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 agent deadline is at 1 pm ET on Sunday while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Jace Fry $69 (Other bids: $38, $11, $11)
Joakim Soria is now a member of the Brewers, which means that someone has to close for the White Sox. Fry seems like the guy right now, though I wonder if Scott Pianowski still would have bid $69 for him if Tout Wars kept the old midnight ET deadline. Yes, these bids were due prior to his disastrous outing on Sunday in which he allowed three earned runs without recording a single out in a blown save versus the Blue Jays. But overall, the 25-year-old southpaw’s performance this season has been solid, highlighted by a 5.9 H/9 rate, and with Xavier Cedeno and Juan Minaya posing as his biggest ninth-inning threats, it is likely that Fry will get the next save chance as well.
Ryan Zimmerman $68 (Other bid: $7)
Sidelined for more than two months with an oblique strain, Zimmerman is finally back. The problem is that he hasn’t been starting every day, and we simply don’t know how the team is going to divide the at-bats at first base between Zimmerman, Matt Adams and Mark Reynolds. On a positive note, Zimmerman is 5-for-18 with three doubles and two RBIs since his return, so perhaps he can provide some mixed-league value down the stretch.
Lourdes Gurriel $46 (Other bids: $44, $17, $16, $0)
Unfortunately for Al Melchior (and this is the downside of the Sunday afternoon FAAB deadline), Gurriel suffered both a knee contusion and an ankle sprain while sliding awkwardly into second base during Sunday’s game against the White Sox. The good news is that X-rays ruled out any fractures, but a trip to the DL appears likely. Gurriel has been swinging a red-hot bat this month, slashing .409/.426/.652 with four homers and 12 RBIs.
Brian Goodwin $44 (Other bid: $1)
Nick Delmonico $43 (Other bid: $0)
Derek Holland $42 (@SD, @ARI) (Other bids: $35, $31, $14, $13, $8, $0)
My lone buy of the week, Holland is someone I really did not expect to get when I decided to bid on him. The Giants southpaw is fresh off an impressive outing last Wednesday versus the Mariners in his return to the rotation (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER), and he’s a two-start pitcher this week with one very favorable matchup followed by a matchup that is far from scary. Considering how my starting pitching has performed over the past couple of months, I wouldn’t be surprised if Holland gives up a combined 12 runs in these two starts, but I’ll take my chances.
Steve Pearce $22
This one is simple. Pearce is performing so well lately (.996 OPS in July) that he isn’t only starting against lefties, as each of his last three starts have come against righties. A fine, low-cost purchase by Derek Van Riper, at least for the short-term.
Logan Morrison $12 (Other bid: $7)
Roman Quinn $11
Nick Tropeano $11 (@TB)
Joe Mauer $9 (Other bids: $7, $1)
David Freese $8
Mark Canha $5 (Other bids: $1, $0)
Lou Trivino $5
Trivino was picked up by Jeff Zimmerman earlier this month but released a couple weeks later as it appeared less and less likely that Blake Treinen would be traded. Well, there’s still a little over 24 hours for Treinen to be traded. It probably won’t happen but Scott Pianowski figured that five bucks was a very small price to pay to gamble that it does. Judging from Trivino’s performance this season, there’s little doubt that he could be a high-end closer if given the opportunity.
Leury Garcia $1 (Other bids: $1, $1)
Danny Valencia $1 (Other bid: $0)
Yonny Chirinos $1 (CHW) (Other bid: $0)
Jalen Beeks $0
Beeks’ debut with the Rays in which he served as the second man up in one of those “bullpen days”, was a disaster, and he wasn’t much better in his two appearances (one start) for the Red Sox this season. But his numbers at Triple-A this year are exceptional, and he’s widely viewed as a top prospect with great big-league potential. Whether or not he realizes that potential in 2018 remains to be seen. Beeks isn’t scheduled to make a start for Tampa Bay this week, but regardless, we’ll probably see him on a bullpen day.
TOUT WARS NL
Mike Moustakas $740 (Other bids: $707, $581, $577, $328, $230, $97, $46, $29)
As predicted, the flow of talent from the AL to the NL has been significant, and the non-waiver trade deadline is still a day away. The bidding was chalk in Tout NL; the teams with the most money bid aggressively on the players they wanted and decided the possibility of Brian Dozier or another high-profile AL player who might get traded isn’t worth waiting for. Moustakas was perceived as the big prize, even though he is slightly behind Eduardo Escobar in earnings this season thanks to Escobar’s superior batting average. Moose is the likely starter for the Brewers at third base down the stretch and the move to Miller Park should boost his power numbers somewhat. While Escobar’s batting average is better, Tout is an OBP league. Moose is a negative in this category as well but Derek Carty of RotoGrinders is hoping his contributions in HR and RBI more than offset this potential liability.
Eduardo Escobar $707 (Other bids: $328, $291, $230, $97, $47, $29)
Escobar was Steve Gardner of USA Today’s consolation prize for missing out on Moustakas. As noted above, Escobar is arguably having a superior fantasy season to Moose. The argument against Escobar and the reason for the slightly more conservative bids is probably the idea that Escobar won’t be a starter and is more likely to be a super sub for Arizona. Regardless of his role, Escobar will get a healthy share of plate appearances down the stretch. He’s on his way to his second consecutive 20+ HR season barring injury and even if the batting average slips, he isn’t a fluke. This was a solid add by Gardner, who is in a dogfight for first place with Grey Albright of Razzball.
Cole Hamels $581 (@PIT) (Other bids: $577, $291, $230, $97, $29)
Heading into Sunday, Albright had the third-highest amount of FAAB to spend and Hamels was his consolation prize. If you believe in Hamels, you are likely to point to his 6.41 home ERA and say the change in venue will be a significant help. The other side of this argument is Hamels has a 4.18 FIP on the road, which is acceptable but makes him more of a back-end starter, even in NL-only. Albright has slipped badly since getting off to a fast start in Tout and is rolling the dice on Hamels getting hot down the stretch. Hamels’ whiff rate has bounced back to where it was in 2016 at about a strikeout an inning so it’s possible that the combination of the move to the NL and the benefit of the Cubs’ defense puts Hamels’ ERA around 3.50 the rest of the way. My take is this is a significant risk and unlike with Moose and Escobar, Albright will be kicking himself if someone better is traded into the NL before tomorrow’s 4 pm ET deadline.
Mason Williams $36
I am nearly out of FAAB and my trade for Jesse Winker backfired incredibly, so I needed to roll the dice on a hitter. With Winker and Scott Schebler both on the DL for Cincinnati, I decided to take Williams, a former Yankees prospect who spent most of his career in the minors. Schebler is due back shortly but Williams has started three days in a row and could see some starts even when Schebler returns, assuming the Reds choose Williams over Phil Ervin. I had some better chances for at-bats with other, cheaper picks but given the state of my offense, I decided that a higher upside, power/speed gamble was necessary.
David Bote $30 (Other bid: $16)
With Kris Bryant out indefinitely, Bote should get more than a few starts at third base for the Cubs. Bote has two home runs and three steals in 60 major league plate appearances and while it is likely he cools off with extended exposure to major league pitching, playing time matters, particularly in a strong Cubs lineup.
Roman Quinn $29
Joakim Soria $12
Tommy Milone $11
Jose Osuna $5
Jose Pirela $5
Adam Frazier $5 (Other bid: $1)
Soria stands out among this group. He probably won’t get saves in a deep Brewers bullpen but has pitched very well and could be in line for more than a few vulture wins. Pirela is back in San Diego and getting some starts but is a long way from his 2017 form. Andriese was very good as a multi-inning reliever in Tampa and someone I seriously considered over Williams.
Mike Moustakas $69 (Other bids: $65, $53, $52, $49, $48, $47, $16, $15, $7)
The biggest crossover prize of the week, Moustakas naturally went to the team with the most FAAB dollars. Steve Gardner of USA Today snagged Moose for exactly the amount he needed to bid to win him, equating to a little more than three-quarters of his remaining budget. The new Brewers third baseman should benefit from moving into a far superior lineup compared to the one he left in Kansas City and will provide a nice boost to Gardner’s squad, which currently resides in fifth place overall but ranks last in homers and third-to-last in RBIs.
Cole Hamels $65 (@PIT) (Other bids: $52, $49, $48, $46, $16, $7, $5)
The team anchored by Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf was the second-wealthiest squad heading into last night’s FAAB run, and it’s not a surprise that they prioritized Hamels over Eduardo Escobar being that the “Colton & The Wolfman” team has the most hitting points but the second-fewest pitching points. Although the veteran southpaw has struggled mightily this month (11.12 ERA), maybe a change of scenery and return to the NL will do him some good.
Eduardo Escobar $53 (Other bids: $52, $49, $48, $46, $16, $15, $6, $1)
Without even planning it, I bid just enough to nab Escobar, even though one other team outside of the Moustakas and Hamels winners had more than $53 remaining. So I took a risk, and my reward is that I still have $12 left in my FAAB budget as opposed to nothing. I love Escobar’s multi-position eligibility and he’s a clear upgrade over Miguel Rojas, who I will either be releasing or trading to make room for Escobar.
Jeff McNeil $25 (Other bid: $4)
Lenny Melnick was the owner who could have topped my $53 Escobar bid. But he didn’t bid on Escobar at all, instead grabbing McNeil. The 26-year-old second baseman is just 3-for-12 with no homers, no RBIs and one run scored through his first six big-league games but was putting together an exceptional season in the minors prior to his call-up last week, batting .342 with 19 home runs, 71 RBIs, 72 runs scored and six steals in 88 games. The trade of Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies opens the door for McNeil to receive everyday at-bats for the rest of the season and show what he can do at the major league level.
Jose Osuna $5
Brad Ziegler $3
David Bote $2
Robbie Erlin $1 (@CHC)
Joakim Soria $1
Keon Broxton $1
With excess power and attainable points in batting average and steals, I made a big trade this week, sending Jesus Aguilar, Andrew McCutchen and Michael Conforto to Derek Carty in exchange for Christian Yelich, Nick Markakis and Wilmer Flores. This deal will probably only help me slightly in steals, but it significantly upgrades my team’s batting average. The drop in homers is steep but even with the downgrade, I only stand to lose one point in the category while I can realistically gain three points in batting average. The Eduardo Escobar purchase also lessens the HR/RBI loss, likely ensuring that the combined point drop among those two categories will be no more than one point.
Brett Phillips $11 (Other bids: $11, $11, $6, $3. Tout AL: $89
Phillips had no realistic path to playing time in the Brewers’ outfield so his trade to the Royals was a welcome reprieve. Phillips is one of those prospects who has his flaws in real life but whose ceiling in fantasy is so high that the risk is well worth the potential reward. The danger with Phillips is that his violent swing mechanics will compromise his home run potential and push his strikeout rate so high that even in 2018’s context, he won’t be playable in a major league outfield. The great news is that he will now be competing with Rosell Herrera and Jorge Bonifacio for playing time, as opposed to Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain. There is 20/20 potential in Phillips, and while the risk is considerable, $11 is well worth the gamble.
This is particularly true given context. Between the two leagues, talent has flowed entirely in one direction and it is quite possible that there will be no significant NL imports. I was one of the three $11 bidders but lost out because I finished yesterday in second place. In retrospect, I should have bid $15. The best bet this year for FAAB in AL-only is likely to be minor league talent. Looking at Eddy Almaguer’s Stash List, the FAAB battles in August and September could be for Cedric Mullins and Sean Reid-Foley. Aggressive bids on prospects can backfire (my Derek Fisher play in 2017 blew up in my face) but unless the Nationals decide to aggressively sell at the 11th hour, this is the kind of bidding you will see as the 2018 season enters the homestretch.
Jose Leclerc $6 (Other bid: $4)
Trade rumors swirl around Keone Kela and Jake Diekman. If Texas trades both relievers, Leclerc will probably be the answer for saves. The 24-year-old righty has been dominant in a setup role, striking out 53 batters in 38 2/3 innings with a strong 2.33 ERA. The only concern is the walks, although a 4.4 BB/9 rate isn’t in five-alarm territory. I’m typically not a fan of closer speculation but the reality of the limp NL-to-AL trade market makes this bid acceptable. Clay Link of Rotowire has Kela but did not bid. He is first in saves but with a nine-save lead in the category and the potential to lose a closer, I was slightly surprised he did not place a nominal bid.
Nick Martini $6 (Other bids: $2, 2, $1). Tout AL: $117
Dustin Fowler was the “obvious” choice this spring to eventually play center field for the Athletics, but Fowler has had a miserable season (to be fair, he suffered a gruesome injury in his major league debut in 2017 and it could take another year until he is completely healed) and the Athletics are unexpectedly in contention for the second Wild Card, and possibly the AL West. Martini is a 28-year-old who prior to 2018 spent his entire career as organizational depth in the Cardinals’ system. Signed as a minor league free agent this winter, Martini’s solid on-base skills combined with Oakland’s pressing need for a center fielder have propelled him into a starting role. Boog Powell could return from a rehab assignment soon, so Martini’s time as a starter could be short-lived. I dig his on-base skills, but the low power/low speed package doesn’t translate well to fantasy. Martini is the anti-Brett Phillips: solid real-life ceiling but pedestrian for fantasy. He has earned his shot at a major league career but for fantasy, this is a back end, AL-only fourth outfielder profile.
Jace Fry $4 (Other bid: $4)
Although the lack of talent coming to the AL will limit big FAAB bids, trades of premier talent out of the AL will have a ripple effect. The trade of Soria to Milwaukee created a vacuum in the White Sox bullpen and Fry is one of the possibilities to fill that void. Nate Jones is the obvious choice when he is healthy but that “when” is completely uncertain after Jones suffered a setback last week during a throwing session. Fry has been the White Sox second-best reliever by default; truth be told none of the options to replace Soria are particularly appealing. Four dollars is OK in terms of a speculative bid on Fry, but this could be a repeat of 2017, when Juan Minaya was tabbed the closer after David Robertson was traded to the Yankees but struggled to pick up saves down the stretch.
I managed to get Arcia, handily beating the other two bidders with my aggressive $4 throw. Arcia set a major league record with 10 RBIs in his first two major league games, besting the previous record holder, Joe Cunningham of the 1954 St. Louis Cardinals. Arcia has spent the last 11 ½ years bouncing around the minors, first with the Yankees and then the Marlins before joining the Angels in 2017. With Martin Maldonado traded to Houston, Arcia and Briceno will split time behind the plate for the Angels. I’m obviously not betting on more of the same from Arcia but with two of my hitters landing on the DL this week, I needed to chase all the at-bats I could in the depleted-as-usual AL-only free agent pool.
Butler is the most intriguing name on this list, although a move from Wrigley to Arlington doesn’t do a low-strikeout pitcher any favors no matter how good his groundball rate is.
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