Further Ongoing Fire Sale Coverage

It’s unusual for me to veer into fire sale territory in keeper leagues, but I decided to take the leap in the ottoneu league FanGraphs Staff Two. At the time, I had an outside shot at third place, but I had no chance to place first or second. I now have a better chance to finish third, but the top two spots are even further out of reach.

When I started this series in June, I wrote about the ideals of a fire sale – in short, owners shouldn’t take pennies on the dollar for their stars. I followed that piece with two analyses of various trades I completed (Post one, post two). Today will mark what I expect to be the final post of the series and covers four trades.

Fantasy writers are often forced to write in generalities, which is a big reason why I like to discuss my personal dealings. Especially in a standardized format like ottoneu, an apples-to-apples comparison is a lot easier to accomplish. These trades should offer useful, real world examples rather than generic advice like “target Player X with somebody like Player Y.” Further, this particular league benefits from being filled with RotoGraphs writers, so there aren’t any weak links in the bunch. Shall we?

Trade #1

Bradley Boo Boo(me) receives
Justin Verlander – $47
$44

Edmonton Trappers receives
Ervin Santana – $3

Trade #2

Bradley Boo Boo receives
Wilson Ramos – $9
Chris Owings – $1

Chad Young receives
Ben Zobrist – $40
$28

Trade #3

Bradley Boo Boo receives
Charlie Blackmon – $1

Chad Young receives
Tim Lincecum – $10
$9

Trade #4

Bradley Boo Boo receives
Paul Goldschmidt – $29
$21

Edmonton Trappers receives
Addison Russell – $4
Mookie Betts – $2
Dallas Keuchel – $2

Lessons

My primary goal at this stage of the season to acquire as many underpriced players as possible in preparation for the ottoneu arbitration period. For those who aren’t familiar with that process, your rivals can allocate up to $33 to your roster by bidding up players. For example, I own a $2 George Springer. He’ll cost $4 to keep via the usual price inflation mechanism. My rivals could opt to make him more expense (up to $37). I don’t really want that money concentrated on any one player. I need to be able to re-sell these players as keepers next season when buying reinforcements for a title bid.

My goal of acquiring massive quantities of underpriced players is going well. In addition to Springer and Goldschmidt, I also own a $8 Corey Kluber, $12 Yasiel Puig, $23 Edwin Encarnacion, and $4 Evan Gattis. I expect those six players to absorb most of the arbitration money, which means I should also get to keep players like $8 Hisashi Iwakuma, $1 Dellin Betances, and $8 Greg Holland without significant boosts to their price. Overall, I have 31 players rostered at a keepable price. My preference is to draft 20-25 players, so I have a lot of work ahead of me.

The first and fourth trades listed above accomplished goals I’ve discussed in these pages. The Verlander acquisition looks weird at first glance, but the end result was a big cash infusion to use on the waiver wire (more on that in a moment). The Goldschmidt deal combined two interesting elements. First, I’m not a fan of developing prospects. There aren’t many Mike Trout‘s. I would have traded him before he reached the majors (Oops). I also would have traded Fernando Martinez, Jesus Montero, and Domonic Brown. The other part was buying low on an injured star.

Analysis

The motivation behind the first trade was simple – I needed more money for waiver wire auctions. When you cut a player in ottoneu, half of their cost is returned to your budget. Santana is a decent keeper at $5 but not one I’m liable to hate giving away. I’ve used the extra budget to purchase Ryan Howard, Casey McGehee, Jake Lamb, Jesse Chavez, Josh Tomlin, David Peralta, Shane Victorino, Aaron Nola, and Zach Walters. I still have $15 available. Some of those players are to keep and a few are just to support my bid for third place.

As the trade deadline approaches, your mid-tier assets begin to shrink in value. That’s what happened with Ben Zobrist. Chad had an obvious need for Zobrist, but he was willing to patiently wait me out. I spent weeks digging at J.D. Martinez and Chris Dickerson to no avail. I also applied heavy doses of $28 David Wright and $17 Josh Hamilton (I’m pretty sure I’m stuck with them). Finally, I decided to go for scouting over present talent. Brandon McCarthy once told me he saw a lot of Michael Young in Owings. That’s a good enough endorsement for me. I’m also leaning towards keeping Ramos if he stays healthy through the remainder of the season. $11 is a slight overpay with his injury history, but I don’t want to get stuck with a replacement level guy. I have a long time to decide on him.

The third trade was the result of an experiment conducted by Chad. He put Blackmon on the block because he was curious about his value. The resounding answer was…mehtweet

I don’t think my offer requires much explanation. Blackmon will cost $3 to keep and can provide some value when playing in Coors Field against right-handed pitching. Especially if he continues to bat out of the leadoff spot (not guaranteed). I wasn’t going to keep Lincecum. While I think he could return $12 of value next season, I think the mean, median, and mode projection will all be under $5. So I dealt probably nothing for maybe something.

The fourth trade is the douzy. My bias against prospects is well known (despite that I still own Nola, Lamb, Julio Urias, Corey Seager, J.P. Crawford, and Steve Souza). So it wasn’t hard for me to swallow the cost of Russell, Betts, and Keuchel. I got a top 5 position player on a top 50 contract. Even after arbitration, he should retain $10 of surplus value. His presence could later allow me to trade Encarnacion for another big asset. There are plenty of scenarios where I wind up cursing myself for making this deal. I think I’m holding a pocket pair against two over cards – I have the better side of the coin flip.

Parting Thoughts

With 10 days left before the trade deadline, I’m probably out of bullets to fire. I’ll continue to try to add elite keepers with my huge volume of solid assets, but I think the next wave of trades will have to wait for the offseason. You may not be in the same boat. Take this remaining time to acquire injured elites, underperforming players to cut, and anybody who might help in the future. Just don’t roll over too easily.



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Ryan Campbell
Member

To add another wrinkle to the story, it was actually Chad that owned Goldschmidt two days before I traded him to Brad. And Santana (who I got from Brad in the Verlander trade) was the piece that finally tipped the balance and made a pitching-starved Chad trade me Goldy. He promptly gave up 3 dingers to the pirates the next day.

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