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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 agent deadline is at 1 pm ET on Sunday while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.

TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION

Tyler O’Neill $253 (Other bids: $131, $77, $20)

The combination of Tommy Pham‘s trade to the Rays and Dexter Fowler‘s broken foot has opened the door for everyday playing time for both O’Neill and Harrison Bader. Of the two, O’Neill is more intriguing from a fantasy perspective, as the top prospect is 7-for-11 with two RBIs since his latest call-up last week and boasts a .311/.388/.711 slash line with 26 homers, 61 RBIs and 58 runs scored in 61 games for Triple-A Memphis this season. While the PCL is notoriously hitter-friendly, these numbers are so impressive that they should not be discounted by much. Brent Hershey of Baseball HQ was willing to spend well over half of his remaining FAAB budget for O’Neill’s services, and who could blame him? Heading into Sunday, Hershey ranked among the bottom four teams in the league in both homers and RBIs, so perhaps O’Neill can provide him with a power boost down the stretch, provided that the groin injury that sent him to the DL on Monday isn’t too serious and he returns when first eligible or shortly thereafter.

Harrison Bader $131 (Other bids: $46, $44, $20, $14, $8)

Unlike O’Neill, Bader has been with the Cardinals for the entire 2018 season, batting .271 with six homers, 16 RBIs, 38 runs scored and 11 steals in 88 games as a part-timer. Judging from his minor league yearly numbers, his ceiling is probably 20/20 over the course of a full season with a decent average, so if he can hit five homers while swiping five bags from here on out, consider it a success.

Ken Giles $103 (Other bids: $38, $1)

As it turned out, I overpaid by quite a lot for Giles. But with a few gainable points in saves and a few teams within striking distance of me in the category, I figured I wouldn’t be stingy in my pursuit of the former top-10 closer. My hope here is that a fresh start in a low-pressure environment in Toronto will do him some good, and he’s been more than a bit unlucky in the BABIP department this season (.378). Since getting traded to the Blue Jays, Giles hasn’t been handed a save opportunity yet, but from reading John Gibbons quotes, it sounds like his first opportunity will come very soon.

Robert Gsellman $53 (Other bid: $28)

I got Gsellman too? This wasn’t planned at all, as in addition to bidding on Gsellman as a contingent bid in the event that I missed out on Giles, I decided to throw out another bid on Gsellman with the sole purpose of blocking a few of my saves competitors from winning him. But my FAAB situation is far from dire, so I’m fine with this, as I can always try to trade a closer in the coming weeks. The expectation is that Gsellman will serve as the Mets’ full-time stopper while Anthony Swarzak is on the DL, and being that Gsellman is simply having the better season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to get almost all of the save chances even after Swarzak returns.

Brett Phillips $44 

Playing time is no longer an issue for Phillips now that he’s a member of the Royals, so it will be interesting to see what the 24-year-old will do with that playing time. Can he take steps towards reaching his potential as an across-the-board fantasy producer? Stay tuned. It has been a disappointing season for Phillips both at the major league and minor league levels, but there’s still time for him to turn things around.

Brad Peacock $43 (SEA?)

Even after his pricey purchase of Tyler O’Neill, Brent Hershey wasn’t finished spending, as he wisely scooped up Peacock, who could get a start this week in place of Lance McCullers, who was removed from his start on Saturday due to elbow discomfort. Peacock is putting together an exceptional season out of the bullpen but does have plenty of starting experience, so he would be a logical choice to step into the rotation should McCullers miss an extended period of time.

Adalberto Mejia $27 (@CLE)

Tyler Glasnow $25 (BAL, @TOR) (Other bids: $14, $13, $13)

Yet another Brent Hershey purchase, Glasnow is in line to make two starts this week and is coming off a stellar Rays debut, which was actually his first start of the season. The problem is that he went only three innings in that debut. As of now, it’s unclear if Tampa Bay is simply in the process of stretching him out or if Glasnow will be used as a “opener” going forward this season. If the latter proves to be true, his potential to be a difference maker in the strikeout department will be significantly limited, to the dismay of fantasy owners.

Phillip Ervin $15

Willy Adames $13 (Other bid: $13)

Edwin Jackson $13 (@LAA)

Over his last two starts, Jackson has tossed a combined 12 innings without allowing an earned run. He now boasts a 2.87 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP through eight starts for the A’s this season. When will it all finally come crashing down? Who knows. I would not have been able to deal with the stress of adding Jackson and watching him pitch this week. I admire Ray Flowers’ courage.

Brandon Lowe $8

Trevor Richards $6 (STL)

David Fletcher $4 

Manny Pina $2

Corbin Burnes $2

Daniel Palka $1

Gorkys Hernandez $1

TOUT WARS NL

Brian Dozier $444 (Other bids: $329, $311, $245, $244, $187, $97)

Last week’s transaction deadline fell on Sunday, July 29. At the time, this led to speculation about whether it would be a busy trade deadline in major league baseball or a slow one. We got our answer two days later, as five players of significance were swapped from the AL to the NL. This probably gave the winner of the Cole Hamels sweepstakes last week a big case of the sads. Dozier was predictably the most expensive AL import. The batting average stinks on dry ice but the home runs and some of the steals are there and Dozier is the kind of streaky hitter who could go on a tear in the last two months of the season. The Dodgers have more players than they have slots, but this shouldn’t stop Dozier from starting for L.A. almost every day.

Chris Archer $333 (@COL) (Other bids: $245, $244, $187, $133, $97, $36)

Archer commanded the second-highest bid, which also falls in line with what you would expect. There is some risk with this pick, as Archer’s ERA has been significantly higher than his DRA for the last few years and the performance has seldom matched the peripherals. Archer gets a new lease on life in Pittsburgh, moving out of the AL East and the awful spate of matchups against the Red Sox or Yankees except for the odd interleague series. Archer is a near lock for 200+ strikeouts when he is healthy and even if the ERA continues to disappoint, he is a must-own nearly everywhere.

Jonathan Schoop $311 (Other bids: $245, $244, $187, $97, $35)

Schoop continues NL Tout’s streak of player/bid expectations. One advantage of weekly moves is it delivers insights into issues like playing time, which was an open question after Milwaukee acquired Schoop. The good news for Schoop buyers is he is receiving a healthy chunk of PT despite being part of a logjam at second and third with Mike Moustakas and Travis Shaw. The bad news is Schoop has floundered, with a dismal 2-for-21 and 10 strikeouts for a team that represents the city that had a bunch of socialist mayors once upon a time. It’s a small sample – and Schoop is a streaky hitter – but it is something to keep an eye on in mixed formats.

Wilson Ramos $245 (Other bids: $97, $33, $0)

Ramos was the first surprise in NL Tout, as I expected Kevin Gausman to command the fourth-highest bid. The Phillies and Ramos are putting a brave face on the possibility of a mid-August return from his hamstring injury, but September is a more realistic expectation. Catching in a two-catcher, NL-only league is always at a premium but paying for a month or less of plate appearances, even from a catcher as good as Ramos, has its risks. I bid my full allotment of $244 on the three players listed above and then passed on Ramos, in the hopes that there are some AL-to-NL waiver trades this month. With nine teams out of the running in the AL, my thinking is there should be at least two or three quality players coming into the NL in the next two or three weeks, and I should get as much playing time out of one of these players as I would have out of Ramos. Lucas Duda, your life is calling.

Kevin Gausman $187 (MIL) (Other bids: $133, $111, $97)

Gausman was the second surprise. I only bid $111 to block first-place Grey Albright of Razzball from adding another pitcher, but since I was sixth overall in FAAB, I didn’t expect to get any of the AL imports. But Derek Carty of RotoGrinders surprised everyone by not bidding on anyone. Carty probably had the same thought process I did about the potential for a waiver trade. In the case of Gausman, I also have much more of a need for a hitter than a pitcher and trading in this league has been difficult. I’m skeptical of Gausman and even with the move to the NL, I believe he could be subpar in ERA and WHIP, but this stings because Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN got Gausman and he could steal a point from me in strikeouts.

Homer Bailey $27 (@NYM)

Keone Kela $15 (Other bid: $5)

This is a nice price for Kela, a pitcher who is unlikely to close barring a Felipe Vazquez injury but whose rate stats and strikeouts should provide a boost. I bid $5, but my team is already stacked with relievers who are closing, and it made little if any sense for me to swap Kela in for one of those arms.

Austin Gomber $11 (@KC)

Seung Hwan Oh $5

Preston Tucker $2

John Ryan Murphy $0

Robbie Erlin $0 (@MIL)

Sal Romano $0 (@NYM)

For the first time in weeks, starting pitching was plentiful in the NL Tout free agent pool. Gomber had been pitching out of the pen but was a starting pitcher throughout his minor league career and the matchup at the Royals is a favorable one. Speaking of favorable matchups, pitching against the Mets is a virtual auto-start no matter the skill set, although Bailey and Romano will provide this theory a stiff test.

LABR NL

Brian Dozier $49 (Other bids: $45, $40, $33, $20, $13, $12, $12, $8, $2, $2)

This week’s four-man group of high-priced crossover players (note that LABR doesn’t allow players on the DL to be purchased via FAAB, hence the absence of Wilson Ramos from this list) was headed by Dozier, and Doug Dennis of Baseball HQ wanted the new Dodgers second baseman so much that he was willing to empty his FAAB budget to acquire him. Although Dozier is having a disappointing year in the batting average department, his counting stats remain strong, as he’s on pace to finish the season with 26 homers, 85 RBIs, 99 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. In five games since joining Los Angeles, he’s 6-for-15 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Small sample size, but encouraging nonetheless.

Chris Archer $49 (@COL) (Other bids: $40, $33, $20, $13, $12, $8, $5, $2, $2)

Archer was bought for the same amount of FAAB as Dozier, though there was a bit less interest in him. Jeff Erickson of RotoWire also had $49 remaining in his budget but didn’t even bid on Dozier, opting to go after Archer instead. This appears to be a standings-based decision as Erickson ranks last in the league in strikeouts and is involved in close ERA and WHIP races. Archer struggled in his Pirates debut and might not fare too well this week at Coors Field, but he should enjoy pitching in the NL and in a division not named the AL East.

Jonathan Schoop $40 (Other bids: $33, $20, $13, $12, $12, $8, $2, $2)

Like Jeff Erickson with ERA and WHIP, Derek Carty of RotoGrinders stands to either lose or gain several points in homers and RBIs, so he’s hoping the acquisition of Schoop will help him move in the positive direction in those categories.  Schoop is fresh off a red-hot month of July but has recorded just two hits, both singles, in 21 at-bats as a Brewer.

Kevin Gausman $33 (MIL) (Other bids: $20, $13, $12, $5, $2)

Gausman isn’t as good as Chris Archer nor has he accomplished as much as Archer has at the big league level, but he too should benefit from moving to the NL and away from the AL East. His first outing as a member of the Braves wasn’t much to get excited about as he allowed three runs over five innings while tallying only two strikeouts in a very favorable matchup against the Mets. But Gausman is a far superior option than the starting pitchers currently populating the waiver wire pool in this 12-team NL-only league, both in terms of floor and ceiling, and Lenny Melnick didn’t need to empty his FAAB budget to get him.

Austin Slater $2 (Other bid: $2)

Wade Miley $2 (@ATL) (Other bid: $2)

Miguel Rojas $2 (Other bid: $2)

With Dexter Fowler now on the DL, I needed a replacement hitter, so I turned to Rojas, who was a member of my squad from early-April right up until last week, when I was forced to drop him to make room for Eduardo Escobar. Rojas is nothing special but he does get regular playing time, and at-bats have value in deep NL-only leagues.

Keone Kela $1

Daniel Poncedeleon $1

Homer Bailey $1 (@NYM)

LABR AL

Jonathan Villar $76 (Other bids: $62, $43, $37, $35, $16, $11). Tout AL: $1007

The movement of talent from the NL to the AL was far weaker than the talent exodus documented above. Complicating matters further is that in LABR, you cannot bid on players in the minors or on the disabled list, which knocked Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham out of consideration. This left slim pickings in the AL in a league where a few teams were sitting on a pile of cash. Predictably, Villar went to David Adler of Baseball HQ, who had a $97 wad of FAAB and surely would have bid on Pham if not for the injury. The more I look at Villar’s numbers, the more I wonder if he might have been the best play even if Pham had been healthy. Villar’s 2018 would be good for 12 home runs, 27 steals and a .274 batting average over a 162-game seasonal pace. That’s very good and in an environment where almost no one is stealing bases could make Villar an elite fantasy performer down the stretch. I bid $35. I had $48 left, knew I was not getting Villar anyway and tried stretching my bids across several players. It did not work, as you will see below.

Cameron Maybin $62 (Other bids: $38, $16, $15, $11, $7). Tout AL: $754

What year is this? Did I wake up in the past? Were the last six years a horrible dream? These are all questions I asked myself when my alarm woke me up this morning and I saw the AL-only LABR bids and a $62 winning bid on Maybin. The stolen base ceiling and potential for playing time makes Maybin enticing but he only had eight steals for the Marlins in 287 plate appearances. More alarming is the five times he was caught. Maybin could go on a stolen base tear but it is more likely he only steals a handful of bases and otherwise provides very marginal offense. The bid is logical given the context of limited NL imports, but I bid a tepid $7, opting for a higher upside player in my opinion (see below).

Austin Meadows $35 (Other bids: $15, $15)

Jim Morrison said you cannot petition the lord with prayer. Steve Gardner says you cannot bid on players on the DL or in the minors. People do both things anyway. I include Meadows in this space to make this weird Doors reference but also to let you know that Pham went for $145 in Tout AL while Meadows was not purchased.

Tyler Glasnow $27 (BAL, @TOR) (Other bids: $17, $15, $6, $2). Tout AL: $116 

We all know the story with Glasnow. High ceiling and tons of potential but hasn’t come close to delivering on any of that. The Rays acquired him from the Pirates in the Chris Archer deal and plugged him right into their rotation. His first outing against the Angels was a success, although it was a three-inning success, because the Pirates had buried Glasnow in a long relief role and he hasn’t gone deep into any outings. Presumably the plan is to stretch Glasnow out and start letting him go deeper and deeper into games. The ceiling is high but for 2018 only, I don’t trust him in fantasy. Control is a problem and once Glasnow loses it, everything else stinks too.

Logan Forsythe $22 (Other bids: $4, $4). Tout AL: $80

Forsythe was traded to the Twins as part of the Dozier trade. He will split at-bats with Ehire Adrianza at second base for Minnesota. His 20-home run campaign in 2016 feels like it happened a million years ago and while Forsythe could provide power for the Twins and his fantasy managers down the stretch, it is a long shot. I bid $4. I don’t need the volume unless Jose Altuve and Mike Trout’s injuries are worse than their respective teams are letting on in which case Logan Forsythe won’t save my team from going down in flames.

Ramon Laureano $6 (Other bids: $3, $1). Tout AL: $25

Laureano was once a prospect in the Astros’ system. A down year in 2017 combined with a roster crunch forced Houston to move him to Oakland last winter. The scouting projections all said fourth outfielder but Laureano bounced back in a big way in 2018 and could offer fantasy value as the Athletics’ starting center fielder. Outside of a low batting average, Laureano’s real-life limitations don’t matter nearly as much in fantasy, where his power/speed combination gives him oodles of upside. He hit 14 home runs and stole 11 bases in 284 plate appearances at Triple-A and even if only some of this translates to the majors, it is an exciting package for fantasy managers in AL-only leagues.

Brandon Lowe $4. Tout AL: $28

I eschewed the bigger names above in part because I believed I could sneak in Lowe cheaply. Lowe has always been described as an “under the radar” prospect in part because of a broken leg that kept him out of professional baseball until 2016. The numbers in the low minors were always good but Lowe’s age led to some understandable skepticism. This season has been a breakout, as Lowe has 22 home runs and eight steals combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 445 plate appearances. Some believe there has been a swing change based on a flyball uptick in the minors this season. Daniel Robertson’s injury opens the door for Lowe and he should get a fair amount of playing time at second base and/or outfield for the Rays.

Kaleb Cowart $4. Tout AL: $18

Cowart is listed at the top of the Angels’ depth chart at third base. He also has a .188 batting average and .252 on-base percentage in 281 major league plate appearances for Anaheim. This isn’t entirely fair, as Cowart has never had an extended period to prove himself in the majors, but the numbers are what they are. At his best, Cowart could offer a little power and a little speed down the stretch but if I bought him, I’d be concerned about him torpedoing my batting average.

Blaine Hardy $4 (@LAA)

Rosell Herrera $4 (Other bid: $2)

The Royals’ depleted lineup wasn’t very good to start the season and their moves at the non-waiver trade deadline have made their offense even weaker. With Mike Moustakas traded to the Brewers, Herrera projects as Kansas City’s starting third baseman. Herrera was a prospect in the Rockies system who never materialized as a big leaguer in part because the power he showed at Low-A never translated to the upper minors. Herrera did steal bases in the upper minors, but this hasn’t translated to the bigs thus far either. Volume matters in -only leagues but even so, the .257/.291/.358 line with a home run and a steal in 159 plate appearances is rough.

Matt Barnes $2

Jalen Beeks $1. Tout AL: $42

Brian Johnson $1 (@BAL)

My foray into the bargain bin landed me Barnes and Johnson. One of the challenges I have had all season is that pitching has been a much more significant need for my team than hitting and pushing all in on Villar or Maybin, even if I did have the cash to splash, would not have made much sense. Barnes is a strikeout machine who shouldn’t be available in any AL-only league while Johnson has been a capable back-end starter for the Red Sox. Go Boston!

One reason I was so timid on the players above is I was hoping to have the most FAAB and the ability to purchase either Meadows or Pham if or when they arrive. Unfortunately, Steve Gardner sat this one out and while I am second in FAAB at $42, Gardner holds a commanding lead with $75 remaining. Pham is a long shot to return this season, so I must hope that Gardner either has no interest in Meadows or inexplicably goes on a spending spree in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for reading

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Mike Gianella
8/06
Johnson is no longer facing Baltimore and will get Toronto this week instead.