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
Austin Riley $384 (Other bids: $379, $311, $234, $227, $214, $202, $185, $155, $121, $107, $99)
In my seven-plus years competing in the Tout Wars Mixed Auction league, I don’t remember a FAAB week quite like this one, with the big five call-ups (Keston Hiura was bought last week) draining plenty of FAAB budgets. After going 8-for-19 with two homers, four RBIs and four runs scored through his first five big-league games, Riley separated himself from the rest of the group, and his winning bid was even higher than I expected. After entering in a $234 bid, I thought I had about a 50/50 chance of getting him. Not quite. BP colleague Bret Sayre narrowly won the Riley sweepstakes, and while $384 is a hefty price tag, if Riley maintains his current everyday player status, earning that price isn’t out of the question. The initial thinking was that Riley’s playing time in the outfield might be cut once Ender Inciarte returns from the IL. But Inciarte has struggled offensively all season and Josh Donaldson hasn’t exactly been the model of health in recent years, so it isn’t too hard to envision a scenario where Riley continues to play regularly, whether it is in the outfield or at third base. The bottom line is that there might not be a more appealing waiver wire option than Riley for the rest of this season, so Bret was understandably ultra-aggressive. But I never thought about going to $300+ territory for a player with only a handful of major league games under his belt.
Willie Calhoun $311 (Other bids: $167, $167, $164, $152, $139, $87, $85, $74, $71, $60, $55, $44, $36, $31)
Calhoun was my second choice to fill the first of three starting hitter slots that opened after Elvis Andrus, Ender Inciarte and Michael Conforto all landed on the IL this week, but my $152 bid came up well short, as Al Melchior of The Athletic easily won this contest. Calhoun’s fantasy stock has taken a hit over the past year, but the highly-regarded outfielder was raking at Triple-A this season and is off to a strong start with the Rangers, with two homers, seven RBIs and five runs in five games. The risk with Calhoun is that the outfield picture in Texas is crowded, and he didn’t get the start on Sunday. That said, the bat is legit, and if he continues to produce at a high level, playing time won’t be an issue. Still, I consider a bid in the $150-$175 range to be a more accurate measure of his risk/reward.
Brendan Rodgers $232 (Other bids: $202, $185, $181, $179, $177, $161, $150, $52)
Apparently, spending nearly $400 on one call-up wasn’t enough for Bret, as he also added Rodgers to his roster. Like Riley and Calhoun, Rodgers was putting up pretty good (OK, very good) numbers in Triple-A this season. The 22-year-old will man second base for the Rockies for the time being but he will have pressure to perform with Ryan McMahon now right behind him on the depth chart. The good news for Bret is that he also owns McMahon.
Nicky Lopez $177 (Other bids: $130, $129, $123, $117, $83, $78, $77, $44, $20)
Lopez could be the safest investment among “The Big 5” as the Royals were confident enough in his ability to serve as their everyday second baseman to move Whit Merrifield to the outfield. So, the opportunity is there for Lopez to be a reliable fantasy asset right out of the gate. He might not have the statistical upside of Riley, Calhoun or Rodgers, but his floor is fairly stable. He should reward Ron Shandler with a strong OBP and some speed.
Oscar Mercado $134 (Other bids: $107, $87, $49, $44, $21, $11)
I couldn’t get Riley. I couldn’t get Calhoun. I got Mercado. My third choice comes with some risk as his playing time has been inconsistent so far. But Mercado did start in both games over the weekend and brings elite speed to the table, having swiped at least 33 bags in each of his last four minor-league seasons. He’s already racked up 14 steals in 30 games at Triple-A this season while batting .294 with a .396 OBP. With Andrus on the IL, I could really use the help in a tightly-bunched stolen base category. As for the playing-time issue, it’s not like the Indians are loaded with viable starting options in the outfield.
Brian Dozier $57 (Other bids: $42, $37)
Brent Hershey of BaseballHQ finally had enough of Dozier, and he released him following last week’s FAAB run. Since then, the accomplished veteran is starting to show some life at the plate, with two multi-hit games, a homer and four RBIs. This might turn out to be a brief break from an otherwise disastrous season for the former early-round fantasy pick, but at least there is now some reason to take a low-cost chance on him. Al Melchior did just that, winning Dozier for a reasonable $57 with my $42 bid coming in second.
Jordan Luplow $44 (Other bids: $41, $40, $36, $11)
Back to the Indians’ outfield, Luplow hit three homers while driving in five runs last week and all five of his home runs this season have come in the last two weeks. I’m just hoping that this power surge doesn’t negatively impact Mercado’s immediate playing time.
Shaun Anderson $37 (ATL, ARI) (Other bid: $12)
Roenis Elias $33
Freddy Galvis $27
Trevor Cahill $26 (MIN)
Scott Kingery $25 (Other bid: $7)
Harrison Bader $22
Ryon Healy $18
Healy is nothing special, and the OBP won’t be pretty, but I included him in one of my bid blocks in an attempt to at least partially replace Conforto’s power. Hopefully, Conforto won’t be sidelined for too long and I can catch a Healy hot streak. But it’s also possible that Conforto’s recovery from a concussion will extend beyond one week, in which case I may have to rely on Healy a little more than initially expected.
J.D. Davis $16
Adam Ottavino $15
Mitch Keller $13
Cal Quantrill $12 (@TOR?)
Leonys Martin $12
I’m not sure how I feel about owning both Martin and Mercado, but Martin has been quietly productive lately and provides me with another speed option. It’s also possible that Martin and Mercado hurt each other’s fantasy value, in which case targeting the Indians’ outfield will turn out to be a mistake.
Antonio Senzatela $7 (@PIT)
Tony Wolters $6
Daniel Mengden $3 (SEA)
Eric Lauer $3 (ARI)
Pat Neshek $2
TOUT WARS AL
Willie Calhoun $560, $377, $376, $257, $201, $174, $157, $72, $72, $52
The bidding in AL leagues where Calhoun, Nicky Lopez and Oscar Mercado were available was sure to be robust, and Tout AL delivered on the anticipated fireworks. Mercado was stashed for $1 a couple of weeks ago by Patrick Davitt of BaseballHQ, and yesterday he decided to use his FAAB hammer (Davitt had $601 heading into last night) and aggressively add the Rangers’ young slugger to his squad. I bid $376 of my remaining $443, which means I wouldn’t have won even if I had emptied the kitty for Calhoun. The philosophy on bids like this is it’s better to get four months-plus worth of stats from a rookie than it is to wait until August for a stud midseason acquisition to come across from the NL, assuming this happens at all. Calhoun fits the description of a post-hype rookie, losing some of his luster after an Opening Day demotion in 2018 followed by a down year at Triple-A where the power mostly went away. Calhoun was demoted again to start 2019, but mashed the ball this time, earning a promotion and continuing his hot hitting with Texas. There are no guarantees he sticks but with Texas in a retooling mode, he’ll stay up as long as the bat delivers.
Nicky Lopez $433, $424, $255, $226, $201, $173, $157, $74, $72
Although the bidding might not seem like it was quite as robust for Lopez, some of that is because Davitt and others were almost out of FAAB and didn’t bother putting in limp contingency bids they knew wouldn’t land Lopez. The Royals second baseman doesn’t quite have the prospect pedigree Calhoun does, but Lopez has a clearer path to playing time and a broader base of fantasy skills (both power AND speed…ooooh). He’ll serve as Kansas City’s second baseman with Whit Merrifield moving to the outfield full-time. Lopez’s minor league numbers don’t jump off the page, but he’s viewed as the kind of athlete who will grow into his skills and improve on-the-job. I don’t buy into a power jump in the short-term, but I could see 20-25 steals if everything breaks right. I bid $226. I wanted the plate appearances but wasn’t as enthusiastic about Lopez as I was about Calhoun.
Logan Forsythe $154, $74, $33, $21
Forsythe has benefited from the Rangers’ multiple injuries, the most recent being Elvis Andrus’ strained hamstring. Unless Andrus has a setback, Forsythe could be headed back to the bench shortly, although he has earned his playing time and despite falling off the radar in 2017-2018 has a track record as a solid performer in the not-so-distant past. He’s a worthwhile gamble and even if everyone returns to full health in Texas, Forsythe’s value could play up as a jack-of-all-trades on defense who hits for power…think Marwin Gonzalez in Houston pre-2019.
Renato Nunez $110, $55, $51, $33, $0
I overbid significantly on Nunez, doubling the runner-up’s bid to get the Orioles third baseman. Even on the horrible O’s, Nunez is at risk of losing his job if he doesn’t perform, and with a .257 OBP and a WARP that’s in the red, it can’t be said he’s performing. On a positive note, Nunez is popping home runs this season (something he didn’t do last year) and could finish with 25 or so if he does last the season as their third baseman.
Dawel Lugo $75, $33
Jeimer Candelario is out and Lugo is in at third for the Tigers. Lugo is a light-hitting infielder with a little speed. His claim to fame as a prospect is bat control, which means he’s good at making contact and not much else. He’s 24 so maybe there’s some growth coming but I suspect Lugo is more of a seat-filler while Baby Ruth figures things out at Triple-A.
Brandon Workman $75, $12, $10
I put in a tepid $10 bid on Workman because he picked up the save yesterday but was blown away by Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball. Workman could be the closer in Boston but then that could be said for most of their bullpen. Workman is throwing a lot of curves and generating more strikeouts this year as a result but has also been walking the park. This is a poor path to sustainable success, but I can’t tell you to bet on Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier with a straight face either.
TOUT WARS NL
Kevin Newman $147, $22, $22, $0, $0
The exciting call-ups in the NL (Austin Riley and Brendan Rodgers) were already rostered in LABR and Tout NL, so the pickings were slim this week as usual. Newman was the big buy in Tout, garnering the only triple-digit bid in the circuit. Newman picked up three starts in a row, but they were all against lefties, making it appear he is on the short side of a platoon in Pittsburgh. He has performed well thus far but that performance hasn’t translated to fantasy. Newman’s gap-to-gap power isn’t helpful to us and while he showed good speed in the minors, he only has one steal with Pittsburgh in 2019.
Shaun Anderson $37, $22, $21, $0 (ATL, ARI)
A former Red Sox prospect, Anderson is an extremely polished pitcher who spent most of his time pitching out of the bullpen in college due to the depth of Florida’s program. Anderson throws four pitches for strikes, but none of them project as plus offerings and because of this, some see his long-term future as a reliever. He’s starting at the moment and looked solid in his major league debut. Anderson is a decent streaming option with a two-start week on tap and I like him better than most do, particularly in his first trip through the league.
Carlos Gomez $35, $20, $12, $1, $0, $0
The Mets signed Gomez to a minor league deal this spring and the usual spate of injuries that only happen to the Mets (it’s true. I looked it up. No other team in baseball has injuries except the Mets. Stupid Mets.) pressed Gomez into service. In his prime, Gomez offered an excellent combination of power and speed to go with a so-so batting average, but he looked bad in 2018 and might be cooked. At this price, Brian Walton of Creativesports doesn’t have much to lose and there’s enough upside for a few home runs and steals if Gomez has even a little bit left in the tank.
Adam Conley $31
Erick Fedde $22, $5, $0 (@NYM, MIA)
Fedde lost his rookie eligibility last season, and as a result kind of fell off the fantasy radar this winter. The Nationals’ loaded rotation didn’t help, and once the team signed Anibal Sanchez, it punched Fedde’s ticket to Triple-A. Sanchez is hurt so Fedde gets an opportunity once again. Fedde has a decent enough four-pitch repertoire, although he’s more of a pitch-to-contact arm than a punchout guy. Fedde does generate a high amount of grounders. This is a solid two-start week, particularly if the Mets’ offensive struggles continue.
Austin Riley $41 (Other bids: $27, $23, $16, $16, $11, $11, $11, $11, $6, $1)
Brendan Rodgers $19 (Other bids: $14, $8, $6, $5, $3, $1)
Willie Calhoun $13 (Other bids: $13, $12, $8, $8, $8, $7, $6, $6, $6, $6, $3)
Oscar Mercado $13 (Other bids: $6, $5, $5, $5, $3, $3, $1, $1)
Nicky Lopez $13 (Other bids: $11, $8, $7, $6, $6, $3, $3, $1)
As anticipated, “The Big 5” led the way in LABR Mixed as well, with Riley going for a whopping $41 to Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated. Beyond Riley, the order of this group was different than it was in Tout Wars Mixed Auction, with Rodgers going for more than Calhoun and the Calhoun/Mercado/Lopez trio being equally priced. Once again, I landed Mercado, who was my second choice in LABR as opposed to my third choice in Tout since speed is an even bigger need for me in LABR.
Raimel Tapia $8 (Other bids: $2, $1, $1, $1, $1, $1, $1)
Joe Sheehan now has just $6 remaining in his FAAB budget (with no $0 bids or FAAB trading allowed) after he paired his Riley buy with the purchase of Tapia. The 25-year-old is getting regular playing time right now and he’s certainly making the most of it, batting .327 with two homers, eight RBIs and nine runs scored since the beginning of May. Tapia will need to avoid a prolonged cold spell that could lead to him losing at-bats to Ian Desmond, but Desmond has been a shell of his former self so far this season.
Shaun Anderson $6 (ATL, ARI) (Other bids: $3, $2, $2)
Anderson made his major league debut last Wednesday against the Blue Jays and did a fine job, allowing two earned runs over five innings while striking out five. His minor league numbers are solid but they don’t exactly hint at a future ace. Anderson has an opportunity to stick around in the Giants’ rotation as long as he pitches reasonably well, and he’s a two-start pitcher this week. The matchups aren’t exactly favorable but at least both of his starts will come at home.
Jason Kipnis $3 (Other bid: $1)
Dakota Hudson $1 (ATL)
Daniel Norris $1 (MIA)
Renato Nunez $1
Carson Kelly $1 (Other bids: $1, $1)
I needed a replacement at catcher for Mitch Garver and I wasn’t planning on spending more than $1. In fact, none of the available backstop options deserved a bid greater than $1. I settled on Kelly, who has launched four home runs and is getting consistent starts.
Cole Irvin $1 (@CHC) (Other bids: $1, $1)
Aledmys Diaz $1 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
Pat Neshek $1
Gio Urshela $1
Nicky Lopez $47, $33, $29, $21, $18, $15, $13, $7, $5
Oscar Mercado $15, $11, $7, $6, $5, $2
Mercado and Lopez were available in LABR AL while Calhoun was not. Mercado’s stock seems to have fallen somewhat among the expert cognoscenti because the playing time has been questionable and there is a legitimate risk Mercado gets demoted if he doesn’t perform. On the flip side, the 24-year-old outfielder has considerable stolen-base potential and has hit extremely well this year, both at Triple-A and in his very limited time with Cleveland. I would have bid $200 or so in Tout AL had Mercado been available.
JaCoby Jones $9, $2
Jones’ overall line is awful, but the 27-year-old centerfielder has performed well during the past week, although he is still striking out at a prodigious pace. Jones is enticing in deep leagues because he’s getting playing time and for his power/speed potential. The opportunity is there for Jones on a bad Tigers team to run with a starting gig, although I’d like to see more than a week of halfway decent production before I put my play money on the table.
Kendrys Morales $7, $7, $4, $2
It’s not that surprising Morales was dropped, even in an AL-only. He was awful with Oakland and the power that had made Morales a decent spec play in deep leagues in March disappeared once the season started. The Yankees scooped Morales up quickly and inserted him into their starting lineup. This second chance gives Morales a much more favorable home park, and it’s possible there’s a dead cat bounce coming. Morales is first base-eligible everywhere now, which boosts his value somewhat.
Jared Walsh $3, $1
Walsh is one of a handful of players the Angels are grooming to follow in the footsteps of Shohei Ohtani as a two-way player. Before you get overly excited and race to your smartphone to pick him up, keep in mind that a significant chunk of Walsh’s sudden power in 2018 came in the hitter-friendly Cal League at an advanced age. Walsh could benefit from the lively ball and his launch angle-friendly swing, but it’s more likely he rides the shuttle to the minors and back all season.
Samuel Gaviglio $2, $1, $1
Gaviglio picked up a win yesterday in a three-inning relief appearance against the White Sox. It was Gaviglio’s third win of the season, and while past relief wins aren’t predictive of future relief wins, the Jays’ uncertain rotation at the back-end combined with Gaviglio’s durability give him a chance to get a few more W’s before the year is out.
Cole Irvin $8, $2, $1 (@CHC)
If there’s a theme to the NL-only pitching pickups in LABR and Tout Wars this week, it’s “serviceable but unspectacular” arms. Irvin has the dreaded “soft-tossing southpaw” label attached to him, and thus far the strikeout rate has lived up to that moniker. The ERA has been great so far, but a matchup at Wrigley against the Cubs feels like a bridge too far, and something I’d avoid, even in NL-only, unless you’re desperate for wins.
Adam Conley $7
Jon Berti $3, $1
I wrote about Berti last week for the Tout portion of this article. He was scratched yesterday with a left oblique strain and is listed as day-to-day. Oblique injuries tend to linger, and even if he plays soon, a lot of Berti’s fantasy value is driven by his steals.
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