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 Mixed, while Mike Gianella tackles Tout Wars AL and LABR NL. 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 8 pm ET on Sunday while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Taylor Rogers $228 (Other bids: $121, $117, $78, $56, $31, $31, $13, $8)
Just four days after Blake Parker was bought for $115 by Jeff Zimmerman in the first FAAB period of 2019, Michael Rathburn purchased Parker’s bullpen mate for nearly double the price. There was a good reason for the generous bid, of course, as it was Rogers who recorded the save for the Twins on Opening Day. And the 28-year-old southpaw boasts a strong big league track record, including a 3.17 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and better than a strikeout per frame in 200 appearances. But then Rogers pitched in the eighth inning on Saturday, and the Twins also have Trevor May as a closing option in addition to Parker. The bottom line is that there remains little clarity when it comes to the Twins’ ninth inning situation, so to spend nearly one-quarter of a season’s FAAB budget on Rogers is risky indeed. Still, nearly two-thirds of the league placed a bid on him.
Tim Beckham $76 (Other bids: $25, $22)
I was surprised that Beckham wasn’t picked up last Thursday considering his impressive play in Japan, but he has now found a home on Al Melchior’s roster, thanks in large part to a two-home run game on Opening Day in Seattle. The former top overall pick was a major disappointment last year after breaking out in 2017 to the tune of a .278 batting average with 22 home runs, so he will look to prove that last season, and not 2017, was the anomaly. For 76 FAAB bucks, Beckham could turn out to be a quality investment.
Brian Goodwin $69
Scott Schebler $63 (Other bids: $57, $32, $28)
Anthony Swarzak $56 (Other bid: $1)
With Hunter Strickland expected to be sidelined for at least two months, Swarzak could step into the closer role shortly after he comes off the DL early this week. Consistency from year to year has been an issue for Swarzak throughout his career, but $56 is not a whole lot to pay for someone who could approach double-digit saves if things break right.
Jake Odorizzi $52 (@PHI) (Other bids: $47, $46)
I thought about bidding on Odorizzi but remembering the stress he put me through in Tout last season, I just wasn’t in the mood. His first start of 2019 was a stellar outing in which he limited the Indians to one hit (a solo home run) and two walks over six innings while striking out 11. But that’s the thing with Odorizzi. He teases you by throwing a gem, and then in his next start, he gives up seven runs. The strikeouts are nice, but the efficiency struggles and the propensity to serve up a high number of homers are concerning. Maybe this year will be different, but I doubt it.
Ryan Yarbrough $47
Lucas Giolito $47 (SEA)
Will this be the year that Giolito finally realizes all of that potential? So far, so good, as he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Sunday, ultimately allowing two runs across 6 2/3 innings while whiffing eight and walking just one. The major caveat is that he was facing the Royals, but his 2019 debut certainly puts Giolito on the radar as someone to consider adding in most mixed leagues.
Yandy Diaz $39
Cory Gearrin $38
Curtis Granderson $37 (Other bid: $16)
Looking for an outfielder to at least temporarily fill in for Hunter Renfroe, who I drafted in four of my five leagues but is now apparently San Diego’s fourth outfielder (great), Granderson made the most sense. Unfortunately, my $16 bid fell short. Grandy is off to a fine start this season and figures to see near everyday at-bats versus right-handed pitching, mostly in the leadoff spot, so I do like this add by Gene McCaffrey. Also remember that Tout is an OBP league. Granderson’s value is boosted in those formats as he sports a career OBP of .340 compared to a .252 batting average.
Ian Kinsler $37
Ian Kennedy $31 (Other bid: $23)
Well that was weird. Kennedy, a career-long starting pitcher in his 10th full big-league season, will be working out of the bullpen, at least to begin the year. And it didn’t take him long to reward the 0.01% of fantasy owners who drafted him by notching his first career save. Ned Yost says he liked what he saw from Kennedy in the ninth inning on Saturday. Did he like what he saw enough to give Kennedy the team’s next save opportunity? We will find out soon enough, though it is the Royals, so we might need to be a little patient while waiting for that next save opportunity.
Max Fried $28 (CHC) (Other bids: $18, $1)
Brett Anderson $27 (BOS)
Nick Margevicius $26 (@STL)
Trent Thornton $24 (@CLE)
Brandon Drury $21
Jason Vargas $13 (@MIA)
Albert Almora $13
Mike Wright $11
Neil Walker $8
My consolation prize for missing out on Granderson was Walker, who I actually don’t mind adding as bench depth going forward (Tout Wars rules require that I start him at least for this coming week). Walker still has some power, and while he won’t get everyday at-bats this season, his ability to play many different positions will enable him to be in the lineup far more often than your typical utility man. In Tout, Walker is eligible at first, second, third, and the outfield. That’s rare.
Jordan Zimmermann $7 (@NYY)
Zach Davies $3 (@CIN, CHC)
Wade LeBlanc $1 (@CHW)
Lou Trivino $1
Joey Rickard $0
Alex Avila $0
TOUT WARS AL
Brian Goodwin $109 (Other bids: $66, $11, $6)
Goodwin was taken by Doug Dennis of Baseball HQ in the Tout Wars auction on March 16. Then, after the Royals cut Goodwin, Dennis followed suit, releasing him on Sunday, March 24. But then the Angels picked him up after the Justin Upton injury, making Goodwin desirable (well, desirable in an AL-only league) once again. Fantasy baseball fever…catch it! I bid $66 but lost out to Patrick Davitt of Baseball HQ. Goodwin is often viewed as a fringy major leaguer, but he has a .252/.317/.454 line in 506 career plate appearances and can steal bases. His primary competition while Upton is out is Peter Bourjos. Goodwin could stink, but the chance at regular at-bats with some speed thrown in is worth it, perhaps even in deep mixed leagues.
Ian Kennedy $81 (Other bids: $60, $24, $17, $2)
I was the runner-up on Kennedy as well, my $60 bid falling short to Howard Bender of Fantasy Alarm’s $81 throw. Kennedy picked up a save this weekend and given how soft the Royals’ pen is, it’s quite possible Kennedy is the closer going forward. Former starting pitchers who can let loose and throw harder in the ninth are almost always attractive targets.
Cory Gearrin $53 (Other bids: $11, $0. LABR AL: $4
I had a $90 bid for Gearrin ready to go before his meltdown in the ninth on Sunday, when he couldn’t find the plate against the Red Sox, walking the bases loaded before being pulled. I suppose Gearrin could get another opportunity, but even if he does, he’s not a flamethrower and isn’t worth more than a very low-end bid. The Mariners bullpen is a mess and while anyone could get saves, there isn’t a candidate in the free agent pool worth more than $10-15, even with $1,000 to play with.
Joey Rickard $41 (Other bid: $21)
I suspect I’m going to be writing a lot about players on second division AL teams this season. Even in AL-only as a full-timer, Rickard profiles as a marginal producer…think 15-20 home runs at best with a .240-.250 batting average if he amasses 550 plate appearances. His favorable home venue helps him out a little bit, but even on the dismal Orioles, there’s a good chance someone (Austin Hays?) supplants Rickard.
Kyle Zimmer $35 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Hey, it’s my first ridiculous expert league overpay of the season, although this isn’t nearly as egregious as paying over $100 for Adam Ottavino in Tout NL was last season. Zimmer was terrific yesterday in his big-league debut, lighting up the radar gun and looking like the top prospect he was years ago before injuries derailed his career. Zimmer could be the closer in a month in Kansas City. He could also crash and burn. This is a small enough bid on my part that I don’t care too much if it’s the latter.
Matt Festa $33 (Other bid: $1)
Festa is a Seattle reliever, which means He Could Close and Attention Must Be Paid. Festa doesn’t throw had but commands his pitches well and generates good movement and could succeed even without top notch velocity. He has more opportunity than he would in a bullpen where someone like Edwin Diaz was at the top of the pecking order.
Peter Bourjos $31 (Other bid: $16). LABR AL: $1
I already mentioned Bourjos in the Goodwin blurb. Bourjos is the less exciting of the two options in fantasy, especially since he hasn’t been a significant stolen base threat in years and is on the wrong side of 30 (he turned 31 yesterday). He has AL-only value if he plays, but then who doesn’t?
Trent Thornton $22 (@CLE) (Other bids: $21, $17)
Thornton was impressive in his major league debut yesterday, striking out eight and allowing only two baserunners in six shutout innings against Detroit. Acquired from the Astros this winter for Aledmys Diaz, Thornton throws his heater in the 92-95 mile-per-hour range and has a curve with a ridiculously high spin rate. He’s also a deception arm, using guile and a delivery that keeps hitters off balance. I normally don’t like “deception” guys, but this isn’t a case where the raw stuff is below average and eventually won’t play.
Chasen Bradford $21
I also nabbed Stratton for $6, mostly because he has a favorable two-start week coming up. Moore had a strong start against Toronto yesterday, but I am cynical the fun times last this week against the Royals.
Kolten Wong $14 (Other bids: $4, $3, $1)
With two homers, four RBIs, four runs and two steals through four games, it’s safe to say that Wong is off to a strong start this season. He was a productive fantasy contributor earlier in his career as a power/speed asset but has never put together the breakthrough season that many believed was inevitable. He’s still only 28, so the window hasn’t closed just yet. The $14 bid is a little aggressive but there’s profit to be had here.
Matt Shoemaker $5 (BAL) (Other bids: $2, $1)
Shoemaker was dominant in his 2019 debut, blanking a weak Tigers lineup over seven innings while tallying seven strikeouts. Although I’m not too optimistic about him overall this year pitching in the AL East, he could still be a worthy matchup-based option in deeper mixed leagues. Next up on the schedule is a home start against the Orioles. I’d say that qualifies as a favorable matchup.
Ian Kennedy $4 (Other bids: $3, $2)
Jake Odorizzi $3 (@PHI) (Other bids: $1, $1)
Rowdy Tellez $2
Tellez delivered a pinch-hit home run on Sunday and could earn regular playing time at the DH spot with Kendrys Morales now in Oakland. He offers some power with a batting average that is unlikely to be a drain.
Josh Reddick $2
I have the same Hunter Renfroe panic issue in LABR but a different potential savior. There’s nothing special about Reddick, and it’s very possible that he will be back on the waiver wire in a few weeks. But at least he’s playing, and he should continue to start regularly versus righties as long as he remains reasonably productive. He also hits in a strong lineup, which will help to maximize his counting stats potential. I’ll stop now, because it’s really hard to get too excited about Josh Reddick.
Drew Smyly $1 (HOU, @LAA)
Jordan Zimmermann $1 (@NYY)
While Anthony Swarzak will soon be an option to assume the role of Mariners closer, Bradford earned the save for Seattle on Sunday. He seems like a solid $1 speculative add.
Jose Iglesias $11 (Other bids: $2, $1)
One of the most significant differences between Tout Wars and LABR is you cannot bid on minor leaguers in LABR. Iglesias was signed by the Reds to a minor league contract this offseason and his contract wasn’t purchased by Cincinnati until after last Sunday’s FAAB deadline. Iglesias is only usable in mono formats but is better than you think thanks to his sneaky 10-15 steal potential. He’s also surprisingly decent in batting average (Iglesias is a career .271 hitter). Iglesias has a job while both Scooter Gennett and Nick Senzel are recovering from injury.
Matt Joyce $9 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Joyce has decent power and would be a fun deep league option in a world where second division teams were trying to be competitive. In our world, he’s stuck on Atlanta’s bench, and isn’t a viable platoon alternative for Nick Markakis since both are left-handed. Joyce has a 15-20 home run ceiling but barring an injury to Markakis won’t get anywhere close to that in 2019.
Michael Reed $4
Nick Margevicius $3 (@STL) (Other bid: $1). Tout Wars NL: $31
Margevicius wasn’t on anyone’s radar, fantasy or otherwise, this spring. This makes sense, as the 22-year-old hurler hadn’t pitched above A-ball prior to making his major league debut Saturday against the Giants. Margevicius was brilliant, keeping the Giants off balance all day with mostly a fastball/slider mix. He doesn’t throw hard (Margevicius averaged 88 miles-per-hour on his fastball) but commands all his pitches well and looked pretty advanced given his lack of experience against advanced hitters. This week’s contest in St. Louis is a tougher assignment and I’d be wary of using him.
I picked up Hernandez. Raisel Iglesias’ shaky outing last week shouldn’t concern his fantasy managers but if the Reds do decide to use Iglesias as more of a multi-inning option or to face the opponent’s best batters regardless of whether it is a save situation, Hernandez is the logical choice to scoop up a few saves as the backup.
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