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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

Jose Alvarado $260 (Other bids: $112, $106, $104, $38, $23)

Waiver wire closers (or at least potential closers) sure don’t come cheap. With Alex Colome now in Seattle, it’s time to play the Tampa Bay closer guessing game, though Alvarado seems like a well-educated guess. The 23-year-old southpaw boasts a 2.95 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and a 9.7 K/9 rate in 22 appearances this season. The risk here is that he’s completely unproven in the closer role, so spending $260 to secure Alvarado is a bold move by Tim McLeod. But with the saves standings still very bunched up, this pricey investment does offer payoff potential.

Tyler O’Neill $226 (Other bids: $155, $99, $14, $13)

Since his most recent big league recall earlier this month, O’Neill has been swinging a hot bat, going 9-for-26 while slugging three homers and collecting six RBIs in eight games. The 22-year-old can play all three outfield positions and is receiving close to everyday at-bats right now. With Dexter Fowler banged up and mired in a season-long slump, O’Neill should see plenty of playing time, at least in the short term. As for the long term, it’s not hard to envision the top prospect making enough of an offensive impact to stick around in the majors for good. His power upside makes him worth an add in all formats, let alone this 15-team mixed league. The only question is whether Al Melchior’s $226 winning bid will prove to be an overpay.

Mark Reynolds $84 (Other bids: $6, $0)

Jared Hughes $78 (Other bids: $49, $43, $31, $29, $22, $16, $0)

Chaz Roe $64 (Other bid: $17)

Yolmer Sanchez $59 (Other bid: $0)

Martin Maldonado $57

Looking for a replacement catcher for Welington Castillo, I identified Maldonado as far and away the best available option when factoring in both floor and ceiling. But since I’m not merely in need of a stopgap, floor was even more important than ceiling. He’s the clear-cut starting backstop for the Angels and is producing enough at the plate to serve as an adequate second catcher in a deep mixed league. As it turned out, I could have added him for free, so there was a good chunk of wasted FAAB here. But I got the guy I wanted and am still roughly in the middle of the pack in the league with respect to remaining FAAB budget.

Wade LeBlanc $54 (TEX) (Other bids: $44, $23)

Jackie Bradley Jr. $48 (Other bid: $5)

Adam Engel $47 

Ronald Guzman $44 (Other bids: $22, $6)

Adam Plutko $44 (CHW, @MIN) (Other bids: $22, $22, $13, $1)

Freddy Galvis $36

Catcher wasn’t the only position I needed to fill this week as Orlando Arcia was my starting shortstop (I know, my worst auction day purchase, and it’s not even close.) Actually, considering Arcia’s utter lack of production this season, any middle infielder should probably be viewed as an upgrade. How much time Arcia will spend in the minors remains a mystery, so similar to my catcher situation, I was searching for a player who could be a long-term solution. Galvis’ ceiling might not be very high but he carries some power/speed potential and playing time shouldn’t be an issue going forward.

Shane Bieber $29

Ryan Yarbrough $26 (@OAK) (Other bids: $22, $22, $5, $0)

As a non-starter, Yarbrough has now tossed 13 1/3 innings of two-run ball over his last two appearances. The fact that he will be making a start this week is actually a negative since he will be required to pitch at least five innings to earn a win, but considering the way he’s pitched this month (2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), that shouldn’t be a problem.

Tyler Saladino $25 (Other bids: $23, $21, $0, $0)

Max Muncy $22 (Other bid: $6)

Gerardo Parra $21

Brent Suter $18 (STL, @CHW) (Other bids: $7, $3)

I wasn’t really expecting to win Suter for only $18, and there was indeed a $44 bid that did not come into play as it was a contingency bid. Generally speaking, I’m not overly confident in the Brewers southpaw, but he seems like a fairly safe two-start pitcher option with a pair of favorable matchups on tap for this week. Entering Monday, the Cardinals and White Sox rank 20th and 27th, respectively, in the majors in runs scored and Suter pitched well (5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) against St. Louis back on April 10.

Matt Duffy $17 (Other bid: $1)

Tyler Glasnow $13

Willy Adames $8

Matthew Koch $5 (vs. CIN, vs. MIA) (Other bid: $1)

I considered going after Koch instead of Suter as my two-start pitcher special of the week. But ultimately, despite the appealing matchups, Koch’s minuscule 5.2 K/9 rate gave the edge to Suter.

J.R. Murphy $4

Eric Lauer $4 (MIA, CIN)

Michael Taylor $2

Melky Cabrera $2 (Other bid: $0)

James Shields $0 (MIL)

Jose Bautista $0

Seth Lugo $0

TOUT WARS NL

Clay Buchholz $126 (MIA) (Other bids: $43, $37, $11, $5)

Buchholz is still pitching? This is the plaintive cry of the mixed league fantasy player, the kind of person who barely pays attention to his roster and thinks that Jose Quintana is borderline fantasy-relevant because he had a bad outing last week. This isn’t true for us NL-only players, though. We’re committed, so much so that we’ll spend hours poring over Buchholz’s minor league starts, calculating his ERA-FIP differential in the Pacific Coast League and meticulously estimating the impact the humidor will have on his performance for Arizona. Relatives come over to say hello at the Memorial Day cookout and you brusquely wave them aside, knowing that Buchholz’s home start against the Marlins will be the key to your season. Thirteen percent of your FAAB seems high, but you know what you’re doing, you mutter to yourself as relatives look at you with great concern while cookies and cake are being passed around the table at the end of the afternoon. You are going to win your league this year, and if that means a frosty car ride home with your significant other and children who wonder why “daddy’s mad all the time at the baseball men”, then so be it.

I didn’t bid on Buchholz or any other players this week. With Clayton Kershaw tentatively due to return, I have a bit of a roster crunch, particularly on the pitching side. Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ posted the aggressive bid on Buchholz. Health is typically the issue for the former Red Sox hurler, so if Buchholz can stay off the DL, he could certainly be productive for Hertz.

Jose Bautista $35 (Other bids: $22, $9, $1, $0)

Eight days ago, I dropped Bautista, figuring he was done not just with the Braves but with baseball entirely. Never underestimate the Mets. Bautista quickly signed with the Metropolitans and they inserted him into the lineup faster than you can say “1986 was such a long time ago.” Bautista is worth speculating on in NL-only if he has a job, but the bat looks slow and Joey Bats hasn’t been a stud hitter since 2015. Tout Wars is an OBP league and the batting eye will keep Bautista from providing negative value, but even considering this rule wrinkle, he remains a bottom-of-the-lineup option in fantasy. Bautista’s ideal role would be to play primarily against lefties, but the Mets are likely to use him against some right-handers as well.

Elieser Hernandez $33 (@ARI)

Luis Garcia $12 (Other bid: $11)

J.T. Riddle $11

Socrates Brito $9

Brandon Dixon $5 (Other bid: $1)

Kelby Tomlinson $5 (Other bid: $0)

Victor Arano $5

Steve Baron $2

Adbert Alzolay $2

David Hernandez $2

Erik Kratz $0

Pedro Baez $0

Greg Garcia $0

Josh Fields $0

As is frequently the case, Memorial Day is a quiet weekend for FAAB in Tout. Garcia picked up a save for the Phillies last week, but Philadelphia’s bullpen remains a poor place to speculate. Riddle will start at shortstop for the Marlins with Miguel Rojas shifting to third base. Alzolay is a decent stash on a Cubs team that has had difficulty getting production from the bottom of its rotation. David Hernandez could get the odd save or two in Cincinnati while Raisel Iglesias is out with a strained bicep in his left (non-throwing) arm, although the smart money is on Jared Hughes.

LABR NL

Jared Hughes $16 (Other bid: $2)

Hughes has already recorded two saves since Raisel Iglesias landed on the DL with a strained left biceps, and he boasts a 1.19 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP through 26 appearances this season. So, in this NL-only league, there was little question that he would be the most expensive purchase of the week. Doug Dennis of BaseballHQ was willing to spend 16 of his remaining 76 FAAB dollars to add Cincinnati’s fill-in stopper.

Eric Sogard $7 (Other bid: $1)

Clay Buchholz $2 (MIA)

Remember him? Well, Buchholz has allowed a grand total of four hits and one walk in two starts for the Diamondbacks this season (11 IP). The problem is that two of those four hits were home runs. But two runs over 11 innings is pretty good, certainly good enough for NL-only consideration, despite the lack of strikeout upside.

Brandon Dixon $2 (Other bid: $1)

Edgar Santana $2 (Other bid: $1)

Socrates Brito $1

Josh Fields $1

LABR AL

Adam Plutko $12 (CWS, @MIN) (Other bids: $8, $8, $7, $1). Tout AL: $312

Search through the archives at Baseball Prospectus and nearly every article about Plutko describes a pitcher who is pedestrian, with marginal major league stuff and an uninspiring future. This ignores what these types of scouting profiles frequently fail to mention: to make the majors you must have a certain level of ability. Plutko profiles as a back-of-the-rotation arm thanks to four pitches that are often described as “average”, but it has worked for him thus far in his first two major league starts.

I was the winning bidder on Plutko. After weeks of conservative bids and pulling my punches on several players, I took the plunge on Plutko. This isn’t because I have a great deal of faith in him but rather because the pool has been thin this season even by AL-only standards and pitching is by far where I have the most to gain. There are a couple of reasons I like Plutko more in fantasy than I do in real life. Cleveland’s defense gives him a larger margin of error than he would have on a different team and the soft AL Central should create more than a few “easy” matchups. I also like the fact that Cleveland is in contention and has Shane Bieber waiting in the wings. Plutko could stink but unlike a pitcher on a 65-win team that is tanking, Cleveland is unlikely to run him out there for 15-20 horrible outings if things go south. In the short term, Plutko has a nice two-start week. Long term, this could be a moderate waste of FAAB but considering the format, I don’t mind taking the risk.

Frankie Montas $6 (Other bid: $4)

Montas was used primarily as a reliever in 2017 by the Athletics but was called up by Oakland to make a spot start yesterday against the Diamondbacks. The results were solid, and it is possible Montas gets another start this week in Kansas City. His numbers out of the pen were terrible last season but the raw stuff still gets people on both the fantasy and scouting sides excited. Montas has a higher ceiling than Plutko but is more likely to crash and burn or simply be a short-term proposition in 2018.

Chaz Roe $5 (Other bids: $4, $1). Tout AL: $6

The Rays trade of Alex Colome was surprising, not so much because they traded him but rather due to the timing. Colome investors factored in the risk he’d be shipped somewhere but once he made it to Opening Day as the Rays closer figured they were buying three or four months of saves before he was moved. Instead, they got a mere 12 saves before Tampa sent him to the Mariners along with Denard Span for a pair of minor leaguers. Roe is one of the internal candidates in the Rays’ bullpen to replace Colome. Jose Alvarado is the other name bandied about as the next closer, but he was already rostered. I passed entirely on this situation, in part because I’m last in saves and getting very close to simply giving up on the category but also because I don’t have any faith in the Rays sticking with a primary closer. It would not surprise me if no Tampa reliver cracked 15 saves down the stretch.

Jose Rondon $4 (Other bid: $1). Tout AL: $16

Rondon spent most of last week starting at DH in favor of the injured Matt Davidson. He is likely to return to the bench when Davidson is healthy and is blocked up the middle by Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. Rondon has some AL-only value as a backup infielder but is worth no more than a $1 bid unless Moncada or Anderson get hurt.

Dwight Smith $3 (Other bid: $2)

A once promising prospect, Smith leveled off at Triple-A in 2017 and even though he is only 25, it is likely his future is as a bench bat or second-division starter. The Jays have been struggling with offensive depth all season and Smith is the latest in a long line of players who have attempted to bridge the gap. Smith has some pop and speed and has been starting in left field for Toronto since his call-up. He will likely head back to the minors when Randal Grichuk is finished with his rehab assignment.

Daniel Gossett $2 (TB, @KC) (Other bids: $1, $1)

Gossett’s name was floated as a prospect as far back as 2015 but he is regarded more now as a filler pitcher, thanks in large part to a terrible 2017 campaign where he logged a 6.11 ERA in 18 major league starts in 91 1/3 innings. Gossett is back in the majors and thus far the results haven’t been any better. This is about as good as it is going to get for Gossett, with a soft two-start matchup week against the Rays and at the Royals. He was a secondary FAAB play for me at $1 but I preferred two of the pitchers listed below and grabbed them instead.

Yusmeiro Petit $1

Jonathan Holder $1

Andrew Susac $1

Cam Bedrosian $1

Doug Fister $1 (@SEA, @LAA)

Craig Gentry $1

I added Fister to my team for a second go-round and nabbed Bedrosian, even though I do not believe Cam will get any saves. I did not want to start James Shields this week and liked Fister’s two-start week away from Texas. I had a great week in LABR, jumping from 63 points overall at the beginning of the week to 80 points at the end of it and a mere nine points out of first place. There is some risk in adding starting pitchers like Fister and Plutko to my staff but I’m going for volume in wins and strikeouts and hoping my ERA and WHIP stay in the middle of the pack. I’ll admit I was discouraged a week ago about my chances to win; now I feel like I have a shot if a few things break right for my team the rest of the way.

Thank you for reading

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