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
Kolten Wong $331 (Other bids: $179, $89, $84, $47, $42, $39)
Last Monday, shortly before lineup lock time, Jeff Zimmerman released Wong in order to open up a roster spot. The league certainly took note of that move, and seven of the 15 owners decided to bid on the Cardinals second baseman. When Zimmerman released Wong, he was off to a nice start, but it was only four games. Now, the nice start has extended to nine games. I discussed Wong in last week’s LABR Mixed review, so I won’t be too repetitive here. The bottom line is that Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski was willing to spend more than one-third of his season FAAB budget (he began the year with $940) in hopes that this will be the year Wong finally realizes all of that potential.
Marco Gonzales $146 (@KC, HOU) (Other bids: $103, $87, $79, $58, $48, $32, $10, $7)
Of all the players bought this week in the Tout Wars Mixed Auction league, interest in Gonzales was the heaviest, with nine owners vying for the Mariners southpaw. Gonzales is coming off a dominant performance against the Angels in which he tossed 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball, improving his record to 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP through three starts this season. Gonzales isn’t a significant strikeout contributor (career 7.5 K/9), which limits his ceiling for fantasy purposes, but he’s always displayed excellent control (career 2.3 BB/9), and at 27 years of age, it would not be surprising to see him deliver a career-best season. From a shorter term perspective, he’s a two-start pitcher this week, though the second matchup, versus a formidable Astros lineup, is a bit scary.
Jason Heyward $131 (Other bids: $59, $52, $7)
Heyward has teased us many times before, and it’s been awhile since he was a trustworthy mixed-league option. So, are we buying into his hot start? I was willing to bid $52 just in case something has finally clicked, and I did come in third in the Heyward sweepstakes. But Scott Pianowski (yes, the same Scott Pianowski who shelled out 331 FAAB bucks on Wong) won this one easily. I’m cautiously optimistic that Heyward will be good enough this year to earn a regular starting lineup spot in deeper mixed leagues, and it’s easy to forget that he doesn’t even turn 30 until August. But remember, Heyward has teased us many times before.
Christian Walker $129 (Other bids: $54, $36, $32, $26, $11)
With Jake Lamb injured (again), Walker is certainly taking advantage of his opportunity for regular at-bats, with three homers, three doubles, six RBIs and six runs through nine games. Although his big league track record is nearly nonexistent, Walker has put up strong power numbers in the minors, so he makes for a solid add, at least for the short term. Still, considering his margin of victory in the battle for Walker’s services, Michael Rathburn is probably wishing that Tout still used Vickrey bidding.
Blake Swihart $57 (Other bid: $31)
Not too long ago, Swihart was going to be the next great catcher for the Red Sox. Things haven’t gone quite according to plan, but the former top prospect is off to a fast start this season. With Christian Vazquez being limited offensively, it would not be a surprise to see Swihart carve out a meaningful number of at-bats this year, at least meaningful enough to warrant consideration as a second catcher in a deep mixed league. In case you haven’t heard, the bar for second catchers in deep mixed leagues is pretty low.
Rowdy Tellez $39 (Other bids: $36, $25, $9)
Nick Ahmed $38 (Other bid: $21)
Jonathan Loaisiga $38 (@HOU) (Other bid: $3)
Wilmer Difo $37
Anthony Alford $36
Tyson Ross $17 (@MIN)
Renato Nunez $13
Diego Castillo $13
Russell Martin $12
Speaking of second catchers in deep mixed leagues, I’m not too happy with Mitch Garver, the second catcher I drafted. Garver just isn’t playing enough. So, I figured I’d grab Martin, who is in a timeshare with Austin Barnes but is still playing more than Garver thus far. I do have an open roster spot, so I won’t drop Garver just yet. But Martin, who is 5-for-12 with a homer, two RBIs, six runs and five walks (remember that Tout is an OBP league), seems like the better choice for now.
Daniel Descalso $12
Freddy Galvis $11
Mike Leake $5 (@KC) (Other bid: $2)
Drew Smyly $3 (OAK)
J.D. Davis $0
TOUT WARS AL
Clint Frazier $443 (Other bids: $348, $347, $137, $122, $111, $53, $36, $4)
There have been a few $100+ players thus far in Tout AL, but Frazier led to the first big bidding war of the year. My $137 bid came in fourth. Three experts had the guts to bid at least one-third of their budgets, but Chris Liss of Sirius XM was the most aggressive, outbidding the next competitor by $95. There was good reason to push on Frazier, even before his two-home run game against Baltimore. He was a solid prospect, is still young and could keep playing even when Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks are healthy. In an OBP league like Tout, Frazier’s batting average risk is somewhat mitigated. He won’t run, but 20-25 home run upside in Yankee Stadium makes Frazier worth this kind of bid if you have a hole on offense. I did not, which is part of the reason I wasn’t all in like Liss was.
Alen Hanson $133 (Other bids: $15, $0)
Hanson’s skills play up way more in fantasy than they do in real life. He could steal 15-20 bases if he gets the playing time, and on a bad Toronto offense, playing time isn’t out of the question. He’s got a little pop, and a 10-20 season from someone with multi-positional eligibility is solid. The risk comes due to a poor OBP and a skill set that could lead to Hanson disappearing if he has a lousy two-week stretch. I like him in the $20-25 range in a $1000 budget league if you have the need but wouldn’t splurge.
David Hess $38 (@BOS) (Other bid: $0)
I suspect Hess would have garnered more bids/attention if he hadn’t thrown up a clunker yesterday against the Yankees. Even in AL-only, Hess is a matchup play, and going against the Red Sox in Fenway later this week isn’t going to end well. He’s probably a little better than I thought he was last month (which was “do not own under any circumstances”) but that’s damning with the faintest of praise.
Patrick Wisdom $29
Logan Forsythe $18 (Other bid: $0)
Ronald Guzman’s injury opens up playing time at first base for Wisdom and Forsythe, probably in that order. Wisdom’s power makes him the far more enticing fantasy option, but his poor contact skills make him a batting average risk and while he has shown a decent batting eye in the minors, it probably still makes him a liability in OBP. Forsythe was relatively awesome in 2016, hitting 20 home runs for the Rays, but has disappeared since then. Both were appropriately priced in Tout.
Welcome to the AL-only bargain bin. Wade has an opportunity in New York due to the Tulowitzki injury and could provide some cheap speed. Rondon showed some pop in a brief stint for the White Sox last year and Yolmer Sanchez isn’t the biggest obstacle in the world. You can see how thin the starting pitching options are in the AL when Hess and Bailey were the only two arms added.
LABR AL Bids
Trent Thornton $17, $7, $5, $4, $4
Christian Arroyo $4, $1
Alen Hanson $4, $3, $2, $1, $1
Socrates Brito $4, $1, $1
Logan Forsythe $3, $2
David Hess $3
Tyler Wade $2, $1
Richard Bleier $1
Hanser Alberto $1
Jason Heyward $24 (Other bids: $13, $12, $10, $6, $2, $1)
I didn’t mind missing out on Heyward in Tout, but I really did want him in LABR, where my outfield is weaker. I thought that my $12 bid would probably be enough to land him. At about 11:55 PM ET, I thought about increasing the bid to $13 but stuck with $12. Well, even $13 would not have been close to enough, as Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated easily won this competition. I’ve been careful not to overpay for players in LABR due to the $1 minimum bid and $100 season budget parameters. But thinking ahead, if I really want someone, I might need to be a little more extravagant with my bids. It’s not like this is an -only league where saving FAAB for crossover players often pays off.
Christian Walker $18 (Other bids: $16, $11, $9, $8, $8, $6, $4, $4, $4, $2, $1)
I think it’s safe to say that there was some interest in Walker in LABR Mixed this week, with 80 percent of the league placing a bid on him. I was among the 20 percent as I would not have even had an open starting spot with Anthony Rizzo, Pete Alonso and Brandon Belt already on my roster.
Freddy Galvis $17 (Other bids: $9, $3)
I was surprised by the level of interest in Galvis until I realized that he’s batting .324 with three homers, six RBIs and five runs scored through 11 games. Galvis does have a 20-HR season on his resume and possesses double-digit stolen-base potential, but he’s also a career .246 hitter. He’s more of a position need filler than someone to be overly enthusiastic about going forward.
Alex Gordon $15 (Other bids: $1, $1)
Gordon has been productive so far but with an upside of a .270 batting average, 20 homers and double-digit steals and a high probability that he falls short of those benchmarks, this just isn’t an exciting fantasy profile.
Anthony Swarzak $14 (Other bids: $12, $7, $5)
The question of who will lead the Mariners in saves by year’s end rates at about a 9.8 out of 10 in the difficulty department, but Swarzak earned a save early last week before pitching in the ninth inning on Sunday. He has to be the favorite, right?
Mike Leake $12 (@KC)
So, Leake was purchased for $5 out of a $1000 budget in Tout Wars Mixed Auction but went for $12 out of a $100 budget in LABR Mixed. Interesting stuff. I’ve always liked Leake as a boring but underrated pitcher and his matchup this week is a favorable one. Would I have spent a shade under one-eighth of my season FAAB budget to acquire him? Probably not.
Clint Frazier $11 (Other bids: $4, $2, $2, $1)
With three homers, eight RBIs and a .412 batting average through five games this season, to say that Frazier is swinging a hot bat would be an understatement. He should continue to see regular at-bats until either Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Hicks returns, which might not be until May. There’s definite profit potential in this buy.
Trent Thornton $7 (TB) (Other bids: $3, $1)
Neil Walker $7 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Hanley Ramirez $7 (Other bids: $4, $3, $2, $2, $1)
Adam Conley $5
Ji-Man Choi $4 (Other bids: $2, $2)
Carson Kelly $2
Brian Goodwin $2 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Different league but same situation as Tout Wars in that my second catcher is Mitch Garver and I’m replacing him, at least for this week, with Martin. And just like in Tout, I didn’t need to drop Garver. Let’s see what happens.
Nick Margevicius $2 (@SF)
Spencer Turnbull $2 (Other bid: $1)
Leury Garcia $1
Tyler Mahle $1 (MIA)
Kevin Pillar $43 (Other bids: $32, $31, $25, $17, $13, $4)
April trades aren’t unheard of, but typically they’re minor and happen due to roster limitations when players are designated for assignment. Pillar was the rare case of a non-contender unloading a solid veteran early. Since Pillar isn’t a superstar, no one was going to use anything close to their full budget but since you get the benefit of nearly a full season of stats (even if he’s traded back to the AL), there is additional value. Eric Karabell of ESPN went against his usual strategy of hoarding FAAB for a July AL import and plunked down $43. Pillar is an offensive negative in real life, but in fantasy, there’s a legitimate shot at a 15/15 season, although moving to San Francisco will hurt Pillar’s power. I bid a tepid $13, in part because I didn’t really have a pressing need or hole on offense and am saving money for a pop-up closer down the line.
A week and a half into the season, three Cardinals relievers have a save. Gant is one of the three, and while Jordan Hicks appears to be the primary closer, it’s possible St. Louis mixes and matches more than we were expecting them to do. A former starter, Gant has added velocity in the pen although thus far this hasn’t translated into strikeouts. Brebbia has no wins or saves but has posted stronger peripherals than Gant and is more of a traditional two-pitch reliever. Both are worth a low-end speculative bid, although the team hasn’t indicated anything specific about changes in roles.
Corey Dickerson landed on the IL with a right shoulder strain, opening up opportunity in the Pirates outfield. Shuck garnered the bigger bid, but Martin has the higher ceiling (such as it is) and started both games in left field this weekend. Shuck isn’t a complete zero, and with Melky Cabrera handling the other corner outfield slot for the Bucs, it’s possible Shuck sees some playing time. Martin is the one who intrigues me in NL-only and perhaps deep mixed. The ceiling is low but a seasonal 10-home run, 15-steal pace is possible. Shuck has some speed, but the Pirates are probably more inclined to see what they have in Martin than to give a 31-year-old journeyman a clean shot at a job.
Jon Duplantier $6 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Expected to be a starter in most prospect circles, Duplantier has instead become a key bullpen arm for the Diamondbacks. I suspect some of the moderate buzz surrounding Duplantier is because the D-backs closer is Greg Holland and the organization has never trusted Archie Bradley in the ninth, but Duplantier’s raw stuff is exciting in any role. He could also become a multi-inning reliever, although given his injury history, Arizona will probably manage his workload carefully.
I wrote “A Jackson” in my notes and briefly had a fever dream about Austin Jackson. Then I thought about “Action Jackson”, the delightful 1988 action film that should have turned Carl Weathers (of “Rocky” fame) into a movie star. Perhaps in another universe. But no, it’s actually Alex Jackson, the former Mariners prospect who struggled after being moved from catcher to the outfield and was then traded to Atlanta. They moved him back behind the plate, where Jackson quickly made up for lost time on defense and elevated his prospect status somewhat, in part because his bat will play better behind the dish than it did in the outfield. He’s probably a future backup, but with Brian McCann on the IL and Tyler Flowers banged up, Jackson could see some starts in the near-term.
TOUT WARS NL
Kevin Pillar $317, $312, $225, $221, $136, $50, $47, $41
Jason Martin $57, $40, $22, $2
Josh Fuentes $30, $3
Jon Duplantier $11, $10
Kevin Newman $11
Carter Kieboom $9
Tony Wolters $5
Curtis Casali $3
Pat Valaika $3
Trey Wingenter $3
J.B. Shuck $2, $1
John Brebbia $2, $0
Mark Zagunis $1, $0
Thank you for reading
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