Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Zach Steinhorn covers the Tout Wars mixed auction league and LABR NL, while Mike Gianella tackles Tout Wars NL and LABR AL. LABR uses a $100 FAAB with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free agents are awarded at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday while LABR’s are awarded on Sunday at midnight ET.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Kyle Barraclough $273 (Other bids: $128, $106, $87, $46, $35, $14)
Barraclough really should be the Marlins closer. Through 12 appearances this season, the 27-year-old righty sports a 2.31 ERA with 21 strikeouts across 11 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, Brad Ziegler, Miami’s current ninth inning man, has struggled to the tune of a 7.71 ERA, allowing runs in five of his 11 appearances. After Barraclough recorded the save on Saturday, it appeared as if he was on the verge of taking over closing duties. So, while Tim McLeod’s $273 winning bid seemed like a very steep price to pay for him, it wasn’t completely unreasonable for a guy who had the potential to be a high-end stopper if given the opportunity. Even though I’m not in need of saves, I threw out a $106 bid, figuring that I could use Barraclough or one of my other closers as a trade chip if Barraclough does indeed assume the closer role and hold onto the job long-term. Well, after Ziegler earned the save for the Marlins on Sunday (Ziegler reportedly was not feeling 100 percent healthy on Saturday), I’m glad that my bid fell short. By the way, this is the downside of the new 1:00 PM ET FAAB deadline, as we can no longer consider Sunday’s game results when determining our bids. I still think that Barraclough will lead Miami in saves by year’s end, but his fantasy owners will need to be a little patient.
Alen Hanson $87
Another Tim McLeod purchase, Hanson figures to serve as the Giants’ regular second baseman for however long Joe Panik is sidelined, which could be awhile. A former top prospect while in the Pirates organization, Hanson has yet to realize his potential. But he was tearing it up through 18 games at Triple-A Sacramento this season, batting .403 with three homers, 17 runs scored and six steals. For 87 bucks, the Hanson gamble might prove to be a good one, but his Triple-A numbers do need to be discounted to a degree since they were compiled in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.
Junior Guerra $72 (Other bids: $36, $34, $18, $13, $6, $4) (PIT)
In search of more starting pitching options, Guerra was my top target, and I got him. There’s some risk with the Brewers righty, as he’s coming off a rough 2017 campaign in which he posted a 5.12 ERA across 21 appearances (14 starts), but Guerra has been outstanding so far in 2018, allowing a combined two earned runs through his first four starts. Regression is surely on the way, but his stellar 2016 season with Milwaukee (2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP in 20 starts) offers some hope that he can at least serve as a quality back-end of the rotation starter who I can insert into my lineup when the matchups are right.
Cam Bedrosian $57 (Other bids: $7, $0)
Marco Gonzales $50 (LAA)
Jarlin Garcia $48 (Other bids: $29, $23, $18) (@CIN)
I threw out an $18 bid on Garcia in the event that I missed out on Guerra, unwilling to go any higher due to the thin track record. And after reading Scott Delp’s Buyer’s Guide article from today, let’s just say that I’m glad I came away with Guerra.
Carlos Gomez $47 (Other bids: $36, $2, $0)
Gomez has gotten off to a slow start this season, but this could end up being a good buy for Ron Shandler, as the Rays outfielder should see regular playing time as long as he’s healthy. Despite the dreadful .176 AVG, Gomez does have four homers and two steals through 25 games. He’s certainly worth a roster spot in deep mixed leagues thanks to the power/speed contributions. Outfield isn’t a need for me but I figured I’d make a modest play for Gomez anyway. My $36 bid wasn’t quite enough.
Joey Wendle $47
Jurickson Profar $47 (Other bids: $27, $24, $4)
Howie Kendrick $43 (Other bids: $24, $17, $14, $4)
Mike Soroka $41 (Other bid: $36)
The Soroka purchase is a bit risky as reports say the Braves will only call him up if Julio Teheran is unable to make his start on Wednesday. Tout rules require all players added via FAAB to remain in active lineups for at least one week, so Al Melchior could be signing up for zero production from a roster spot. But Soroka is an elite prospect with an exceptional minor league track record, so this could be a risk worth taking as he would make for a fine stash even if he doesn’t get called up until the summer.
James McCann $39
Chad Kuhl $32 (@WAS, @MIL)
Wei-Yin Chen $28 (Other bids: $24, $21, $16, $1) (@CIN)
Making his first start since last May (he pitched out of the bullpen in September), Chen was solid in his season debut on Saturday, limiting a strong Rockies lineup to just one run across 5 1/3 innings. He’s deserving of a spot on most deep mixed league rosters but keep in mind that Chen is pitching with a partially torn UCL that he chose to rehab rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. The Marlins will likely keep him on a strict pitch count for the time being.
Daniel Robertson (Other bids: $24, $22, $13, $6, $0)
Jason Hammel $23 (@BOS, DET)
Jesus Aguilar $22
Still looking for an upgrade over Lucas Duda at CI (last week’s Mitch Moreland experiment didn’t go too well), I’ll now give Aguilar a try. He figures to get the lion’s share of the at-bats at first base while Eric Thames is sidelined (6-8 weeks). Aguilar has been swinging a hot bat so far this year and was productive in a part-time role last season, launching 16 homers in only 279 at-bats, so hopefully he can take advantage of the playing time increase.
Danny Valencia $16
Alex Verdugo $13
Mike Fiers $11 (@KC)
Fiers is tough to trust, but he’s gotten off to a fine start this season, allowing three earned runs or fewer in three of his first four outings. If you’re going to take a chance on Fiers, this week is as good a time as any, as the Royals rank last in the AL in both runs scored and homers and next-to-last in OPS.
TOUT WARS NL
Wei-Yin Chen $115 (Other bids: $88, $52, $41, $4) (@CIN). LABR NL: $6
In deep mono expert leagues, very few players are overlooked during the auction. Chen was an exception to this rule. Given Tout Wars’ unlimited injury lists, it is somewhat surprising no one either drafted Chen or stashed him cheaply via FAAB prior to his 2018 debut. Thanks in part to a strong outing against the Rockies on Saturday, Chen fetched an expensive $115 winning bid from Scott Wilderman of On Roto. Despite a low career strikeout rate, Chen has been a relatively successful major league pitcher, posting a 3.89 ERA in 868 1/3 major league innings. Even though he’ll be pitching at Great American Ball Park this week, Chen is worth using in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
Alen Hanson $103. (Other bids: $21, $7). LABR NL: $4
Joe Panik’s thumb injury could knock him out of the Giants’ lineup for weeks, and Hanson has an opportunity to seize the second base job while Panik is sidelined. The former Pirates prospect failed to land an everyday job during his years in Pittsburgh, but he is only 25 years old and offers oodles of stolen base potential. Wilderman was also the winning bidder on Hanson.
Pablo Sandoval $69
Matthew Koch $61. (Other bids: $37, $27) (LAD, HOU). LABR NL: $17
Koch was acquired by the Diamondbacks as part of the Addison Reed deal with the Mets way back in 2015. Koch isn’t young as far as prospects go, but this matters somewhat less for pitchers than it does for hitters, and the Diamondbacks saw enough in Koch to give him an opportunity in the rotation with Taijuan Walker out for the season. He doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, but his ground ball and weak contact tendencies should keep the ERA from ballooning. Houston and Los Angeles don’t make for an ideal two-start matchup, but any non-Coors two-start matchup is virtually an auto-start in NL-only. I see Koch as a viable option his first time through the league before batters catch up with and adjust to his stuff.
Jung-ho Kang $56
Nick Kingham $33. LABR NL: $7
Kyle Freeland $22 (Other bid: $2) (@CHC, @NYM)
Freeland’s rate stats are pedestrian thus far but a jump in his strikeout rate from 16 percent in 2017 to 22 percent this season is interesting to note, even if it is merely small sample size noise. Freeland is typically a tough pitcher to roster in a league like Tout where you must carry him as an active player the week you acquire him, but with two projected road starts this week, this could turn into a very wise stash by Steve Gardner of USA Today.
Max Fried $18 (Other bid: $0)
Fried might see time in the Braves rotation in 2018 but currently is being used as a long man in the pen. This is another example of an active roster stash but given Fried’s uncertain short-term role, he is only worth rostering or reserving in NL-only if he is on the Braves’ active roster.
Austin Riley $17
Austin Voth $5
Max Moroff $4
Phil Maton $1
Cory Gearrin $0
This was a big week for stashes. Brian Walton of Creativesports spent a combined $89 on Kang and Kingham. Kang’s bid was prompted by the announcement that he was granted a visa to return to the United States. His timetable to play baseball is uncertain but even if Kang is only available for half a season, this will be a bargain. Kingham started yesterday for the Bucs and it was anticipated that he would be sent to the minors after the game, but there’s now a chance he will get another start this week. Todd Zola of Mastersball also stashed a player, grabbing Riley for $17. I talked to someone with far more intimate knowledge of the Braves’ system than I possess (ooooh, my first unnamed source!) who believes the Braves are committed to leaving Riley in the upper minors for a full season, or at least until September. The price was right but the four-player bench in Tout make long-term stashes cumbersome.
I made a trade, flipping Starling Marte and Clayton Richard to Wilderman for Kyle Hendricks and Hernan Perez. My offense is strong and my pitching is struggling so this felt like a no-brainer on my end. I also have Billy Hamilton and while he is off to a slow start, his presence on my roster gave me the luxury of dealing Marte’s excess steals.
Wilderman spent a combined $291 on Chen, Hanson, Sandoval and Moroff. He is now down to $499 in FAAB. His offense suffered multiple injuries this past week and Wilderman felt he needed to aggressively address the holes on his team. It will leave him out on any big mid-season imports from the AL come July but if he doesn’t accrue enough stats between now and mid-July, waiting for Manny Machado to get traded to the Cubs won’t matter.
Matthew Koch $17
Lenny Melnick saw enough from Koch through 14 innings this season (1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) to convince him that spending roughly one-sixth of his total FAAB budget on the Arizona righty was a good idea. Head over to the Tout Wars NL section for more on Koch.
Nick Kingham $7 (Other bids: $5, $3)
Quite a big league debut for Kingham. I wonder what he would have gone for had he actually thrown a perfect game. Sunday’s outing was only supposed to be a spot start but how could the Pirates rationalize not giving him another start this week? LABR rules allow minor leaguers to be stashed on reserve lists, which is good news for the NFBC duo of Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs, who will not need to release Kingham if he is indeed sent back down in the near future.
Wei-Yin Chen $6 (Other bids: $6, $3)
I liked the Chen addition in Tout Wars Mixed Auction and like it even more in this deep NL-only league. There’s obvious injury risk, as I alluded to above, but he’s proven to be an above-average big league pitcher when healthy.
Eric Lauer $6 (Other bids: $6)
Alen Hanson $4 (Other bids: $3, $1)
Kyle Farmer $2
Robbie Erlin $1
This is an interesting one as Jankowski was called up from Triple-A on Sunday and is expected to serve as the Padres’ fourth outfielder for the time being. Jankowski is fully capable of playing all three outfield positions, so he could see enough at-bats, at least in the short-term, to put his elite speed to use. Don’t forget that he swiped 30 bags for the Pads back in 2016.
Jett Bandy $1
Noel Cuevas $1
Eric Skoglund $13 (Other bids: $3, $1) (DET)
As I have mentioned before in this space, the starting pitcher possibilities are extremely limited in LABR. Skoglund has been a LABR free agent all season long but it wasn’t until his solid outing Saturday against the White Sox that anyone was tempted to pick him up. Skoglund’s raw stuff is unimpressive and he needs to be perfect with both his command and control to provide value as a fifth starter in mono formats. He averaged 92-93 miles-per-hour on his fastball in two strong strikeout outings and 90-91 miles-per-hour in his two weak strikeout games. Which Skoglund Andrea Lamont of RotoLady will get this week against Detroit is anybody’s guess.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa $5 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1, $1)
I was a little surprised Kiner-Falefa wasn’t scooped up yet until I looked at his scouting profile and minor league line. He is playing almost every day for the injury-depleted Rangers, so he is an obvious add in AL-only, but the minor league line speaks to an empty 15 stolen bases at best, with perhaps a smattering of home runs thanks to the enhanced baseball. His multi-positional eligibility and especially his ability to catch make Kiner-Falefa interesting in real life but in a league like LABR where you can’t stash him on reserve, he loses some of his luster.
Daniel Palka $4 (Other bids: $4, $1, $1). Tout AL: $29.
Palka’s age (26) and lack of buzz relegated him to the ex-prospect side of the ledger this past winter, but there is enough power in the bat that Palka could have some fantasy relevance, particularly on a team like the White Sox that is willing to mix and match and give several players an opportunity to show what they can do. The upside for Palka is 20-25 home runs with a subpar batting average if he can usurp one of Chicago’s corner outfield jobs; the reality is probably a fourth outfielder who gets the occasional start and rides the shuttle between Chicago and Charlotte all season long.
Jace Peterson $3 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Way back in 2014, Peterson was a Padres prospect who excited fantasy managers because of his blazing speed and the hope he would steal 30-40 bags per season in the majors. This speed never translated to the majors and now Peterson is a 27-year-old journeyman who will need a little luck to stick on a big-league squad. Jonathan Schoop’s oblique injury has given Peterson an opportunity with the Orioles at second base, and he has stolen three bases in eight games for Baltimore. There is absolutely nothing else in his profile that is worthwhile for fantasy but if Peterson is running, he has AL-only value.
This was one of my FAAB purchases. I’m annoyed I wasted $2. I thought someone else would gamble on the possibility that Swihart gets traded to a team that needs a starting or platoon catcher. This is an example of using a dead roster spot to stash a player and hope for better stats later. It is an unacceptable strategy in mixed leagues but a decent play in mono formats.
Johnny Field $1
Ryan Pressly $1
Chris Young $1
Chris Martin $1
Johnson was my other FAAB buy, and another example of an active roster FAAB stash. He is an in-roster backup strategy should David Price get hurt.
I made my first trade in LABR AL this season, swapping Adam Jones and Jim Johnson to Eno Sarris of FanGraphs for J.A. Happ, Tyler Naquin and Anthony Banda. I had been carrying three starters for most of the season and while my team is on pace to meet LABR’s 950-inning requirement, I did not want to continue digging a hole in strikeouts. My offense hasn’t been quite as dynamic in the early going as I would have hoped but I am assuming Jose Altuve and Francisco Lindor will provide elite production at some point during the season. If they don’t, I am going to lose in any event.
Thank you for reading
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