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 budget 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
Juan Soto $412 (Other bids: $401, $357, $315, $285, $227, $126, $56, $46, $31, $22)
From the moment Soto was officially called up by the Nationals on Sunday morning, there was little doubt that he would be the most expensive FAAB purchase this week. The only question was how much an owner would be willing to pay for his services. The answer? A lot. Ray Flowers of SiriusXM shelled out nearly two-thirds of his remaining FAAB budget to acquire the 19-year-old, whose stay at Double-A lasted a grand total of eight games. In 122 career minor league contests, mostly in the low minors, Soto batted .362 with 22 homers, 102 RBIs and a 58-to-66 BB/K ratio This season in the minors, he boasts a .362 average with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs in a mere 39 games. Yeah, he’s still a teenager, but he’s also a polished hitter who has the ability to make an immediate big league impact. As long as he doesn’t struggle mightily, Soto should see consistent playing time at least until Adam Eaton returns, which likely won’t happen until late-June at the earliest.
Nate Jones $222 (Other bids: $128, $39, $32)
As a Joakim Soria owner, I made a strong play for Jones, throwing out a $128 bid. As it turned out, Scott Swanay wanted him more than I did. It would have been nice to add Jones, as I’m now down to one full-time closer, but I’m still not convinced that he will see all of the save chances from here on out. My doubts were validated on Sunday when Jace Fry got the nod in the ninth, successfully converting his save chance. My closer search continues.
Franmil Reyes $213
Reyes earned his promotion to the majors by batting .346 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs in 36 games at Triple-A El Paso. He could be a decent power source in deeper mixed leagues but his playing time will likely decrease significantly once Wil Myers returns, so spending more than one-fifth of a total FAAB budget on Reyes seems a bit risky.
Jordan Lyles $159 (@LAD) (Other bids: $76, $74, $66, $55, $42, $27, $25)
Lyles’ career 5.30 ERA and 1.46 WHIP might scare off most fantasy owners, but the 27-year-old righty is very quietly putting together a stellar 2018 campaign, sporting a 3.11 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP with just under a strikeout per inning through 16 appearances. Lyles has made only three starts, however, and he’s coming off a shaky outing on Sunday. But with a matchup this week versus a Dodgers lineup that has been sub-par lately, Lyles is a worthy investment, though I’m not sure I’d value him at $159.
Daniel Winkler $114 (Other bids: $54, $26, $10, $7)
Wow, this league sure does place a premium on saves. Braves manager Brian Snitker was quoted as saying that while Arodys Vizcaino remains his primary stopper, he might call on Winkler to close some games. So naturally, Winker, who despite boasting exceptional numbers has compiled only 37 2/3 big league innings with zero career saves, garners a triple-digit dollar winning bid. Go figure.
Ross Stripling $92 (SD) (Other bids: $77, $55, $47, $46, $46, $28)
My consolation prize for losing out on Nate Jones was Stripling, who won’t give me any saves but has pitched exceptionally well as a rotation fill-in while providing a steady dose of strikeouts. The hope here is that the promising righty continues to pitch well enough to hold onto a rotation spot even after some of the Dodgers’ injured starters return.
Seranthony Dominguez $87 (Other bids: $77, $46, $33, $26)
Although Philadelphia’s ninth inning picture remains cloudy, Dominguez did earn the most recent save, so of course he was going to get scooped up. Personally, I’d avoid this situation entirely, as there’s simply too much uncertainty.
Jarrod Dyson $47 (Other bid: $26)
Jhoulys Chacin $46 (ARI, NYM) (Other bids: $29, $16)
Chacin was my contingency plan if I missed out on Stripling, but my $38 bid would not have been enough to land him anyway. After a rough start to the year, Chacin sports a 1.96 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP through three May outings, and he’s a two-start pitcher this week with both starts coming at home, where he has pitched to a 2.04 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP so far this season. Not a bad use of 46 FAAB bucks.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. $43 (Other bid: $13)
Ah, I was waiting for this day to come. I did toy with the idea of placing a bid on the younger Vlad but the reality is that we have no idea if/when the Blue Jays will call him up this season. Plus, Tout Wars rules stipulate that all FAAB pickups must remain in active lineups for at least the first week following the acquisition, so Tim McLeod, the new Guerrero owner, will be a player short this week, that is unless Vlad gets called up this week. Now that would be quite a story. McLeod happened to be the $357 bidder for Juan Soto, so maybe Soto’s surprising early promotion encouraged him to take a chance on Guerrero now before that $43 FAAB price multiplies by 10.
Daniel Descalso $36 (Other bids: $20, $17, $2)
For an in-depth look at Descalso, check out Scott Delp’s latest Buyer’s Guide article.
Chris Owings $36
Wilmer Difo $26 (Other bids: $25, $22)
Guillermo Heredia $25 (Other bid: $14)
Austin Meadows $20
Just in case you missed it, there was another highly regarded outfield prospect promoted to the big leagues this past week, and he was a lot cheaper than Soto. Meadows has certainly made a positive impression through his first three big league games, going 5-for-11 with a homer, two RBIs and a steal, and he should see everyday playing time while Starling Marte is on the DL. But Marte isn’t expected to be out for long, so unfortunately for Meadows, his time as a mixed-league relevant fantasy option has an expiration date.
Justin Anderson $17
Andrew Cashner $11 (@CHW, @TB)
Niko Goodrum $11
J.D. Davis $8
My second buy of the week, this one might turn out to be a waste of eight bucks, but it’s only eight bucks. Since getting sent down to the minors a couple weeks into the season, Davis has been swinging a red-hot bat, hitting .415 with four homers and 36 RBIs in 33 games at Triple-A Fresno. There isn’t an obvious path to at-bats, though Evan Gattis has been far from productive out of the DH spot for the Astros. If Davis takes advantage of the opportunities that he’s given and performs well, I can see him sticking around for awhile.
Seung-Hwan Oh $3
Clayton Richard $0 (@LAD)
TOUT WARS NL
What a week! I’ve been playing in Tout Wars since 2010 and this is one of the biggest non-trade deadline FAAB weeks I can remember. Let’s get cracking.
Juan Soto $608 (Other bids: $356, $336, $248, $237, $225, $77)
The surprising announcement late Saturday night that the Nationals would promote Soto to the majors for Sunday’s game led to a flurry of bids on the 19-year-old outfielder. Lenny Melnick (Roto Experts) was far more aggressive than any other Tout, bidding $608 of his remaining $717 to nab the teen phenom. Soto demolished minor league pitching across three levels this season, hitting 14 home runs in 182 plate appearances with a .362 batting average. He didn’t start yesterday but the Nationals didn’t promote Soto to watch from the bench.
Melnick pushed nearly all his FAAB chips in right after he completed a blockbuster trade earlier on Sunday with Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ. Melnick got Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke and Jose Reyes for Javier Baez, Ian Desmond and Eugenio Suarez. It is a perplexing trade for Melnick in my view. He decimated his offense and didn’t get enough pitching back to form an elite staff. Even if Melnick had put together the best staff in the league, it is almost impossible to win when you are sunk in nearly every offensive category. Playing devil’s advocate, the addition of Soto combined with the return of Jake Lamb and eventual return of Todd Frazier and Wil Myers will help. It is an extremely risky play, although with Melnick currently in the basement, I do like the idea of at least trying something different as opposed to simply sitting in last and hoping that everyone on your team magically turns it around.
Jordan Lyles $335 (@WSH, @LAD) (Other bids: $317, $88, $59, $11)
After shipping out his two best arms, Hertz added Lyles, spending $335 of his $687 remaining FAAB on the San Diego starter. Lyles showed increased fastball velocity in his perfect game bid against the Rockies last week, but as Craig Edwards of FanGraphs outlined, the more important takeaway was Lyles’ pitch mix and ability to throw strikes with the four-seamer. The turnaround has only taken place across a couple of starts but Lyles has shown ability in the past. If any of these gains hold, this was a solid acquisition by Hertz.
The Hertz/Melnick trade makes more sense to me from Hertz’s perspective. Hertz now has an offensive juggernaut. While his pitching does look terrible, Hertz doesn’t need to win pitching. He only needs to get 30 points or more across the board on the mound to compete and is already projected to finish middle-of-the-pack in saves. If Hertz is aggressive/savvy on the FAAB wires with the arms he picks up, he could get there. I don’t know if it will work but I like the strategy. You can’t win with a weak offense/strong pitching combo, but it is possible to win with strong offense and weak arms.
Austin Meadows $217 (Other bids: $146, $125, $112, $58, $43. $42. $27)
With Starling Marte on the DL with an oblique injury, Meadows will get at least a couple of weeks to impress the Pirates’ brass in the hopes of earning a permanent stay in Pittsburgh. Meadows’ overall minor league numbers this season aren’t impressive, but he was on a hot streak prior to his call-up. Meadows didn’t show much power at Triple-A but does have some power potential. The main part of his game is stolen bases. Meadows will get plenty of at-bats in Pittsburgh while Marte is sidelined and is a good short-term FAAB candidate in any format if you need steals.
Franmil Reyes $206 (Other bids: $102, $73, $58, $53, $30, $4)
I was aggressive with my bids this week but only managed to get Reyes.
Bid Block 1: Soto $336, Reyes $206, Meadows $186
Bid Block 2: Reyes $166, Meadows $146
Bid Block 3: Lyles $88
After a strong start in April, my offense has been sagging in May. Getting all three of these players would have left me with a mere $57 FAAB but it is better to push early for the players you want instead of waiting until August for a player from the American League who might never arrive. Reyes destroyed Triple-A pitching before his call-up but hasn’t done much yet in the majors. He has a tough series of parks and matchups on tap this week but I’m hoping the raw power shows up in Los Angeles and/or Washington. This is a high risk/high reward profile. Reyes could take off but he could also get exposed by major league arms, as Wilson Karaman pointed out in his write-up.
Garrett Hampson $62
Noel Cuevas $59 (Other bid: $0)
Cuevas makes his second appearance in the FAAB Review. He is getting more plate appearances with the Rockies than expected but hasn’t done much with his opportunity to date. With Carlos Gonzalez somewhat banged up (evergreen sentence), Cuevas could get a few starts a week and does have moderate power/speed potential. He could be the NL answer to Johnny Field thanks to the Coors boost.
Ji-Man Choi $58
Dan Winkler $33 (Other bids: $28, $6)
Hertz also added Winkler to his squad to replace the Strasburg/Greinke combo. Conventional wisdom believes Atlanta closer Arodys Vizcaino will eventually lose his job, although he has been decent thus far. A.J. Minter and Winkler are the best in-house candidates to replace Vizcaino and at this price, Winkler is a solid speculative play. Even if he doesn’t save games, Winkler still has plenty of potential value thanks to his strikeouts (28 in 19 1/3 innings) and rate stats (0.93 ERA and 0.62 WHIP).
Edubray Ramos $33 (Other bid: $32)
You might be surprised, dear reader, to hear that one of these bids for Ramos wasn’t mine. I purchased Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez last week, but this was before Ramos’ Sunday save. Dominguez picked up a two-inning save on Saturday and while this remains a fluid situation in Philadelphia, I still believe Dominguez is the guy to get. Grey Albright of Razzball certainly has nothing to lose with a modest $33 bid and in a worst-case scenario, he gets no saves for three percent of his FAAB. My money is either on an ugly committee that makes fantasy managers incredibly unhappy or Dominguez grabbing the job sometime next month.
Daniel Castro $17
Yairo Munoz $15 (Other bid: $13)
I lost out on Munoz by $2, with Scott Wilderman of On Roto beating me to the Cardinals shortstop. Jedd Gyorko is the better fantasy play, but Munoz is the more capable defender. It remains to be seen how Mike Matheny plays it while Paul DeJong recovers from a broken hand. Munoz was an average hitter at Triple-A but in NL-only, playing time opportunity trumps almost everything else.
Michael Feliz $12
Tyler Saladino $8 (Other bid: $7)
Phil Evans $7
Robbie Erlin $2
Miguel Gomez $1
Jett Bandy $0
Tony Cruz $0
Tony Watson $0
Saladino was my consolation prize for missing out on Munoz in my second consecutive effort to replace auction bust Eric Sogard at middle infield. Castro was someone I also considered but not at $17. It isn’t surprising there weren’t too many low-end bids in Tout this week; generally, when there are aggressive bidders, they don’t back up their big spending ways with $0-10 bids.
Juan Soto $56 (Other bids: $52, $41, $37, $20, $18, $3)
Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of interest in Soto among the NL LABR owners. Fantasy Alarm’s Howard Bender was so interested to the point where he was willing to spend 56 of his remaining 64 FAAB dollars on the neophyte outfielder. Bender now has only eight bucks remaining for the entire season and LABR does not allow $0 bids or FAAB trading, so it will be interesting to see how Howard handles that situation. Soto might prove to be worth the hefty investment, but considering the aforementioned LABR FAAB rules, it’s very risky.
Jordan Lyles $25 (@LAD) (Other bids: $7, $4, $2, $2, $1)
There’s some evidence suggesting that Lyles is legitimately a new and improved pitcher, but I’m sure that Dalton Del Don of Yahoo Sports is wishing that LABR followed a Vickrey system for FAAB. Now with only $22 remaining in his budget (he made three other purchases this week in addition to Lyles), Dalton’s chances of being competitive in the bidding for crossover players later this season are slim.
Seranthony Dominguez $11 (Other bids: $11, $3)
As I mentioned in the Tout Wars section, I’m steering clear of the saves guessing game when it comes to the Phillies in all of my leagues. But that is easy to say in this league, where the Baseball Prospectus squad has already accumulated 37 saves, more than double the amount of the second-place team in the category (18).
Franmil Reyes $10 (Other bids: $7, $7, $4, $4, $4, $1)
Reyes was certainly worth picking up in a deep NL-only league, and I was actually one of the $7 bidders. But he’s just 2-for-17 in six games since getting called up by the Padres and it’s tough to discount the long-term playing time concerns that I touched on in the Mixed Auction Tout Wars section. The good news is that if Reyes is sent back down to the minors, Dalton Del Don (yep, him again) will be able to stash him on his reserve list.
Wei-Yin Chen $6 (WAS)
As it turned out, I overpaid for Chen here. But I did need a replacement for the injured Joey Lucchesi, and Chen, after getting off to a rough start this year, is fresh off his best outing of the season on Sunday in which he limited a dangerous Braves lineup to two runs across 5 1/3 innings while striking out five. I view him as an above-average pitcher in an NL-only league, though the schedule doesn’t do Chen any favors as he will next face off against an equally tough Nationals lineup.
A.J. Minter $5 (Other bids: $5, $2, $1)
I was actually surprised that Minter was available considering the possibility that he will earn some saves down the road this season. But even if Arodys Vizcaino holds onto the Braves’ closer job from start to finish. Minter should still provide Dalton Del Don with helpful ratios.
Pat Valaika $3
Jose Osuna $2 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
Dan Winkler $2
Richard Rodriguez $1 (Other bid: $1)
Rodriguez has been dominant out of the bullpen for the Pirates this season, pitching to a 1.53 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with 30 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. The value of solid middle relievers is often discounted in fantasy, especially in non-mixed leagues. At the price of one FAAB dollar, Rodriguez definitely offers profit potential.
Tyler Saladino $1 (Other bid: $1)
Ryan Flaherty $1 (Other bid: $1)
Max Moroff $1
Sam Gaviglio $5 (@PHI) (Other bids: $1, $1) Tout AL: $77
Jaime Garcia went on the DL with left shoulder inflammation and Gaviglio was tabbed to replace him in the rotation. Gaviglio had a strong start against the Athletics on Saturday, allowing no runs, six hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. He throws an upper 80s sinking fastball that he compliments with a decent slider and the occasional curve/change. Gaviglio has relied more on the slider this season but a three-game/one-start sample is too small to draw any conclusions about pitch usage going forward. He draws the Phillies in Philadelphia this week, which makes him strictly an AL-only play.
Joey Rickard $4 (Other bid: $1)
Rickard is on the weak side of a platoon for the Orioles but since Baltimore faced four lefties in their last six games, he earned most of the starts last week. Selected in the Rule 5 draft by Baltimore back in 2015, Rickard managed to stick with the Orioles but never did much with the bat or glove and wound up as a fifth outfielder in a world where teams carry 12-13 pitchers on their 25-man rosters. Injuries have given Rickard an opportunity this season and he has hit well at both Triple-A and the majors thus far. I am skeptical it will last but Rickard’s spike in walks is an encouraging sign; perhaps his approach has changed and will lead to somewhat better outcomes. He’s worth a $2-3 FAAB throw in AL-only.
Blaine Hardy $4 (@MIN)
Justin Anderson $3 (Other bids: $2, $2, $1, $1)
Blake Parker picked up a save yesterday for the Angels. As I pointed out last week, Parker has been pitching well outside of a bad start to the season and now has nine consecutive scoreless outings. The window for any non-Parker reliever in Los Angeles to get saves could be closing, so I do wonder if some of the experts in LABR AL placed their bids prior to Sunday’s Angels game. I bid $2 on Anderson and did check my bids at 11 pm ET so maybe everyone thought the same thing I did, which is that the Angels’ bullpen remains in flux and nothing has been decided of yet. This was a lot of words about Parker for a blurb that is supposed to be about Justin Anderson, who has high strikeout potential but high walk potential as well. Anderson is fine at this price in AL-only, but my money is on Parker going forward.
Pete Kozma $3 Tout AL: $2
If you had asked me to guess how many major league career plate appearances Kozma had, I would have guessed 1500. He only has 771. My high-end guess is probably because Kozma was the starting shortstop for the 2013 National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, amassing 139 games at short and 448 plate appearances for the Redbirds during the regular season. He garnered plenty of playing time in the postseason too, with 97 career plate appearances and a .171/.292/.244 line to show for it. The Cardinals moved on after the 2013 season and Kozma has spent most of his time since then in various farm systems waiting for an injury on the big club. He’s a Tiger now and is with Detroit thanks to Jeimer Candelario’s bum wrist. Kozma is a career .214/.278/.288 hitter with five home runs and eight steals in those 771 plate appearances. I have Candelario on my LABR team and did not bid, deciding that an empty roster spot was superior to the risk of a 1-for-20 week. I would have bid if LABR permitted $0 bids. Playing time matters in mono formats and Kozma does have four runs and six RBIs but that’s still a no for me.
Jace Fry $3 (Other bids: $2, $1) Tout AL: $4
Fry picked up the save for Chicago yesterday, prompting some low-end bidding for his services. Nate Jones had saved two of the White Sox previous three games prior to Fry’s outing. It is likely Jones simply needed a breather, but Fry has outpitched Jones of late and the White Sox pen is in flux. It is clear Joakim Soria isn’t the closer anymore. Beyond that, anything is possible and while my money is on Jones going forward, Fry could win the job if Jones continues to struggle with the long ball.
Tony Kemp $2 (Other bids: $2, $1) Tout AL: $118
Derek Fisher is on the DL and while Kyle Tucker is the long-term answer for Houston, Kemp is the guy who is up right now. He had 13 stolen bases in 183 plate appearances at Triple-A, so if Kemp does nothing else, he should steal bases if the Astros give him the green light. I bid $1. I needed a replacement for Carlos Gomez but with Randal Grichuk close to starting a rehab assignment, I decided I wouldn’t go over $1 on any outfielder.
Jake Cave $2 Tout AL: $36
Cave filled up the box score on Saturday with a home run, a stolen base, two runs and two RBIs in his major league debut for the Twins. It seems like Cave has been around forever, but he is only 25 so his power breakout last year at Triple-A shouldn’t be viewed as skeptically as it has been in some corners. Cave is still a more likely fourth outfielder candidate than a future starter, but he has an opportunity to push into a more significant role for the Twins, who nabbed him this winter from the Yankees in exchange for Luis Gil. Cave could be a decent, low-end power/speed play in AL-only and should be monitored in deep mixed.
Sandy Leon $1 (Other bid: $1)
Omar Narvaez $1
Bobby Wilson $1
Drew Butera $1
Jose Alvarez $1
I grabbed Butera for $1 to replace Caleb Joseph, who the Orioles sent down to the minors early last week. My offense is suddenly riddled with injuries but none of my disabled hitters (Candelario, Lucas Duda, Gomez, Grichuk) are expected to miss significant time. Nevertheless, I will need quick recoveries and strong performances when they return in order to stay in the race and not fall into the second division. Mike Trout and Francisco Lindor have carried my offense but can only carry me so far, even in a mono league.