Buying for the Stretch Run in Dynasty

Keeping an eye on the future while reloading for the stretch run is just about as difficult in fantasy as it is in real life. The wrinkle is that the fantasy player universe is smaller, so fantasy players deal with stars for the most part. Non-elite or low-level prospects can easily get overvalued — there’s little use for an organizational player or a backup shortstop in fantasy ball, and Double-A separates the real from the Formica.

So I’m really psyched that I traded some of my stars for non-elite prospects this week.

Let’s take a look at the most recent trades in the FanGraphs Experts League on @ottoneu to get a handle on this. There’s a $1000 of prize money on the league (courtesy ottoneu), and I finished fourth last year, but my team fell apart and I am currently selling. I’m not alone, as you’ll see, but I’ll start with my trade, as it was the most recently completed. We’ll go sellers first in each trade listing.

Eno’s Slaughter (Eno Sarris) trades $54 Justin Upton and $3 Roy Oswalt to
Scouting the Sally (Mike Newman) for $1 Trevor Story and $1 Leonys Martin

Newman wrote about Story recently, and was generally positive about the Rockies shortstop prospect. But he sorta glossed over the crazy home/road splits for Story. The 19-year-old shortstop is hitting .285/.394/.537 at home and .246/.331/.405 on the road. You know what, though? I hear his major league park is pretty nice to hitters, and he’s only in A-ball. Leonys Martin‘s numbers are all over the place. He’s shown .200+ ISOs in his smaller samples, but his biggest sample had him under .100 in 192 Double-A plate appearances. The 24-year-old Cuban is stuck in a timeshare with Craig Gentry for now, and that might last, but knowing that ottoneu has deep benches and five outfielders makes me feel like I can get some use out of Martin in a 5×5, if from his legs alone. Then again, in 2011, he stole 23 bases and was caught 12 times, so the speed is not no-doubt. What is no doubt was that I wasn’t going to keep Upton at $56 — I got a $5 credit on him in this year’s auction and ‘only’ paid $49 for my arbitration player, but even if I believe in him still, I wasn’t going to drop that much dosh on him. I’d rather see what he’ll go for in the auction. $3 Oswalt? He could play again next year, but $5 is a bit much to bet on that balky back.

Amateur Hour (Chad Young) trades $25 Billy Butler and $17 Michael Pineda to
Team RotoWire (Jeff Erickson) for $1 Anthony Gose and $3 Wilin Rosario

For a while, I was talking to Chad about selling him some of my players. Then you jerks convinced him not to buy. Thanks. This is an interesting trade because all of the players in the deal are probably keepers. Personally, I think even a Utility player like Butler is worth maybe a little more than the two prospects Young got — Gose has strikeout problems, and Rosario has some plate discipline issues himself — but he did get much cheaper talent. And they are exciting. $19 seems like it is a lot to spend on a returner from labrum surgery. A few guys have done it — Anibal Sanchez comes to mind — and Pineda is young, but I bought Jon Lester for $20 this season and would still rather have him at $22 next year than Pineda. And I own a $x Pineda in the FanGraphs staff league I have to think about. If Young had gotten a cheap arm in this deal as well, I would have liked it a little better. I bet he loves Rosario.

Andy Behrens (Andy Behrens) trades $3 Lance Berkman to
Heath Bell‘s Yahoo Picture (Jack Moore) for $2 Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano‘s fault is as prodigious as his best quality: The 19-year-old bat has a .251 ISO (and 20 home runs in 406 PAs) and a strikeout rate north of 28%. So far, that’s been his MO — lots of whiffs and jacks. Maybe his batting average won’t be nice. Maybe he’s still two years away. But Lance Berkman suddenly looks like old Lance Berkman again this year, and if he limps his way through the next two months, it’s not a lock that Moore will even keep him at that reasonable price. But for Moore, currently in second place (three points behind Newman), the gamble looks worth it. If Sano ends up at first base, as his glove might require, his low batting average, high-power game might be worth a little less. Behrens, in last place and 4.5 points behind me, doesn’t care. He’ll take the youth.

Andy Behrens (Andy Behrens) trades $35 Buster Posey and $45 Robinson Cano to
Scouting the Sally (Mike Newman) for $35 Carlos Santana, $37 Eric Hosmer, $2 Jean Segura and $2 Danny Hultzen

This trade, completed last week, is pretty interesting because of the high salaried players Behrens took back. It’s doubtful that Santana will regain that sort of value in a 5×5 league like this, but could Hosmer be a $39 player next year if he shows how great he can be for the next two months? Possibly. For his swap, Behrens gets a shortstop prospect and a pitching prospect that are close to the major leagues — Segura is actually in the bigs right now, and Hultzen is in Triple-A. They aren’t without their questions, though. Is Segura only legs and glove? Does Hultzen have a command issue? I wonder if Behrens could have gotten more if he didn’t get the buy-low veterans, but there is a chance with Hoz at least.

Dyersville Nine/Sabermetrics101 (Andy Andres) trades $44 Prince Fielder to
Heath Bell‘s Yahoo! Picture (Jack Moore) for $28 Matt Moore, $9 Alex Gordon and $1 Archie Bradley

There was a time when I was talking to Moore about Moore (I traded my $20 Josh Johnson for a $7 Matt Moore in the staff league), but the price tag wasn’t impressive enough that I felt I had to make the move. It’s probably because of that higher price tag that Moore had to include the $1 Bradley, who is part of the Diamondbacks’ trio of great prospects, allbeit the furthest away one in A-ball. An $11 Alex Gordon and a $36 first baseman next year should outproduce Fielder and a $1 outfielder, so well done to the professor. It does look like some of the power suppression we feared from Comerica is hurting the burly firstbaseman.

Eno’s Slaughter (Eno Sarris) trades $33 Nelson Cruz and $1 Matt Harvey to
Fiorentino/RW (Andrew Fiorentino) for $5 Brandon Beachy and $1 Drew Smyly

Yup, the Mets fan traded away the Mets prospect just a week or two before his debut. Who’s going to be tougher on his own than a fan, though. Harvey struck me as a college righty using a fastball to dominate the minor leagues, and his iffy command and changeup left me skeptical. In any case, his ceiling is similar to Drew Smyly, another college/polished lefty, but Smyly uses his offspeed stuff and command to overcome his iffy fastball. A challenge trade with just those two guys in it would be very interesting. But really Harvey was just another teaser to get a cheap Beachy out of Fiorentino. I figured Beachy wouldn’t get arbed because of his injury, and I don’t mind elbow injuries. It’s the shoulders that are terrible.

Eno’s Slaughter (Eno Sarris) trades $6 Justin Morneau to
Heath Bell‘s Yahoo! Picture (Jack Moore) for $3 Roy Oswalt and $1 Matt Harvey

Thus concludes our wrap of the trading season so far in the experts league, and it’s an appropriate conclusion. Because Morneau is now Moore’s utility player at best, and neither of the guys he gave me are on my team. Hopefully these trades have given you an idea of how to value your prospects in dynasty/auction leagues as you buy for the final two months. Good luck hunting.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

31 Responses to “Buying for the Stretch Run in Dynasty”

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  1. Peckerhead says:

    Hmm still seems like too little for Upton…

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  2. Big Jgke says:

    Andy Behrens showing that world renowned Yahoo! fantasy-expert humour and incisiveness with that team name.

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  3. Paul B says:

    Curious as to how your leagues work. Do you have these players on contract for a certain number of years, or can you just keep them at those designated amounts until you choose to drop them?

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  4. bgrasso12 says:

    Wait – so if you got a $5 discount on a player this year due to last year’s arbitration voting, his salary increases by $7 next year? You mention that you only paid $49 for Upton this year, but you have him listed as $54 (going to $56 next year). If that $5 discount is only good for one year, I may want to think about a trade.

    I looked at the my guy’s player page, and he’s only listed at his discounted salary. So there’s no indication that the discount is only good for this year.

    Sorry if I misunderstood the paragraph on Upton. Just want to make sure I know what the rule us. Thx.

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  5. Chad Young says:

    1) I do love Rosario. I have a $15 Jesus Montero, $9 JP Arencibia, and a $4 Travis D’Arnaud…and I still wanted Rosario.

    2) The only other offer I had, which wasn’t even for sure on the table, was Justin Masterson ($3) and Brett Jackson ($2). I like Masterson more than you do, Eno, but I have plenty of pitching DEPTH for next year…so if I am trading for pitching, I want an ace. And Jackson has plenty of K issues, himself.

    3) I need speed. I am dead last in steals and the only guy on my team with double digit steals is Dee Gordon. Gose should help that quite a bit next year.

    Now, if anyone in that league wants to trade me a stud OF, CI, SP or closer, even an expensive one, that is what my team needs for 2013.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Here’s my number… call me maybe

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      • Chad Young says:

        Unless you are up for moving Kershaw or Braun or Cano or something, I am not sure you will want to answer the call anyway!

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    • rotofan says:

      Gose isn’t going to help you much getting SBs in Las Vegas. Right now Rasmus and Bautista seem locks for CF and RF. That leaves LF for Thames, Snider and Gose. That could change. Butt right now it’s real iffy that Gose gets much time in the Bigs next year.

      I like Rosario too for cheap power at a thin position but isn’t he largely a clone of what you have already in Arencibia?

      That said, you didn’t give up much. I personally wouldn’t keep Pineda at that price coming back from shoulder surgery — he won’t likely be ready for the start of the season. And Butler has marginal keeper value unless he’s traded to a more hitter-friendly park.

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      • Chad Young says:

        Crazy how things can change overnight! I definitely believed the Jays wanted Gose to have that spot…did not expect them to clear it so quickly or completely. But As of right now, it seems that Gose-Rasmus-Bautista is the 2013 Jays OF, no?

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  6. soamx says:

    This is awesome
    Here are my thoughts on each trade
    -Story and Martin is not enough of a haul for Upton (even as a rental)
    -Butler and Pineda for Gose and Rosario? Even if you don’t plan on bringing back Butler and Pineda(and at their prices, it would be reasonable to keep both) you could do a lot better than Gose and Rosario
    -Lance Berkman for Sano. Seems like a reasonable trade with reasonable risk and reward for both sides
    -Posey + Cano for Hosmer, Santana, Hultzen and Segura? I think the side getting Posey and Cano won because Hosmer and Santana are too expensive to keep, but the 2 promising prospects help balance it out.
    – Cruz and Harvey for Beachy and Smyly. I like this trade a lot for the beachy side. Harvey isn’t an elite prospect, cruz is a rental(and not a great one at that)
    -Morneau for Oswalt and Harvey?
    3 easily replaceable players. I’d rather have Morneau because I wouldn’t want to waste 2 roster spots on Oswalt and Harvey, but seeing as both guys were used as trade chips I think this guy had the right idea.

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  7. dave parker-stewart says:

    I really want to play in a league like this.

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  8. philosofool says:

    Moore needs to prove he’s elite before I’m interested at that price. There will rarely be more than half a dozen pitchers getting twenty eight dollars and there’s almost no reason to think Moore will ever be one of them.

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  9. rotofan says:

    Enos — are other owners so stingy with prospects that the best you could get for Upton was Martin and Story? Martin is an iffy MLB prospect in an organization that has shown it will trade or sign free agents to fill holes; Story looks be three years away. I would have thought a better prospect or even more likely a better priced veteran would have been available.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      As Behrens said on twitter, there were only about three buyers, so I talked to them, had some footsy sessions, asked for more from Newman, and took what I could get in the end. Maybe I could have held out for Skaggs, but I wanted position players over pitchers, so took Martin. It’s not all set for Martin..

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      • rotofan says:

        I hear you on position players. I tend to do the same because of the injury risk with young pitchers. My tendency is to package several players with value only for the current season to move up the scale of what’s possible to secure in return. Wonder what you might have received if you packaged Upton with Ramirez and/or Napoli.

        Our league rules are different – prospects can be kept only for two years at their current salary; after that it’s a more significant boost to keep them beyond year 3 and the max is 5 years. Owners trading for this year are a bit more generous as a result.

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  10. hernandez17 says:

    For those of you questioning the wisdom of the Upton deal, it’s like people questioning the wisdom of Miami only getting Eovaldi for Hanley. For overpriced, underperforming players, the market value just isn’t that high. This is why those of you not in ottoneu leagues should get into one next year — there is no format that even comes close in terms of mirroring the type of decision-making that MLB GM’s have to make. It’s such a blast.

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    • rotofan says:

      While Ottoneu may be a blast and it’s nice that you are enjoying it, it is NOT like real decision-making in MLB in some key ways, one of which is illustrated by your misguided comparison.

      The reason the Marlins received little back for Hanley is that the Dodgers agreed to pay his remaining $38 million contract — the balance this year and 2013 and 2014.

      Eno faced no such barrier in trading Upton, whose $54 contract can be dropped by his new team at no cost after the end of the season. Suffice it to say that teams could have dropped Upton after this year at no cost, many more teams would have been at the Marlins’ door with a lot more to offer than Eovaldi.

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  11. JEG says:

    One problem I have in my current keeper (not dynasty – $260 draft salary cap, 25 man rosters, $5 inflation on keepers each year, maximum amount of years to keep a player is 3, can keep as many players as you want) league is that the league title usually comes down to who makes the best “keeper” trade. What we have occurring each year is that the low performing teams basically trade their entire roster of high priced stars for one or two keepers. For the low performing teams, there is no reason to keep the high priced players, so they just dump the entire team (say 6 stars) for a keeper (and fodder to even out the number of players). E.g. a $5 Mark Trumbo may get traded for a $50 Pujols, a $45 Joey Bats, a $35 Halladay, $30 Hamels wand a pair of closers.

    This results in a few “super” teams battling for the title and makes winning a title mostly dependent on making the best lopsided keeper trade. Does anyone have rules in place in similar keeper leagues to try to limit this from happening, but still allowing less lopsided trades?

    One idea we were kicking around is having both a draft salary cap ($260) and an in-season salary cap of say $300.

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    • nolan says:

      The salary cap would probably work but I would make the in-season cap more like $320. That allows teams to make those kinds of trades but on a limited basis. I mean, $40 isn’t a lot to work with.

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    • Jared says:

      My league has similar rules on the keeper contracts but we limit to 3 keepers and have an escalating payscale. So if you trade for an elite keeper it hurts your pocketbook. Also you have to sign a keeper to a contract with no option to get rid of the contract if a player falls apart or if a guy out plays his deal you can’t sign him to 2nd deal either. We aren’t in a dynasty league though. You don’t have to sign the contract until after the players first year being kept.

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  12. nolan says:

    Eno, great article, but you say incorrectly that Matt Harvey is a college/polished lefty which he is pretty much the opposite of. His fastball reaches 99 and he uses it to set up his off-speed pitches. He’ll have a bad start or two when he loses his control but when he throws strikes he’s tough to beat.

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  13. ok saint tip cows says:

    Eno’s Slaughter is a fantastic, fantastic name.

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