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
Corbin Martin $154 (@BOS) (Other bids: $137, $123, $113, $88, $50, $33, $29, $1)
Martin surely caught the attention of fantasy owners on Sunday as he turned in a fine performance in his major-league debut versus the Rangers, allowing two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings while racking up nine strikeouts. Although Martin is viewed as more of a mid-rotation prospect, he was putting up exceptional numbers at Triple-A Round Rock this season, including a 1.48 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP with better than a strikeout per inning through five appearances (four starts). The 23-year-old is taking the rotation spot of a struggling Collin McHugh and should be given a real shot to stick around for the long-term. Tim Heaney of Rotowire beat out three other triple-digit dollar bidders and eight bidders in total (I was the $88 bidder) to win the battle for Martin, who heads into Fenway Park this week to face a dangerous Red Sox lineup.
Chris Martin $148 (Other bids: $61, $51, $44, $42, $36, $26, $6)
With Jose Leclerc demoted from the ninth inning and Shawn Kelley landing on the IL for an indefinite period of time, Martin (Chris, not Corbin) will be handling closing duties for the Rangers, so naturally, he was a hot FAAB commodity. Although Martin’s big-league track record is that of a mediocre reliever, he’s pitching very well this season (2.93 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and easily converted his first save chance last Wednesday. Martin is a quality short-term add but his long-term outlook as a reliable source for saves is murky. In all likelihood, the team’s preference is for Leclerc to pitch his way back into the closer role and when Kelley returns, he could take back the job from Martin. The $148 winning bid by Gene McCaffrey of The Athletic seems a bit aggressive, though Gene is in the middle of a tight race in saves and had only one full-time closer, Felipe Vazquez, on his roster.
John Means $81 (@CLE) (Other bids: $63, $8, $2)
After tossing six innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Angels on Sunday, Means now boasts a 2.33 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP through 10 games (six starts) this season. Being that his minor league numbers are nothing special, it’s hard to get too excited about Means, but you can’t argue with the results so far. Means was actually purchased in this league a couple weeks ago but was released prior to his pair of strong outings this past week. As for the upcoming week, he has a favorable matchup on tap against an Indians offense that ranks 27th in the majors in runs and 28th in OPS.
Cole Irvin $78 (COL?) (Other bid: $2)
The bidding for Irvin wasn’t nearly as active as the bidding for Corbin Martin, but the other starting pitcher who made his big-league debut on Sunday was just as impressive as he limited the Royals to one run on five hits over seven innings. Irvin was filling in for the injured Vincent Velasquez and Velasquez is eligible to come off the IL on Friday, so it’s unknown if Irvin will get another start this coming weekend.
Danny Duffy $57 (TEX, @LAA) (Other bids: $33, $22, $2)
After opening the year on the IL as he continued to recover from a shoulder injury that shut him down late last season, Duffy has certainly pitched well enough through three starts (3.06 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) to be worthy of a roster spot in deep mixed leagues. At a reasonable price of $57, Duffy could turn out to be a fine investment, though he will always carry injury risk. This week was a good time to invest in the Royals southpaw, as he’s a two-start pitcher.
Keston Hiura $56
Mike Fiers $55 (@SEA, @DET) (Other bid: $15)
Only 55 bucks for a guy coming off a no-hitter and heading into a two-start week? What? But this is Mike Fiers, a guy who has tormented his fantasy owners over the years due to his inconsistency, so that explains it.
Andrew Cashner $42 (@NYY, @CLE)
Gio Urshela $39 (Other bids: $22, $14)
David Fletcher $39 (Other bids: $33, $24, $23, $18, $6)
Aaron Sanchez $38 (@CHW) (Other bids: $37, $2)
Last night, I completed my first trade of the Tout Wars season, sending Joey Lucchesi to Al Melchior for Alex Colome, so I bid on Sanchez in hopes of adding more depth to my staff. Fortunately, my $38 bid was just enough to beat out BP colleague Bret Sayre’s $37 offering. The 27 walks in 48 innings is a frightening number and Sanchez did give up five runs to the White Sox on Sunday, but his stuff was still sharp enough to punch out 11 batters, and his season ERA is still a respectable 3.75. As a matchup-based option, I’m comfortable taking a chance on the Blue Jays righty, who I still have fond memories of as he was a key member of my 2016 Tout Wars championship squad.
Jurickson Profar $37 (Other bids: $31, $24)
Profar enjoyed a breakout season in 2018 but has been a disappointment so far in 2019. That said, I was surprised to see him on the waiver wire. I almost placed a bid for him but I just didn’t have the roster space. My bid would have fallen slightly short of $37 anyway but I’m curious to see if Profar can get back on track. Note that in Tout Wars, he’s eligible at first base, second base, shortstop and third base.
Wilmer Flores $37 (Other bid: $18)
Steve Cishek $35 (Other bid: $4)
Mac Williamson $33
Charlie Tilson $31 (Other bids: $30, $13)
Travis d’Arnaud $6
Ivan Nova $6 (TOR)
Mike Leake $6 (OAK)
Lance Lynn $6 (@KC)
Nick Kingham $5 (@ARI, @SD) (Other bid: $1)
Scott Barlow $5
Jon Berti $2
Stephen Vogt $1
Jason Kipnis $1
Nick Pivetta $1
Andrew Knapp $0
TOUT WARS AL
Corbin Martin $355, $177, $157, $134, $77, $29, $27
I bid tepidly on both Martins, putting in a $29 bid on Corbin and a $14 bid on Chris (see below). If I had decided to be aggressive on Chris, I would have bid somewhere in the $100-110 range, so I would have missed out anyway. I like Corbin, but my philosophy in Tout is governed by my extremely poor start (some would say historic) in ERA and WHIP. I’m pushing for wins and strikeouts but deliberately not spending much FAAB on starting pitching. Martin could be very good, so if you’re not residing in the ERA/WHIP dumpster like I am, bidding 20-25 percent of your budget is appropriate.
Charlie Tilson $167, $77, $55, $35, $18
Tilson is fast. This speed hasn’t always translated to stolen bases and coming into 2019, the last time Tilson showed prowess on the bases was back in 2015 at Double-A in the Cardinals system. However, he is running in 2019, with three steals in 27 plate appearances thus far for the Sox. Tilson is listed as the fourth outfielder on Chicago’s depth chart but started in six straight games last week. Leury Garcia was banged up on a rough defensive play yesterday and while he initially stayed in the game, he did leave early. Even if Garcia is healthy, he, Ryan Cordell and Nicky Delmonico aren’t the stiffest competition for playing time and Tilson could find his way into plenty of reps. If you need steals, bid.
Chris Martin $167, $153, $53, $53, $34, $14, $12
(with apologies to both Chris Martins)
I used to roll the dice
Bid all my FAAB on closers against good advice
I’d troll for saves anywhere I can
I never really had a plan
One minute I had Rodney
My ERA was close to infinity
It turned my hair brittle and gray
I even bid on closers in Triple-A
The bids were high but the saves weren’t there
I lost a lot of friends but I didn’t care
I studied pitch mechanics and velocity
Ninth innings were my hellish eternity
I hear entrance music a’ playing
But if it’s not Kimbrel I’m not staying
Be my closer for 40 saves
Otherwise you’re not going to hear me rave
For some reason I can’t explain
Once I bought a closer, the stats were absurd.
And that was when I bid the world.
While I can dump both ERA and WHIP and potentially win, I can’t dump those categories and saves and hope to do so. Maybe I should have bid more than $14 on Chris Martin. However, I’m not sold on him being the closer for more than a week or two and suspect Jose Leclerc gets the job back sooner rather than later.
Ryan Mountcastle $39, $1
Mountcastle is slashing .326/.354/.511 at Triple-A Norfolk, with five home runs in 144 plate appearances. More importantly, he’s hitting .420/.442/.580 in his last 52 PAs and the buzz surrounding a potential call-up has increased. I still envision a second-half call-up for Mountcastle, in part because this recent streak includes almost no walks and in part because he’s mostly playing first base at Triple-A this year and I’m not convinced the Orioles are ready to move on from Chris Davis just yet. Mountcastle is a fine stash if you have room but don’t bid expecting immediate dividends.
Jordan Luplow $25, $2
I wrote the Pirates’ blurbs for the 2019 Baseball Prospectus Annual yet still had to go back to see what I wrote about Luplow. Either that’s not a good sign for Luplow or my memory isn’t what it used to be. Maybe it’s both things! Traded to Cleveland this winter, Luplow has been what I said he was in the Annual: a lefty-masher stretched out as a starter who will be exposed against right-handers if he plays regularly. Luplow is worth using in AL-only during weeks when Cleveland faces mostly left-handers but even this gives him limited utility.
TOUT WARS NL
Mac Williamson $287, $113, $78, $61, $48, $46, $38, $32
Williamson hits the ball hard but has a groundball-heavy profile. If you weren’t aware of his propensity for worm burners, you’d be forgiven if you saw Williamson hit a 450-foot bomb and bid aggressively expecting 30-35 home runs. He has an opportunity for regular playing time in the Giants’ ragtag outfield, but expectations should be modest unless there is a documented change in his swing profile.
Harold Ramirez $111, $78, $77, $65, $58, $49, $17
Tyler Beede $62, $49, $0 (TOR)
The somewhat surprising demotion of Dereck Rodriguez left a hole in the Giants’ rotation that Beede was summoned to fill. Looking solely at the numbers, you’d think Beede is nothing more than a fringy fifth starter type, but multiple reports have cited an uptick in the fastball this spring and thus far in the majors. Beede has abandoned his slider in favor of more heat, and when that heat is averaging 96 instead of 94 miles-per-hour, it could make a difference. On paper, Beede looks like a borderline 15-team mixed option this week against Toronto but if his improved skills are legitimate, he could exceed preseason expectations quickly.
Cole Irvin $57 (COL?)
Wilmer Font $49, $4, $2 (@WAS)
Font was a much better option this week before a rainout wiped out yesterday’s action and robbed him of a two-start week. He’s still usable on the road against a weakened Nationals lineup. There’s a picture of Font next to the word “journeyman” in the dictionary; the one-time Rangers’ prospect has been with four major league teams in the last two seasons. Font throws hard but his secondaries have always been inconsistent and unreliable. He’s throwing his slider more this year and is worth watching to see if the pitch can give him some additional viability as a starter he hasn’t had in the past. He’s probably an upgrade over Jason Vargas, which isn’t saying much.
Gerardo Parra $37, $8
Cut by the Giants after a dismal start, Parra was signed by the Nationals to a major league contract and immediately added to their roster. The 32-year-old outfielder appeared to be relegated to a backup role in Washington, but injuries to Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams have given Parra an opportunity to start at first base. Parra might be cooked (he hasn’t been more than a one-win player since 2015) but as long as he’s getting at-bats, he has a shot to provide low-end value in NL-only leagues.
Nick Kingham $31, $18 (@ARI, @SD)
Kingham has the raw stuff to be a potentially electric starter, but thus far in the majors, the results have been disastrous (career 5.34 ERA). When he’s on, Kingham has an excellent slider and changeup that generate swings and misses and a fastball he can locate well within the zone. When he’s not on, the fastball command isn’t there and hitters get far too many opportunities to hit fat fastballs without a lot of movement. Kingham’s peripheral numbers are better than his 5.94 ERA indicate, and his strikeout rate is up, but it’s still a rough ride, even with a two-start week on tap. He should be rostered in NL-only, but it’s understandable if you are tired of Kingham and would prefer the Kingturkey instead.
Elieser Hernandez $12
Greg Garcia $9
Kyle Crick $2
Taylor Davis $1
Steven Brault $1
Alex Dickerson $1
Mark Zagunis $0
Francisco Liriano $0
Alex Claudio $0
Harold Ramirez $26
Ramirez is a former highly regarded prospect who has spent time with the Pirates, Blue Jays, and now the Marlins but had yet to make his major-league debut until Saturday. The 24-year-old was putting up big numbers in Triple-A this year and the Marlins should give him a legitimate opportunity to earn regular at-bats. In retrospect, Joe Pisapia only needed to bid $1 to win Ramirez but spent a lot more than that. Let’s see if he gets anything close to an equal return on investment.
Corbin Martin $16 (@BOS) (Other bids: $13, $7, $5, $4, $3, $1)
I didn’t have a huge need for Martin but figured I’d enter in a bid anyway. After missing out on him in Tout Wars, it would be nice to own him in at least one of the expert leagues. Unfortunately, my $13 bid came in second, as Tim McLeod of Prospect 361 added the promising righty to his roster. Oh well.
Chris Martin $11 (Other bids: $4, $4, $4, $3, $1, $1, $1)
Eight of the 15 LABR Mixed owners thought highly enough of Chris “the other” Martin to place a bid, but it was “Roto Lady” Andrea LaMont who came out on top. It remains to be seen exactly how long Martin will serve as the Rangers’ closer but Andrea has multiple points both to gain and lose in saves and, as you know, every save counts.
Steve Cishek $11 (Other bids: $3, $1, $1)
I was a little surprised that Cishek was purchased for the same price as Chris Martin being that Martin is the definitive closer for his team right now while Joe Maddon has refused to publicly commit to a closer with Pedro Strop now on the IL. But Cishek picked up the save for the Cubs on Sunday and has been very effective to this point in 2019. He also has plenty of closing experience. Let’s just say he’s the strong frontrunner.
Adam Wainwright $8 (@ATL)
Spending eight bucks to add Wainwright ended up being an overpay on my part but he’s coming off one of his best outings of the season and has quietly been solid for the most part this year. Like in Tout Wars, I was looking for some more starting pitching depth, and Wainwright fits that description, though his next matchup, on the road against the Braves, is far from favorable.
Josh James $7 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Charlie Tilson $7 (Other bids: $4, $3, $3, $3, $1)
Wilmer Flores $5 (Other bid: $1)
Marwin Gonzalez $3 (Other bids: $1, $1)
After getting off to a rough start this season, Gonzalez has been swinging a hot bat this month, slashing .359/.457/.462 with one homer, four RBIs and seven runs scored since the beginning of May. He’s also eligible at every non-catching position. I like this pickup by Rudy Gamble. I like it a lot.
Reynaldo Lopez $3 (CLE, TOR) (Other bids: $2, $1)
Joe Jimenez $2
Chris Davis $1
Danny Duffy $1 (TEX, @LAA)
Jason Castro $1 (Other bid: $1)
Ivan Nova $1 (TOR)
Jefry Rodriguez $1 (BAL)
Brian McCann $1
Corbin Martin $32, $15, $13, $13, $11
Charlie Tilson $18, $9, $7, $4, $4
Jefry Rodriguez $11, $5, $3 (BAL)
The results have been solid thus far for Rodriguez, but a low strikeout rate doesn’t generate confidence that he’s moved beyond the lukewarm scouting that profiled him as a future reliever. He gets a solid matchup against Baltimore that could make him playable in deep mixed leagues but Rodriguez is a matchup play unless he shows more with his limited stuff.
Gio Urshela $7, $5
Known mostly for his defense as a prospect, Urshela was pigeonholed as a future utility player until the bevy of Yankees’ injuries pushed him into a starting role. Miguel Andujar’s return to the team risks Urshela’s playing time, although Urshela did man the hot corner this weekend. The bat isn’t going to play as a 30+ home run weapon but a 15-20 home run season with a decent batting average is possible if Urshela can find his way into the lineup. Andujar is really struggling with the stick, and I do wonder if another IL stint is forthcoming for last year’s Rookie of the Year contender.
Harold Ramirez $21, $2, $1
After reaching his professional nadir in a lost 2017 campaign for the Blue Jays in Double-A, Ramirez quietly revitalized his prospect standing last year but was still not re-signed by Toronto. He made the right decision joining the Marlins, a thin organization whose outfield is populated by aging veterans and prospects who haven’t lived up to expectations. Ramirez’s ceiling is limited by a lack of over-the-fence power, but he has some speed and could be a 10/15 player in the majors if everything breaks right.
Jung Ho Kang $18, $1
I bid $1, but was blown away by Dalton Del Don’s $18 bid. Kang has been terrible this season (.133/.204/.300 in 98 plate appearances). The Pirates will probably give Kang several more chances to succeed but he’s a 32-year-old hitter who hasn’t performed well in the majors since 2016. If he can put it all together, he’s potentially a 25-home run hitter with an OK batting average but the template for hitters coming back after a long layoff isn’t a successful one.
Jacob Webb $7, $2
A.J. Minter’s demotion makes everyone in Atlanta’s bullpen somewhat more intriguing, although Luke Jackson appears to be the closer. Webb is a 25-year-old fireballer who added velocity last year and now sits in the mid-90s and clocks in as high as 98 miles-per-hour on his heater. Webb looked great in the admittedly limited glimpse I got of him last week and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is extremely valuable in mono formats even if he stays in a setup role.
Thank you for reading
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