Welcome back to TDGX Transactions, our newest weekly series at BP, providing fantasy owners with an inside look at The Dynasty Guru Experts League (TDGX), 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 competitors on the planet. This series, crafted in the style of Mike Gianella’s Expert FAAB Review, 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.
While we usually begin with FAAB acquisitions, there was a blockbuster trade (and a minor deal also) that went down over the weekend, involving teams on the opposite ends of their contention cycles. If you’re a regular TINO podcast listener (which you should be) you’re aware that esteemed host Ben Carsley has been attempting to trade Robinson Cano for quite some time. Well, it happened. What follows is a complete rundown of the players involved in the deal and perspective from both sides of the table. This article is an absolute monster. Consider yourself warned.
Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.) acquire:
Ben Carsley (Baseball Prospectus) acquires:
Ben Carsley’s Perspective
“It finally happened. Tom, Craig and I had been working on this trade for four or five months. At times it seemed completely dead. At other times I thought we were really close. In the end, it came together pretty quickly once they were willing to include a second top-20 prospect—for a long time, that was a major sticking point—and I was willing to include Reddick.
Losing Cano hurts a lot. He was my first-round pick when TDGX began, and was far and away one of the two best players on my team (along with Carlos Gonzalez). But he’s 33, and while I think he’s going to be a top-five-or-so contributor at the position for another year or two, I’m realistically not going to compete until 2018, at which point he’ll likely be more of a top-10-to-12 option (which is still very valuable in a league of this size). Losing Reddick also hurt, but I was willing to include him because a) I really, really like Barreto and wanted this deal to get done with him in it and b) I now have an incredible wealth of near-MLB-ready OF prospects (Zimmer, Judge, Winker, McKinney, Liriano, etc).
Why did I trade Madson? Because I don’t trust shaky closers, I’ve been burned waiting too long to trade save generators in the past and Madson could lose the role at a moment’s notice. I hope for Tom and Craig’s sake he stays healthy and saves 30 games this year, but I’ll bet the under, hard. Canha, Jay, Smith, and Chisenhall are all utterly expendable for me—useful pieces while contending, but not guys I’ll miss long term.
As for the players I got back? I’m pretty excited. Bradley Zimmer is one of the safest prospects in the game, and while he lacks superstar upside he could be a Hunter Pence-esque no. 2/3 OF in a league of this size for the next decade. As mentioned above, I love Barreto. I think he’s really going to hit, and while I’m worried about his ability to stay at shortstop long term, he’s a gamble well worth taking in my view. Diaz adds to my stable of top-100 prospects that I’ll soon be looking to consolidate into better players. Lindsay is a nice flier for me to flip in the future or to stockpile if my rebuild takes longer than expected. As for Kyle Zimmer, who knows? As a rebuilding team, I’d rather have him than Canha, Jay or Chisenhall, so I still consider his presence to equal another upgraded roster spot.
This was one of the more difficult dynasty trades I’ve ever made. But I now have 13 top-100 dynasty prospects and several more in the 100-150 range, as well as post-prospect youngsters like Vince Velasquez, Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Michael Taylor, Tyler Skaggs, Jacob Lamb and more. My first few years in TDGX taught me the importance of depth, and taught me how fast your team can fall apart when it’s shallow. Constructing a shallow roster is not an error I plan on making again.”
Tom Trudeau’s Perspective
“This trade came about after many conversations over many months and is a testament to the importance of frequent, open communication between league mates (as well as persistence). I give credit to Ben for being open to talking through our disagreements; we started quite far apart.
For context, our roster composition before the trade was unique. We have several elite studs Correa, Harper, Machado, and Betts (obligatory mention of our superstars) supported by Odor, Sano and Kepler, but those were our only major-league bats. Oh, and zero starting pitchers. We were looking for a very specific deal because we did not want to buy back into semi-contention with one or two players; we really needed half a dozen or more big leaguers to make it worth our while.
In terms of analysis, this trade can be reduced to Zimmer, Barreto, and Diaz for Cano, Reddick and Madson with a bunch of noise. Ben’s “noise”, Zimmer (high-variance, MLB ready pitcher) and Lindsay (far-away, toolsy kid) are perfect back-end throw-ins to acquire as part of a deal like this. (Kudos, Ben.) From our perspective, it frankly hurts spending roster spots on Chisenhall types, but he and Jay, Canha, and Smith will play key supporting roles.
I don’t love the value of our deal, but this is what the market dictated we pay and we were willing to diversify our asset class a bit as we still have future building blocks and/or trade chips in A.J. Reed, Jorge Mateo, Manuel Margot, Clint Frazier, Orlando Arcia, Forrest Wall, Greg Bird, Ozhaino Albies, Tim Anderson, Daniel Robertson, Alex Jackson, and Kevin Newman. We spent two years focusing on building up the farm with a bats-only approach. Frankly, it worked.
I have no special wisdom on whether Cano can beat a poor history of second baseman aging, but his work ethic and durability make him a better bet than most to remain elite at the position. It took me a long time to warm up to Josh Reddick, but at minimum he’s a high-end platoon bat.
In Barreto and Zimmer, we gave up two kids with a chance to be above average MLB regulars by the end of next season. In general, I try my best to avoid convincing myself I can pick out the winners from the losers among similarly tiered prospects. Call it prospect agnosticism. That said, I wanted to move Barreto and not my other blue-chip SS prospects and I wanted to move Zimmer and not Margot and Frazier. I tend to believe in Barreto more than Zimmer because he’s consistently hit despite being very young at each level. Zimmer is sneaky old.
We’ll lean on Madson to be our ace closer and be ready to move him if we fall out of contention (provided he holds up that long). Diaz was one of our second round picks this offseason and is off to an impressive start at high-A and could give Ben a chance to add a third excellent prospect, but he was expendable to us. Side note: Yusniel, thank you for your recent hot streak.
Next up on the agenda is finding some pitching to support our offense. I slept great at night not worrying about anyone’s tight forearm, shoulder discomfort, missing velocity on the fastball, etc. Those days are over. Buying pitching was not something I was willing to do until I thought I had the most talent in the league, so I’m very pleased to finally be here.”
Craig Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) acquires:
Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.) acquire:
Rajai Davis OF Cleveland
“We were in a roster crunch and needed a two-for-one deal badly. Wilkerman and Sierra are my preferred profile of boom/bust kids to spend a back end roster spot on during a rebuild year, but that doesn't describe our roster anymore (hurray for trying to win!).
Rajai Davis is the opposite of the profile I like to buy in dynasty—he's someone I call (to my wife, who isn't listening) an "expiring asset" because his utility is likely limited to this year only. That said, is there a 10/30 season left in his bat and legs? I say, yes.” –Tom Trudeau
Matt Adams $16 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Big City is hitting .235/.278/.382 with one home run and three RBI in just 36 plate appearances this season. Outside of a memorable playoff home run off Clayton Kershaw, his complete inability against left-handed pitching (.196/.229/.313 in 236 career plate appearances) and the presence of Matt Holliday more often at first base has severely depressed his long-term fantasy outlook.
“I was a little surprised to get him with my bid considering two thirds of teams in the league had over $85 left to spend. He is not perfect by any measure, but he generally plays and is only 27 years old. I was also a little surprised his owner did try to make a trade for him.” –Jeff Zimmerman
Jarrod Saltalamacchia $6 (Al Melchior, CBS)
The ankle injury suffered by starter James McCann back on April 11th opened the door to everyday at-bats for Saltalamacchia, who has responded by hitting .244/.346/.711 with six home runs and 15 RBI over 14 games (52 plate appearances) this season. McCann, who kicked off a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo earlier this week, should be returning to the Tigers lineup shortly, but it’s clear that Salty has earned a significant chunk of playing time moving forward. It’s too early to anoint the soon-to-be 31-year-old an elite fantasy option, especially given that he’s hit more than 16 home runs in a single season just once (2012) in the last decade. However, given the lack of quality catchers in deeper dynasty leagues, it’s not a bad idea to squeeze every last drop of juice out of the Salty orange.
Hector Neris $6 (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
It’s only 11 innings, but Neris has allowed just one run (0.83 ERA) on six hits while posting a 20-to-4 K:BB ratio this season. With veteran Jeanmar Gomez firmly entrenched as the Phillies closer (for now), the 26-year-old is emerging as the clear-cut next in line option. He’s nearly doubled his splitter usage and the pitch has emerged as an elite weapon, generating 67 percent whiffs-per-swing, making it the most potent offering this side of Jeurys Familia. He’s someone to put on your radar in deeper dynasty formats.
It’s pronounced, “bear-claw.” Get to know this guy.
The only bugaboo, which could prevent Barraclough from closing in Miami down the line, is command, which he has struggled with at times. Acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for former closer Steve Cishek last summer, the 25-year-old posted a 2.59 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 24 1/3 innings. He also walked 18 batters. The command issues carried over into spring training, and he failed to make the Opening Day roster as a result. Since being called up two weeks ago, he’s fired 5 2/3 scoreless frames while striking out 10 and issuing just a pair of walks. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider, Barraclough is a fascinating reliever to target in deeper dynasty leagues.
The same applies to Law, the owner of truly sublime minor-league strikeout rates. Seriously, he’s never struck out fewer than a batter per inning at any stop dating back to 2011. The 25-year-old has reeled off five scoreless appearances while striking out six batters in just 3 2/3 innings since being called up by the Giants earlier this month. I get it, speculating on relief pitching prospects isn’t sexy, but someone in this league has to do it.
After missing each of the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a series of setbacks, Griffin has resurfaced from the depths of the starting pitcher pool to turn in four consecutive quality starts (2.52 ERA) for the Rangers this April. With a fastball that’s barely touching 89 mph in average velocity and four pitches that are below league-average in terms of whiffs-per-swing, he’s not much of an asset in the strikeout department. He does have some value in deeper dynasty leagues solely because he should be able to hold down a rotation spot in Texas, even when Yu Darvish returns in the near future.
“I was outbid (as usual) for a few bats that I liked this week (Matt Adams, Rio Ruiz, etc.), but am happy to add a bit of depth to my pitching staff. Vargas holds appeal to me as a guy that I can stash in the minors and see if the injuries to Tyson Ross and Robbie Erlin open the door for him to hold down a rotation spot in San Diego. I went a buck or two more than I would have liked to secure Vargas, but I knew he was on the radar of others in the league and wanted to make sure that I got him. I think he factors into the Padres rotation plans in 2016—if not now, then potentially later in the year when Ross, Shields, and/or Cashner are headed out of the Gaslamp district.” –J.J. Jansons
Rio Ruiz $3 (James Anderson, Rotowire)
The 21-year-old third baseman is off to a scorching start for Triple-A Gwinnett, hitting .343/.403/.514 with seven extra-base hits (two home runs) in just 77 plate appearances. The increase in power is worth taking notice of considering that the former Astro farmhand hit just five home runs in 484 plate appearances last season and had never slugged more than 12 in a single season dating back to 2012. That’s incredible considering he played 131 games for Lancaster in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League back in 2014. If the power uptick is real, Ruiz is worth monitoring.
“Ruiz has some pedigree, but his numbers last year were awful, bad enough for him to be un-owned in this league heading into the season. However, he was in his age 21 season at Double-A Mississippi, which is one of the toughest places to hit in the minors, and also quite a challenging assignment for someone of his age. His hot start at Triple-A is unsustainable, but I like the bat enough to give him a whirl in a league this size, and he could be up in time to help out a little this year as well.” –James Anderson
Jason Rogers $3 (J.P. Breen, Baseball Prospectus)
Brandon Guyer $2 (Greg Wellemeyer, Baseball Prospectus)
Bryan Shaw $2 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Felipe Rivero $1 (Geoff Pontes, Razzball)
Daniel Castro $1 (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
Caleb Cotham $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Albert Abreu $0 (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
Ryan Goins $0 (George Bissell, Baseball Prospectus)
Mark Lowe $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Jeff Francoeur $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Sean Rodriguez $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Andrew Bailey $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Take your pick. There’s nothing exciting in this crop of names, but the most intriguing name is arguably Cotham. The Reds bullpen is a disaster. Veterans J.J. Hoover and Jumbo Diaz have failed miserably and with Tony Cingrani the only left-hander in the stable, there’s a chance Cotham, despite lacking premium velocity, gets an opportunity to close sooner than later. Of the seven zero-dollar acquisitions, Chris Mitchell (RotoExperts) accounted for three of them.
“Last week I was able to add Ricky Nolasco, who is pitching like he did in his better days in Florida with the Marlins; this week the starting pitchers weren't very appealing but their was a potential closer in Andrew Bailey. He isn't closing games as of now and Jeanmar Gomez has actually done well in the role, but with Bailey’s promotion he is a possibility if Gomez stumbles. On offense I added Sean Rodriguez, who qualifies at a multiple of positions, and Jeff Francoeur who should receive full time at-bats for the time being.” –Chris Mitchell
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