Welcome back to TDGX Transactions, our brand-new weekly series at BP, which kicked off last week. The Dynasty Guru Experts League (TDGX) is a 20-team (40-man roster) 5×5 rotisserie dynasty league. It is the literal embodiment of the phrase “deep dynasty.” It’s also populated by some of the most talented fantasy baseball analysts and players on the planet Crafted in the style of Mike Gianella’s Expert FAAB Review’s, this series will take an in-depth look at each week’s TDGX free agent acquisitions ($100 FAAB budget per team with zero dollar bids allowed) and break down every major trade that occurs during the season. Let’s get to the action.
Chad Bettis $9 (Mike Rosenbaum, MLB Pipeline)
You know it’s a tough week in TDGX when a Colorado starter is the big buy on the waiver wire. However, Bettis is a supremely intriguing right-hander solely because he posted a 98 cFIP (better than league average) and a solid 3.76 Deserved Run Average (DRA) despite making 11 of his 20 starts at Coors Field last season. The 26-year-old Texan shut out the high-powered Cubs offense over six innings last weekend and owns a 2.95 ERA with 14 strikeouts and just six walks over his first three starts (18 1/3 innings) to begin the 2016 campaign.
As with any Rockies starter, his career home/road splits are exactly what you would imagine. On the road, Bettis owns a 3.79 ERA over 27 appearances (16 starts). His ERA is nearly three runs higher in Coors (6.15 over 33 appearances, including 15 starts). In the right matchups on the road, Bettis has proven that he’s a worthwhile streaming option, which has legitimate value in deeper dynasty formats such as TDGX.
“In Bettis, who I wanted to make sure I got and therefore bid $9, I'm getting a viable starter who's been throwing the ball well since the end of spring training. Though I do worry about his workload, injury history and home/road splits, Bettis immediately improves my starting rotation and allows me to hide Rubby De La Rosa on my bench until he figures things out.” –Mike Rosenbaum
Despite striking out seven batters, Cain was tagged for six runs on six hits in his last outing in Colorado over the weekend. As a result, his ERA stands at 6.75 after a pair of starts. Still, that’s not why Anderson picked him up. Dating back to 2005, Cain has a 3.24 career ERA at AT&T Park and should be a fine option in select matchups at home. While there is clear talent, the health risks remain omnipresent for the 31-year-old, who made only 11 starts last year due to a strained flexor tendon.
“I added Matt Cain simply to stream him in his home starts. There were no other starting pitchers available on waivers who I trusted anywhere, and while I don't necessarily trust Cain away from AT&T Park, I think he can be serviceable in home starts. I'll gladly sit him in favor of a setup man like Tony Zych or Ken Giles when he’s on the road.” –James Anderson
Eduardo Nunez $7 (Luke Chatelain, The Dynasty Guru)
With four multi-hit efforts in his last six games, Nunez has vaulted himself, at least for the immediate future, into the leadoff spot on manager Paul Molitor’s lineup card. The 28-year-old is slashing a scorching-hot .545/.600/.682 over 25 plate appearances this season. While there isn’t huge long-term upside, the immediate production and positional flexibility (he’s gotten starts at second, third and shortstop in the last week alone) are a nice boost to any roster. I’m not as optimistic about Nunez’ full-season production as Chatelain is below, but this was a solid pickup.
“While I felt I went a bit high on a guy that I'm not sure anyone else was interested in my bid was to make sure I locked him down. Eduardo is one of the guys I love to target in deep dynasty, a late bloomer who has lacked a starting role but who has always had decent tools and has started to pick up regular starts. Add in the fact that Trevor Plouffe exited with an injury and Nunez could continue to see regular at-bats. Last season, Nunez had a 107 wRC+ in 200 Abs, and extrapolated to a full season, he could have hit 12 home runs with 21 steals. Fingers crossed he continues to start for the lowly Twins.” –Luke Chatelain
Ranked 45th on Bret Sayre’s “Dynasty League: Top 50 Third Baseman Rankings” entering the year, the 19-year-old hit 11 home runs in 307 plate appearances in the Rockies system last season before being traded to Tampa Bay in the Corey Dickerson for Jake McGee swap in January. He’s a jump to light speed away from the major leagues, but he’s certainly a nice speculative addition.
“This was a complete overpay, but after I messed up last week when I tried to get him. I didn’t want him stolen out from under me after praising him a bit. The pickup came from a formula I created to help find prospects. The top 31 were already owned. Padlo was number 32. Of the next 27 I have ranked after Padlo, 26 are owned with one player still available (secret for now). Padlo is probably best known as a throw in for the McGee-Dickerson trade between the Rays and Rockies. The 19-year-old is struggling at A-ball in 43 PA this year (76 wRC+), but I will take the upside.” –Jeff Zimmerman
Nolasco is my “fantasy kryptonite,” as ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry would say. I can’t stay away. He’s always had solid command (2.1 BB/9 in 1,523 career innings), and while that has carried over into this season, his strikeout rate has dipped to just 5.1 K/9 through two starts. With his average fastball velocity dropping below 91 mph this year, he’s actually throwing his slider more than any other pitch in his repertoire.
I’m not saying Nolasco is done. In fact, his slider has looked great and continues to generate plenty of whiffs-per-swing. However, if opposing hitters start laying off the pitch, he’s going to get into trouble because they seldom come up empty when they offer at his heater.
May owns a 3.02 ERA over 40 career relief appearances, as opposed to a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts, so it’s no wonder the Twins have elected to move him to the bullpen full-time this season. He’s allowed just two earned runs while striking out 14 and issuing six free passes over seven appearances (eight innings) to begin the year. There’s a chance he could work his way into high-leverage situations by the end of the season so he’s worth stashing in a deeper dynasty.
“We have some roster wiggle room for speculative closers, and May seemed like a good choice after Glen Perkins went down with an injury last week. There’s still some work to do on the control front (six walks in eight innings so far in 2016) but strikeouts are impressive (14) and mid-2015 move to the bullpen agreed with him (almost 5-to-1 K:BB ratio in the second half). Kevin Jepsen remains ahead of May for now, but it’s a low-risk move for us as we try to squeak out value wherever we can.” –Brent Hershey
Matt Szczur $2 (J.J. Jansons, Baseball Prospectus)
Ryan Raburn $2 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Gordon Beckham $2 (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
Travis Demeritte $2 (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
Kelly Johnson $2 (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
With Charlie Blackmon on the disabled list, Raburn will see a substantial spike in playing time for the Rockies over the next few weeks. We know what kind of damage the veteran can do against left-handed pitching (.829 career OPS). The lone minor-leaguer in this group, Demeritte is an interesting second-base prospect if he can quell the strikeout demons that had haunted him the past few seasons. The other veteran who could see an increase in plate appearances is Johnson.
“My team has gotten off to a particularly slow start offensively, so getting anyone who has a chance at semi-regular playing time is a plus. There's that potential here with Johnson, who could get a bunch of at-bats in left field following last week's arrest of Hector Olivera. He should also see sporadic starts around the infield. The 34-year-old had 14 homers with a .750 OPS last season and is eligible between first base, second base, and the outfield, so he has the potential to be a useful piece. Given how bad my offense is right now, I'll take it.” –D.J. Short
Austin Voth $1 (Ian Kahn & Tim Mcleod, Patton & Co.)
Alexi Amarista $1 (Greg Wellemeyer, Baseball Prospectus)
Mike Minor $1 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Josh Hamilton $1 (J.J. Jansons, Baseball Prospectus)
Donnie Dewees $1 (Greg Wellemeyer, Baseball Prospectus)
I’ll take a pass on Hamilton. I like the Minor move (pun not intended) by Zimmerman, gambling on the Royals reclamation project. According to reports out of extended spring training, Minor, who is recovering from shoulder surgery that caused him to miss all of last season, touched 96 mph and sat comfortably in the low-to-mid-90s. For what it’s worth, Minor has never thrown this hard in his career, if the reports are true.
Ryan Rua $0 (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
Chase Vallot $0 (J.P. Breen, Baseball Prospectus)
Tony Cingrani $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Nolan Reimold $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Neftali Feliz $0 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Rafael Ortega $0 (J.P. Breen, Baseball Prospectus)
Brandon Barnes $0 (J.J. Jansons, Baseball Prospectus)
Joakim Soria $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Steven Wright $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Logan Verrett $0 (J.J. Jansons, Baseball Prospectus)
Justin Wilson $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Kevin Siegrist $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Blake Treinen $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
A veritable smorgasbord of zero-dollar pickups, I’m not going to hit on a majority of these, but there are a few notable names here for the speculative closer addition crowd including Feliz and Soria. A 31-year-old knuckleballer, Wright has zero semblance of upside, but he’s a near-lock to provide solid rotation depth in a 20-team league. Verrett is a name to watch. He’s pitched better than expected and if it keeps up, he won’t be on the waiver wire for long in deeper dynasty leagues. The lone minor leaguer of this group is Vallot, a catching prospect in the Royals system. You might recognize them as the team that employs modern-day ironman Sal Perez.
“I liked Vallot's power potential prior to the season, so when he tore the cover off the ball for the first couple of weeks, I couldn't help myself. Investing in minor-league catchers isn't wise. Vallot's bat should allow him to play elsewhere, though, if it comes to that.” –J.P. Breen
A trio of swaps have gone down in TDGX over the last week. Most of them involving back-end rotation starters, non-elite closers and future draft picks. While they don’t fit the mold of classic “challenge trades” involving larger franchise-altering pieces, they play an essential role in the process of turning a competitive roster into a title contender and jumpstarting either a rebuild or a reloading cycle.
Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.) traded Shane Greene and Kevin Jepsen and a 2017 2nd-Round draft pick to Al Melchior (CBS) in exchange for a 2017 1st-Round draft pick.
“This was about beefing up what had been a poor rotation with the acquisition of Greene. He had a surprisingly strong rookie season with the Yankees, and I'm willing to write off a poor 2015 with the Tigers, since he was dealing with a nerve issue that caused his hand to go numb. Jepsen and the second-round pick could provide modest returns, though I feel comfortable in having Luke Gregerson and Arodys Vizcaino around to get saves. Greene should serve ably as my third starter behind Corey Kluber and Jose Quintana. I will count on him to provide strikeouts and a lower ERA and WHIP than he posted with the Yankees, thanks to expected regression in BABIP and HR/FB.” –Al Melchior
While Melchior gets an immediate rotation injection with Greene and a potential closer the remainder of the year in Jepsen (if Glen Perkins fails to get his closing role back), Trudeau and Glaser spent their entire $100 FAAB allotment over the first three weeks of the season, turning those investments into 2017 draft picks as they gear up for a competitive run.
“With this deal, the ledger on our early FAB spending spree is closed, having netted a first-round pick and a second-round pick for waiver adds Greene, Jepsen, Colome, Blash and Rickard. I'm sure someone will use their $100 more efficiently, but we're pleased to lock in two future high draft picks without giving up anything other than FAB and reclaim the precious roster spots to go fishing for the next Jepsen on waivers.
We proposed this deal before news broke that Perkins could return when first eligible, so the fact that Jepsen's run as useful is potentially limited to the next couple of weeks only helps. Presumably this deal will hinge on whether Greene is a mixed league viable starter. There's enough smoke about poor health in 2015 to think he may deserve a mulligan, but we'd rather hedge and collect the 20 pick upgrade than risk watching him turn into a pumpkin. In his start against the Pirates, his velocity and whiff rate was improved.
It really stings not being able to field a competitive team when we have Harper, Betts, Machado, Sano, and Correa, but we weren't able to find a seller in time to fill our many holes. Instead we're looking at competing in 2017 when we will have three first round picks and four second round picks to deal.” –Tom Trudeau
“I am not sold on Nicasio being able to keep up his production with just two pitches and Hardy was not part of my future. With Duffey and Cecchini, I get two potential future contributors who may be as good as Nicasio and Hardy right now. The two additional picks will help me try to turn the corner in 2017 when I have some pitching arrive (Darvish, Stephenson, and Giolito).” –Jeff Zimmerman
Jeff Zimmerman (FanGraphs) traded Brad Ziegler to Luke Chatelain (The Dynasty Guru) in exchange for a 2017 3rd Round draft pick.
“This move allowed me to pick up the 3rd round pick and open a spot on my roster in which I used to pick up Neftali Feliz. I don’t expect Ziegler to be the Diamondbacks closer when I will competitive and hope Silvino Bracho (who I own) can eventually take over the closer role. Feliz is a nice productive piece to help stabilize my pitching staff, but I can move past him if the right opportunity comes up.” –Jeff Zimmerman
“As hoped I've jumped out into a big first-place lead after two weeks. While this doesn't mean much in the long run, it's good to see my team performing at this level. I did however have a minor setback this week as Glen Perkins was placed on the DL. I'm very thin at the closer position so I quick reacted the news by trading my 2017 second-round pick for Brad Ziegler. I don't love Ziegler and obviously he'll never be elite because of the lack of Ks, but this trade gave me some much needed closer depth as well as the potential to have closers when Perkins returns in 15 days.” –Luke Chatelain