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
Reynaldo Lopez $111 (@DET, KC) (Other bids: $22, $4, $3)
Spending $111 on Lopez might seem extravagant, but BP colleague Bret Sayre had plenty of FAAB at his disposal entering this week. Lopez is fresh off a dominant performance against the Yankees which followed a strong outing versus the far less potent Royals lineup. The 24-year-old righty now heads into a two-start week with a pair of favorable matchups, as the Tigers and Royals rank among the bottom three teams in the AL in runs, batting average and OPS. Also, in six combined starts against Detroit and Kansas City this season, Lopez sports a 3.07 ERA. This week is as good a time as any to take a chance on him.
Franmil Reyes $57 (Other bids: $27, $17, $4, $1)
The injury to Wil Myers resulted in Reyes returning to the big leagues less than a week after he was sent to Triple-A. Despite boasting a stellar minor league track record, the 23-year-old hasn’t fared too well during his time with the Padres this season. But since his latest call-up, Reyes has been swinging a red-hot bat, going 9-for-22 (.409 AVG) with three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored in seven games. As long as Reyes remains productive, it would be surprising if the rebuilding Padres did not give him regular playing time from here on out, even after Myers returns.
Aledmys Diaz $57 (Other bids: $23, $21, $16, $4)
I made a play for Diaz, but my $23 offering fell well short of Ron Shandler’s $57 winning bid. Since the All-Star break, Diaz sports a .344/.359/.754 slash line with seven homers, 12 RBIs, 13 runs and two steals. That’s pretty good. The bottom line is that Diaz, who is eligible at both shortstop and third base, didn’t belong on the waiver wire in this 15-team mixed league, and now he’s gone.
Scott Alexander $55 (Other bids: $44, $17, $6)
Trevor Hildenberger $54 (Other bid: $7)
Mychal Givens $47 (Other bids: $43, $23, $16, $4)
Ryan Madson $45 (Other bids: $24, $18, $17)
It wasn’t much of a surprise that all four of these guys were purchased as they all have the potential to provide fantasy owners with a helpful number of saves down the stretch. Givens and Hildenberger could handle closing duties for the remainder of the season if they pitch reasonably well (which is no sure thing) while the time period of mixed-league relevance for Alexander and Madson has an expiration date. Among the group, Madson is probably the safest option, though his ninth-inning tenure could be the shortest. Note: After I wrote this, Madson blew a save in spectacular fashion and then said after the game that he’s been dealing with a back ailment that sends shooting pain down his leg. So, I guess he’s not the safest option. A trip to the DL is probably in his immediate future.
Jacob Nix $42 (ARI) (Other bid: $5)
Nix’s big-league debut on Friday went about as well as the 22-year-old could have hoped, as he held a dangerous Phillies lineup scoreless over six innings. While his minor league numbers this season are exceptional, he’s projected to be more of a mid-rotation guy than a front-line starter long-term, so fantasy owners shouldn’t overpay for him. That said, $42 is hardly an overpay, and a home matchup against the Diamondbacks is appealing enough to make Nix a worthy deep-league starting option.
Cedric Mullins $39 (Other bids: $29, $17, $14)
You can read more about Mullins here. After reading this (particularly the Fantasy Impact section) and then after noting that Mullins is 5-for-13 with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored through his first four big league games, you have the right to be optimistic about his potential.
Brian Johnson $37 (@PHI) (Other bid: $22)
Chris Iannetta $31 (Other bid: $0)
Jeremy Jeffress $26 (Other bids: $17, $6)
Mike Minor $22 (LAA) (Other bid: $13)
I’ve already owned Minor once this season, picking him up in anticipation of an ultra-favorable matchup against a last-place Orioles club on the final day before the All-Star break. I then watched in dismay as he couldn’t even make it through the third inning in what was his worst start of the season. Well, I’m ready to give the Rangers southpaw another try as he’s pitched well since that July 15th debacle, even earning the win against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The Angels’ offense is middle of the pack, so I’ll chance it. The downside is that Mike Trout is expected to be back from the DL by the time Minor takes the mound this Friday, which is a bit concerning.
John Gant $22 (WAS, MIL)
Adam Frazier $21
Robbie Erlin $18 (LAA) (Other bid: $2)
Sean Reid-Foley $17 (@KC) (Other bids: $6, $1)
Talk about a favorable matchup for your first career major league start! There’s a decent chance Reid-Foley will be a two-start pitcher this week, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing as Yankee Stadium awaits.
Jose Iglesias $17
Looking for an upgrade at my MI spot, which has been occupied by the ice-cold Yolmer Sanchez for awhile now, I figured I’d try out Iglesias. He’s nothing special. Actually, the stat lines of these two players are eerily similar, but Iglesias has been playing a little better than Sanchez lately and offers a bit more stolen base upside. Note that I made this move before Yolmer homered on Sunday. At least I got credit for that home run. Call it a parting gift.
Greg Allen $17
Tyler White $13
Pablo Lopez $11 (@ATL, @WAS)
Devon Travis $7
Touki Toussaint $6 (MIA) (Other bid: $3)
Trevor May $6
Brett Kennedy $4 (LAA, ARI)
My third and final buy of the week, this one is of the sneaky variety. Castillo’s PED suspension comes to an end in about a week and a half, and I originally drafted Castillo, so it’s nice to get him back for the sake of continuity. Being that my current No. 2 catcher is Martin Maldonado, who is playing a lot less since being traded to the Astros, I’m really not losing much by filling the active lineup spot with Castillo, at least for this week. The key here is that if I had waited another week to grab Castillo, I probably would have needed to pay a lot more than two bucks to win him. This is a low-risk move that could have a positive result.
Matt Barnes $2
Taylor Ward $1
Elias Diaz $0
Alex Gordon $0
Yusmeiro Petit $0 (Other bid: $0)
TOUT WARS NL
Jacob Nix $54 (ARI) (Other bids: $37, $16, $11, $2, $0)
Kevin Carter profiled Nix in The Call-Up last week. There wasn’t anything exciting in Nix’s minor league profile prior to 2018 outside of an excellent home run rate. Nix’s ceiling isn’t particularly high, but his moderate floor makes him a likely #4 or #5 starter for years to come if his health holds up. He had a strong outing at home against the Phillies in his debut and I wonder if he would have fetched any bids if he had given up, say, four runs in six innings. Nix is a borderline play in NL-only this week even with a home matchup.
David Bote $51 (Other bids: $14, $2)
Bote provided one of my most exciting moments of 2018 with his pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike grand slam against the Nationals last night. Bote has been extremely productive for the Cubs with Kris Bryant on the DL but unless the team decides to bench Addison Russell, Bote will lose some playing time. This is a great story and I love the future upside in 2019 and beyond but for 2018 redraft leagues, Bote could still struggle to find playing time, even with the national TV heroics. The power/speed potential makes him a worthy spec play in deep formats.
Wade Miley $41 (@STL) (Other bids; $2, $2)
Miley is a journeyman and the perception many have is he has bounced between the minors and majors for most of his career. The reality is quite different. From 2012-2017, Miley had 189 starts; only Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, R.A. Dickey, Jeff Samardzija and Ian Kennedy toed the rubber as starters more during this time frame. This doesn’t mean Miley has been good. Occasionally, he will have a game or stretch of games where he strikes out a bunch of batters and everyone (well, -only league fantasy nerds) will get excited by his ceiling. Then Miley will crash down to earth and pitch like Wade Miley. This season, he hasn’t even provided the whiffs to justify the short-lived excitement. He’s relying much more on his cutter this year for whatever that’s worth. Miley is OK as a spot starter, but I’d avoid him this week in St. Louis.
Casey Kelly $17
Brandon Kennedy $13 (LAA, ARI)
Corey Oswalt $8 (@PHI)
Rafael Ortega $2 (Other bid: $1)
Curt Casali $1
Adolis Garcia $1
Nix was more expensive, but of the available San Diego starters, I strongly prefer Kennedy this week with two home starts at Petco. Ortega’s two steals yesterday won’t count for Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ, but this is the kind of speed boost Hertz has been hoping for via the trade market all season long. Garcia could be a power/speed threat if he can get the playing time for the Cardinals, but their outfield is already jammed, even with Dexter Fowler on the DL.
Martin Prado $6
Jacob Nix $3 (Other bid: $3)
Ryan Madson $3
Alex Avila $1
This is what happens when you’re busy working and do not check what’s going on in the Sunday Night Baseball game. If I just took a two-minute break from writing last night, I would have withdrawn my $3 bid on Madson well ahead of the midnight ET deadline. Instead, I used 30% of my remaining FAAB on a guy who could be headed to the DL at any moment. And I was wondering why no one else bid on him. The only bit of positive news here is that Madson wasn’t in my lineup for last night’s outing.
As for the other four buys, three of them were made by Brian Walton of Creativesports 2.0 (Prado, Nix, Avila). Needing an active lineup replacement for Kyle Barraclough, I also bid $3 on Nix but lost the tiebreaker. Instead, I got Madson, my second choice. Wonderful.
Cedric Mullins $23 (Other bids: $14, $6, $4, $3). Tout AL: $375
Most prospects have a wide range of expectations, but for Mullins, this is especially true. The diminutive switch-hitter has a statistical profile that speaks to a 15-home run, 25-steal ceiling but Mullins’ difficulties against lefties are extreme enough that he almost definitely won’t develop into more than a platoon bat. Playing at Camden Yards will help the power profile but if you’re grabbing Mullins in fantasy, what you’re hoping for is 25 steals and everything else is sweet, yummy gravy. Mullins is one of the prospect consolation prizes in LABR after a very weak non-waiver trade deadline. After spending nearly the entire season in first place, Clay Link’s sputtering offense needs a jolt, and he’s hoping he can get that boost from Mullins. I’m surprised Mullins wasn’t grabbed a few weeks ago in LABR, where the rules allow you to stash minor leaguers.
Brock Holt $22 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
Boston’s acquisition of Ian Kinsler was supposed to permanently move Holt to a bench role but Kinsler’s hamstring injury pushed Holt back into everyday duty for the Sox. Holt is a decent enough bench option thanks to his versatility but even in AL-only, he’s a rough player to rely on for long stretches. Holt’s best feature in fantasy is the backing of the Red Sox high-powered lineup, which gives him slightly more opportunities to drive in and score runs than a player on a mediocre team would have.
Trevor May $6 (Other bid: $1). Tout AL: $34
A Fernando Rodney trade felt inevitable; the only (mild) surprise was that it came after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The move of the entertaining, arrow-shooting reliever to the Athletics left a chasm at the front of the Twins bullpen. Trevor Hildenberger received Minnesota’s first save opportunity on Saturday and appears to be Paul Molitor’s first choice for saves with Rodney gone. A committee is also a possibility, and Hildenberger’s mediocre ERA and high home run rate make speculation on other relievers worthwhile. May pitched a scoreless eighth behind Hildenberger during that save and while Addison Reed is a bigger name, it is possible May is next in line. Trying to guess the closer in subpar bullpens is often a losing exercise but I like Eno Saris’ bet on May’s potential and ceiling.
Tyler Austin $6 (Other bids: $2, $1). Tout AL: $74
Traded to the Twins as part of the Lance Lynn deal with the Yankees, Austin was promoted to the majors on Friday and didn’t waste any time, bashing his first homer for his new team on Saturday. Austin’s raw power is legit and if he could get a full season of plate appearances, 30-35 home runs wouldn’t be out of the question. However, that’s a gigantic “if” for many reasons. Austin struggles against right-handed pitching and for a low-average, high-power hitter, he doesn’t walk nearly enough to justify a slot in a major league lineup as a three-true-outcomes masher. This was my bid. I’m hoping the Twins use Austin enough during the last few weeks of the season so that he can hit a bunch of home runs for my team down the stretch. The batting average concerns me but my Stars and Scrubs strategy mandates a risk-oriented approach.
Danny Jansen $5
Jansen was my other purchase this week. I have struggled with catching production all year and decided it was worth plunking down a few bucks on Jansen’s upside. The Blue Jays plan to start him behind the plate and move Russell Martin to third base. Jansen’s numbers at Triple-A aren’t eye-popping but I don’t need a top-flight backstop to “win” with this bid.
Artie Lewicki $2 (CWS, @MIN). Tout AL: $1
Lewicki profiles as a fifth starter at best, so this purchase is probably more about a favorable two-start week for the Tigers’ 26-year-old righty. The combination of low strikeout and low wins potential makes Lewicki a matchup play at best, but I do agree with the idea of using him this week for two relatively “soft” opponents.
Ji-Man Choi $1 (Other bid: $1)
Alcides Escobar $1 (Other bid: $1)
Brett Anderson $1 (SEA) (Other bids: $1, $1)
Ryan O’Hearn $1
Carlos Tocci $1
Jefry Marte $1
Ryan LaMarre $1
There were some solid buys in the bargain bin. Choi could be better than Austin the rest of the way; I opted for Austin based on upside over reliability. O’Hearn will play every day if the Royals find a taker for Lucas Duda and Perez is a solid acquisition as the Rays’ starting catcher with Wilson Ramos out of the picture. I thought about bidding on Escobar, but I just couldn’t, not even as a backup bid.