So Shane Bieber had himself a 2020. 12 Starts with a .86 whip, 1.63 ERA and 122K’s in 77 IP. Sure he benefited a little from the schedule. Officially the 2nd most famous Bieber now. You can’t sell any higher, and for a rebuilding team might as well sell now as it only takes one ligament to tear for his value to drop down to nothing. I really like what Boobs did here, he took his time, let it be known that he was on the block and then he played at least 3 contending teams offers against each other and took the one he liked best. Long ball sent in offers, Hustle Loyalty did, and the winner TBD. Anybody else throw their hat into the ring? If you didn’t make an offer for the CY young pitcher your either rebuilding, too busy and important to check in regularly, or just not a true grinder.
At first glance I didn’t think much of the offer to be honest. I hadn’t been looking at the new prospect rankings, I thought of Riley Greene as a high ceiling young kid who is far away, Logan Gilbert i knew as a high pick and high ceiling guy who wasn’t talked about quite as highly as the Nate Pearson’s of the prospect world. Brandon Marsh was the most surprising to see near the top 50. I’m not a huge fan based on the fact he is a 23 yr old white outfielder. Is that a good reason? Anyways i have walked back from the ledge and realized this return is a lot more solid than my first thought. In my world I really want a young mlb piece back with some prospects. If I am trading Bieber i preferably want a young MLB proven piece and some high ceiling prospects. Keep your Brandon Marsh and give me a Trent Grisham or Lourdes Gurriel. Riley Greene is a little too risky for my taste as the prized acquisition, but the package as a whole isn’t bad and its nice to know it wasn’t the only offer out there.
Lets take a closer look at the 3 prospects. Brandon Marsh is near mlb ready and coming off a solid 2019 as a 21 year old in AA with a .300/.383/.428 and a 47BB/92K ratio. The prior year, in the California league as a 20 year old, he struggled a bit for the first time. I was surprised to see him ranked 53rd on MLB’s top 100. He seems like a big leaguer but in fantasy he isn’t super exciting to me. The other two prospects are ranked higher and bring more fantasy excitement in my mind. Riley Greene’s ranking came in at 21 which also took me by surprise slightly. 2019 saw him RAKING in the GCL, hold his own against an older NYPL and then look his age in the MWL with a .622 OPS over 96 AB’s. But 3 levels as an 18 year old shows you what the Tigers think of their young prospect. So the ranking is aggressive and the scouting reports are probably glowing the ceiling is high. With the lost development year its hard to predict the ETA of players like him, but I admit he may be closer than you would think. Logan Gilbert ranked in at 33 and has a high velocity fastball and high ceiling and is getting close to mlb ready. So the 21,33,53 prospects and a couple high picks. Not too shabby to re-stock the cupboards.
There was another package offered for Bieber that was shown to me from the Boob’s which I preferred and kind of had me wave the white flag and give up my pursuit as i did not want to give up more talent than was on the table. But the Boob’s preferred this one and to each his own.
Anyways congrats to Dozier’s for a well executed trade done with patience and fairness where multiple teams had opportunity to send in offers.
And Congrats to the TBD! Bieber and Degrom make quite the front of the rotation. This offseason TBD has successfully deployed his prospect capital to acquire Bieber, Glasnow. Trea Turner, Rendon, Lourdes Gurriel, Jeff Mcneil, and Max Kepler. Did I miss anyone. No use waiting 3 years to get value out of a prospect when they can turn your team around now. Sure takes the risk out of the asset.
Justin Verlander is OLD. 36 is a high number for a baseball player and fantasy owners alike. However, this deal is about finishing this year strong. TBD currently in first place, is padding their roster for a deep playoff run. It is smart, makes sense, and its for a player that clearly makes a difference.
Verlander is currently 5th in highest points scored in our league. He’s averaging nearly 42 points a start. In a two start week, he can bury your opponent. He didn’t help Haddy enough, as the rest of your roster still matters, but for TBD’s duo, the rest of their roster was fine before they added Verlander.
For TBD making this trade is easy. Trading some of tomorrow’s lottery tickets for an actual top end upgrade for today is something you do every day. Prospects are easy to come by, teams need them, they’re nice to have, but this is the best way (in my humble opinion) to use prospects. To push to win. Waiting on them to mature is fine, you hope they make crazy weird jumps to relevance that makes you feel good and seem like a genius. But, none of us really know.
For Haddy, well if you’re out, these kinds of deals make sense. Verlander isn’t helping you win this year, winning is no longer a top concern. Verlander would help you win next year, however he is older, and he’s a pitcher and they break. If I’m Haddy I’m pretty happy with this return. He’s getting two top 100 prospects, May who’s a top 20, plus two other prospects who are better than interesting.
The two Jordan’s (Jordyn?) were first round top 20 picks in the MLB 2018 draft. Both grade out as 45+ FV guys with hit tools being their ticket. Betting on those guys is a good idea.
Dustin May (60FV) just got called up to AAA and will be tested by the new home run ball. So far in 2019 he has looked good and projects to be a middle of the rotation, perhaps potentially a top end starter.
Nick Solak (50FV) is also in AAA for the Rays/Expos and he walks and hits for power. He’s the classic profile I like to target for my hitters in these kinds of leagues. For me he looks like a high floor hitter, with a ceiling that potentially could be very sexy.
I like what Haddy got back, but he’ll miss Verlander next year when he’s going to push to get back into the playoffs again. TBD will have forgotten who these prospects are this time next year. They have shown time and time again their ability to reload the system cost effectively. Verlander doesn’t guarantee a championship, but it makes it harder for them to lose it.
Okay, so up front: Jordan’s already written his review, but I’m not going to read it first. So if I repeat anything he said, sorry.
In short: I love this for TBD and don’t understand it at all for Haddy. I really don’t.
Here’s the thing about this league, in my opinion: we’re in year four and there has, to my recollection, never been an “ace” starting pitcher at auction. Let me think. I think Luis Severino was in our second year, but he was just a random former prospect then. And are we confident he’s an “ace” currently? I’m sure not. I guess Zach Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, and David Price were the year before last. But is Price an “ace”? I think you want him as your SP2 or SP3, not SP1. Is Bumgarner an ace? I’d debate that, though he’s obviously good. Greinke’s an ace. So okay, in four years, one proven, surefire ace SP has made it to auction, and I think at the time there were looming questions about him. That’s the thing. These top tier starters do not hit auction. They don’t. Verlander won’t. TBD is 100% keeping him unless he suffers an injury, or I guess trading him.
I guess also, when I say “ace,” it’s kind of deceiving because it makes you think pitcher. I’m sort of thinking as just overall, elite player. Mike Trout doesn’t get to auction. Cody Bellinger doesn’t. Christian Yelich doesn’t. Freddie Freeman doesn’t. The only way you get these guys is by trading for them or by stumbling upon one.
Here’s what happens, time and time again: all the stud pitchers get sold for prospects because their salary or age is so terrifying. Oh no, Verlander is 36 and my goal is to build a dynasty that dominates for eight years in a row, gotta dump him. Then there’s 6-8 teams with $200+ of cap space to spend on the ace they assume will get cut, but instead, those 6-8 teams get to fight over Chris Archer or Dallas Keuchel or Buster Posey whoever. One of each of that tier of player gets dispersed to those 6-8 teams, but because those 6-8 teams gutted themselves to get a low salary, that one player doesn’t change anything. And also half those players bust because they were risky to begun with, thus being sent back to auction. Rinse and repeat. The year we had Greinke, Bumgarner, Price, and oh yeah, Shohei Ohtani, guess what? Four separate teams totaling $218 in salary. So if you’ve rebuilt down to $250 of cash to spend, you better: (a) hope there are four players like that at auction, (b) win two or three, if not all four, and (c) then hope the player actually pans out to be an impact player. Living the auction dream is scary shit.
I want very badly to know what the market was for a $50, starting at $52 to keep, Justin Verlander. At worst, he gets $15 of greed and costs $67. THAT. IS. NOTHING. He’s the 5th overall scorer right now, this year. He finished third last year. He finished 19th the year before and third a year earlier. I get that pitchers are fragile, old pitchers especially, but this dude will impact your team more than almost any other player. I continue to not understand why a guy like this is considered such a bad risk but a pitching prospect isn’t. JV’s a 99th percentile performer and he fetched… two good prospects (May, Groshans), a couple prospects that teams like HLR, TBD, and Long Ball scoop off waivers with regularity, and a draft pick. That’s it? I’m a dipshit for not submitting offers. Shame on me. I didn’t think I had the pieces. But I want to know if any “rebuilders” inquired here. Haddy? Did you get offers from the teams that have gutted their rosters down to $200? Why didn’t you engage with me on Trevor Story (was it the Matt Chapman thing, where cost control is only cool until the player is a stud, then it’s not sexy anymore) for Verlander? WHYYYYYY?!
I like Dustin May and all, but TINSTAAPP. I like Jordan Groshans too, but optimistically, he’s not scoring fantasy points until 2021. Maybe Nick Solak becomes Jeff McNeil or something, which is helpful but lacking real impact. A first round pick? What freakin’ ever.
If I’m Haddy, I’d rather just keep Verlander and run it back in 2020 and maybe 2021 and maybe even 2022, especially after already dumping Chris Sale. Cut freakin’ Jose Abreu‘s $70 salary and just keep Verlander. Or trade Abreu for half this same package. Easy. Sure, maybe you flip all the ones you just got for this type of guy later, but maybe not. Again, the list of guys who produce like JV is super slim. Bird in hand, etc. I’m not taking this package for Scherzer. I doubt HLR’s taking it for Arenado. Dan’s not taking it for Yelich or Gerrit Cole. Maybe May becomes Syndergaard 2.0, but cost controlled, and I look foolish. Except not really, because even if that happens, that’s not even remotely the most likely outcome. That’s dumb luck. If he ever, at any point, becomes Verlander right now, you basically hit the lottery. I’ll just leave this here:
Currently The Foundation is sitting in 6th place after losing back to back weeks. At 8-5, the time is now to start spending pieces to move all in. Syndergaard helps a rotation that is currently being led by Ryu and Quintana. He pairs well with Chris Sale who was acquired at the same time.
Noah Syndergaard has been less great this year than in the past. His strikeouts are down, and he’s generating more fly balls which are leaving ball parks at an all time rate. However, despite the downward trend, he’s still been a 32 point per start pitcher who gets deep into games and still has the stuff and projections that can push him into a keepable $86 pitcher. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, but a decision that can be worried about later. Acquiring Thor was about winning right now.
Thad Ward was thrown into the deal, and he’s worth ignoring.
Ian Anderson is currently in double-A for the Atlanta Braves and he’s striking everyone out. He’s walking a lot of dudes too though and that will hold back his potential debut for some time. He’s really good, former number 3 overall MLB draft pick, and currently the 33rd best prospect on the board. There’s real potential that Ian Anderson is pitching this year, but likely he’s on track for 2020. He’s a useful, available soon pitching prospect, assuming he doesn’t blow out his arm.
I love the deal for myself. Anytime you can turn future tickets into a win now move to win actual real money. You just have to do it. Jonny had been shopping Thor for months and for whatever reason, the market depressed itself to the point where the swap for the younger shiny toy at a cheaper cost just made sense. Hopefully, Thor is the swing man that helps The Foundation topple over the Hustlers.
Hustle’s TOXIC $.02
I got bored so I decided to rebuild. I think Thor is good, but would be impossible for me to keep. I kinda thought I have the pitching depth to make this move, but maybe I don’t. Time will tell. If Thor gets injured, I don’t get half this return, probably in the offseason as well. Jordan scoring the lowest points in the league the week before triggered him into making some trades, so I felt like this was a now or never time to trade Thor. Never was certainly a viable option, just ride him out and cut him in the offseason or trade him very little. It was a risk, so be it.
I hope that the trade relationship I built with Jordan by giving him a top level pitcher will benefit me in the future like it has for Elton. Do I put a “/s”? Is it implied? Who knows?
I’m probably keeping close to $500 worth of players this offseason even without Thor, so locking in some upside pitchers who are close to the majors has been a plan of mine. Hoping 1 of Pearson, Manning, Anderson, or Deivi become a very valuable pitcher that I can build around. If 2 or more hit, even better.
Hopefully Jordan loses some games to make that first round pick more valuable, but with his schedule altering, seems doubtful.
Yesterday I commented on how diffiult it was to review my own trade. Today, I again tried to ask, “why would he do that,” and see both sides of the deal, but it was easier to form a solid opinion on this deal.
The Foundation – Jordan does this deal to get Frankie Montas, who has been very productive this year averaging 33.2 points per game. He will step in as The Foundation’s best pitcher when Hyun-Jin Ryu finds his way back to the injured list. I personally don’t think Montas has the talent to maintain this level of play, but Im wrong about players all the time. His numbers suggest there may be some regression coming, but nothing that Jordan will lose sleep over. Even with some regression, Montas should be an above average starting pitcher and a good acquistion to the Foundation.
The Foundation also adds Kyle Schwarber. The numbers on the back of Schwarber’s baseball card are kind of ugly. He also has a history of sitting against lefthanders. With all that said, a decent eye and the power he is known for has carried him to a 5.15ppg average making him a decent LF option for the Foundation, who just lost LF Andrew McCutchen for the year. His $36 price tag puts him on the cut bubble, but Jordan can worry about that later.
ORGANZIED CHAOS- Why would he do this? It’s either Ozzie Albies, or the desire to own the enitre Braves infield. Im not sure which Ozzie Albies Coach Swinson is actually getting here. Is it the man-child from the first half of last year, or the kid who is hitting .259/.318/.403 for the year? Grinders member Keith Lott of We Talk Fantasy Sports has a pretty strong opinion of Albies https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>here. Im not that quick to write off a 22 year old with a once rated 70 hit tool but Im not sure he does enough other things to be the true fantasy star some people believe he still could be.
Chaos gets Justus Sheffield in the deal. I truely ask “why did he do that?” Sheffield has a devestating slider, but not much after that. He’s a top 100 prospect, in mulitlpe locations, but without significant improvement I cant see him having alot of success unless it’s in relief. Im afraid this might be a case of Coach Swinson trusting the lists, without additional homework.
Chaos got a 2nd rounder for a 4th rounder in this deal. It helps balance things a little.
SO WHO WON THE DEAL?
Jordan preaches winning now, and traded Albies’ potential (whatever it may be), for an above average starting pitcher and a useful LF. Coach gets a young 2B, and almost a monopoly of the Atlanta infield. Anyway I fernslice it, I prefer The Foundation’s side by a good bit.
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.
Andrew’s thoughts: Oh man, am I pumped to see a Denard Span trade!
I like this small deal for both teams. Good job, fellas.
In two days, TBD has cheaply solved their catcher position for 2018 by adding Robinson Chirinos and brand new Arizona Diamondback Alex Avila. I highly doubt TBD was keeping Span for $8 just given their roster construct and cap situation, so in some ways this is a free #2 catcher for them. They’ve got what should be a sufficient platoon behind the plate now.
Meanwhile, In Line 4 the Win obtains former Ironmen legend Denard Span, who is basically generic Adam Jones but much cheaper. No, seriously, look. They aren’t all that different. I mean, as always with this metric, obviously Jones is better because he scores more points in total, plays more often, has more pop, better home park, etc. You can set him and forget him in your lineup. But if you can pay Span $30 less than Jones, you can probably chip another $10 (or less) away to find another Span-like guy to platoon in center, and still come out with $20 to spend. In fact, IL4W already has that guy in a $6 Cameron Maybin. I legitimately ran Maybin and Span’s numbers last year against Jones for some reason, and they’re comparable. I’m not going out of my way to pick on Jones here, it just so happens I’ve already done the math. I do submit that a Span/Maybin platoon for $14 total will give you equivalent production to a $39 or whatever he is Jones, with $25 to spare.
IL4W came into the offseason with a very frustrating OF of potential and salary, but not much production. Randal Grichuk‘s move to Toronto helps a great deal, but he’s still $16. Joc Pederson is a $24 platoon hitter. Jason Heyward at $17 may not even be replacement level. Kyle Schwarber has almost no room for surplus value with a $61 salary, and all hope of catcher eligibility is gone. So I like adding Span, who should unlock LF eligibility in Tampa, to the mix. He’s old and boring, but safe, and safe is one thing IL4W doesn’t have in their outfield.
Added bonus for IL4W: Denard Span is a player that knows what it’s like to go from the bottom to a championship caliber team here in Dynasty Grinders. He’s got experience. He’s got leadership. He will no doubt improve IL4W’s clubhouse morale which, let’s face it, must be pretty bad following a 1-19 catastrophe.
Also, I was literally just yesterday contemplating asking TBD what they’d want to reunite with Span. Just because. I’d probably rather dump him back to auction and try my hand at winning him for $3-4, but the thought did cross my mind. Maybe I’m just bored. I’m probably just bored.
I do wonder what IL4W is going to do at catcher now. Are they really keeping Jonathan Lucroy for $30 after the season he had? I like Chris Iannetta at Coors for $5. Should be interesting, but it does seem like Avila could’ve been useful to them as a starting catcher in a good home park with a low salary.
Hustle’s toxic $0.02: I haven’t read what Bailey has said, but I’m sure Avila is better than posey too. .365 woba from Avila last year and now he’s moving to Chase Field (standard Hustle humidor reminder). TBD has hustled their way to a very productive cheap catching core. As for Span? He’s useful, but I’m not sure he’s an attractive use of budget for a rebuilding team who likely won’t be competing in 2018. I’d rather have Avila here considerably because of catcher scarcity. I think you probably need to shoot higher upside for outfielders unless Span is just depth piece, which in this case it isn’t. TBD has really been working magic this offseason.
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.
Long Ball to LF sends: SP Daniel Norris ($14) Senior Squids sends: 2018 1st Round Pick
Andrew’s thoughts: Without any context, I’d rather have Daniel Norris than a generic first round pick. I inquired about Norris a few times, actually. The pick is just a prospect, which Norris was as recently as a couple years ago. He was Baseball America’s 18th-ranked prospect in 2014. By buying him now, you get the same type of prospect pedigree as you’d get in the draft, but with 200 innings of work under his belt. He will also score you points today; that pick will score you points way later.
But there’s context too.
Long Ball has a bunch of pitchers, several similar to Norris, so he was expendable. Meanwhile, if the season ended today, Squids would be in the bottom-4 bracket and likely have the strongest team there, meaning the best chance of winning that bracket and the top overall pick. Worst case, as of today, it’s the 4th overall pick. So you’re in effect trading a guy like Luis Robert, Hunter Greene, Royce Lewis, Brendan McKay, etc for Norris. Still, not too bad, particularly if you need the points now. But…
I feel like more could have been milked for a pick that currently projects high, or maybe a guy or two could’ve been paired with it to get an even better pitcher. Picks are coveted in this league and an as-of-today top-4 pick didn’t really even seem to be publicly shopped. The last time I looked a couple weeks back, a league average start was around 21 points. Norris is the 73rd overall SP in total points and is averaging 19.83 points a start, so slightly below average. So I also wonder if a second round pick doesn’t buy you a comparable thrower.
Hustle’s thoughts: I disagree with Andrew here. I personally rather have the pick, but not by much. I’ve never been a Daniel Norris fan. He’s a pretty average pitcher overall and maybe slightly below in a fantasy context here. He’s averaging 19 points a game here, which is a low end starter unless you expect him to pick it up (which is possible).
I get that a first round pick is years away from contributing, but currently Squids has a ticket to the 2018 Iosim Bowl so this was potentially moving the first overall pick. Even in a weak draft, I’ll take the lotto ticket and either trade the pick closer to the draft for something better or improve the farm.
At 4-6 Squids definitely has a shot to get back in this and make playoffs, but I don’t think it’s going to be on the back of Daniel Norris. If it is, I’ll have to re-evaluate this. Daniel Norris as an above average pitcher at less than $20 to keep is a good asset.
Andrew’s thoughts: This trade occurred on April 26 and immediately became a disaster for TBD.
Syndergaard was supposed to take the mound on the day this trade was processed, but that start got pushed to the next day. On the 27th, he was scratched from a start due to “biceps tendinitis.” Then, he started on Sunday, April 30. In that start, he promptly got knocked around by the Nationals — five hits and two walks in 1.1 IP — before injuring himself on a pitch to Bryce Harper. He came out of the game having scored -4.5 fantasy points. Turns out, he has a partial tear in his lat. He’ll be on the shelf for three months or so. Just horrible, horrible luck for TBD. Like… if Syndergaard misses the year, which seems well within the range of possible outcomes here, how do you keep him at $82 next year? Or if he comes back but is rusty and struggles, or re-injures himself, or displays any sign of long-term volatility, how do you not send him back to auction? It’s totally possible that TBD spent three very good prospects and two premium draft picks to get -4.5 fantasy points.
Hindsight here is 20/20 but man, this just sucks for TBD. Ultimately, because they dealt picks and prospects, their already very good team is mostly unaffected. But they’re now down a lot of trade chips.
Before the injury though, I thought this swap was okay for both squads. I would rather have healthy Syndergaard than all the stuff IL4W got, but I understand why, if your team isn’t scoring points and is sitting at the bottom of the standings, you’d do this. Pitchers are time bombs. Obviously. So Aaron and his cohorts at IL4W mitigated some risk, took on a bunch of young, cheap talent with upside, and gave themselves a few more paths to being good down the road. Even if only two of the five pieces they got become useful, they’ll be useful and cheap. But pitchers are also a big part of winning games in this league (especially in 2017 when all the pitchers stink) and Syndergaard has essentially been Clayton Kershaw Lite since last year. To me, Kershaw is the type of talent you empty the chambers for. Syndergaard is that same type of talent.
If I’m TBD, I pull this trigger too. Not now, of course. But at the time they did it. Clearly they couldn’t have predicted the injury. And yeah, they surrendered Corey Kluber and Dellin Bettances in the midst of a pennant race just last year for Moncada alone. But trade markets aren’t static and, again, that was a late season deal. You pay more earlier. Go look at last year’s trade log, you’ll see. I don’t have a huge problem with the seemingly faulty logic of trading an ace for a prospect, then later on trading that prospect plus a bunch of other prospects for a different ace. Stuff changes. I also think if you get the opportunity to land a transcendent talent and really want to take it, well, take it, even if it means forking over a bunch of your best lottery tickets.
As arguably the best team in the league with or without Syndergaard, I really like the killer instinct and the aggressiveness it takes to get a deal like this done. And hey, it’s conceivable that TBD gets Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner back in time for the playoffs. I’d argue the potential of that is worth the same, if not more, than the potential that Moncada becomes a dirt cheap version of 2016 Jonathan Villar*.
* So… we realize Moncada’s clock started last year and so he’s in his $1 season, in which IL4W seems unlikely to compete, right? Next year he’s $3 minimum, more if his projections are good. Three bucks is nothing if he becomes 2016 Villar or even Anthony Rendon or whoever. But the point is, the two most valuable years of a player’s cost control status are the year they’re first promoted ($0) and their sophomore season ($1). IL4W is effectively getting zero tangible benefit from those two years from Moncada. If Moncada kills it for them in his $1 season, that’s cool and all, but IL4W still probably isn’t making headway as a team and the better his stats are this year, the better his projections will be next year, and the higher that salary will jump. This certainly isn’t a huge knock to Moncada’s future value, but is something to keep in mind, I think.
Speaking to Moncada specifically though, I do wonder just how amazing he can be here. He strikes out a ton, which I don’t think will matter, because when he makes contact it’s really, really good contact. But the stolen bases aren’t big factors in our scoring like they are in a 5×5 and if he’s whiffing more than 30% of the time against Triple-A pitchers, what happens when he steps into an American League with Sale, Verlander, Carrasco, Kluber, Darvish, Keuchel, etc? It’s not like he’ll get to tee off against Mike Fiers every day, y’know?
For IL4W though, I can speak from experience that the decision to start selling sucks. It means your team is poop emoji. But aside from the super lucky timing, I like that they recognized not just a poor win/loss record, but also a deep deficit in points, and went ahead and made that call early. By doing so, they didn’t have to compete with any other teams, could set their own market, and could come away with the assets they wanted. And I actually think they still have a decent roster and can win some weeks this year, even if their playoff odds aren’t particularly good.
Andrew’s thoughts: I love, love, love this for WBFD. For two depth pieces, WBFD landed one of the game’s top starting pitchers. He’s expensive, but so what? If pitching is as volatile this year as it was last year, then it probably pays to splurge on reliable guys.
For Dusty, how’s this math: since December 30, he’s acquired Hunter Pence, Lance McCullers, Wei-Yin Chen, Yordano Ventura, and now Kiermaier and Gyorko. You know the return for the last two. For the other four, he gave up basically nothing, dispersing middling draft picks, an auction buck or two, and some prospects and guys that he was probably cutting to teams that were over budget and just wanted to dump. That’s fine. Pence was the first guy added there and I’d argue he was the least superfluous, safest of the group. He’s done it longer. Let’s omit him. The salary of all the other guys combined? $85.
I don’t know if there was some grand plan, but what’s happened here, essentially, is Arrieta’s exact dollars (plus those prospects, the 3rd round pick or whatever it was, negligible stuff, etc) have been swapped out for McCullers, Chen, Ventura, white Denard Span, and Gyorko. Dusty’s eggs have been distributed across many baskets.
Honestly, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. There’s an opportunity cost associated with locking up four extra roster spots. But depth is good. Kiermaier is an instant starter for him at CF. Dusty had tons of cash to spend before this trade barrage and should still have money to spend. He’s probably cutting $50 Heyward and $30 Shields, plus all the injured guys he picked up throughout the season, plus others. A $13 Jesse Hahn? There’s a bunch of budget space here. He’s not hurting for room, which brings me to this…
As a standalone, this trade baffles me. Is Kiermaier that much different than Carlos Gomez, who will be at auction? Or Heyward, who will probably be? Is Gyorko that much different a Swiss army knife than Sean Rodriguez?
Like, if you’re way over budget, I get selling off Arrieta and maybe you have to sell low, because this time of year there aren’t a ton of teams swimming in budget space. I don’t really get selling him off for pieces that have reasonable comps already guaranteed to be at auction, plus whoever else ends up getting dropped. It’s nice to secure those players and not risk the auction, where you’ll have to outbid others, but the cost to do that here is really high. I mean, yeah, I’d rather trade a fringe keeper or comparable player for Kiermaier now than risk having to win either Gomez or Heyward at auction to fill my CF slot. But Arrieta doesn’t strike me as the chip you use simply to hedge.
I also don’t get doing it when you can afford to keep him. And I don’t get doing it at this time of year when, as I just said, there are only a few teams with budget space. The market for Arrieta is so, so small right now just by virtue of teams not having budget room, that I think it’s really tough to get an optimal return. Budget flexibility is great and all but talent and points-scoring trumps that. Arrieta could’ve been held until 30 seconds after auction, at which time anyone can go over the $500 budget and suddenly there are 15 suitors for his services.
I think, if I was Dusty and didn’t like Arrieta at $86 — which isn’t unreasonable, pitchers are combustible parts — I would have just cut him and tried winning him back cheaper at auction. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. I just might rather gamble on that scenario than on Kiermaier and Gyorko, who I like but I think are better rostered as depth.
As I said, I love it for WBFD. Great, great swap. He turned guys who were firmly backups on his roster into a difference making, top-10 starting pitcher.
Jordan’s thoughts: If Dusty doesn’t get the cure for diabetes in this deal, I think he went and fucked up. I think Dusty would have gotten more for just taking $1 for Arrieta.
On top of that fact: why, if you’re Dusty, would you sell this kind of a player to a team who doesn’t have to even bother cutting anyone off their roster to keep said player. I know there’s people who aren’t hyper concerned with their competition’s situation, and that’s fine. But, there should be other teams who take Arrieta for some auction budget cash or a 1st round draft pick. Most of them would have to cut a few mildly interesting players that might be useful.
WBFD last year during the draft must have been in what only can be described as a diabetic coma and he left significant money on the table. Couple that with the tragedy of Jose Fernandez. He’s basically swimming in available budget even if he decides to keep the overpaid youngsters he’s invested into.
All that being said, I’m not all that upset over this trade, it happens. Dusty probably did shop around Arrieta to a dozen teams and got what he wanted and moved on. Classic Dusty.