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
Jon Jay $103 (Other bids: $11, $11)
The only triple-digit dollar purchase of the week, Jay earned the generous bid by BP colleague Bret Sayre by going 10-for-17 with one homer, six RBIs and six runs scored over his previous four games heading into Sunday. Do note that while Jay is receiving regular at-bats right now, his playing time will take a hit once Steven Souza and A.J. Pollock return to action. This uncertainty could be the main reason why only two other owners placed a bid on Jay.
Zach Eflin $57 (@WAS) (Other bids: $47, $8)
Eflin now boasts a 3-0 record with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP through three June starts, and his drastically improved strikeout rate compared to last season (9.3 K/9 vs. 4.9 K/9) is very encouraging. Maybe 2018 will prove to be a breakout season for the 24-year-old righty. On paper, Eflin’s matchup this week might seem scary, but the Nationals actually rank among the bottom five teams in the majors in runs scored, batting average and OPS this month.
Stephen Piscotty $56 (Other bid: $0)
Although inconsistency has plagued Piscotty for much of the season, he’s quietly batting .318 with 10 RBIs and a .835 OPS so far in June. Why not ride the hot bat?
Jonathan Loaisiga $54 (SEA) (Other bids: $47, $16, $9)
Loaisiga fared rather well in his big league debut, blanking the Rays over five innings while racking up six strikeouts. The 23-year-old righty did issue four free passes, but I see this as more of a surprise than a concern being that he has done an excellent job of limiting walks in the minors (1.5 BB/9). With Masahiro Tanaka expected to be sidelined through the end of the month, Loaisiga should get at least a few more starts with the big club.
Seranthony Dominguez $41 (Other bids: $34, $1, $1)
Philadelphia’s closer situation remains a complete mess, and only Gabe Kapler knows who will be receiving the next save chance. Wait, I don’t even think he knows. Anyway, Dominguez has pitched exceptionally well this season, and he did earn a save last week. He deserves the ninth inning gig. Whether or not he will finish the season as Philadelphia’s saves leader remains to be seen. Still, at $41, he’s a worthwhile investment.
A.J. Minter $34
Dereck Rodriguez $27 (MIA, SD)
Fresh off a strong outing against the Marlins in which he tossed 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball, Rodriguez certainly carries appeal for this week as a two-start pitcher with a pair of favorable matchups. The Marlins and Padres both rank in the bottom third of the NL in runs, batting average and OPS. Gambling on the rookie righty and his paper-thin big league track record is somewhat of a risky move by Jeff Zimmerman, but let’s just call this a well-calculated risk.
David Fletcher $24
Chris Stratton $23 (SD) (Other bids: $3, $3)
Ben Zobrist $23 (Other bid: $0)
Kendrys Morales $17 (Other bid: $0)
Felix Hernandez $16 (@NYY)
Who would’ve thought that King Felix would ever be a $16 FAAB pickup? The good news is that two of Hernandez’s last three starts have been of the dominant variety. The bad news is that consistency hasn’t exactly been his strong suit this season, as the former ace has registered back-to-back quality starts on just one occasion. Oh, and there’s more bad news. His matchup this week is about as tough as it gets, and Tout Wars rules require all players added via FAAB to remain in active lineups for at least one week. Long-term, adding Hernandez could turn out to be a fine move by Tim Heaney. But first, he will need to hope for the best as Felix faces off against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.
Mike Fiers $15 (@CLE)
Pablo Sandoval $13 (Other bids: $6, $5, $0, $0)
Colin Moran $13 (Other bids: $5, $0)
Shane Bieber $6 (DET)
Stepping in for the injured Carlos Carrasco, Bieber bended but did not break on Sunday, holding the Twins to one run over 5 2/3 innings despite giving up 10 hits. Bieber’s 14.3 H/9 rate through two big league starts leaves a lot to be desired, but he’s still managed to post a 3.97 ERA while whiffing more than a batter per inning. The 23-year-old could find success this week against a Tigers offense that ranks 25th in the majors in road OPS.
John Lamb $5 (Other bid: $0)
Yolmer Sanchez $5 (Other bids: $0, $0)
Lonnie Chisenhall $3 (Other bid: $0)
Jordy Mercer $0
Ivan Nova $0 (ARI) (Other bid: $0)
TOUT WARS NL
Elias Diaz $26 (Other bid: $18)
Diaz headlined what was an extremely light week in Tout NL. He’s the Pirates’ backup catcher but has posted a better line than some starters, with five home runs and a .304 batting average in 92 at-bats. The Pirates recently announced they intend to sell at the deadline, so Steve Gardner of USA Today could have a starter behind the dish in a little over a month. This is the first time Diaz has shown this kind of power in the majors, but then again, this is his first extended opportunity with the big club.
Caleb Ferguson $23 (Other bids: $1, $0)
In a perfect world, the Dodgers would have let the 21-year-old Ferguson get more seasoning, but their annual spate of pitching injuries forced them to call up Ferguson after 10 starts in the high minors. Ferguson is a two-pitch pitcher who mostly relies on a fastball in the low 90s. His delivery made it difficult for minor league hitters to pick up the pitches, but thus far major league hitters haven’t had the same problem. If Ferguson does start this week, he gets the Mets, who showed some signs of life with the bat this past weekend in Arizona but have been awful against southpaws. “I’m a southpaw!”, Ferguson will shout to himself while staring into a mirror as part of a confidence building exercise, assuming he gets the start.
Brad Ziegler $4
Keston Hiura $2
Tommy Hunter $2
Hiura is the most interesting name in this tiny group. Prospect-savvy Baseball Prospectus readers know who he is. It is doubtful Hiura finds his way to Milwaukee in 2018 but with a commanding lead in Tout Wars (well, as commanding a lead as any team can have on June 18 less than halfway through the season), Grey Albright of Razzball has the luxury of filling one lineup spot with zeroes for a week and then stashing one of the best prospects in minor league baseball. Keep in mind that three months ago, conventional wisdom said Juan Soto wouldn’t be in the majors either. I’m not making a comp, please don’t throw rocks at me.
Erick Fedde $3 (NYY, PHI) (Other bid: $2)
In what was a very quiet FAAB week in LABR NL, Fedde takes home “Most Expensive Purchase” honors, although that’s not exactly saying much. The 25-year-old righty has spent the vast majority of the season in the minors, posting mostly mediocre numbers at Triple-A Syracuse. Fedde has been equally mediocre in two starts for the Nationals, though he does offer some strikeout potential. He’s expected to continue filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg and is on track to be a two-start pitcher this week.
Matt Strahm $2 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
The only other player who received multiple bids, Strahm has pitched extremely well so far this season (2.21 ERA, 0.98 WHIP), predominantly out of the bullpen. He’s made the “start” in his last three appearances, tossing a combined eight innings of one-run ball with 11 strikeouts. If the Padres decide to stretch out Strahm and give him a legitimate opportunity as a starter, this could end up being a very wise pickup.
Caleb Ferguson $2 (@NYM)
Alex Avila $1
Shane Bieber $11 (DET) (Other bids: $4, $3, $2)
I wrote up Bieber a few weeks ago in the Dynasty FAAB Report. Cleveland had opted for Adam Plutko over Bieber to replace Josh Tomlin in the rotation, but a Carlos Carrasco injury has opened an additional slot for Bieber. This is bad news for Cleveland but good news for AL-only fantasy managers who are perpetually on the prowl for pitching. Bieber’s arsenal is reliant on control and command and thus far his command has been above average but nowhere near great. This is a problem for a pitcher who needs not only to avoid walks but hit his spots with consistency to succeed long-term. All caveats aside, Bieber is obviously worth using in AL-only this week against the Tigers and should be scooped up in 15-team mixed formats and larger if he is available for this matchup.
Jonathan Loaisiga $9 (SEA) (Other bid: $3)
This purchase was mine. Earlier in the evening, I traded Kyle Gibson to Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN, figuring I’d get one of Loaisiga or Bieber. If I didn’t, I had six starting pitchers I could plug into the lineup this week. Loaisiga is the opposite of Bieber: a pitcher with an impressive heater that possesses good movement but whose command leaves something to be desired. Loaisiga was impressive versus the Rays in his major league debut but draws a tougher assignment against the Mariners this week. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick and probably in that order. Loaisiga has six starts at Double-A or higher, and all of those were this year. The thing I always like about speculating on Yankee rookie pitchers is the team seldom lets a young arm suffer poor results in the rotation for long. If he’s bad, Loaisiga goes back to the minors and I’m out nine imaginary dollars.
Alcides Escobar $4 (Other bid: $1)
Regular at-bats in mono formats are vital but there are a handful of players who push this theory to the extreme. Believe it or not, Escobar was a $10 earner in AL-only in 2017 thanks to an acceptable batting average and 162 days of filling the box score. This year, Escobar is in danger of negative earnings, thanks to a .206 batting average and Ned Yost’s mystifying propensity to start him come hell, high water and everything in between. If you can suffer the batting average drag or if you’ve given up on the category, Escobar is playable in AL-only, but even then, the “reward” is extremely limited. He used to at least provide double-digit steals, but he hasn’t done that since 2016 and isn’t on pace to pull it off this year either.
Chris Young $4 (Other bids: $4, $1, $1)
Young is a reliable source of power against left-handed pitching. This makes him a difficult fantasy sell even in AL-only but with the Angels more than a few men down, Young received everyday at-bats last week. The batting average has suffered as a result but if you need to gamble on home runs in a deep format, Young is an acceptable play.
Sergio Romo $3 (Other bids: $2, $1, $1)
Is Sergio Romo the Rays’ new closer? It looks that way. He had two saves last week and does have that veteran moxie that managers love to reward in unsettled bullpens. Saves are saves, but it pays to be cautious with Romo because of his mediocre year-to-date numbers but even more so because of the Rays’ non-traditional pitcher usage. A three-dollar bid is fine and could pay significant dividends, but I wouldn’t go past $7-9 in AL-only for a pitcher who might only be the head of a dubious committee.
Erik Gonzalez $2 (Other bid: $2)
Gonzalez’s bat isn’t special but probably has enough oomph that it could play at shortstop for some major league teams. Cleveland has Francisco Lindor, so obviously they are not one of those teams. Gonzalez has settled in as a utility infielder for Cleveland. There is a dash of speed and a soupcon of power in Gonzalez’s profile but unless he gets everyday at-bats, he’s a middle infielder in an AL-only and nothing more.
Chris Bassitt $2 (@CHW) (Other bids: $2, $1)
Bassitt was traded by the White Sox to the Athletics way back in December 2014 as part of the package for Jeff Samardzija. He made it to the A’s in 2015 but went under the knife early that year, undergoing Tommy John surgery. He didn’t make it back to the mound until 2017 and was used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A once he got his feet wet. Bassitt profiled as a fifth starter/multi-inning reliever pre-Tommy John and that’s what he is now. He throws four pitches for strikes but the low whiff rates make him iffy for fantasy. The matchup against the White Sox is a favorable one, however, and Bassitt makes for a good streamer in all but the shallowest formats.
David Fletcher $1. Tout AL: $44
Jabari Blash $1. Tout AL: $80
I’m in the odd position in LABR of having four quality middle infielders (well, three and the never-ending hope that Jason Kipnis starts producing), so I was out on Fletcher. I thought Blash would get most of the at-bats in the outfield for the Angels with Kole Calhoun on the DL but as noted above, Young has been the primary beneficiary. I imagine the Angels will make a trade next month for an outfielder but for now, both Blash and Young make for low-end, playing time spec plays.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now