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.
Zach is off today.
Tout Wars Mixed Auction
Jurickson Profar $112 (Other bids: $78, $37, $34)
You can’t write about Profar without mentioning he is only 25 years old, or not nearly as old as you would expect. You cannot write about Profar at Baseball Prospectus without mentioning our fearless leader Bret Sayre’s insatiable love for the Rangers’ infielder. Bret put his money where his heart is in Tout, bidding $112 and beating out Zach’s $78 bid. Elvis Andrus’ elbow injury gave Profar a clear path to playing time, but with Andrus starting a rehab assignment today, it is possible Profar shifts into a super sub role. Profar could also slot in at third, as Adrian Beltre has been alternating between the hot corner and DH due to injury/age/the inevitable passage of time. The 2018 edition of Profar is the best big-league version we have seen thus far, but this is extreme damning with the faintest of praise. Profar’s speed/power combination could be good for a 20-home run and 15-steal seasonal pace if everything breaks right, and Texas’ offense has been so poor that Profar should get his at bats regardless of how the positional concerns shake out.
Joakim Soria $81 (Other bids: $62, $55, $42, $21). LABR: $7
Two weeks ago Soria was worthless. Nate Jones had usurped the closer job in Chicago and Soria’s peripherals made him an instant drop in anything but AL-only. Rich Renteria turned back to Soria this week for saves and the veteran reliever delivered, shutting the door four times in a six-game span. Very quietly, Soria has his ERA down to 3.28 and his WHIP at a decent 1.18. He is a lower end closer in mixed formats but as I’ve said 100,000 times in this space saves are saves and should be acquired via FAAB whenever available.
Alex Cobb $71 (Other bid: $6) (MIA)
Bret was a busy beaver this week, nabbing Cobb for $71. Cobb wouldn’t make sense for most teams in Tout, but Bret has 63 out of a possible 75 pitching points and a strong front end led by Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Bret’s winning bid went through before yesterday’s clunker against the Blue Jays, but Cobb gets a more favorable matchup this week at home against the Marlins. I’d sit Cobb even in AL-only right now, but context matters and Bret attempting to scoop up a cheap win against Miami isn’t a bad play.
Hector Rondon $66 (Other bids: $36, $6). Tout Draft: $38. LABR: $14.
Rondon has quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball, striking out nearly 30 percent of the batters he has faced but more importantly keeping the ball in the yard and barely walking anyone. Rondon has shifted into the closer’s role for Houston, saving three games in the last week and supplanting Ken Giles in the ninth. This could be temporary but given Giles’ struggles bidding $80-100 on Rondon in a $1000 cap league makes sense.
Robert Gsellman $46 (Other bids: $37, $34, $19). Tout Draft: $35.
It was a big week for closer speculation in Tout. Jeurys Familia landed on the DL with right shoulder soreness, leaving a hole in the Mets’ bullpen. Gsellman seemed like the obvious candidate to close, but now it appears Anthony Swarzak will get the saves and Gsellman will be used in a set-up/multi-inning role. This makes sense given Gsellman’s history as a starter, but it stings if you shelled out significant FAAB to grab the long-haired reliever. Gsellman does offer value in mixed but I wouldn’t shell out more than $10-15 for his services if he isn’t closing.
Jake Bauers $39 (Other bids: $16, $12). Tout Draft: $2. LABR: $5
I really like what the smart, talented and ruggedly handsome Ben Carsley wrote about Bauers in the Rays Top 10 prospect list this winter so I’m including it here in its entirety.
Frankly, I think we tend to chronically under-rank guys like this and it’s something I’m looking to change this season. Bauers doesn’t have a crazy ceiling, but as mentioned above, he can hit. Oftentimes that’s enough to get substantial playing time, especially on a team like the Rays. Don’t get me wrong; Bauers isn’t a top-101 dynasty prospect, and if you only have 12 or 14 teams in your league, you shouldn’t be interested. But I don’t want to dismiss guys with his profile out of hand anymore, because they can turn into useful UT or bench options in fantasy.
It is unlikely Bauers hits more than 15-20 home runs over the course of a full season but in deeper mixed leagues like Tout this profile plays as a corner infield bat. The speed helps as well. Bauers stole 20 at Triple-A in 2017, had 10 swipes in 52 games this year prior to his promotion and could be a source of 10-15 steals in the majors if the Rays let him run. The batting average won’t be an asset, but Tout uses OBP and Bauers’ minor league walk rates and batting eye should translate to the majors. One final thing to consider is first base isn’t nearly as strong or deep as it was a few seasons ago. If Bauers hits 15 home runs, steals 15 bases and hits .260 this profile will play. Just make sure to get your power elsewhere on your roster.
Sam Gaviglio $36 (Other bid: $3). (@TB, WSH)
I wrote up Gaviglio three weeks ago for LABR AL and nothing has changed since then. He is a low velo arm who is getting it done by pounding the zone and hoping to keep enough balls in the yard to allow him to be viable. It has worked thus far, as Gaviglio has a 2.51 ERA in 28 2/3 innings despite a less than stellar whiff rate. A two-start week props Gaviglio up as a viable option in 15-team mixed, especially with the Rays on the docket.
Brock Holt $28
Andrew Suarez $27 (Other bid: $21). (@MIA). LABR: $2
Strikeouts? Check. Low walk rate? Check. Low home run rate? Oops. Suarez throws strikes with all four of his pitches, but none of them are above average offerings and if his location is even slightly off he will struggle. He is heading in the wrong direction, with a 6.23 ERA in his last six outings, although his FIP is an acceptable 4.12 in that span. It is likely Derek Van Riper of Rotowire grabbed Suarez with his favorable matchup in Miami in mind.
Steven Wright $26 (Other bid: $4) (@BAL, @SEA). LABR: $5
Two years ago, Wright posted a 2.68 ERA in the first half that culminated in an All-Star nod. The wheels came off in the second half in the form of an ugly 5.06 ERA and an August injury while running the bases that limited Wright to 42 2/3 innings. A knee injury ended Wright’s 2017 after five ineffective starts and the Red Sox depth combined with a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy made Wright an afterthought this year, even in AL-only. Pressed into action due to Drew Pomeranz’s injury, Wright had a stellar start last week against the Tigers, tossing seven scoreless innings and grabbing the win. Knuckleballers provide lots upside and downside, sometimes in the same start, but if you need a starter and aren’t too concerned with strikeouts Wright is a solid pickup for these two road starts.
Justin Miller $25. LABR: $1
Miller’s star briefly shined in 2015, when he parlayed an uptick in velocity into a middle relief role for the Rockies. He fell on hard times in 2016 and spent all of 2017 in the minors in the Angels’ system. Miller reemerged this year with the Nationals, and his results both at Triple-A and in the majors have been ridiculously good thus far. Miller isn’t likely to challenge Sean Doolittle for saves but could easily move up the pecking order behind him and already has three vulture wins to his credit. At his best Miller has a mid-90s heater and an upper 80s slider and both pitches have worked incredibly well this season. Miller’s a solid middle relief add in any format.
Ketel Marte $22 (Other bid: $6)
I have nothing against Ketel Marte as a real-life player, but it baffles me that this guy has been hyped in fantasy ever since the Mariners called him up in 2015. Marte posted stellar numbers at Triple-A in 2015 in 65 games and in 2017 in 70 games but otherwise has done very little with the bat. Entering today’s action, Marte is a lifetime .260/.313/.368 hitter in 1208 plate appearances. Steals were supposed to be a big part of Marte’s game and elevate him in fantasy, but this has failed to materialize, as he has only 23 career steals. His proponents point to Marte’s youth and suggest patience, but while this means there is possibly room for improvement it doesn’t help us in the here and now. Marte’s profile speaks to a hitter who needs to steal at least 20 bases to provide value and he is heading in the wrong direction, with one steal this season in 240 plate appearances. Marte is a decent option for Arizona thanks to his defense but is in a platoon with Daniel Descalso and stuck facing mostly lefties, further limiting his value. Marte is fine as a middle infield fill in but he isn’t a long-term fantasy solution.
Brandon McCarthy $22 (SD)
Lewis Brinson $19. Tout Draft: $2. LABR: $2
Speaking of highly touted phenoms, there was a great deal of high fiving among Brinson buyers because of his ADP, deemed to be a bargain at 266 overall. There certainly is plenty of upside in Brinson’s toolsy power/speed profile but his proponents failed to account for Brinson’s undisciplined approach and raw skills. Nine home runs have helped Brinson in fantasy but otherwise he has mostly been a lost cause, with a terrible .166 batting average annihilating his value everywhere except in NL-only. The Marlins plan to keep Brinson in the majors but indicated they plan to rest him more frequently going forward. This could help Brinson developmentally but won’t help in fantasy. In keeper leagues you must suffer through his struggles but in redrafts it is perfectly fine to bail and look elsewhere.
Anibal Sanchez $16 (SD). LABR: $1
Sanchez had an effective start yesterday against the Dodgers, allowing two runs and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings for the win. While his strikeout rate has been so-so, Sanchez’s 3.21 DRA mostly supports his strong ERA this season. Sanchez is never going to be a high strikeout arm, but his six-pitch mix can keep hitters off balance, and if the Braves are wise enough to use him as a five or six inning pitcher/avoid too much exposure, Sanchez could continue to be an effective back end option for both Atlanta as well as his fantasy teams.
Kang is a fine stash in deep mixed, and someone who could come back and offer power and speed on the left side of the infield at a cheap FAAB cost. Miller is another good stash. He isn’t going to be a world beater but could be a strong matchup play and cost only $1. Iglesias already has nine steals and will likely top his career high of 11 at some point this month. The rest of the profile is underwhelming for fantasy but if you need steals and are strong elsewhere you can take the shot on him in deeper mixed.
Tout Wars NL
Jon Jay $217. (Other bids: $178, $73, $69, $53, $34, $9). LABR: $22.
The pickings in NL-only this season have been brutal, which explains the two aggressive bids on the former governor of New York and Supreme Court Chief Justice. Jay is a low ceiling player but has value in mono formats thanks to a very good batting average. The Diamondbacks picked Jay up in a trade from the Royals last week for two minor leaguers. In the short-term Jay will start but the eventual return of A.J. Pollock and Stephen Souza will eventually push Jay to a fourth outfielder role. I bid $73 on the journeyman outfielder. I have been carrying 13 hitters and 10 pitchers in my active lineup for most of the season, but my offense has been struggling of late so I was hoping to add a 14th hitter. I wanted Jay but didn’t want to spend more than $100. Scott Wilderman of On Roto was far more aggressive and used a good portion of what was left of his FAAB.
Justin Miller $56. LABR: $2
Erick Fedde $17 (Other bid: $9)
Fedde could get a start this week for the injured Stephen Strasburg. With two off days on the slate it is also possible that Davey Martinez opts to use a four-man rotation this week. Fedde already has one major league spot start under his belt this year and the Nats don’t have many palatable options in their Triple-A rotation so Fedde is the logical replacement for Stras by default. The former UNLV product projects as a back-end starter and isn’t worth a bid if he isn’t guaranteed a slot in the front five.
Matt Strahm $17
Jerry Blevins $5
Kolby Allard $2
Yoshihisa Hirano $2
Zach Borenstein $1
Raffy Lopez $0
Sean Rodriguez $0
Francisco Pena $0
Strahm has not been officially given a slot in the Padres rotation but could get at least one more turn this week. Hirano has a lights-out 1.61 ERA and 0.93 WHIP as part of a stellar Diamondbacks bullpen. There do not seem to be any plans to promote Borenstein to the majors and while his 13 home runs in 259 plate appearances are decent Las Vegas is a hitters paradise, he has a 32 percent strikeout rate and he is 27 years old with no major league experience.
Jose Fernandez $5. (Other bids: $5, $3, $3). Tout AL: $212.
Unlike some Cuban defectors, Fernandez flew under the radar in both fantasy and prospect circles, due to his relatively advanced age (30), a low signing bonus ($200,000) and a long layoff between when he last played in Cuba (2014) and first played professionally in the United States (2017). Fernandez played in the Dodgers system last year then was released and picked up by the Angels this winter. I hate comps, but it is impossible not to look at Fernandez’s stat line and think of Yulieski Gurriel. Fernandez made contact with almost everything in Cub and his bat-to-ball skills carried over very well to the minors. The power isn’t elite, but Fernandez could top out at 15-20 home runs with a solid batting average. One drawback is Fernandez’s defense profiles poorly. He played some second and third base in the minors but looks to play first for the Angels due to these limitations. Shohei Ohtani’s injury will shift Albert Pujols to DH with Fernandez and Jefry Marte splitting time at first base. I didn’t bid because Fernandez is not first base eligible yet, but he could be one of the better corner infield free agent options in LABR AL in 2018.
Blaine Hardy $2. (Other bid: $1). Tout AL: $32. (MIN, @CWS)
A yeoman, multi-inning reliever prior to 2018, Hardy was pressed into the Tigers rotation out of necessity this season and thus far the results have been solid. Hardy is a soft tosser who has relied heavily on the slider in 2018 with some success, generating plenty of poor contact. The fantasy profile speaks to an only guy because of the low strikeout rate and a somewhat reduced possibility of wins on a below average Detroit team but two starts against the Twins and White Sox make Hardy a solid play in mixed and a strong one in AL-only this week.
Paulo Orlando $2. Tout AL: $114.
Jay’s trade to Arizona opened a spot in the Royals’ outfield and Orlando was summoned from Triple-A to fill it. His numbers for the Storm Chasers were OK, although it is notable that the one-time speedster has zero steals in 211 plate appearances between Triple-A and the majors. Abraham Almonte, Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon all could play center, but Orlando has picked up most of the starts there since the Jay trade and should get a clean shot in AL-only. He was a strong mono league asset as recently as 2016 but Orlando is 32 years old and could quickly slip into a bench role or back to the minors if he fails to perform.
Lucas Giolito $2 (CLE, DET)
Sam Travis $2. Tout AL: $13.
It took me nearly a month, but I finally found a warm body to replace Lucas Duda at first base. Scouts praise Travis’ mechanics at the plate but don’t envision him morphing into a power hitter now or long-term. Boston called Travis up 10 days ago and thus far he has been used as a righty bat in a first base platoon with Mitch Moreland. Travis is a roster filler/injury replacement in AL-only and won’t supplant Moreland barring injury.
McCarthy is a possibility to replace Kelvin Herrera in the ninth if/when Herrera is traded next month. Keller is an intriguing play but his projected matchup against Houston gives me the willies. Reyes looks like a terrible pickup but the free agent pickings in LABR AL are dreadful as always.
Thank you for reading
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