Welcome back 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 minimum budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free-agent deadline is 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
TOUT WARS MIXED
The player pool really thinned out this week with 28 players getting picked up via FAAB. Closers and closers-to-be still dominated the bidding, but there were several starting pitchers and position players who sparked some spirited bidding among the touts in the mixed draft league.
Cristian Javier $311 (Other Bids: $171, $168, $167, $120, $25, $7) (@ARI, @OAK)
Javier had a 1.78 ERA in 113 2/3 innings with 170 strikeouts across three levels of the minors, including 74 innings in Double-A. He has swing-and-miss stuff, including a terrific fastball/changeup combination, which is where he gets his strikeouts. His lack of experience makes him a bit of a risk for fantasy, but it appears that a spot in the Astros’ starting rotation is his to lose at this point. He’s worthy of a roster spot in all formats.
Monte Harrison $247 (Other Bid: $16)
Left off the 30-player roster on Opening Day, Harrison will get an opportunity to play for the Marlins when they resume games this week. Harrison is a boom-or-bust prospect, whose power and speed tantalize but whose high strikeout rates make him a project, even this era of high strikeout rates. Harrison is worth a gamble if you need a regular and is especially worth the AVG hit if you are struggling in speed.
Taijuan Walker $222 (Other Bids: $38, $5, $1) (LAA)
Walker was roughed up in his first start of the season against the Astros, but he bounced back to toss seven innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts against the A’s. When he’s on, Walker does a great job of controlling the strike zone and can throw five different pitches for strikes. He’s worth a flier in all fantasy leagues because he can generate decent strikeout numbers along with solid rates. Just be aware that he may have some ups and downs since he is returning from Tommy John surgery after missing the better part of two years.
Jairo Díaz $181 (Other Bids: $178, $70, $67, $48, $47)
Colin Moran $161 (Other Bids: $76, $61, $47, $22, $17)
Moran has five home runs and a double among his first nine hits of 2020. The 27-year-old corner infielder put together a solid 2019 campaign, hitting .277/.322/.429 with 13 home runs in 503 PA. If he can add some power to his game, he could end up being a useful player in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
David Peterson $104 (Other Bids: $32, $7, $0) (MIA)
Peterson held his own in his first two major-league starts, and he is one of those polished pitchers who could exceed expectations in his first run through the majors before hitters adjust to his lack of a high-quality third pitch. Peterson gets a favorable draw against a Miami team whose roster is still up in the air as we head into the week.
James Karinchak $96 (Other Bids: $86 $61, $44, $8, $7)
Karinchak throws pure gas. He averaged 97 mph on his fastball last season and is sitting at 95.3 mph so far this year. Brad Hand has a solid grip on the closer job, but Karinchak could get some save chances when Hand needs rest.
Touki Toussaint $76 (TOR)
Jeremy Jeffress $73 (Other Bids: $41, $28, $22, $0)
Jeffress could be in the mix for saves on the Cubs. Craig Kimbrel has not looked sharp at all, coughing up home runs and issuing free passes.
Casey Mize $72
Tigers general manager Al Avila has not made any formal announcement about Mize’s imminent arrival, despite manager Ron Gardenhire’s stated desire to have him in Detroit and ready to pitch. Mize only pitched 78 2/3 innings at Double-A last season. The 23-year-old may not be called up unless the Tigers decide that they have a shot at a playoff berth.
Nick Goody $70 (Other Bids: $22, $0)
Jeurys Familia $61 (Other Bids: $17, $1)
Familia hasn’t been tabbed as the closer in New York, but the combination of Edwin Díaz’s struggles and the team’s desire to keep Seth Lugo in a multi-inning role make Familia a smart preemptive add in case he does wind up serving as the Mets’ closer.
Cole Sulser $57 (Other Bids: $42, $31, $28, $1)
Sulser has notched three saves over the past week, so it appears that the Orioles have made the right-hander their closer for the moment. He struck out 233 batters in just 171 Triple-A innings over the last four seasons, so he’s got some serious stuff—even if he’s already 30 years old.
Maikel Franco $51 (Other Bids: $45, $5)
Franco is a very streaky hitter. He can put together brief stretches in which he flashes big-time power production. He is just 27 years old, so it is quite possible that he’s finally putting it all together. He won’t hit for a high average, however, and he doesn’t run, so temper your expectations if you’re going to roll the dice on Franco.
Alec Mills $48 (Other Bid: $7) (KC, @STL)
Mills had always flashed a fair amount of promise in the minors but ultimately was viewed as a guy whose stuff was average and needed to maximize his command to be a back-end starting pitcher. He had a solid 2020 debut against the Reds and gets a nice two-step this week at home against the Royals and in St. Louis.
Donovan Solano $47 (Other Bids: $12)
With five multi-hit games in nine starts, Solano is locked in and producing a .484/.500/.710 slash line. Since he doesn’t run and doesn’t hit for power, Solano will only give you a whole bunch of empty batting average despite his hot start to the season. He is eligible at multiple positions, which makes him worth a roster spot in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues.
Dominic Smith $8
The departure of Yoenis Céspedes has opened the door for Smith to get more at-bats as the Mets’ designated hitter. Smith has been less than impressive in limited play over the last three seasons. He’s best limited to use in NL-only leagues.
Ty Buttrey $6
José Iglesias $5 (Other Bid: $4)
Ty France $5
France had a breakout season in Triple-A last year with a .399/.477/.770 line and 27 home runs in just 348 plate appearances. With Jurickson Profar struggling again this season, France has a shot at the starting second-base job and could be a sneaky-good source of production.
Tyler Heineman $1
TOUT WARS NL
Nick Markakis $333 (Other Bids: $31)
After opting out of the 2020 season earlier this year, Markakis decided to opt back in last week. I’m not sure how long it will take for Markakis to be in game shape, and while I’m certain that he’ll have a job when he is ready, the long layoff means Atlanta is less likely to run him out there every day. Markakis’ value is in his ability to take the field and grind out a full season of plate appearances in deeper formats. I like him as a low-level gamble, but a $333 bid is a lot to pay for a player who might not be up to full speed until mid-August.
Jeremy Jeffress $319 (Other Bids: $222, $44)
With Kimbrel struggling in Chicago, speculation is rampant that the Cubs could switch closers. Manager David Ross added kindling to that fire over the weekend, refusing to commit to a closer. Jeffress had a down year in 2019, due to injury, but has looked strong in 2020, although he has been brought along slowly by the Cubs. I like the stuff, and the Cubs’ defense helps a sinkerballer like Jeffress, but I suspect that the Cubs won’t ditch Kimbrel unless he’s completely done. I’d still bid $100-120 for Jeffress in a mono league and see how it plays out.
Jairo Díaz $310 (Other Bids: $222, $222, $135, $107, $61, $22, $17, $11)
It’s not surprising that the bidding was aggressive for Díaz. Wade Davis’ injury puts Díaz in the driver’s seat for saves in Colorado, and Davis’ injury history means that Díaz could hold the role for some time. It is worth monitoring the right-hander’s velocity, as it has dropped a tick this year. As such, he’s relying on his slider as his primary pitch, but Díaz is still powerful enough that he doesn’t need to be pumping upper-90s gas to be effective.
Daulton Varsho $254 (Other Bids: $17, $13)
The Diamondbacks called up Varsho last week, leading to speculation that he could supplant Arizona’s Kelly/Vogt tandem behind the dish, but Varsho has only seen action as a pinch hitter. Varsho could also find himself in a utility role as an OF/3B/DH, but I’d have liked to have seen the Diamondbacks give him even one start before dislodging this many imaginary coins from my wallet.
Donovan Solano $222 (Other Bids: $125, $100, $7, $2)
Matt Davidson $62
Jake Cronenworth $47
Derek Holland $35 (@MIN, DET)
Kyle Freeland $12 (SF)
Austin Gomber $12
Pedro Strop $10
Brusdar Graterol $7
Antonio Senzatela $6 (@SEA)
Matt Joyce $5
JT Brubaker $3
Jeff Hoffman $1
Chadwick Tromp $0
Curt Casali $0
Darin Ruf $0
Matt Beaty $0
TOUT WARS AL
Ryan O’Hearn $271 (Other Bids: $74, $73, $51, $32)
I had the second-highest bid on O’Hearn but didn’t even come close to sniffing Doug Dennis of Baseball HQ’s winning bid of $271. Ryan McBroom’s time as the Royals’ full-time first baseman didn’t last long, and O’Hearn should be on the good side of Kansas City’s first-base platoon going forward. He had a poor season in 2019, but in an OBP league like Tout, O’Hearn can be serviceable, even if he only hits .230 or so.
Kris Bubic $108 (CHC)
Nick Goody $82 (Other Bids: $23, $21, $5)
Edinson Vólquez $22 (Other Bids: $19)
I was also the runner-up on Goody, losing out to Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball. With José LeClerc on the shelf for Texas, Goody picked up the first opportunity out of the pen on Wednesday. Still, Rangers manager Chris Woodward said on Saturday that he is leaning toward Vólquez and Jonathan Hernández in the ninth. Hernández went two innings in the Rangers’ loss yesterday, and while I love his stuff, the Rangers might need to keep Hernández in a multi-inning role. The low-end bids are fine, but bidding $82 for a guy who might not be in the mix is too much.
Gregory Soto $63 (Other Bids: $0)
It’s always a little surprising to see a non-closer generate a double-digit bid, even in an -only league. But Soto has been electric out of Detroit’s pen, with 5 2/3 shutout innings in five outings. Over that span, he has eight strikeouts and only two baserunners allowed. I know relief wins are random, but I’d be less likely to speculate on Soto than on a reliever on a better real-life team.
Dylan Moore $51 (Other Bids: $34, $17)
Moore doesn’t look like much on the surface, but he hit nine home runs and stole 11 bases in 282 plate appearances in 2019. He could be a sneaky power-speed play. He isn’t a regular for Seattle but has started in five of the last six games in left field, right field, and third base. The Mariners aren’t stacked, so Moore could keep picking up playing time if he produces. Plus, the versatility is useful for his buyers.
Taylor Ward $51
Luis Rengifo $48 (Other Bids: $33, $25, $0)
Andrelton Simmons’ injury opened playing time for Rengifo at second base, with David Fletcher shifting over to shortstop. Rengifo will need everyday playing time to be worth it, and even then, he’s an AL-only play. Perhaps he can develop a little more power, but I see Rengifo as Fletcher without the batting average, which barely moves the needle in mixed.
Evan Marshall $27
Adam Plutko $23
Kolby Allard $21 (LAA)
Daniel Norris $11 (@PIT)
Dan Altavilla $5
Grayson Greiner $4
Jared Walsh $3
Joe Panik $2
Kyle Higashioka $1
Carlos Rodon $1 (@MIL, CLE)
Andrew Kittredge $0
J.P. Crawford $37 (Other Bids: $23, $13, $9, $6, $6)
When Crawford was still in the minors, I saw a fair amount of him as a Phillies farmhand, mostly at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. I loved the way that he looked on the field, but I always wondered how well his game would translate to fantasy. The last couple of years, Crawford has raised questions about whether his game would provide value in any sort of way. He’s off to a strong start in 2020. Although, with no home runs on the ledger, Crawford will need to keep his average close to or above .300 to continue providing this level of value. He’s proving his real-life worth, but I’m still not sold on the fantasy proposition.
Jairo Díaz $31 (Other Bids: $19, $11, $6, $4, $1)
Anthony Bass $28 (Other Bids: $24, $19, $9, $8, $7, $4, $2)
I wrote about Bass in last week’s FAAB Review. Since then, he has the only save in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Jordan Romano ranks higher for me from a skills perspective, but Toronto is going with Bass. If he can handle the role, they won’t move off him until Ken Giles is ready to return.
Cristian Javier $27 (Other Bids: $26, $21, $10, $10, $8, $7, $6, $3) (@ARI, @OAK)
Rowan Wick $24 (Other Bids: $9, $5, $5, $3, $1, $1)
Jeremy Jeffress $9 (Other Bids: $3, $1)
You can read what I wrote about Jeffress above. Wick picked up a two-out save on Saturday against the Pirates. This bullpen is a mess, particularly because the Cubs’ brass wants nothing more than for Kimbrel to get the job back. Wick and Jeffress are both worth moderate bids in the hopes that Kimbrel doesn’t return to dominance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if no one in this bullpen cracks eight saves.
JaCoby Jones $16 (Other Bids: $6)
I was the big beneficiary of Jones in a couple of my AL-only leagues, and his fast start has made him relevant, at least in deep mixed. Despite an uninspiring .235 AVG and a 28 percent strikeout rate in 2019, there were some positive indicators in Jones’ quality of contact that made me think that he could be a sneaky bargain in 2020. His strikeout rate is down in 2020, which is nice, but his walk rate is also down. Plus, I’d like to see Jones take advantage of his speed and steal some bases. He has enough athleticism that if Jones can keep his strikeout percentage in the mid-20s and stay on the field, he has a good chance to be a productive player.
Enrique Hernández $13 (Other Bids: $4, $3)
Hernández is a fan favorite. He looks like he has so much fun on the field, and he’s the kind of player for whom is easy to root. I hope that he succeeds because the game needs more players like him. In fantasy, Hernández a difficult sell. He doesn’t have a regular role and frequently finds himself on the wrong side of a platoon, with a career .669 OPS against righties. I like Hernández better in leagues like NFBC where you can change your lineup mid-week in order to take advantage of weeks when the Dodgers face a lot of southpaws. LABR only permits weekly lineup changes, which limits Hernández’s value.
Kwang-hyun Kim $13 (Other Bids $6, $4, $2)
Kim has the only save in the Cardinals bullpen. He is clearly the closer, but if there is any reason for reticence, it is because Carlos Martínez is on the IL. The easy move for St. Louis would be to move Kim back to the rotation. For now, the team is committed to Kim’s being in the bullpen, but we’ll see if necessity and an effective return to form by Giovanny Gallegos changes this calculus.
Spencer Turnbull $12 (Other Bids: $10, $7, $6, $1) (STL)
Turnbull looked great in his first two starts, with increased velocity on his fastball and more bite on his slider. The increased walk rate is a moderate concern, but Turnbull quietly had a strong September in 2019. His quick start in 2020 might not merely be a two-start small-sample fluke. Be wary of picking him in leagues where you must set your lineups for the entire week on Monday, as the Cardinals/Tigers series is at risk of being canceled.
Trevor Rosenthal $10 (Other Bids: $7, $3)
Rosenthal replaced Greg Holland, last week’s flavor of the day in Kansas City, as the main option for saves in the Royals’ bullpen. “Main option,” in this case, translates to “he has one save and let’s hope my FAAB bid isn’t wasted money.” Rosenthal can still dial it into the upper 90s and is worth a low-end FAAB bid.
Taylor Williams $8 (Other Bids: $6, $5)
Williams picked up his second save of the season on Friday and looks like the closer in Seattle. You can drop Yoshihisa Hirano in shallower formats where you need the reserve slot.
Dominic Smith $8 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Randy Dobnak $7 (Other Bids: $7)
Homer Bailey’s injury cleared up the Twins’ rotation logjam, and while Dobnak currently isn’t projected to start, he is likely to slot into one of the TBD slots in Minnesota’s schedule later in the week. I’m skeptical that Dobnak’s stuff will work long term, but we’re 11 outings (seven starts) into his major-league career, and he has a 1.45 ERA. If Dobnak does get the start, he gets a strong matchup in Kansas City.
Donovan Solano $6 (Other Bids: $4, $3, $1)
Wilmer Flores $6 (Other Bids: $2)
I wouldn’t have guessed that Solano would be fantasy relevant in 2020, but Flores’s being a solid citizen isn’t a surprise at all. Flores could always hit, and he offers the Giants a quality bat on a team in desperate need of those. Flores and Solano are both garnering regular playing time. However, of the duo, Flores is the one on whom I’d place a bet to have more staying power.
Trevor Gott $6 (Other Bids: $4, $2, $2)
“Write about fantasy baseball,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. “You can get paid to write about baseball,” they said. Seven years later, I’m writing about every would-be closer in baseball and wondering if this is what Sisyphus felt like. Gott has both saves in the Giants’ bullpen, although he also has only one strikeout in his three innings of work and hasn’t been particularly impressive. Take the saves, but in mixed leagues keep looking if he isn’t your third closer.
Bradley Zimmer $4 (Other Bids: $2)
I’m kicking myself for giving up on Zimmer a year too early and not drafting him as a reserve pick in my mono leagues. This deserves more of a gentle slap on the wrist than a swift kick to the derriere, but I’m still peeved. Zimmer has run with the left-field job in Cleveland and probably won’t relinquish it even when Tyler Naquin returns to full health.
Pedro Severino $3 (Other Bids $3, $2)
Severino’s price was depressed by the idea that Baltimore’s catcher-of-the-future Chance Sisco would become Baltimore’s catcher-of-the-present Chance Sisco. This hasn’t happened. Severino is getting most of the playing time for the Orioles, and he has continued to hit for power, with two home runs in 28 plate appearances. In two-catcher formats, he is a must-have.
Martin Maldonado $3 (Other Bids $2)
Maldonado is the everyday catcher for the Astros, but despite a .286 AVG in 2020, his major-league history and a 42 percent strikeout rate suggest that it won’t last. Maldonado should be left to AL-only leagues unless you don’t care about batting average at all. He’s a lifetime .219 hitter.
Brady Singer $26 (Other Bids: $13, $13, $13, $10, 2) (@CHC, MIN)
I wish Singer had seen a half season of Triple-A before his promotion, but even without the finishing minor-league touches, he looked decent in his first two major-league starts against Cleveland and Detroit. Singer gets a two-start week, but it’s rough sledding, particularly against a Twins lineup of which I want no part unless I’m using a top-tier pitcher.
Taylor Williams $24 (Other Bids: $23, $8, $7, $3)
Rowdy Tellez $23 (Other Bids: $11, $6, $3, $1)
Tellez is getting regular playing time at DH and first base, but he has struggled and could lose playing time when Travis Shaw returns this week. Tellez benefits somewhat from the fact that nearly every non-Teoscar Hernández regular is also off to a slow start in Toronto.
Dylan Moore $16
Tim Lopes $15 (Other Bids: $6, $4, $3, $1)
Lopes isn’t quite a full-timer but is playing enough to justify adding him in AL-only leagues. The potential for steals also helps, and savvy fantasy managers have noticed that the Mariners are running. Their 10 steals are second in the majors to the Padres’ league-leading 14 stolen bases.
Kris Bubic $12 (Other Bids: $4) (CHC)
I like Bubic’s ceiling more than Singer’s, but Bubic is a 22-year-old arm who had not pitched above A-ball before making his big-league debut last Friday. He is worthy of a start in deep mixed and AL-only, but if your league uses wins, there’s a good chance that Bubic once again doesn’t pitch deep enough to get you there.
Brandon Drury $7 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Drury is the kind of player who I would have assumed was out of baseball if I didn’t write about deep leagues on a regular basis. He picked up most of the starts at third while Shaw was on a personal leave of absence but didn’t do much with the opportunity. He should go back to the bench when Shaw returns this week. Drury has backslid in every season since his decent-but-unspectacular rookie campaign with the Diamondbacks in 2016. There probably isn’t anything to see here.
Dwight Smith, Jr. $6 (Other Bids: $3, $1)
Smith is only a part-timer, but he’s a part-timer in Baltimore, where no one else in the outfield has done anything spectacular. Smith also has the potential to be one of those power-speed guys who we are all so desperately seeking in deep leagues. There isn’t much here, but it’s worth dragging out the microscope to identify value in players like Smith in AL-only.
Jalen Beeks $6 (Other Bids: $5, $4, $2, $1)
Beeks was a popular play in LABR (there are some higher bids that don’t appear here because they were contingent bids only), but I don’t see the appeal. He has 15 strikeouts in eight innings, but that isn’t a sustainable level of performance. Moreover, Beeks isn’t likely to be in line for saves. He’s fine as a $1-2 add on to the back of your staff, but that’s about it.
Luis Rengifo $5 (Other Bids: $1)
Adam Engel $5 (Other Bids: $4, $3, $1)
Last week it looked like Nicky Delmonico was going to be the primary beneficiary of Nomar Mazara’s injury. Instead, it has been more of a job split between Delmonico and Engel. Neither does enough in fantasy to offer enough in a part-time role, even in AL-only.
José Marmolejos $3 (Other Bids: $2)
Marmolejos is 3-for-25 with no walks in his first taste of major-league action. The fact that he broke camp with the Mariners is a great story, but he won’t be long for the majors at this rate.
Greg Holland $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Things change rapidly in a week. Holland was a primary FAAB target last weekend; this weekend he barely generated any interest.
Cy Sneed $3
Jordan Romano $2 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
I still like Romano as a sneaky candidate for saves, and at this price he can still provide value in a set-up or middle-relief role. Non-closer pitchers like this are better in 15-team mixed leagues than shaky starters, or even average starters with bad matchups.
Jon Lester $32 (Other Bids: $12, $7, $7) (@STL)
I bid $12 but was thumped by Brian Walton of Creative Sports’ $32 winning bid. Lester is near the end of the line, but the southpaw has enough guile to get by, as he has shown in his first two starts of 2020. He’s purely an NL-only option for me at this point, as there aren’t enough strikeouts to make him worth using in mixed.
Donovan Solano $19 (Other Bids: $7)
Jeremy Jeffress $12 (Other Bids: $11, $9, $8, $3)
I won Jeffress with a perfect $12 bid. I lost Wade Davis to the IL, and with Jairo Díaz already rostered, I thought that I should take a moderate risk on some saves from Jeffress.
Daulton Varsho $11
Edwin Ríos $6 (Other Bids: $5, $4)
I bid $4, but two other fantasy managers had the same idea and were willing to bet more on Ríos’ talent. They’re hoping that he works his way into the Dodgers’ lineup more often. Ríos hit 35 home runs between Triple-A and the majors in 2019, and while some of that was helped by the PCL, the power is real.
Thank you for reading
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