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. Tim McCullough covers the FAAB bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league, while I cover LABR Mixed and both NL-only and AL-only leagues. 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.
All statistics in this article are through Sunday’s games.
This is the big one—the FAAB period the Sunday after Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. Let’s dive right in.
TOUT WARS AL
Yasiel Puig $484 (Other Bids: $416, $296, $295, $201, $140, $67)
The team with the most FAAB in Tout AL—Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball—predictably came away with the player he wanted in Tout. What was surprising was he didn’t place an aggressive “player I want at all costs plus one” bid on Puig and instead only used a “mere” 58 percent of his remaining $829 budget coming into the week. Zack Greinke (see below) was arguably the best option in the AL pool this week, but both Schechter and Mike Podhorzer of FanGraphs opted for hitting over pitching, with Podhorzer going for…
Franmil Reyes $416 (Other Bids: $297, $296, $295, $185, $140, $67)
Except for Puig’s stolen bases, Reyes and Puig have been comparable in fantasy value. Puig was Podhorzer’s first choice, but since Pod’s team is near the top of the standings in stolen bases getting Reyes instead of Puig isn’t a big loss for his team. However, having $225 of FAAB remaining in a year where August waiver trades were abolished is far from ideal.
Zack Greinke $415 (Other Bids: $297, $295, $209, $148, $140, $67) (COL)
Doug Dennis of Baseball HQ was third overall in FAAB and behaved predictably, bidding $4 more than half of the $411 Schechter would have been required to bid to get two of the top-three players who came into the AL from the Senior Circuit. It was moot in any event, as Schechter and Podhorzer both did not deviate from the top-two choices. Greinke was Dennis’ first choice, and given the value of an ace in fantasy leagues, Dennis must have been pleased as punch to get him.
Travis Demeritte $297 (Other Bids: $77, $77, $52, $0)
Spreading his FAAB around allowed Schechter to grab four players this week. It was moderately surprising that Demeritte was his second choice. Acquired by the Tigers at the deadline in the Shane Greene deal, Demeritte was promoted to the majors almost immediately and is getting an instant opportunity to start in Detroit’s outfield. He isn’t considered a high-end prospect, but the numbers were there at Triple-A thanks to the lively ball and—what do you know?—that’s the same ball they’re using in the majors this season! Demeritte’s free-swinging profile will likely be exploited by major-league pitchers eventually, but there could be some short-term value before that happens.
Jesús Aguilar $295 (Other Bids: $209, $175, $77, $67, $50, $42, $25)
Unlike some of his competitors, Jeff Erickson of Rotowire used the more traditional strategy of bidding all his remaining FAAB until he got the player he wanted. Erickson was fifth overall in FAAB and only got Aguilar because Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton of Sirius XM didn’t put all their eggs in one basket. Aguilar could see a resurgence in Tampa, although the Rays won’t let him face too many righties unless he goes on a tear.
Scott Heineman $77
Tanner Roark $67 (Other Bids: $11, $0) (@CWS)
I was toward the bottom in FAAB and didn’t expect to get anyone good, so I was surprised to nab Roark with my remaining $67. I was also surprised by the limpness of the bids by my competitors. Between the lack of frontline bids for Greinke and the nonexistent market for Roark, I overestimated the pitching market in Tout AL this week.
Mike Ford $33 (Other Bids: $25, $0)
Edwin Encarnación’s injury opens regular playing time for Ford in the Bronx, at least against righties. Ford garnered some fantasy attention in 2018, when he had a blistering spring training after the Mariners selected him in the Rule 5 draft, but he was returned to the Yankees before Opening Day and quickly forgotten. Ford’s hit tool is legitimate, and after years where some wondered if he had enough power to make the final jump to the majors, the juiced ball at Triple-A solved this problem in short order. Ford in Yankee Stadium could be a steal at this price.
Nick Anderson $23 (Other Bids: $12, $0)
I feel like I’ve written about Anderson at least half a dozen times this year, but since he was just traded to the AL, I’ll cover him again for the folks who only play in AL-only. Anderson throws hard and has decent secondary stuff, but command issues have plagued him in the past. He could close for the Rays, although Emilio Pagán has been solid in the ninth and Anderson is more likely to pick up the stray save than become the full-time closer.
Devin Smeltzer $22 (Other Bids: $7)
Smeltzer was great yesterday in a spot start against the Royals, pitching six-plus shutout innings and getting his first major-league win. Smeltzer could get another start this week, but Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli left the door open to Smeltzer pitching in relief as well. Smeltzer has four pitches in his arsenal that he can throw for strikes, but he isn’t a hard thrower and is risky as a starter against stronger lineups. He’s a matchup play, in other words.
Derek Fisher $22 (Other Bids: $11, $0)
Traded from the Astros to the Blue Jays as part of the Aaron Sanchez deal, Fisher has power/speed potential, but poor bat-to-ball skills make the power a dubious proposition. It doesn’t help that he’s in a crowded outfield and will have to fight for playing time in Toronto. Fisher is an AL-only play mostly, particularly if you need steals.
Keon Broxton $19 (Other Bids: $0)
Broxton is with his third organization this year, after the Mariners claimed him on waivers from Baltimore. He is starting in Seattle’s outfield because they have more injuries than you can shake a trident at and are out of contention. Broxton has considerable power/speed potential, but he swings-and-misses more than Poseidon at a Greek mixer, limiting his ceiling considerably.
Trevor Bauer $1,056 (Other Bids: $941, $811, $709, $602, $599, $395, $201, $105, $104, $0) (CHC)
Nick Castellanos $941 (Other Bids: $709, $602, $599, $445, $201, $129, $102, $0)
Marcus Stroman $811 (Other Bids: $709, $602, $599, $395, $111, $105, $0) (WSH)
Shane Greene $709 (Other Bids: $602, $490, $305, $105, $105, $104, $0)
Dustin May $602 (Other Bids: $295, $101, $97, $50, $3) (STL)
Trent Grisham $400 (Other Bids: $229, $78, $75, $57, $9, $1, $0)
Tony Kemp $204 (Other Bids: $27, $0)
Kemp was the fifth-best import from the AL, but the conservative bidding here is correct. May and Grisham deserved higher bids based on their upside, and Kemp is more likely to slot in as a part-timer than a starter, particularly when Ben Zobrist is ready. Kemp could steal a few bases and is a strategic add if you’re playing for primarily for steals and can sacrifice power, but even in NL-only, there are better options if you’re contending.
Mike Leake $145 (Other Bids: $129, $104, $101, $78, $77, $0) (PHI)
Tayron Guerrero $105
Aristides Aquino $101 (Other Bids: $77, $30, $28, $16, $2)
Ryne Stanek $61 (Other Bids: $37, $6, $0)
Acquired by the Marlins as part of the Anderson deal with the Rays, Stanek is a high-ceiling reliever who could close in Miami. It’s a muddled bullpen, though, which is why the bidding was tepid.
Joe Ross $50 (@SF)
Josh Naylor $30 (Other Bids: $1, $0)
Reyes’ trade to Cleveland gives Naylor additional opportunities in San Diego, particularly if the Padres are willing to use Will Myers in center, which they did twice last week. Naylor hasn’t done much with his major-league opportunities thus far. There is still time for Naylor to emerge (he’s only 22), but this doesn’t help you in re-draft leagues.
Victor Caratini $21 (Other Bids: $0)
The combination of Willson Contreras’ latest injury and the (second) Martín Maldonado trade gives Caratini a chance at everyday at-bats for the Cubs. He’s got some pop.
Chris Martin $17 (Other Bids: $2)
Acquired by Atlanta from the Rangers at the deadline, Martin is slated to pitch in the eighth behind Greene. However, Greene has struggled in a couple of outings since the trade. Martin could take over the role if Greene’s issues persist.
Steven Duggar $12 (Other Bids: $0)
Kris Negrón $10
Roenis Elías $2 (Other Bids: $0)
Randy Arozarena $1
Garrett Richards $0
Johnny Cueto $0
Daniel Descalso $0
Josh Tomlin $0
Jed Lowrie $0
Russell Martin $0
TOUT WARS MIXED
Archie Bradley $104 (Other Bids: $93)
Bradley looks like the Diamondbacks’ choice to replace Greg Holland in the closer role. It’s been an up-and-down season for Bradley, who has a 4.01 ERA with a 1.56 WHIP overall. However, he’s been on fire over the last six weeks or so. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 14 1/3 innings dating back to June 26, with opponents batting just .149.
Aaron Sanchez $70 (Other Bids: $69, $59) (@BAL)
In a classic example of recency bias, D.J. Short of Rotoworld snagged Aaron Sanchez following his combined no-hitter in his debut for the Houston Astros. Sanchez has been awful aside from that feat, with a 5.76 ERA (it was 6.01 prior to this last start) and a 1.62 WHIP. With an 11 percent walk rate, it will take much more than a change of scenery to right this ship.
Cheslor Cuthbert $54
Isan Díaz $45
Díaz was called up by the Marlins and has a shot to play regularly at second base. He’s got some pop in his bat, with 26 home runs in 435 PA and a .305/.395/.578 line at Triple-A this season. He’s still got some holes in his swing, so don’t expect him to hit for average right away, but the power is real.
Seth Lugo $33 (Other Bids: $5)
Edwin Díaz has been terrible, with three losses and three blown saves to go along with a 9.35 ERA since mid-June. Meanwhile, Lugo has a 2.68 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, and he has a 13 1/3 scoreless inning streak dating back to the beginning of July. Mets manager Mickey Callaway has been non-committal about removing Díaz from the closer role, but it’s just a matter of time. Lugo is easily the best reliever in the Mets bullpen right now.
Corey Dickerson $23 (Other Bids: $10)
Dickerson’s move to the Phillies gives him a little more value in mixed leagues, and Perry Van Hook of Mastersball pounced. Dickerson had a big day yesterday against the White Sox and could see a moderate power boost moving from pitcher-friendly PNC Park to the cozier confines of Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s outfield will get more crowded when Jay Bruce returns in the next week or so.
Jake Arrieta $11 (@ARI, @SF)
Arrieta’s elbow could go at any moment, so this is a risky move by Van Hook. Arrieta has gone more than five innings just once since the elbow became an issue, and he’s only totaled 24 innings over his last five starts with a 4.50 ERA.
Alex Young $11 (@LAD)
Austin Nola $7 (Other Bids: $5)
Mike Tauchman $6 (Other Bids: $5)
Michael Wacha $4 (@LAD, PIT)
Albert Pujols $4
Derek Fisher $4
Harold Ramírez $4
Pedro Severino $2 (Other Bids: $0)
Luis Robert $1
Gavin Lux $1
Cameron Maybin $0
Alex Avila $0
Trevor Bauer $68 (Other Bids: $52, $45, $41, $41, $39, $34, $10, $1) (CHC)
As expected, Bauer was the most expensive player in LABR NL this week. It was a modest surprise that Derek Van Riper of The Athletic nabbed Bauer, as DVR needs hitting far more than pitching. Plus, LABR isn’t much of a trading league. The Bauer acquisition does allow Van Riper to duke it out with his primary opponent, Eric Karabell of ESPN, in the pitching categories, and perhaps Van Riper is looking at the direct point differentials in pitching between he and Karabell as the potential difference-maker.
Nick Castellanos $51 (Other Bids: $49, $41, $41, $41, $34, $30, $10)
Another reason Van Riper wasn’t more aggressive on the hitting side is Castellanos, the most significant hitter to shift leagues, wasn’t exactly the sort of big prize who has changed league in previous years. Castellanos’ offensive contributions will certainly help in only, but in a year where the ball is flying out of the park, his 11 home runs in 456 plate appearances isn’t exactly a significant acquisition. Steve Gardner of USA Today had the second-highest amount of FAAB and prioritized Castellanos—after making sure his $52 Bauer bid was just enough so Van Riper didn’t get two AL imports with his whopping $102 remaining FAAB.
Marcus Stroman $41 (Other Bids: $41, $39, $34, $30, $21, $10) (WSH)
I could have bid $42 and procured Stroman, but given that $0 bids are prohibited in LABR, I was cautious with Stroman and Shane Greene (see below). I’m also not particularly enthusiastic about the Mets schedule after they face Miami early this week. Stroman’s next projected eight starts are Washington, at Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago (NL), at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Arizona and at Colorado. That’s not a forgiving stretch for a pitcher who pitches to contact and has a bad defense behind him. He could be fine, and volume plays in an only league, but I didn’t want to break the bank for what I see as a limited ceiling.
Dustin May $35 (Other Bids: $16, $6, $4, $2, $1, $1) (STL)
In the long-term, May is intriguing. He is a pitcher who not only throws four pitches for strikes but works with some severe sink and break, making it difficult for hitters to square up when everything is working. He’s also a young pitcher who is perfecting his craft, which means he’s not all the way there yet. This was evident in his big-league debut, which came with mixed results. May is a solid add in standard mixed as a streamer and should be on your squad everywhere else, but there is plenty of boom and bust for 2019.
Karabell went from having an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching to desperately needing arms after injuries and a trade of Julio Teherán knocked him down to five starting pitchers. He missed out on Bauer and Stroman and had to “settle” for May.
Shane Greene $34 (Other Bids: $30, $16, $10, $4)
I barely bid anything on Greene, having already committed to dumping saves last month when I traded Carlos Martínez. This could backfire, as the team behind me in saves—Derek Carty of Rotogrinders—got Greene for $34. Greene needs 11 saves to cost me a point in the category, and while he’s off to a terrible start for Atlanta, it’s quite possible he gets there if he keeps the job.
Trent Grisham $21 (Other Bids: $13, $3)
Called up by the Brewers on Thursday, Grisham has only started two of Milwaukee’s first four games, but both times Grisham was benched was against lefties. The Brewers have nothing but righties on the slate this week so Grisham could get a fair amount of playing time. He has power/speed potential, although the steals dipped as he moved up in the minors. Grisham is worth grabbing in deep mixed and NL-only, even if he won’t quite play every day.
I was aggressive on Grisham in part because I saw what he went for in Tout, but also because I needed to roll the dice on a high-ceiling outfielder. I’ve lacked volume on offense most of the year, so perhaps Grisham won’t help, but with no additional interleague trading, the time to strike with my FAAB was now.
Aristides Aquino $13 (Other Bids: $3, $1)
Aquino went from intriguing prospect to potential washout due to two years of struggles with making contact in 2017-2018. He bounced back in the minors this year, although given his historical struggles with OBP, Aquino could still slip, particularly now that he’s in the majors. With Puig out of the picture, there’s a window here for Aquino to mash and win a corner outfield job in Cincinnati.
Van Riper added Aquino to his Bauer buy, leaving him with $20 FAAB the rest of the way.
Mike Leake $12 (Other Bids: $10, $2, $1) (PHI)
Leake is a control artist whose fantasy value is capped by a lack of strikeouts. I grabbed him in part figuring that I wouldn’t get any of the bigger names who came over, but mostly so I could get Grisham and add two players instead of one. I’d rather have Bauer than Leake (I need to make a big jump in strikeouts), but rolling with nine starting pitchers will hopefully give me the volume I need even without Bauer. I was going to include a bunch of Leake puns here but decided that I didn’t want to piss anyone off.
Zack Greinke $64 (Other Bids: $62, $24, $24, $22, $18, $11, $6, $1, $1, $1, $1) (COL)
Yasiel Puig $62 (Other Bids: $36, $24, $16, $16, $11, $6, $4, $4, $1, $1)
Franmil Reyes $35 (Other Bids: $24, $16, $16, $11, $6, $4, $4, $1, $1)
Tanner Roark $23 (Other Bids: $16, $6, $6, $1, $1) (@CWS)
Jesús Aguilar $16 (Other Bids: $16, $4, $3, $2, $1)
Travis Demeritte $11 (Other Bids: $1)
Anthony Bass $5 (Other Bids: $2, $1, $1)
Bass was already taken in Tout AL, but even in LABR the bidding was tepid on the potential Mariners closer now that Roenis Elías and Hunter Strickland are off the team. Bass’ ERA has been OK, but he has mediocre peripherals. Then again, so did Elías and he was used as a traditional closer by Seattle.
Nick Anderson $3 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Chris Herrmann $3 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Josh Phegley’s injury put Herrmann in line as the starting catcher in Oakland last week. Phegley should be back soon, so Herrmann will return to part-time duty. There is some weird love in certain corners of industry leagues for a catcher with a .208/.285/.352 line in 954 professional plate appearances.
Scott Heineman $2 (Other Bids: $1)
Heineman mashed as a 23-year-old in the Cal League in 2016, which was met at the time with understandable skepticism. He has continued to hit at almost every level and added some stolen base output to boot. The Rangers rebuild gives Heineman an opportunity to shine, and while I wouldn’t expect much, he could provide a solid bat in AL-only, even if it comes without much power attached to the stat line.
Trent Thornton $2 (Other Bids: $1) (@TB, NYY)
Thornton gets two-starts, but they are a rough pair of matchups for a pitcher with a 5.23 ERA. His peripherals aren’t quite that bad, but you’re talking about a back-end arm, even in AL-only. I’d use him this week in AL leagues, but I’d pass in mixed, even with two starts on tap.
Keon Broxton $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Jace Peterson $1
Tommy Milone $1 (TB)
Ariel Jurado $1 (@CLE, @MIL)
Thomas Pannone $1 (Other Bids: $1) (NYY)
Mike Ford $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Victor Reyes $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Colin Poche $1
Gordon Beckham $1
Jake Rogers $1
Bo Bichette $19 (Other Bids: $10, $4, $1)
If you can’t speculate on minor leaguers (which is the case in LABR and NFBC), then Bichette was a great player for whom to save your FAAB. Rudy Gamble of Razzball (not the dude from Razzball with the mustache but the other one) nabbed Bichette to bolster his middle infield. For all the clamoring for Bichette’s call up and complaints about manipulating his service time, his minor-league numbers this year were league average, with the usual caveats about his age (21) applying. For now, Bichette’s fantasy value comes mostly because of his speed, but he’s mashing thus far for the Blue Jays. I doubt he’s going to keep hitting .406.
Archie Bradley $10 (Other Bids: $3, $3, $3, $1)
Adam Duvall $4 (Other Bids: $1)
Since his promotion from Triple-A on July 27, Duvall has dominated big-league pitching, with five home runs in 38 plate appearances and a ludicrous .400/.421/.886 line. He’s still striking out at a prodigious clip, and while that doesn’t matter nearly as much in 2019 as it would have in 1979, it does mean that pitchers are likely to catch up to Duvall. The average will plummet, but if you need power, he’s a nice source of it and should be in lineups everywhere until he cools off.
Daniel Norris $2 (Other Bids: $1) (CWS, KC)
I was quite the Norris stan when he was a prospect—and perhaps held the faith for far too long—but I was out on him this season. He has been durable in 2019 and already surpassed his major-league high in innings, but it hasn’t been a good season for the 26-year-old right-hander. This is a great week to stream Norris at home against two weak opponents playing out the string. You can’t bank on the wins (the Tigers are 32-75), but his ratio and strikeout potential make Norris a strong play in every format.
Anthony Bass $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Shawn Armstrong $2
Joe Jiménez $2 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
There were multiple cheap closer bids in LABR, so rather than cover them all separately, I’ll lump this trio of arms together. Bass has been the best of the three, but his strikeout rate is nothing to write home about. Jimenez has the highest ceiling, but he has been awful this year and, as I noted above under Norris, the Tigers’ wins are infrequent. Armstrong has a 5.05 ERA, though he has pitched better as of late. These bids are all appropriate given everyone’s need for saves balanced with the lack of skills in this bargain bin.
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