The Outcomes discuss the MLB trade deadline, offer advice on Scoresheet deadline deals, and much more.
This Week’s Podcast
This week, the Three True Outcomes talk about the trade deadlines, both MLB and Scoresheet. We go through the most notable MLB deals, mention our favorites both good and bad, and then we talk about the kinds of trades that Scoresheet teams should be looking to make between now and the deadline. We venture into some new ideas with ways to improve a contending team and ways to continue the rebuild for those out of contention.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Wilson reviews the first impressions of a handful of prospects selected in this year's FYPD.
I’m in the middle of my home league’s midseason minor-league draft right now, and that has me thinking front and center about how this year’s draft class has looked in their professional debuts. As a brief aside before we dive in, I can’t recommend this format of prospect drafting strongly enough. This is a 16-team league with 11 minor-league slots per team, so 176 prospects are rostered at any given time. We hold two prospect drafts annually, one in February as the off-season lists are rolling out, and one right now, after the Rule 4 draft and opening of the international signing period on July 2nd. The specter of the mid-season draft beginning right after our trading deadline encourages more deals. It gives us an opportunity to pounce on the new talent while it’s still fresh. And we can pop the pop-up guys before they jump onto off-season lists. Then in the winter we get to clean up on the rest of the draft class that makes some noise after signing. It’s a wonderful way to play.
Anyway, back in the aftermath of the first-year player draft in June, our noble overlord Bret Sayre unveiled his Top 40 Dynasty League Prospects for the recently professionalized players of this class. We’re all of seven weeks removed from that list dropping, so realistically it is way, way too early in the process to go changing our pre-draft opinions on players. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start gathering some info on the early returns, for both the stars of the draft and the guys who might not have gone in the first round, but who may quickly emerge as interesting fantasy players.
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
As we all expected, yesterday’s trade deadline (and the days preceding it) came hot and heavy with reliever movement. There is a ton to get to, so let’s not waste any more time. As always, keep up to date with the closer grid, which is almost entirely yellow this week because of all the movement.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
This week’s Deep League Report features several players who are way too good to appear in this column under normal circumstances. However, these are not normal circumstances. The trade deadline is today, and several teams have decided to beat the rush and trade for players in the other league a few days early. If you’ve been saving your FAAB dollars for NL imports in your AL-only league or AL imports in your NL-only league, this is the week you’ve been waiting for.
Can the Jays lefty remain a valuable fantasy starter down the stretch, or is it time to jump ship?
It’s been almost 12 months to the day since J.A. Happ joined the Pittsburgh Pirates and genuflected at the feet of pitching coach Ray Searage. The mythology surrounding Searage conveniently ignores the hurlers who weren’t fixed—or, perhaps, were too far gone—but it’s undeniable that Searage has worked a few miracles in his professional career.
How to identify the players you should seek in your upcoming fantasy barters.
Earlier this week our wonderful fantasy staff put together their Second-Half Buys. I, absent such fullness of wonder, did not participate, and for that, I apologize. To make up for this, my plan is to help us try to develop some tools for finding our own second-half buys, our own trade targets.
This skill, finding trade targets, is incredibly important, obviously, but it is likely even more important in today’s (fantasy baseball) game. Why is it more important today than it was ten years ago? Because, as we have said many times, the internet has made it difficult to differentiate via information asymmetry. Put differently, as soon as we posted our staff’s “second-half buys,” those players likely became more difficult to acquire—either their acquisition price in trade or FAAB went up or someone looked to scoop them from the free agent pool. This does not hold true for every player or recommendation (some fantasy baseball participants do not read fantasy analysis and some only read some sites), but it holds true for more players than you, or at least I, originally thought. Why? Because these recommendations are not random strokes of genius. We, as a fantasy baseball analysis community, largely follow the same twitter accounts, read the same articles, and are thus likely to write-up and analyze the same player because those players are most likely to be top of mind. This is not a criticism, it is just how our brains work, and I point it out in order to highlight the increased importance of finding trade targets outside of and in addition to recommendations from fantasy baseball experts. Moreover, the more players we can target, the more we can shop around for the best price. Lastly, not everyone wants to put in the effort, so those willing to do so can often get better than expected deals.
Helping you set your fantasy rotation for next week with a look at the two-start pitchers.
Welcome to the starting pitcher planner, where every Friday I’ll be taking a look at the pitchers slated for two turns in the upcoming week. The hope is that the planner can help guide lineup and FAAB decisions that need to be made over the weekend. Of course, my information isn’t perfect and I don’t have a crystal ball. Rain, injuries, and teams reshuffling between when I write and Monday’s first pitch will definitely happen. If new information comes to light after we publish, I’ll try to tackle it in the comments. Feel free to beat me to it if you have any info, and I’ll be glad to offer my opinion there if you want it.
Let’s get some ground rules out the way before getting started. The pitchers will be split by league and then by category. Here are some general thoughts about the categories:
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
We are now just six days away from the trade deadline. Obviously, Brad Ziegler had already been dealt this month, and there was another major trade just yesterday, but there should be more to come between now and the next time we speak. As always, keep up to date with the moves with the closer grid, with the recent changes highlighted in yellow. Now, on to the news.
Staff picks for players you might want to acquire in your fantasy deadline deals.
The members of fantasy team here at Baseball Prospectus have each selected one player they have their eye on targeting for the second half in trades. Some are more expensive to acquire than others, but they are on this list because their current market value is lower than their expected value the remainder of the way. Here are those players, in alphabetical order:
Javier Baez, INF, Chicago Cubs
The return of Dexter Fowler has seemingly relegated Baez to a more traditional bench role. Baez started in only three of six contests over the past week, including just one of three since Fowler’s reinstatement. I can’t tell you when and where the at-bats are going to come from; with a full-time outfielder back in the fold, there will likely be fewer appearances on the grass for Bryant and Zobrist, and therefore less opportunity on the dirt for Baez. It’s that uncertainty that makes him a target, though, as it should drive his price down. When he’s gotten the chance, Baez has shown the kind of multi-dimensional skillset that will make him an early-round selection in the coming years. He’s on the verge of double digits in both home runs and swipes in 250 plate appearances. Most importantly, his average sits at an unexpectedly excellent .285, with PECOTA projecting a tolerable .244 the rest of the way. Improvement in his contact rate even as he’s gotten more aggressive have upgraded his outlook from the batting average sink I once thought he’d be. I find it hard to believe the Cubs will stagnate the 23-year-old’s development by making him a twice-a-week player going forward, especially as they sit on a comfortable lead in the Central. Invest if Baez’s current owner doesn’t have the patience to wait for the path to become clear. – Greg Wellemeyer