Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.
As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with $1 minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.
Clint Frazier $16. Other bids: $15, $3. Tout Auction: $194. Tout Draft: $104.
Give the Yankees credit. Where some teams are cautious with their prospects or use paper-thin excuses to keep the service clock from starting, the Yankees have not been afraid to promote the players who can help them the most to the Bronx, regardless of pedigree or if the hole on the team is temporary or not. Frazier was putting up his typical minor-league numbers this year, with solid power, a good number of steals, and a batting average that leaves something to be desired. Matt Holliday’s timetable is uncertain, thanks to the nebulous nature of his viral infection, so whether Frazier is a short-term add or a long-term one remains to be seen. Neither Tout league stashed Frazier earlier this year, which tells us that a promotion to the majors this year was far from a sure thing.
Bret Sayre bid $15, narrowly missing out. His consolation prize was…
Nick Williams $11. Other bid: $11.
Williams debuted over the weekend against the Mets, going 4-for-11. Like Frazier, Williams could be a short-term add, although if the Phillies decide to clean house later this month, Williams should get a clean shot at left field the rest of the season. Except for a so-so 2016, Williams has hit throughout the minors. His batting eye is a potential weakness, particularly when it comes to recognition of off speed pitches. He could steal a few bases but his value is contingent upon if he can generate over-the-fence power and isn’t merely a gap hitter. There’s no questioning the talent but is this an appealing fantasy package or more of a good real-life player whose fantasy value lags?
The Tout Wars experts put very low secondary bids on Williams and he was not purchased in either league. Denard Span and Enrique Hernandez were chosen over Williams, which gives you some idea of where Williams was valued.
Sam Dyson $8. Other bids: $6, $4, $3, $2, $1. Tout Auction: $203. Tout Draft: $114.
Dyson is an unusual case in fantasy. Closers who lose their jobs return to the ninth inning infrequently. Closers who are released (or in Dyson’s case traded after being designated for assignment) almost never return to ninth inning glory. In this case, a combination of a Mark Melancon injury with a return to form for Dyson led to Dyson’s ascension back to the top of the relief heap. When Dyson’s sinker is working, he is very difficult to hit and generates a lot of ground balls. When his sinker isn’t working, he has nothing and is a disaster (see Texas Rangers, April 2017). Melancon will obviously close when he returns but his absence is indefinite and the Giants have no reason to rush him back. Dyson could be one of the best FAAB saves pickups of 2017.
Raimel Tapia $6. Other bids: $6, $4. Tout Draft: $133.
Tapia always has excited fantasy managers because of his speed, but the hope was that because of Coors he could provide 15-20 home runs to go along with a bushel of stolen bases. Thus far, Tapia has not hit for power either at Triple A or in the majors, having two home runs in 394 plate appearances between the two levels. This doesn’t mean that Tapia will never hit for power, but if he is “only” a 10/25 player as opposed to a 20/25 one it makes a difference. Yes, speed is more important in 2017 Roto than it was a few years ago, but the other side of the “there’s so much power in the game now” coin is that you do not want to have too many roster spots lagging in home runs. I like Tapia, but am not as high on him as some other fantasy analysts are.
Jorge Soler $4
Luke Voit $3
Jeff Locke $1 [(@STL, Monday)]
Tim Adleman $1 (@ARI)
R.A. Dickey $1 (@WAS)
Jose Urena $1 (@STL, @SF)
Bruce Maxwell $1
Ketel Marte $1. Tout Auction: $137.
Hunter Strickland $1. Tout Draft: $0.
Ariel Miranda $1 (KC)
Anibal Sanchez $1 (SF). Tout Auction: $13.
Six starting pitchers were nabbed for $1 in LABR Mixed, with Bret rolling the dice on two road starts from Locke prior to Locke’s release yesterday. R.A. Dickey has been terrific in his past three starts, and if the knuckler is fluttering he can be as effective as any non-elite pitcher in baseball. Every league has a fantasy manager who loves Marte, so I was surprised to see him only go for $1 in LABR, especially since Todd Zola of Mastersball is in LABR and he worships him. Strickland is a decent enough hedge for Dyson.
Adeiny Hechavarria $22. Other bids: $12, $2. Tout AL: $276.
Twenty-two dollars for a shortstop who has never hit more than five home runs or stolen more than 11 bases in a season seems like ridiculous bid. Perhaps it is, but in mono leagues a middle infielder who hits .270-.280 and plays every day has value, particularly over some of the third middle infielders regularly trotted out there in AL-only. Hech gets a slight boost in the AL since he won’t be batting in front of the pitcher and could score a few more runs. I wonder less about whether Hech is “worth” this bid and more about whether it would have been worth waiting until early August for the quality and quantity of players who will come over from the National League at the trade deadline.
Paul Blackburn $7. Other bid: $2 (@SEA). Tout AL: $47.
I did that thing we all do when we start getting older and thought this was Nick Blackburn, not Paul Blackburn. This isn’t to say that I thought Nick and Paul are the same person. No, I thought for a moment that Nick never existed and Paul was the Minnesota Twins pitcher who pitched from 2007-2012. Nope. This is Paul, an Athletics’ pitcher who throws a fastball around 90 miles per hour, is mostly a two-pitch pitcher, and likely has a future in some major-league team’s bullpen. Blackburn could be OK but this can be said for many back-end starters without dominant stuff.
Tyler Wade $6. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout AL: $6
This was my purchase. I meant to bump the bid down a few ticks but with the Baseball Prospectus Citi Field event Saturday (thanks to those of you who came out and said "hello"), meeting with some of the SABR attendees Saturday night in Manhattan, and a family barbeque on Sunday I didn’t get to it. I really need steals and am not having any luck on the trade market. Hopefully Wade stays with the team even after Starlin Castro returns.
Tommy Hunter $4.
Ramon Torres $3. Other bid: $1.
Torres is a light-hitting middle infielder who has received some playing time for the Royals the last two weeks. He offers very little fantasy-wise if he is not playing regularly, and with Jorge Soler off the DL Whit Merrifield should play second every day, which will mostly leave Torres on the bench.
Carlos Ruiz was cut by Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN to make room for Narvaez. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s get Chooch off the fantasy team. Cot for Choice (weeps openly).
Tout Wars NL
Sam Dyson $203. Other bids: $171, $126, $66, $60, $21. LABR NL: $17.
In a mixed league, I can understand why you wouldn’t bother stashing Dyson until it was certain that he’d be working in the ninth. But in an NL-only, someone should have picked Dyson up for a buck or two, slipped him onto reserve, and waited to see if Melancon got hurt. This is not to say that Melancon was a certainty to get hurt, but he was already hurt earlier this year with an injury that does tend to recur. I am mostly kicking myself, not my fellow experts. I have lost both of my closers and kept eyeing Dyson on the free-agent pool as a potential stash. I should have done it.
I feel a little less bad in LABR AL for not keeping Dyson, as you cannot stash active players, and I would have been stuck with him on my active roster while I waited to see if he ironed out his issues. Still, it would be nice to have Dyson to go along with Craig Kimbrel right about now.
Stephen Vogt $111. Other bids: $98, $76 $54, $47, $16. LABR NL: $17.
Careful readers of the FAAB Review will notice that Vogt was included in last week’s column. He was bid on by me and Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ but the bid was not legal. You cannot bid on players in Tout Wars until 24 hours after they join the player pool from the “other” league. You can read last week’s commentary on Vogt here. After bidding $15 last week, I passed this week, as two more players returned from injury and I did not want to clog my utility slot with a third catcher who might not play every day.
Danny Santana $80. Other bids: $8, $1.
I dropped Santana last week (because Ryan Braun was coming back) but this $80 bid makes me think that maybe I… shouldn’t have? Santana has faded with the bat but has four stolen bases in the past two weeks. Steve Gardner of USA Today is hoping for some cheap steals.
Jae-Gyun Hwang $73. Other bids: $60, $58, $47, $33, $11, $0.
Hwang was about to opt out of his minor-league deal with the Giants when the big club decided to call him up to the majors. Hwang has picked up some starts at third base and with Eduardo Nuñez suffering yet another setback, Hwang is likely to find himself getting even more at-bats at the hot corner. It is too early to tell if Hwang’s power/speed combination will translate from the KBO. His numbers at Triple A were ordinary, but the strikeout rate is a good sign that he could be acceptable as a regular even if he isn’t spectacular.
Trayce Thompson $43. Other bids: $11, $1, $1.
Thompson had some buzz surrounding him last year thanks to 13 home runs in 262 plate appearances but a back injury in spring training turned him from sleeper to somnolent, as the Dodgers optioned him to the minors before the season started. Thompson still has power/speed potential but like the 1998 adult film starring Karl Hungus, the Los Angeles’ outfield is log-jammed. Thompson was getting some playing time because of a minor Corey Seager injury (Chris Taylor was playing short) but with Seager healthy playing time will be difficult to come by once again. Thompson is an OK only-league flier but like many only league fliers he might never get off the ground.
Alex Mejia $31. Other bids: $0, $0.
“I’m here for my defense” is not an appealing fantasy skill set, but that’s why Mejia is on the Cardinals. Mejia will grab some at-bats for the Cardinals while Aledmys Diaz sorts out whatever it is that ails him in the minors. Even in NL-only, Mejia is someone I’m passing on.
I did not pick up anyone in Tout this week. Trevor Cahill returns for a two-start and I activated him Monday morning. I have already started the Starling Marte countdown clock in a league where it appears I am doomed for defeat.