Three weeks ago, I wrote a piece about my intention to commit the greatest of sacrileges (at least in my mind) – a fire sale. More recently, I wrote about my first blockbuster of that rebuilding process. Yesterday I made another two blockbusters, so let’s breakdown the motivations behind those moves and what they accomplished.
Let’s recap. It’s an ottoneu league aptly named FanGraphs Staff Two. We use a points scoring system. For those who are unfamiliar with ottoneu, we have a 40 man roster and $400 budget. We can keep any number of players at a cost of draft price + $2. There is also an offseason allocation system that can add anywhere from $11 to $33 to your overall player costs. In a nutshell, the league is between a standard keeper and a dynasty format. The trade from a couple weeks ago was as follows:
The general consensus agreed with my analysis at the time. It wasn’t a great deal for me on the basis of perceived value, but it did accomplish a goal – adding cheap, high quality talent to my roster. You’ll see that’s very important after these two most recent trades. Before we move into the new stuff, I found this comment exchange which gave me a chuckle (my reply should say “top keeper”).
Both players sustained injuries since that comment, with Votto hitting the disabled list. Obviously that was just a tongue in cheek comment; I certainly didn’t have any role in either player’s injury. No sir, not me.
As part of my fire sale, I targeted established major league players on underpriced contracts. Ottoneu leaves a lot of flexibility for rostering prospects, but I find they tend to be overpriced both in dollars and perceived trade value. The allocation system weighed heavily on my mind as I negotiated options.
Before the two trades below, my only big surplus value guy was Springer. I had other keepers, but almost all of them were no more than $5 under list price. Springer probably would have been dinged for about $20 in the allocation process. So instead of costing $4, he would cost $24. Let’s discuss the trades (readers of The Daily Grind already know the details).
Clown Meat receives
Bradley Boo Boo (me) receives
The Razor Shines receives
Bradley Boo Boo receives
Now Springer is joined on my roster by Puig, Encarnacion, and Gattis as substantially underpriced assets. This accomplishes an important goal. There’s little doubt I’ll get hit for the maximum $33 allocation, but it probably won’t be concentrated on one player. I should have multiple players on contracts $10 under their actual value. Moreover, my lesser keepers like $14 Jon Lester, $10 Greg Holland, $10 Hisashi Iwakuma, and $10 Corey Kluber should remain untouched, thus preserving their value. Could my rivals target most of their money on one player? Sure, but that means others will remain extremely valuable as trade assets.
As for the trades themselves, they were negotiated simultaneously and executed within a minute of each other. There are currently four teams hunting for first place. Clown Meat is the current points leader. Chad Young is dogging him and The Razor Shines isn’t too far behind them. I did the somewhat unscrupulous thing of helping two teams without telling them, which kind of cancels out the moves. They both improve relative to Chad though, which is important. Apparently, Chad always wins (this is my first year, and I took over the worst team from 2013).
I think the lesson is obvious – play your cards close to vest and you just might pull value from multiple teams. Alternatively, you can try to weasel more future talent out of someone by accepting one deal and then pointing out the greater urgency to improve to the other owner. However, people tend to dislike being strong armed, so they’re liable to make their keepers-for-studs trade with a different owner. In this case, I was able to negotiate two acceptable deals without pulling out the claws. It’s better that way.
Trade #1: Wainwright is one of the best players in our format, So his $28 price tag is very keepable. I made Puig a condition of putting Wainwright on the table. Since Puig is banged up with a nagging hip injury, his current value is slightly depressed. I have the luxury of paying full price with the assumption he’ll fix the issue over the offseason.
For me, the rest of the deal probably hinges on how well Betances can continue to dominate opponents. He’s pitched like a $15-20 pitcher this season. I’m hoping he can provide $10-12 of value next season. I assume he’s safe from allocations. I view Keuchel and Seager as interesting pieces I can either keep or cycle for studs in the offseason.
Trade #2: I’ve been trying to pry Encarnacion away from The Razor Shines since I joined the league last October. He’s actually outperformed Cabrera this season. While that will probably flip over the rest of the season, we’re still talking about comparable players with over $30 difference in cost. Like with Puig, injuries to Encarnacion and Gattis made it easier for my rival to part with his keeper talent. I don’t care if either player misses time. For my rival, every day lost hacked away at his chances to win the league.
While I didn’t want to deal Saltalamacchia or Smith, neither player was worth disrupting an otherwise advantageous trade for me. One of my biggest complaints when owners execute fire sales is that they add too many throw-ins without regard to their value. Salty and Smith definitely have value, but I no longer need a catcher with Gattis joining McCann on my roster. Smith was a $1 find; I can track down another cheap outfielder when I need one.
There’s one more lesson in this mess. Back when we executed the Springer trade, The Razor Shines and I discussed a deal that would have looked a lot like our two trades combined. He ultimately decided it was too much keeper value to give up in one go. I’ve run into this issue in the past. Splitting things up into two trades separated by some time can make a mega-trade easier to swallow. In this case, he also gained some ground in the standings, which made it easier to go for it.
The fire sale isn’t over. I still have plenty of mid-tier assets like David Wright, Josh Hamilton, Chase Utley, and Ben Zobrist. I expect to squeeze one or two more keepers onto my roster. I anticipate one more trade deadline update on this process. I’ll see you then.
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