In keeper leagues, you try to balance your needs in the current season with your needs for upcoming seasons. That means that when you’re scanning the free agent pool, you’re not just looking for players who can help you this year. Of course, a lot depends on the specifics of your league: how deep it is, how much a player will cost as a keeper and how long you can keep him. Here are three guys to think about for next season.
He’s probably taken in all but the shallowest leagues since he has been awesome in his rookie season, posting a 3.12 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 89 1/3 innings with 98 strikeouts and 32 walks. He doesn’t do it quietly, either, regularly hitting triple digits with his fastball and racking up whiffs that end up becoming animated GIFs on Twitter. I picked up Castillo in two of my mixed league keeper leagues when he debuted and I’m strongly considering keeping him for next season in both despite the fact that these leagues don’t have many keeper slots. That the Reds have shut him down for the season to limit his innings could mean that owners drop him in favor of players who will help this season. If he becomes available in your keeper league, snap him up.
Like Castillo, Smith is probably not available in all but the shallowest keeper leagues. However, with a batting average below the Mendoza line in his first exposure to the majors, a frustrated owner might cut him loose. If that happens, go get him. He’s still the same prospect he was a month or two ago. You can look forward to a solid performance from Smith in 2018 until the Mets inevitably mishandle a seemingly minor injury, derailing his season.
He didn’t make any prominent top 100 (or top 101) prospect lists heading into this season. The highest ranking I found for him heading into 2017 was 207. Hays did everything he could in the minors this season to change that, putting up big numbers that will have him on every prospect list headed into the 2018 season. The 22-year-old outfielder posted a .328/.364/.592 line with 16 home runs in 64 games at High-A, then put up an eerily similar .330/.367/.594 line with 16 home runs in 64 games at Double-A before skipping Triple-A and being added to the major-league roster as a surprise September call-up. Anyone who can hit 32 homers in a minor-league season with an average well over .300 at age 22 is worth a long look, regardless of where they were ranked on Opening Day.
Like Austin Hays, Sanchez didn’t make any top 100 (or top 101) prospect lists this past spring. Like Hays, Sanchez will certainly be on all of them heading into 2018. The 19-year-old outfielder has spent the year in Low-A, hitting .305/.348/.478 with 15 homers and seven steals. Since he has yet to play in High-A and is still a teenager, he won’t be getting a call-up this month, which means he might not be eligible as a pickup in your league. If he is, though, and stashing minor leaguers on your roster for a couple of seasons makes sense within your league’s parameters, Sanchez merits serious consideration.