. Tyson Ross, a 32.52 points per game starter in 2015, got hurt in his first start and missed the season. Carlos Carrasco, my best pitcher, missed all of May. Sonny Gray turned into a pumpkin. Alex Rodriguez had a .293 wOBA in April/May. Of the first seven guys I won at our inaugural auction, only Johnny Cueto was good or even useful through the season’s first six weeks or so.
All of that is blind, dumb luck. I don’t control injuries. I don’t control Votto, one of the best hitters of our generation, hitting like Jose Peraza for over a month.
I certainly left money on the table that first auction and probably relied too heavily on boring, useful bench types as starters. I legitimately thought a cheap Trevor Plouffe was an acceptable starting 3B option. I thought I could platoon the White Sox catchers last year, an idea that played out so poorly I may as well have just played the year without a catcher slot. But mostly, my team went bust in 2016 because of random stuff that could happen to anybody. Even if they’d all stayed healthy and produced early, I probably wouldn’t have been a great team. But because that stuff did happen, I decided in May to start reworking my team by trading Cabrera and Gray for picks and prospects. That was the first step in climbing out of the cellar and to the top…
Sending Miggy and Gray to the Preseason Double Stuffs for Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Brett Phillips, Jorge Soler, and draft capitol is really what ignited my team into 2017. Bellinger, as a rookie, hit at a 1.737 points per plate appearance clip for me at a $0 cost. That’s elite production. Again, I can’t control that Bellinger hit. But he did and it helped.
The one thing I will say is, I targeted prospects that I thought would debut in 2017. Because (a) my team sucked in 2016, so if they debut and their clock starts, that’s a ding in value; and (b) points now are better than points later. I’m not super interested in an 18-year-old prospect in Single A when there’s a comparable 22-year-old prospect on the cusp of the majors. In the case of this specific trade, the Double Stuffs happened to have a few near-MLB guys that fit the bill. And I love Ian Happ, so. Obviously, there’s no science involved. The Cubs could’ve promoted Happ last year. The Dodgers could’ve called Bellinger up in September. I can’t control that stuff either. But I do think it’s possible to hedge within reason and if your goal is to get better quickly, you won’t do it with teenagers unless you’re using them exclusively as trade currency.
Happ, Soler, and the draft pick acquired from the Double Stuffs — which I assumed would suck but became the second overall pick — didn’t score me a ton, really. I did have Happ in my lineup 25 times at 5.76 points per game, so that’s pretty good. But 25 starts isn’t swinging things much one way or another. But these pieces ended up helping later on.
My other big trade was swapping Cueto for JP Crawford, Aaron Judge, and a first round pick. More on Judge in the step below. But also, damn, I had and traded Judge. Frowny face.
I should note here also that not going full scale blow-up mode helped. Hanging onto Votto and Carrasco is as big a reason as any that my team got good. The offers I got for these players were, frankly, pitiful, so that made things easy. But I could have very easily dumped them for picks and lukewarm prospects and gone into auction with $350 or whatever. I’m glad I didn’t.
Step 2: Acquiring good veterans from over-budget teams for picks and prospects at below market rates
I think this was more impactful to my team than Bellinger. Because I “tanked” the season, I was able to build up a solid minor league system and a nice cache of draft picks. But picks and prospects rarely score points. So in the off-season, when teams way over budget shopped quality veteran players, I cashed out some of those assets and bought. And because I’d sucked so badly that I had loaded up on picks and prospects, selling some didn’t mean leaving the cupboard bare.
I acquired a way overpriced Andrew McCutchen for Soler, Travis d’Arnaud, Billy Hamilton, and I think a second round pick. Cutch mostly bounced back in 2017 (1.438 PT/PA), thankfully. I couldn’t have controlled that either, but I’m comfortable betting on a player with an elite track record. It paid off. I think that’s the key to a quick rebuild. If you’ve got budget space, use it ahead of auction and buy low to lock in a guy you think can bounce back. I think budget space is worth much more pre-auction than during auction, when you’re left picking through the risky players no one wanted. I also think if your team sucks like mine did but you want to quickly improve, you need to gamble. You need to overpay a guy or two and hope for a return to form. Also, you won’t likely have an opportunity to buy a recently elite talent at auction. And if you do, there may only be one or two of those guys, so you’ll have competition.
I also bought Russell Martin for a second round pick. Martin’s another efficient, boring veteran player. But my catcher position was the worst in the league in 2016. Martin helped fixed that.
One other trade was working a three-way swap with The Foundation and Hustle Loyalty Respect that effectively landed me Neil Walker and the 16th overall pick for the 4th overall pick. HLR used the pick to take Blake Rutherford, who I think got hurt. I took Franklin Perez with the 16th pick. Today, I think Perez is more valuable than Rutherford, though to be fair, Rutherford got hurt. Even if Rutherford’s more valuable, they’re both top-100 guys. To me, any difference is negligible. But even if Rutherford hadn’t gotten hurt, there’s no chance he (or whichever other available prospect) was scoring at a 1.338 PT/PA clip like Walker did, and doing so right now. Points now > points later, and prospects are fickle, so the guy who goes 4th and the guy who goes 16th could very easily switch fortunes over a single season. At the time, I just felt like I was slightly downgrading a prospect in exchange for making a big upgrade to my current 2B spot, which was a big weakness in 2016.
Then I acquired Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, who presumably had affordable prices because of their age and their team’s budget situation. Again, if you’ve got budget space, attacking the trade market is worth it. Beltre cost me Amed Rosario, an elite prospect, but that’s really where stacking prospects in 2016 helped. Having JP Crawford meant feeling more comfortable shipping out Rosario.
Of course, both those old dudes could’ve fallen apart. But my team was garbage in 2016. If they did fall apart, oh well, I’m in the cellar again in 2017 and then I just cut those guys and have the cap space back. But there weren’t hitters this good in the auction (granted at the time of the trades, the auction pool was a mystery), or at least players less risky. The highest paid hitters at auction were Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Lorenzo Cain. There’s some hindsight present, of course, but I’m not sure pre-auction anyone would’ve honestly felt like any of those guys were better, more efficient hitters than Cruz or Beltre. If you’re cool with a multi-year rebuild, by all means, ignore trading for old dudes like this. But I think it’s prudent to do it if you want to try winning money instead of just sinking money into a multi-year plan.
I also traded Judge for Matt Holliday, and that proved very stupid. In Holliday, I saw a one-year rental with a Giancarlo Stanton-esque batted ball profile and a cheap ($10) salary. I ended up starting Holliday 57 times for 5.9 points per game, so while he didn’t go bonkers like Judge did, he did help the cause. And with regards to Judge, his 2017 season was something I don’t think anyone saw coming. I offered him to several teams and no one bit. I had to include Grant Holmes along with Judge to secure Holliday. So yeah, sometimes trading prospects for vets will backfire, but in general I think it’s a solid, less risky strategy. I’d be curious what Dan thought he was getting with Judge when he made this trade, especially since I know he’s an old guy lover as well.
One thing I’m curious to see this off-season is if over budget teams continue selling their guys short to “get something instead of nothing,” or if teams feel more comfortable dumping to auction. Cruz was had for Dan Vogelbach and a first round pick. I liked Vogelbach as a prospect and obviously Team Hydra did too, but in retrospect, might those guys have figured out a way to keep Cruz’s bat? Or might they have been better sending him to auction and seeing if maybe they could buy him back cheaper? I’m not convinced giving teams discounts on good players is effective, even if the alternative is cutting and “getting nothing.”
Step 3: Not screwing up the auction
I notoriously left like $21 on the table at our first auction. But I also made some awful bids. Buying into A-Rod’s resurgence was dumb. I came away from auction with two 1B’s and UT player, effectively destroying all my lineup flexibility.
Once again, luck played a role here. I didn’t expect almost 900 points from a $1 Zimmerman. I liked his batted ball profile, but come on. I also didn’t think Morton would be more than a back-end starter, and he ended up being my most consistent pitcher and a solid SP2. I didn’t even want him. It just ended up being the end of the auction, he was the last starting pitcher available, and I wasn’t leaving money on the table again. Owings filled multiple crucial positions for only $8. I overpaid for Cervelli at $17, but he was a nice compliment to Martin because, again, my catcher spot needed help.
The thing about the auction is, all the players are supremely risky. Teams will find ways to keep or trade “sure things.” And so if you rely too heavily on auction, you’re lending yourself to luck. If Morton and Garcia don’t give me quality starts, my auction stinks and my team suffers. But I started Morton 21 times at 30.43 points per start and Garcia 14 times at 24.04.
The lesson here, maybe, is to just give yourself fewer dart throws to botch. Acquire talent you have conviction about pre-auction rather than finding yourself in a spot where your money is going to Shelby Miller or Francisco Liriano, and you’re totally uninspired either way. Your mileage may vary, of course. Having a bunch of money at auction is fun, if nothing else.
As part of that Cabrera/Gray trade, I secured the second overall pick in last year’s draft. I took Nick Senzel. I like him a whole lot. But I love Giancarlo Stanton and his moonshot home runs. And so in mid-May, I landed Big G for Senzel, Blake Snell, and a future first round pick.
From May 11 forward, Stanton was the third-highest scoring hitter behind Votto and Charlie Blackmon. As much as I like Senzel, you simply have to trade guys like him for elite production now. It helps that Stanton finally stayed healthy, but even if he hadn’t, we all know what he does when he is. In our format, he is an elite fantasy producer on a rate basis. It was a no-brainer for me.
As for Snell, well, I like him still, but if I wanted to win this year I knew I couldn’t sit around waiting and hoping that he learns how to throw strikes and pitch deep into games. The downside to young pitchers is they sometimes are slow to put everything together. If next year Snell’s awesome and cheap, oh well. I’ll still be happy with several mammoth months of Giancarlo.
Step 5: Keep on buying stuff that helps
During the course of the season, once I saw that my team was pretty good, I just kept trying to add. In a series of deals, I sent prospects Corey Ray, Albert Abreu, Julio Urias, Happ, and Jake Faria off for the likes of Max Scherzer, Miggy, JA Happ, Jason Vargas, and Danny Salazar. All those moves did not pan out.
Reunited on my team, I slotted Miggy into my lineup 31 times and he scored at a 2.61 point per game rate. That’s abysmal. Despite his highest hard hit rate since 2014 and the best line drive rate of his career, Miggy gave me nothing. He performed worse than any random bench player I already had, in fact. In Urias, I paid little. But I felt like I had to take the gamble. I expect Miggy to get his back right this off-season and return to an elite level in 2018. He reminds me a whole heck of a lot like McCutchen last year. His price seems way too high (he’ll get a raise to $75), but how can you easily bet against one of the best hitters the game has seen in the last decade plus? Like, would you really rather two $35 lottery tickets at auction (in the 2017 auction, Adrian Gonzalez + Carlos Rodon = $76) than one player a single injury-hampered season removed from being an elite hitter?
Meanwhile, Happ was a fantastic addition for me, scoring 28.04 points a game in 14 starts. I started Salazar seven times for more than 30 points per start. Scherzer didn’t do much for me in the playoffs, but in total, he logged six starts at 32.67 a pop. Net total, these were good, albeit short-term, trades for my team. Corey Ray wasn’t scoring me 392.5 points like Happ did. Albert Abreu didn’t drop a 65 point start on my roster like Salazar.
Again though, these trades could look brutal in just a few months. What if Scherzer gets hurt? What if Urias overcomes his injury? What if Ray ascends and JA Happ grows old quick? I don’t know. But I think if you’re in a spot to seize a chance to win now, you need to be okay with these types of calculated risks.
The other thing to note is that the in-season trades didn’t necessarily have a ton to do with going worst to first. The Stanton trade, sure. The other trades just bolstered a team that had been mostly assembled in the off-season.
I think the biggest reason my team got it’s shit together so quickly was simply putting in the work to do it. When a good player became available, I asked for a price tag. When I saw a team was way over their budget, I inquired about expensive players with good track records. I wasn’t too worried about riskiness because well, my team was a dumpster fire. Getting worse than bad isn’t much of a risk. Staying worse, and paying into a league to not even try to fight for wins now, seems way riskier to me. I placed the highest value on today and worried less about if the prospect I’m sending away will be a fantasy monster in 2021 (or in Judge’s case, 2017) or if all the old guys will decide to retire simultaneously.
Clearly, there’s a strategy to this game. If there wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t play. What’d be the point?
But ultimately you only control so much. I think the only way to really approach things is to give yourself the best hand possible and hope for the best. In hold ’em poker, a 2/7 will beat a K/K, for example, some of the time. But the odds say more often than not, the stronger hand will prevail. So I just tried to do stuff that I thought made my hand stronger, then accepted all the luck I could get.
Capital City Income trades away
Urías, Julio ($1, first controlled year)
Preseason Double Stuffs trades away
Cabrera, Miguel ($73)
First things first. We must recall that a little over a year ago PDS acquired Miggy from CCI. In sum from these two deals Bailey got a 1st round pick (Senzel…which was the center piece for Stanton), Soler (which was a big piece in his acquisition for Mccutchen), IanHapp, Bellinger, and I guess Brett Phillips for damaged goods Urias and Blake Snell If I’m missing vital parts of these two transactions, I’ll be happy to edit.
CII gets reunited with Miggy. Miguel Cabrera is having a disappointing year and at his age, there’s a pretty high chance he’s not getting kept at $75. That being said, I don’t think he’s dead (unlike Urias). His numbers are down, most notably his slugging, but I kind of don’t buy one of the best hitters of all-time is done at 34. 5 points a game is a disappointment by Miggy standards, but I think better times are ahead. David Ortiz had some bad stretches in his mid 30s and was a superstar late, and I don’t think he was the hitter in his prime Miggy was.
I totally get a rebuilding and moving on from Miggy and getting whatever value you can, but looking at PDS’s roster there aren’t a lot of cost commitments here. I see well under $100 bucks of keepable pitching and probably under $250 of keepable hitting. I’d say those figures are conservative and should be lower I’d say at a minimum (without other trades) PDS is going to have a ton of cash in the next auction. Auction cash is great, I probably overrate it more than most people, but having good players is better. PDS current projected 2018 roster highlights seem to be JD Martinez, Schoop, Jordan Montgonery (one of the year’s best pickups) and I guess Lance Lynn. All nice players. . That being said, I think this core is going to struggle in 2018, which is perfect for Urias , because I don’t think he’ll be pitching much in 2018.
As a Dodgers fan, I hope I’m wrong, but Urias’ effective or even complete career may be over. I think Bailey was very wise to get what he could for Urias now, because the best case scenario is he’ll be an OK pitcher in 2019. He’s damaged goods.
“Urias’s injury sends shock waves through the Dodgers’ organization as only a handful of pitchers have ever had this surgery, and only Chris Young of the Royals has come back and pitched effectively at the Major League level after it. Other pitchers who had capsule surgery are Rich Harden, Mark Prior, and Johan Santana.”
Chris Young Royals upside! I mean, he won a World Series pitching for them. #ringz.
We were all really excited that first minor league draft and Urias was in the mix to be #1 overall. I think the shine has wore off considerably just because of this unfortunate injury. At least Urias will be DL eligible throughout the entire recovery process so a roster spot won’t be wasted. I expect Urias to give PDS very little if anything next year, but at least his $3 or whatever will be a drop in the bucket and won’t prevent them from spending on available assets.
Just for fun. JUST FOR FUN. Top 10 things I’d rather have than Julio Urias right now. (Again, I truly hope I’m wrong about Urias’ career.)
Andrew’s Thoughts: Roughly a year ago, I traded Miguel Cabrera, Sonny Gray, and stuff for Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Jorge Soler, and what ended up being the second overall draft pick plus other stuff. Alex from Team Hydra commented on the trade as such: “to be fair Bailey said those guys were on the block. He just didn’t say they were going to be given away for free.”
Fast forward to yesterday and, well, to be fair, Alex said these guys were on the block. He just didn’t say they were going to be given away for free.
Two of my first thoughts upon seeing this trade were that (a) Aaron Hicks is the best piece going to Hydra, and (b) Tommy Pham may as well be the same guy. I did a quick Google search and here’s some random Cardinals blog that thinks the same thing. So there’s that. Hicks is hitting at a 1.644 PT/PA clip, whereas Pham is at 1.502. Pham’s older and has one less outfield position. They were both free agent adds that will start at $5 salary next year. They just feel very same-y to me, to the point where if one is your main piece and you’re giving up the other, the point feels a tad defeated.
I really didn’t think David Price was going to go for much. He’s got a lot of mileage, has developed a homer problem (who hasn’t?), and there are lingering injury concerns. Also, he’s been pretty bad this year. At $77 next year, I think he’s an easy cut or Hustle will just give him away the moment the season ends and clog up some other team’s budget. I thought he should’ve been cut this year (pre-injury). So whatever team bought him was likely doing it on a rental basis, and I just didn’t see teams spending big to rent anyone. I thought maybe a pick and a prospect would get it done. In that vein, I don’t think sending Collins or Alvarez, or maybe even both, for Price as a rental is that bad on its own, assuming you really believe Price can get it going and help your team this year. Given the pitching landscape, gambling on Price seems like a reasonable bet.
So we haven’t even gotten to the big gun in this trade, and I feel like Hicks and Pham have cancelled each other out and a moderately valuable Price has fetched a couple pieces. There aren’t a ton more assets floating around here.
As for Arenado, well, I’m not sure all the pieces going to Hydra is enough for him alone. He’s expensive, sure, but he’s young, in his prime, plays a premium position, and plays in Coors. His salary is only going to go up by $2/year. That’s nothing. He’s a superstar, priced reasonably at $73 next year, and yet he didn’t land someone universally viewed as an “elite prospect”? I mean, maybe you think Yadier Alvarez is. That’s fair. Everyone’s prospect valuations are different. But he’s pitched 45 innings at A+. The lead time on him is a factor and that assumes that he dodges injury and experiences no developmental speed bumps. He’s already struggling with command this year.
And I like Zack Collins as a hitter, but if he doesn’t stick at catcher, a lot of his value will be sapped in a world where Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Smoak, Yonder Alonso, Mark Reynolds, and Logan Morrison are awesome and can be had for free. Heck, the Braves are moving Freddie Freeman to third base (I imagine this factored into Hydra’s long-term calculus for moving Arenado) to make room for Matt Adams‘ bat. First base is not lacking for depth. And the cost control aspect is neat but if Collins is $1 and Alonso gets greeded up to like $5, is that really significant value?
If he does stick at catcher, that might push his MLB ETA out further. Again, for me personally, Alvarez and Collins are guys you can afford to spend on a rental player or two or just a quality lineup upgrade, not really key cogs to dealing a stud.
And those picks are… something? It’s going to be a late first rounder and a pick somewhere in the second round, but this year’s MLB Draft class was weak. Looking at last year’s draft, I feel like around the 11th or 12th pick is where it started really being a coin toss. The first belongs to Hustle and the second belongs to Haddy. Today, that’d be pick 16 and pick 27, I think. You can definitely land good talent there, but your odds of whiffing also go up considerably the deeper you go.
Look, I won’t argue anyone’s prospect evaluations. If you think Collins is going to be a star and Alvarez is going to quickly develop into an ace, awesome. I definitely think, at least in Collins’ case, he’s a better fantasy prospect than real life prospect. But I don’t really know. I doubt you know either. We’re all making our best guesses. But I really do have a hard time imagining that, in terms of prospect currency, no one was willing to beat Alvarez and Collins even if, as the buyer, you’re super high on them both. Arenado’s not some declining veteran, win-now salary sell off. He’s a player that even if you’re at the bottom of the standings, you should probably be in on. I’d be curious how many teams even inquired here.
In terms of dynasty rankings Collins and Alvarez are… top 50? Maybe top 30 guys? (The rankings are irrelevant, of course. I don’t recall Bellinger being an “elite” guy a year ago.) I’m not sure if HLR had added Vladimir Guerrero Jr to this package it’d still feel totally right, but it’d at least be closer. At least then there’s a consensus “elite prospect” in the mix.
There’s no telling how this will play out. If the prospects turn into anything decent, Hydra’s probably content. I think some of it will depend on if teams sell players at discounted prices in the off-season like last year, at which point Hydra can put some of the cap space they’ve freed up to use. I know Hustle’s probably thrilled to just plug in Arenado every day instead of oscillating back and forth between Yuli Gurriel and Nick Castellanos.
Our 2017 minor league draft has been completed. You can check out the full draft board and results right here.
This year’s draft kicked off on February 1 and wrapped up today, so it took us two weeks to get through five rounds and 80 picks. If my count is correct, there were 10 trades during that time, mostly of the auction budget-for-pick variety. So that was fun.
Jordan and I were asked if we were going to do a recap post of some kind and weren’t super interested. Aren’t people sick of our opinions on trades and stuff? Apparently not!
So just for fun — and because we have nothing to do until our final pre-auction cut down on February 27 — I decided to skim over the draft board and share some random thoughts as they pop into my head. Here goes…
Thought #1: Picking second, I was really shocked that Kevin Maitan went first overall. That’s what comparisons to Miguel Cabrera will do for you. For my own taste, a player that just turned 17-years-old is a bit rich for my blood here regardless of what the “upside” might be.
Thought #2: TBD had a great draft, both cashing in their own picks and aggressively acquiring others. Their haul: Alex Kiriloff, Cal Quantrill, Lucas Erceg, Walker Buehler, Jahmai Jones, Heath Quinn, and Bryan Reynolds. I hadn’t heard of Quinn, but all the other guys check boxes for me.
Thought #3: Defending champs Team Hydra did well too. They got Leody Taveras and Ramon Laureano early, two guys that are rising up lists fast, and then added Dustin Fowler and Jorge Bonifacio later. So they addressed a future outfield quite well. Plus, they somehow turned later picks into a total of $12 auction budget. I think if you can get a couple wildcard prospects and cash instead of just wildcard prospects, you’ve killed it.
Thought #4: So, speaking of trading picks for auction budget…
Look, I shipped out $6 to pick up Lourdes Gurriel because I’ve got a bunch of money and he’s major league ready. Or at least close. But man, Dusty dropped $26 by my count on assorted picks (Taylor Trammell, Will Benson, Joey Wentz, Mason Thompson, Cionel Perez, Jorge Ona). I have a really difficult time seeing how any of those guys are significantly better than whoever will be available after auction when free agency opens. The difference, of course, is $26. All prospects are gambles. I’d rather gamble that $26 on a bounce back player at auction who has the chance to be worth $40-$50 as soon as 2017 then to spend all that money just to fill roster spots.
Thought #5: Who’s Your Haddy? added $22 of auction budget by trading picks and still ended up with Miguel Andujar, who is close to contributing for the Yankees, and Adonis Medina, who shockingly came in at #91 on Baseball Prospectus’ top-101. This, to me, is just an awesome draft and a great use of non-premium picks.
In other words, the deeper you get into a draft, the less and less separation between players. We’re all throwing darts, but the bulls eye starts to shrink. So the difference between a fourth round pick and 10 assorted guys who will go undrafted and be picked up after the draft is slim. Why not take cash for those picks then and just add the undrafted guys for free?
Thought #6: The Wilfred Brimley Fightin’ Diabeetuses had a really good draft too. He tabbed Mickey Moniak and Delvin Perez in the first round, then took the lead on Rockies’ pitcher Riley Pint. That’s a lot of talent to take away from the draft. Pint’s a huge risk, obviously, but it’s not like he’s guaranteed to be in Colorado forever.
Thought #7: I like Senior Squids grabbing Zack Burdi in the last round. Relievers probably aren’t worth big salaries in our league right now, but he could be a closer in Chicago as soon as this year and costs nothing, then be $1 next year. Getting MLB-ready RPs in the draft seems like a good cheat code at the position assuming they perform decently.
Thought #8: The first player I didn’t immediately recognize was Daniel Gossett, who We Talk Fantasy Sports took in the back half of the second round.
Thought #9: Speaking of WTFS, they took Zack Collins with the 9th overall pick. He’s a catcher that is probably destined for 1B, which would obviously hurt his value. But I’ll be honest: if Nick Senzel had gone first, I was taking Corey Ray and then Collins. I obviously like guys that are close to the majors, and Collins provides extra value at catcher and his bat would play, at worst, as one of the two UT positions.
Thought #10: Shocker, Jordan took pitchers! Jason Groome, the first pitcher taken, is young and a ways off but felt like the obvious choice at #8. Adding Braxton Garrett and Ian Anderson, two guys on most top-100 lists, was good value too.
Thought #11: I love the gamble of Dinelson Lamet to cap a strong draft by Hustle Loyalty Respect with the very last pick. He’s not a highly thought of prospect, but he’s posted big minor league K numbers, has made it to Triple-A, and have you seen the Padres rotation? If he can simply crack the big league rotation, it’ll be worth it. And if he’s anywhere around average, he’ll be cheap and have value.
Thought #12: Okay, one more quick compliment for HLR: I like the Andres Gimenez pick a lot. He spent $1 to trade up a few spots and probably didn’t need to, but whatever. This is an 18-year-old at rookie ball, so make of that what you will, but last year he walked 46 times and had only 22 strikeouts in 275 PAs. That’s just silly.
Thought #13: In the group chat, Chris of Preseason Double Stuffs balked at Trumpa Loompa’s pick of Wladimir Galindo in the fourth round, saying, “18, GCL, questionable bat speed. No thanks.” Two things: first, I had no clue who this guy was so I looked him up. Second: he’s apparently not 18, he’s 20 (he was 19 during last playing season). And he didn’t play in the GCL, he played for the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. The Cubs don’t even appear to have a GCL team. Nice right hand man you’ve hired, Ferns.
Thought #14: In Line 4 the Win picked someone named Jesus Luzardo was drafted. It made me think of these guys.
Thought #15: I can muster no more thoughts at this time. We’re having grilled cheese and soup for dinner, I think. Soup is awful but grilled cheese is pretty good. I put pickles on mine. Goodbye.
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.
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:
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.
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.)