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
Carter Kieboom $228 (Other bids: $129, $121, $109, $46, $44)
Well that was unexpected. Just kidding. The original thinking was that Kieboom’s current stint with the Nationals would come to an end once Trea Turner returns from the IL sometime in May. But after slugging two homers in his first three big league games, the 21-year-old is beginning to make a case for himself that he deserves to stick around for the long term. Derek Van Riper’s $228 winning bid seems a little aggressive to me being that Kieboom hasn’t been a standout power or speed producer in the minors, but three other owners entered in triple-digit dollar bids, so there was plenty of competition. Middle infield isn’t a need for me, so I decided to pass on Kieboom, though my bid would have fallen well short even if middle infield was a need.
Griffin Canning $131 (TOR) (Other bids: $78, $37)
Considering the sorry state of starting pitching so far in 2019, any highly regarded prospect will be coveted by fantasy owners. Canning certainly fits that description. The 22-year-old righty has been outstanding through three starts at Triple-A Salt Lake, allowing just one earned run across 16 innings while posting a 17-to-2 K/BB ratio. He’s set to make his Angels debut on Tuesday and if he pitches well enough in the short term, his big league stay could be of the long term variety.
Brandon Belt $77 (Other bids: $28, $25, $12)
I originally planned on entering in a bid for Belt, who was released by Michael Rathburn last week. My corner infield situation was crowded but Belt gained outfield eligibility in Tout over the weekend and unlike Hunter Renfroe, my current fifth outfielder, Belt is playing every day. But Renfroe has been sort of productive lately and I’ve been burned already multiple times this season by constantly changing my hitting lineup, so I ultimately resisted the urge to add Belt. What makes me feel at ease with this decision is that my bid would not have topped Tim Heaney’s $77 offering. At least I own Belt in LABR.
Chris Bassitt $71 (@PIT) (Other bids: $38, $29)
Bassitt has been very impressive in his two starts since replacing the injured Marco Estrada in Oakland’s rotation, allowing a combined one run over 12 innings while registering 16 strikeouts. Serving as both a starter and a reliever for the A’s last season, the 30-year-old righty posted strong numbers, though the sample size was only 47 2/3 innings. Bassitt may not have the hype of Griffin Canning, but he’s in a similar situation in that he controls his rotation future.
Emilio Pagan $67 (Other bids: $66, $31, $29, $22)
The Rays’ closer picture remains blurry but Pagan did record three saves last week and boasts exceptional numbers for the season, including a 1.23 ERA and a 0.27 WHIP through seven appearances. Is Pagan now comfortably first in the ninth-inning pecking order? Scott Engel figured that it was worth 67 FAAB bucks to find out.
Diego Castillo $67
While Pagan earned three saves last week, it was Castillo who earned the save on Sunday with Pagan getting the final out of the seventh. I clearly overestimated the interest level in Castillo as my $67 bid (the same amount as Pagan’s winning bid…interesting) was uncontested. Although I’m not too happy that I spent way more than I needed to for Castillo, he’s been pitching quite well overall this season and made a fine first impression last year. Being that I drafted Cody Allen as my second closer and Ty Buttrey as his backup, I’m not feeling too good about my saves situation right now. Maybe Castillo chips in a few saves over the next few weeks while providing an alternative lineup option in weeks where some of my back-end starters face tough matchups, and that’s the case for me this week.
Luke Jackson $55
Tyler Wade $29
Adam Wainwright $28 (@WAS, @CHC)
Wainwright was my other buy this week, and this is a risky one, as even though he’s a two-start pitcher, the matchups are…let’s just say not favorable. But the former ace has gone at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts, and my ERA can’t really get much worse than it is right now. Can it? I’m hoping that Wainwright comes out of the week with a win and a 4.50 ERA. Is that asking too much? Regardless, he’s an upgrade over Zack Godley, who will be joining the waiver wire crew later this afternoon.
Luis Rengifo $27 (Other bid: $8)
Jalen Beeks $26
Hansel Robles $23 (Other bid: $22)
John Means $22 (@CHW, TB)
Daniel Norris $22 (KC)
Anibal Sanchez $12 (STL, @PHI)
Ryan Cordell $12
James McCann $12 (Other bid: $3)
Logan Forsythe $11 (Other bid: $8)
Jason Castro $11
Ryon Healy $7
Shawn Kelley $5
TOUT WARS AL
Hansel Robles $370, $75, $55, $53, $36, $16, $11
I bid $16, and knew my bid was too low the moment I entered it. Even if I had been aggressive, I probably would have topped out in the $60-70 range and wouldn’t have gone anywhere near Rob Leibowitz of Rotoheaven’s $370 winning bid. Robles has been solid in 2019 and is throwing gas, but the Angels haven’t committed to a full-time closer to replace Cody Allen just yet. My guess is Robles is the short-term beneficiary and Ty Buttrey eventually runs with the job in the long-term, assuming Los Angeles doesn’t give Allen another shot.
Emilio Pagan $199, $75, $53, $50, $39, $32, $31, $11
Pagan saved three games for the Rays last week, and likely would have seen a bid in Robles’ range if he had picked up the save yesterday against the Red Sox. Instead, Diego Castillo got the nod, muddying the waters in Tampa Bay’s bullpen even further. It’s probably a full-blown committee, which is bad news if you’re bidding triple-digits expecting a closer and even worse news if you spent double-digits on Jose Alvarado at your auction. Pitchers like Pagan are worth some FAAB (I bid $50) even if they’re not closing, as pitchers in a committee still get plenty of wins and saves opportunities all year long.
Luis Rengifo $103, $36, $24, $21
Rengifo’s versatility and excellent batting eye should permit him to carve out a long major league career, but his groundball proclivities and lack of over-the-fence power put him on a career path as a utility player, not a starter. For now, Zack Cozart’s injury and the Angels’ meh options up the middle have cast Rengifo as the Angels’ starting second baseman. He has some speed, so besides the usual “volume is good in an -only” mantra, you might get a few swipes from him while Cozart is out.
Griffin Canning $88, $75, $53, $24, $17, $16
I had the lowest bid on Canning, which might seem weird given the sorry state of my starting pitching. There is a method to my madness. Since I’m already buried in ERA and WHIP, I don’t want to invest heavily in any one pitcher and would rather use low-end bids to push for volume and riskier starting pitchers. Canning is a former college pitcher with a high floor and a low ceiling, and projects as a #4 with not much upside. The Angels’ favorable park will help, but I didn’t want to spend more than $16 on a pitcher who could be back in the minors in a month.
Nicky Delmonico $74, $29
Eloy Jimenez’s ankle injury gives Delmonico a shot at the left field job for the White Sox yet again. He’s an underwhelming .230/.321/.407 hitter in 495 career plate appearances. The over-the-fence power makes Delmonico playable if he’s starting, but even with the lively ball, you’re probably looking at a 20-home run ceiling with a bad batting average. Delmonico could also disappear as quickly as he did in 2018 if he has any kind of slump.
Cameron Maybin $71, $36
Leibowitz was busy, spending nearly half his FAAB budget on Robles, Delmonico and Maybin. Nearly all of Maybin’s value is tied to his stolen base potential. Will he be the player who stole 33 bases in 2017 or the one who only stole 10 last season? Maybin has very little power, slugging over .400 only once since 2010. With the Yankees nursing a plethora of injuries, Maybin has an opportunity but even so is hardly a lock to play every day. He’s worth a speculative bid in -only leagues.
Jalen Beeks $53, $36, $7, $0
You wouldn’t know it because of The Opener, but Beeks has been one of the Rays de facto starting pitchers of late. His last outing was a strong 4 2/3-inning performance against the Royals, which earned him a win. On a team with conventional usage patterns, Beeks would have the ceiling of a #4 starter, but the Rays’ willingness to use an opener and not push Beeks 6-7 innings and into bad matchups the third time through the order gives him a little more value.
Tyler Wade $29, $14
I figured I’d miss out on Rengifo but was hoping to sneak Wade in at a cheaper price. Alas, Mike Podhorzer of Fangraphs outbid me by $15. Wade is a terrible hitter but with the Yankees’ lineup depleted due to injuries, he has plenty of opportunity to get at-bats. More importantly, he’s very fast. Wade stole four bases in three games against the Angels last week and while you can’t expect that kind of production every week, 1-2 steals a week plays, even with a bad batting average and no power. The high walk rate thus far helps his case in Tout.
Ronny Rodriguez $26, $7
Jordy Mercer’s strained quad put him on the IL and made Rodriguez the Tigers’ starting shortstop. Rodriguez put up ridiculous numbers in a Tuesday twin bill against the Red Sox, with a 4-for-8 line that included a home run and three runs scored. He fell off the prospect radar back in 2016 but isn’t old at 27 and could find his way into a regular opportunity even after Mercer returns. Rodriguez has sneaky 15-20 home run potential. He is the AL equivalent of Adam Frazier.
Kelvin Gutierrez $25
Brandon Dixon $21
Liam Hendriks $15
Samuel Gaviglio $12, $3
Jaime Barria $12
Hector Velazquez (OAK) $7, $3, $3
Terrance Gore $6
J.B. Wendelken $3
Neil Ramirez $3
Tom Murphy $1
Oscar Mercado $1
Brad Boxberger $1
Wilmer Font $0
Jonathan Holder $0
I wound up getting Gore to replace Cozart. I don’t want Billy Hamilton’s injury to be serious but if it is, Gore should get some starts. Even if he doesn’t, there is plenty of stolen base potential. I also got Boxberger for $1. He was great in his last outing against the Rays and no one in Kansas City has stepped up as the closer. It probably won’t be Boxberger, but I spent $1.
TOUT WARS NL
Carter Kieboom $38 (Other bids: $21, $21, $10, $3, $2, $2)
Jake Ciely of The Athletic thought highly enough of Kieboom to fork over more than one-third of his total season FAAB budget to acquire him. As it turned out, he won the top prospect rather easily. With only $15 remaining, by far the lowest in the league, it will be interesting to see how Jake approaches FAAB bidding going forward. Keep in mind that LABR does not allow $0 bids and unlike in Tout, trading for FAAB is not allowed.
Gio Gonzalez $13 (NYM)
Gio’s 2019 major league debut was decent but not great, as he held the Mets to two runs over five innings but struck out only two. Gonzalez does carry some deep-league value as he has a secure rotation spot and will be backed by one of the top offenses in baseball. But the $13 bid by Steve Gardner of USA TODAY feels like a bit of an overpay considering Gonzalez’s rough 2018 campaign. The good news is that the veteran southpaw will face the Mets yet again this week, a team that he has fared rather well against over the years.
Emilio Pagan $13 (Other bids: $6, $3, $3, $2)
Pagan was a popular FAAB target in LABR Mixed as well, which at first made me regret not going after him in Tout instead of Diego Castillo. But then I noticed that Castillo was already owned in LABR, so I feel a little better now. Note that Pagan was another Jake Ciely buy, so Jake spent 51 of his remaining 66 FAAB bucks this week.
Luke Jackson $9 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Jackson relieved a struggling A.J. Minter in the ninth inning on Sunday to earn his first save of the season, so it’s not surprising that he found his way onto a LABR Mixed roster. Through 13 appearances in 2019, Jackson boasts a 2.57 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with better than a strikeout per inning. But he also holds a career 4.89 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 106 big league appearances, so he’s not exactly a sure thing to succeed in a closer role long term. Still, nine bucks is a reasonable price to pay.
Chris Bassitt $7 (@PIT) (Other bid: $1)
Hansel Robles $6 (Other bids: $2, $1)
When Cody Allen was demoted from the closer role, Ty Buttrey was viewed as the strong favorite to take over as the Angels’ ninth inning man. But it’s now looking like Robles might be the guy who will at least get most of the save chances. While Robles hasn’t recorded a save since the Allen demotion, he did appear in the ninth inning multiple times last week. I still think that Allen will regain the job eventually, and I’m not really sure where Buttrey fits into the current mix, but Robles is certainly a worthy addition at this price.
Dexter Fowler $4 (Other bids: $3, $1)
John Means $4 (@CHW, TB) (Other bid: $1)
Danny Santana $4 (Other bids: $3, $3)
David Bote $4 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Hunter Pence $3
Matt Adams $3
Felix Hernandez $2 (CHC)
This was my lone LABR purchase of the week, as I’m dealing with the same issue in LABR as in Tout, that is finding a more competent starting pitcher than Zack Godley, which isn’t too hard at this point. Anyway, I could have went with Wainwright here but figured I’d change things up and choose Felix, who has been pitching reasonably well this year. The matchup is dangerous but unlike with Wainwright, at least it’s only one dangerous matchup.
Luis Rengifo $2 (Other bid: $1)
Rengifo made his major league debut on Thursday and he should get regular playing time at second base while Zack Cozart is sidelined, with Tommy La Stella moving over to third base. Rengifo swiped 41 bags between three minor league levels last season, so the fantasy appeal is obvious. I’m surprised that there wasn’t more interest in him.
Mychal Givens $1 (Other bid: $1)
Tony Wolters $1
Howie Kendrick $1 (Other bid: $1)
Zack Britton $1
Carter Kieboom $45, $38, $35, $22, $19, $1
The theme for me in the expert leagues this week was coming in second with most of my bids. I was torn between making a conservative, low $20s bid and going all out, with a bid in the $50-55 range. I compromised with myself and put in a $38 bid, losing out by $7. I like Kieboom more than most and believe he could eventually wrest the job away from Brian Dozier at second base, but there is the possibility Kieboom goes back to Triple-A in a month or so when Trea Turner returns. The fantasy knock on Kieboom is he isn’t dominant in power or speed, but he already has two home runs and it’s possible he benefits from the new and improved baseball. I liked betting on the talent but didn’t want to wind up spending 55 percent of my budget and holding the bag if he got demoted.
Gio Gonzalez $22, $7, $7 (NYM)
I bid $7 and lost out to Brian Walton of Creativesports 2.0. I would have bid more in a league like Tout where you are permitted to reserve active major leaguers. The results were fine for Gio yesterday, but he is a shell of what he used to be and is going to have some days where he gets hit hard. He isn’t worth using in every matchup, even in NL-only. He is fine this week at home against the Mets.
Ty France $7, $1
France has an intriguing power bat, but absent an injury to Eric Hosmer or Manny Machado, France is going to have trouble getting playing time. The bids in Tout NL (above) are extremely aggressive under the circumstances.
Luke Jackson $3, $3
Jackson picked up a save on Sunday against the Rockies, which wouldn’t be a big deal if Arodys Vizcaino was healthy and if A.J. Minter didn’t have a 9.35 ERA. Minter has only blown one save but the command hasn’t been there, and Jackson is worth a $1-4 bid depending on your situation.
Blake Swihart $2, $1
There was much handwringing about the Red Sox designating Swihart for assignment a week and a half ago, but he’s now a 27-year-old former prospect with a lifetime .259/.311/.359 line, with most of the statistical goodness in that line coming way back in 2015. Can he revitalize his career with the Diamondbacks? Maybe, but it’s not worth more than a $2-3 bid to find out. I bid $1. I need a replacement for Travis d’Arnaud but it’s bad policy to blow through dollar after dollar searching for a second catcher.
Hansel Robles $15, $6, $4, $3, $2, $1
John Means $3, $2, $2, $1, $1 (@CHW, TB)
Means was an under-the-radar prospect who wouldn’t have an opportunity to make an impact if the Orioles weren’t rebuilding/so thin in the majors. Means has decent enough stuff to survive at the back end of a rotation but started the year in the bullpen and will need to be stretched out to get to pitch more than five innings. He has good off-speed stuff and a deceptive delivery that will serve him well the first time through the league. He’s usable even in mixed for the two-start week listed above.
Thank you for reading
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