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. With Mike Gianella on vacation this week, Jon Hegglund will be tackling 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
Roenis Elias $89 (Other bids: $73, $58, $15, $2)
On Friday, when Elias picked up his second save in as many days and fourth of the season, it seemed like the Mariners’ bullpen picture was finally coming into focus. Elias was the closer, at least until Hunter Strickland returns from the IL, which will not happen until at least early-June. But then Anthony Swarzak got the save for Seattle on Saturday and we could be back to square one. However, Elias had pitched in four of the previous five games, so it’s very possible that the Mariners were simply giving him a day off and will go right back to him in the next save situation. The owner of a 2.63 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP to go along with four saves in four chances through 12 appearances this season, Elias certainly deserves an extended look in the ninth. But the presence of Swarzak and his three saves should be a concern for owners hoping that Elias can be a consistent saves source for their squad going forward. Regardless, $89 is a very reasonable price, and the fact that the Elias sweepstakes was hotly contested should make Scott Engel feel good about coming away the victor.
Cole Tucker $67 (Other bids: $67, $43, $36, $34, $13)
Tucker was an even more popular FAAB target than Elias, and for good reason. Stolen bases is a category in fantasy and the 22-year-old shortstop swiped a combined 82 bags in the minors from 2017-2018, and he’s already racked up five steals in just 13 games at Triple-A this season. His power is minimal (don’t let the home run he hit in his big league debut fool you), but if Tucker performs well enough to hang onto Pittsburgh’s starting shortstop job even after the injured Erik Gonzalez returns, he could be a true difference-maker in steals while also providing a helpful OBP. Note that Tim Heaney won Tucker thanks to the rare (at least when the winning bid is a relatively high amount) Tout Wars tiebreaker, as he is currently lower in the standings than Derek Van Riper.
Albert Pujols $62 (Other bid: $5)
This was my lone buy of the week in Tout, and maybe it’s an unnecessary one, as I don’t exactly have a glaring CI need. However, I am a Justin Bour owner, and Pujols has been getting a little more playing time than Bour and is producing at a higher level. I’m also struggling in the RBI department, and Pujols could help me there. And then there’s the approaching Shohei Ohtani return, after which at least one of Bour or Pujols will see a significant playing time cut, so I’m trying to corner the Angels’ starting first baseman slot. Of course it’s possible that Pujols and Bour will see an equal drop in playing time, in which case this move will end up making my weekly lineup decisions even more stressful then they are already. But something tells me that the Halos would rather not bench a guy who they are paying an average of $24 million per year.
Martin Perez $58 (BAL)
Homer Bailey $39 (@TB) (Other bid: $18)
That’s now two straight dominant outings for Bailey, who now carries a not-so-terrible 4.30 ERA and a very good 1.09 WHIP with better than a strikeout per inning through four starts this year. The former top prospect hasn’t put together a fantasy-worthy season since 2014, so skepticism is advised. Still, there’s nothing wrong with taking a low-cost flier on him.
John Ryan Murphy $36
Danny Santana $33 (Other bids: $9, $2)
Tommy La Stella $32 (Other bid: $9)
Chase Anderson $26 (@NYM) (Other bids: $19, $9)
I seriously considered bidding on Anderson, who will at least temporarily replace Corbin Burnes in Milwaukee’s rotation. But his upcoming matchup against a solid Mets lineup combined with the fact that I’m not hurting in starting pitching quantity (quality is the issue right now) convinced me to pass. That said, I do like this pickup by Jeff Zimmerman, as Anderson has been a reliable back-end of the rotation mixed-league option over the past two years and especially helpful in the WHIP category. Home runs were a problem last season but if he can do a better job of keeping the ball in the park, an ERA significantly lower than last year’s 3.93 mark would not be surprising. If Anderson pitches well in the short term, I think there’s a better than 50/50 chance he remains in the rotation for the long term.
Samuel Gaviglio $24
Erik Swanson $22 (@SD, TEX)
Even though his big league track record (one relief appearance, one start) pales in comparison to that of Anderson, Swanson is in a similar situation in that if he gets the job done, he could stick around in the rotation. The 25-year-old righty, who sports strong career minor league numbers, was impressive in his first major league start, limiting the Indians to one run on two hits over six innings. With a manageable two-start week on tap, he’s well worth the $22 investment.
Mike Tauchman $20
David Bote $16
Raimel Tapia $14
Howie Kendrick $12 (Other bid: $1)
Clay Buchholz $11 (SF)
J.D. Davis $9
Matt Adams $6
Eric Sogard $6
Jorge Lopez $6 (LAA)
Nick Burdi $3
Chris Owings $2
Zac Gallen $2
Ivan Nova $2 (@BAL)
Pedro Baez $1
Sergio Romo $0
TOUT WARS AL
Michael Chavis $303 (Other bids: $109, $104)
Jason Collette really didn’t leave any room for doubt in nearly tripling the next-highest bid for the Red Sox call-up. To be fair, Chavis is a righty power bat, which, you know, can play pretty well in Fenway, and he’s being slotted into what looks disturbingly like the Spinal Tap drummer role at second base, with Dustin Pedroia returning to the IL after six lackluster games and Eduardo Nunez joining him a day later with a lower back strain. Any potential everyday player in the Boston lineup should command attention, and Chavis has the prospect pedigree and lineup support to be productive from the jump. But this could be a limited audition, with one or both of Nunez or Pedroia returning shortly after their ten days on the IL are up.
Ryan Cordell $135 (Other bids: $122, $33)
News that Cordell is the everyday right fielder for the White Sox sent at least two bids into the triple-digits, including Chris Liss’s winning offer of $135 (outgunning Nando DiFino’s runner-up by an impressive $13). Even in the high minors, Cordell was nothing too spesh, putting up competent but not exceptional power, speed, and batting average numbers. The attraction here is obviously regular playing time, which is manna from heaven in an AL-only league.
Erik Swanson (@SD, TEX) $106 (Other bids: $34, $24)
When James Paxton was dealt to the Yankees last November, Justus Sheffield was the “name” coming back in the deal. But there were already whispers that Swanson could be the more valuable short- and long-term arm heading to Seattle. With Wade LeBlanc landing on the IL for 4-6 weeks with a strained oblique, the rookie has a chance to show his value. In his major-league debut, he held the Indians to two hits and one earned run in six innings, and next week is in line for two reasonably friendly starts (which makes his acquisition all the more appealing in this FAAB cycle). The righty has shown good command and a polished approach in the minors, and he could be just the tonic to tamp down some overgrown early-season ratios.
Shawn Kelley $93 (Other bids: $35, $13, $12)
The buzzards are circling around Jose Leclerc after a handful of shaky outings in the past two weeks. Rangers skipper Chris Woodward has vowed to stick with Leclerc in the closer’s role for now, but Kelley is one of the few high-leverage relievers who seems a clear heir-apparent should a demotion take place (and he’s also been effective to start the season, with a 1.86 ERA and an 8/0 K/BB in 9 2/3 IP). It’s no surprise, therefore, that four AL Touts threw bids on him, with Liss shutting down the competition.
Mike Ford $74
Similar to Greg Bird in his double-monosyllabic name, Ford is also similar in that he’s a lefty masher who probably has no business as an everyday bat in a major-league lineup. But with the Great Bronx Injury Plague of 2019 sweeping the Yankees, one would have to ask oneself (and “one” in this case is named “Nando DiFino”) why not throw a lefty with power up against the short porch?
Chris Davis $57 (Other bids: $45, $23, $22)
Nowhere is the soul of an -only league better expressed than a situation where a player who has basically become a Twitter joke for his offensive ineptitude garners not one, not two, not three, but four—count ‘em, four!—bids for his fantasy services. And while nobody broke the bank, these are not insignificant bids. The important point here is that, since his 0-for-whatever streak to start the season, The Other Chris Davis has run off a 7-for-22 line over the past week. The 2018 version was terrible, but even getting the 2017 version, who hit .215 with 26 homers, would have positive value for Nando’s squad.
Daniel Norris (@CWS) $34 (Other bid: $27)
Danny Santana $22
Ivan Nova (@BAL) $13 (Other bids: $6, $6)
Giovanny Urshela $12
Chris Bassitt (TEX) $10
With Kyle Tucker flailing and Alvarez mashing (and walking!), Rob Leibowitz makes a smart stash play that could begin to pay out in the near future. Tyler White has done so poorly that Alex Bregman now calls him “Trevor”, and the inevitable Astros injury seems to be the only obstacle to keep the lefty bopper from making the trip to Minute Maid.
Eric Sogard $2
Cavan Biggio $2
Manny Banuelos (@BAL, DET) $1
Dylan Cease $1
Luke Maile $0 (Other bid: $0)
Hector Neris $19 (Other bids: $14, $14, $14, $7, $5, $5, $5, $1, $1)
Are the Phillies finally set on their closer? Neris picked up both of the team’s two saves last week and now boasts a 1.86 ERA and a 0.62 WHIP to go along with 15 strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings so far this season. Scott Pianowski of Yahoo was comfortable spending nearly one-fifth of his season FAAB budget to acquire Neris, and the move makes sense. Even though Scott leads the league in saves, he has Hunter Strickland on the IL and Shane Greene and Ryan Brasier are his other two closers. Greene is a mid-season trade candidate while Brasier’s long-term saves outlook is promising but not 100 percent secure.
Michael Chavis $13 (Other bids: $4, $4, $4, $1)
Chavis was off to a fine start in the minors this season before a slew of injuries resulted in the Red Sox calling him up over the weekend. He started at second base on Sunday and could see some time at the corner infield spots as well, but once Boston gets some of their injured infielders back, there’s a good chance Chavis will return to the minors. He will have to perform at a very high level to avoid that scenario.
Cole Tucker $12 (Other bids: $8, $4, $4, $4, $3)
C.J. Cron $8 (Other bids: $6, $5, $4, $3, $3, $3, $2, $1, $1)
I finished second for both Tucker and Cron, but my need for Tucker was far greater with my starting shortstop, Jean Segura, now on the IL. I do have Tim Anderson at MI, so this is more of a category issue than a position issue as I’m currently in the middle of the pack in a tight stolen base race. Anderson and the struggling Ender Inciarte are my only steady speed sources right now, so it would have been nice to add Tucker. I’ll have to move Ian Kinsler to MI, which is, um, not ideal.
My need for Cron wasn’t nearly as dire but he was released last week and it seemed like he simply did not belong on the waiver wire in a 15-team mixed league. Oh, and Cron is also swinging a hot bat, with three homers and eight RBIs over his last seven games. With Anthony Rizzo, Nolan Arenado, Pete Alonso and Brandon Belt in my starting lineup, there wasn’t an open spot for Cron but I figured he was a better option than Belt and I could always trade a corner infielder to upgrade my outfield, which has been a disaster so far. All of this sounded like a good idea, but I’ll never know.
Albert Pujols $5 (Other bid: $1)
Instead of Cron, I welcomed Pujols to my LABR squad, and I’m honestly not feeling great about owning him in both Tout and LABR. But I’ll replace Belt with Pujols at least for this week and if Pujols produces enough over the next few weeks, I might still look to make that CI for OF trade.
Mike Tauchman $4 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Jerad Eickhoff $3 (MIA) (Other bids: $1, $1)
Erik Swanson $3 (@SD, TEX) (Other bids: $3, $3, $1)
Tommy La Stella $3 (Other bid: $1)
Billy McKinney $3 (Other bid: $1)
Homer Bailey $3 (@TB) (Other bid: $1)
Joey Wendle $2
A very clever pickup by Jason Collette and Paul Sporer of Fangraphs, and in retrospect, one that I probably should have tried to make. LABR rules prohibit players on the IL from being bought in FAAB and Wendle made his return on Sunday. He should be a positive contributor in both batting average and steals and he won’t have to do much to be a better option than Kinsler. I could really regret not going after Wendle if Segura misses more time than expected.
Brian McCann $2
Zach Davies $2 (@STL)
Ryan Cordell $2
Lou Trivino $2 (Other bids: $1, $1)
Nick Burdi $1
Robert Stephenson $1 (Other bid: $1)
Ervin Santana $1 (@BAL)
Rio Ruiz $1
Shawn Kelley $1 (Other bid: $1)
J.D. Davis $1
Isaac Galloway $22 (Other bid: $1)
Look, I’m not going to lie: did I know who “Isaac Galloway” was before compiling this column? I’m pleading the Fifth, folks. But it turns out that Galloway is a 29-year-old former sorta prospect who offers basically one thing to both the Marlins and Howard Bender’s team: speed. Provided he sees the field enough to parlay that speed into fantasy value, that is. It’s questionable whether Galloway can get some extended lineup run, but he’s certainly on one of the teams that will give him at least a puncher’s chance.
Tony Wolters $6 (Other bid: $1)
Wolters is a catcher in a two-catcher, NL-only league. He’s not very good offensively, but neither is Chris Iannetta. He is pretty good defensively, which is why he’ll continue to get at-bats, and why he’s a perfectly fine purchase at this price.
Nick Anderson $5 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
I always liked Nick Anderson, the basketball player, even going back to his Illinois days. Nick Anderson, the Marlins pitcher, is doing his best Josh Hader impersonation from the right side, putting together a string of one-inning outings in which he strikes out just about everybody he faces (to the tune of 17 in 8 2/3 IP). This is not so much a saves play as an immediate balm to inflamed ratios, and the fact that four LABRers threw their hats in the ring shows how important such players are in the current fantasy landscape.
Lane Thomas $4
The Cards’ prospect powered through Double- and Triple-A last year and has been rewarded for his troubles with a spot on the 25-man roster early this season. With a crowded roster in St. Louis, however, it’s likely going to take an injury to get Thomas to anything approaching everyday at-bats. If he does somehow eke out playing time, there’s some power and speed upside, and significant batting-average downside.
As the Raisel Iglesias Demotion Watch continues, Stephenson is one of a few contenders to take over ninth-inning duties in Cincy. Regardless, there are some nice ratios and Ks to be had with the former starter.
Nick Burdi $1
Sam Dyson $1
Jose Pirela $1
Thank you for reading
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