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, 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.
We’re a month into the 2016 campaign, and two-time defending champions Ian Kahn & Tim Mcleod (Patton & Co.) find themselves atop the TDGX standings once again. In the rearview mirror, and closing the distance quickly, are James Anderson (Rotowire) and Luke Chatelain (The Dynasty Guru). Of that trio it was Anderson who made several big moves this past weekend. In addition to swinging a trade for outfielder Rajai Davis, he also gobbled up temporary Angels closer Joe Smith for nearly half of his FAAB budget.
Meanwhile, the dynamic duo comprised of Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser (MLB.com & STATS Inc.) continued to push their chips to the center of the table, trading prospects into established veterans. Finally, one franchise, George Bissell (Baseball Prospectus) has embarked on a full-scale teardown and rebuild, making three prominent deals for prospect packages. With five major trades to cover, let’s dive right in.
Craig Goldstein’s Perspective
“I probably can't win, but this is still a positive move for my team that previously featured injured Valencia at third, injured Gordon Beckham at corner infield, and non-major-leaguer James Loney at first. I filled all three of those spots (unfortunately not before lineups set for the week and my team tanked) at the expense of some high-end pitching prospects. Still, that's a risk I'm willing to take since I trust my ability to recoup valuable prospects via the waiver wire. Dyson was tossed in for steals and average, Lowrie can play a few positions and provides average, and Lawrie provides some pop. Encarnacion is the big get, and while he's 34, and could dive off a cliff, the same could be said for half my team at this point, so I'm leaning into the skid, so to speak.”
George Bissell’s Perspective
I came extremely close to landing my primary target in Nomar Mazara, but Craig’s asking price proved to be exorbitantly high (as it should be). Instead, I elected to take the first step in turning over a veteran-heavy roster, the result of the TDGX re-dispersal draft held when I entered the league along with my colleagues J.J. Jansons and Greg Wellemeyer this offseason. After sustaining massive injuries, and slipping into last place by the end of April, it was time to embrace the darkness and embark on a “Florida Marlins” style teardown. This is going to be a lengthy rebuilding process. However, it’s going to be headlined by a young pitching staff already anchored by Marcus Stroman, Alex Reyes and Tyler Glasnow (all 25 or younger). Lacking the trade chips necessary to rebuild around young hitters, who carry much less risk and significantly higher price tags on the trade market in this league, this deal was about having confidence in my evaluations of pitching prospects that I feel confident are on the cusp of a major uptick in value as they continue their ascent towards the majors.
Few pitching prospects have seen their fantasy stock in dynasty formats rise quite like Cody Reed and Brent Honeywell over the past year. Honeywell, perhaps best known for his unique screwball and confidence/swagger on the mound, owns a 0.89 ERA with a 30-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over five starts at High-A Charlotte this spring. He’s poised to move quickly through the Rays system and could make his major-league debut as early as next season. Acquired from Kansas City in the Jonny Cueto deal late last summer, Reed owns a 2.55 ERA with 83 strikeouts and just 23 walks over 70 2/3 innings (12 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A since joining the Reds organization. The southpaw should be up for good later this season.
Admittedly, neither Honeywell or Reed possess the lofty strikeout upside of a Julio Urias, Reyes or Glasnow, but they do project as mid-rotation stalwarts, which has extremely high value in a 20-team dynasty league where depth is critical. If everything breaks right with “The Big Four” (Reyes, Glasnow, Reed, and Honeywell), I’ve built an under-25 juggernaut rotation that could potentially be in place for the next decade. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans right?
D.J. Short’s Perspective
“Oh boy. Coming into the year, rebuilding was in the back of my mind. I was severely lacking in premium position prospects and my core of top major leaguers was right around 30 years old. I knew that I needed to get off to a hot start to really have a chance to contend this year, but that just didn’t happen. Nobody was hitting and I got buried. It happens. Knowing that I had a certain window to trade this core to get premium position prospects in return, I decided that now was the time to pull the trigger, especially with Tom/Craig eager to part with some really appealing names to win now.
I had some decent offers from other teams, but the overall quality and upside didn’t match what I found here. That’s not to say that doing this deal was easy. It really wasn’t. I had to convince myself I wasn’t insane before finally accepting. But within the context of where my team is and the league structure in general, I think the best plan for me is to embark on a rebuild over the next year or so.
Nothing is guaranteed with prospects, but I’m confident that I’m off to a pretty good start on that front. I can dream on a core of Benintendi, Mateo, Frazier, Reed, Austin Meadows, Nick Gordon, Julio Urias, Jose Berrios, and Dillon Tate for now while continuing to stockpile young bats with my other veteran pieces. I expect to make a few more deals in the days to come, so even though I’m not planning to compete this year, it should still be a fun process to put this roster together.”
Tom Trudeau’s Perspective
“After trading for Cano, Reddick, Madson and other vets last week, we continued our transition from rebuild to contending with another prospect-for-vets swap. I immediately received messages from a couple owners about what a rip off it was in our favor and another about how this is going to look really shaky for us in 2017, the familiar symptoms of a fair trade.
Craig and I had previously been met with a lot of resistance in terms of what we believed excellent, nearly MLB-ready hitting prospects should fetch, so it was nice to find a trading partner that didn’t demand we hold their hand and give them two elite hitting prospects for every quality (usually older) big leaguer they gave up. Our stance has been if we’re talking premium position players on the cusp of the majors, either bet on the kid to hit or don’t.
Part of the reason we were able to get someone to finally meet our price (besides tacking on a future first to the offer) was that we also gave away our very best prospects, at least in terms of perceived fantasy value. It’s hard to match Benintendi production the last two years going back to college and left field is wide open in Fenway. It’s easy to dream on Mateo as the next Jose Reyes (minus the hamstring issues). Tyler White is turning into a pumpkin in Houston and AJ Reed has only to prove that he can hit lefties. Clint Frazier has nearly matched the overrated (in my opinion) Brad Zimmer’s production the last two years at the same level despite being two years his junior. In other words, this trade could look shaky for us in 2017.
That said we got a heck of a lot of proven MLB production. I breathed a sigh of relief when Scherzer pitched well on Sunday—we’re counting on him to be an ace and his so-so start coupled with his weird second half last year had us wondering if we were about to buy into a decline-phase Justin Verlander situation. I suppose Frazier and Abreu represent buy lows, but I doubt D.J. was worried that those two can’t hit, especially in that park, and we weren’t really targeting them for their slow start anyway. We hope we’re buying two relatively safe bats and two pitchers that can anchor our staff during our contention cycle.
Did I mention we have Harper, Mookie, Machado, Correa, Sano ,and Odor? It’s in my contract that I do.”
J.P. Breen’s Perspective
“I had no intention of trading Joey Gallo, now or in the coming months. I'm keenly aware of his awe-inspiring power and really wanted his 40 homers and .230 batting average on my team. The opportunity to acquire a bat like Blackmon, though, who could provide double-digit home runs and 30-plus steals, was too much value to ignore. He's a legitimate top-20 fantasy player when healthy and was the 14th-overall fantasy player in ESPN's leagues in 2015. The fact that I got to acquire Blackmon and fill my gaping hole at CI with Yunel Escobar was a big plus. Adding guys like Luis Ortiz (who I like) and Mychal Givens was largely done to balance the scales. I don't need Givens; however, my squad desperately needs strikeouts, so relievers who are striking out 37.5 percent are attractive. In the end, it's a deal that I didn't want to make. The value was just too good. It made too much sense for my squad, which is surprisingly competitive this year.”
George Bissell’s Perspective
Charlie Blackmon’s five-category fantasy impact is virtually unparalleled and it pained me tremendously to deal him. However, with my competitive window further away than our desire to add the phrase #PapaSlam to our lexicon, a 29-year-old outfielder whose value is built primarily on speed shouldn’t be the centerpiece of a rebuilding offense. Gallo is only 22 years old. While more prospects are coming up and excelling immediately, making a major fantasy impact, let’s not forget that it’s completely normal for a hitter to struggle against major-league pitching at first, like Gallo did last season. He simply wasn’t ready and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Gallo has made tremendous progress with his plate discipline, cutting his strikeout rate nearly in half at Triple-A to begin this season, while continuing to hit for power. In addition to slashing .254/.400/.642 with seven home runs, he’s struck out just 21 times, while drawing 17 walks in 85 plate appearances. I’m fully aware that this is the ultimate high-risk/reward gamble, but the allure of what kind of damage his 80-grade power will incur at the major-league level, if he continues to progress with his approach at the plate, is simply too much to resist.
Bret Sayre's Perspective
With a pitching staff lacking in depth behind Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels, I've been on the prowl to add another starter, and Liriano slides in just about perfectly as my SP3. On top of that, my MI slot has been an issue all season thus far, almost entirely because Jose Reyes is a bad person. With Reyes still on my bench, clogging up a spot without much hope of a quick return, Peralta helps to at least lock in being able to reserve Tommy La Stella by the beginning of June. Peralta is a wildcard this year because his game is predicated on power and a thumb injury won't help him produce the same type of power he is generally capable of, but 20-team leagues are deep and they feel REALLY deep when you don't have a third viable middle infielder. On the other side, I parted with one of my collection of big-bodied sluggers on my farm team. Tellez was the middle guy—not as close to the majors as Trey Mancini and not as much upside as Josh Naylor—so he was expendable for the right piece, especially in a contention cycle. Holland was my last draft pick this pre-season, and I had been hoping he would have signed by now so I could put him on my DL, but instead he was taking up a bench spot right alongside Reyes and playing with a five-man reserve is tough in this format. He is one of my favorite dynasty stashes right now since the best predictor of future saves is previous saves.
George Bissell’s Perspective
I had a busy week. What can I say? When you’re embracing a full-scale multi-year rebuild there became little need to hold onto a veteran starter like Liriano and when the opportunity arose to cash him in for a prospect that both Bret and I have an affinity for in Tellez. The 21-year-old has gotten off to a slow start in his first exposure to Double-A, but he was impressive in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .293/.352/.488 with four homers in 21 games. It was an opportunity to acquire a bat that I believe will make it’s way to Toronto within the next two years. Why Greg Holland? If he can return fully healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery (no small risk) next spring, he will be closing for a major-league team somewhere. At that point, I will be able to deal him to a contender for an impact prospect, until then, I can stash him on my disabled list.
Tom Trudeau and Craig Glaser (MLB.com/STATS Inc.) acquire:
Ken Giles RP Houston
James Anderson (Rotowire) acquires:
Rajai Davis OF Cleveland
Tom Trudeau’s Perspective
“I had been hitting up James Anderson for Ken Giles for weeks throwing nonsense ideas his way, but I finally decided to take up the time honored tradition of seeing what he might actually need to win the league. (Crazy, I know.) I saw he was lacking in stolen bases, so I offered Rajai Davis and within 24 hours Giles was ours.
I am thrilled to nab Giles, who may be the premier buy-low reliever for dynasty. He has a serious case of gopheritis right now, but the premium velocity and whiffs are still there. It may not be this season, but I believe Giles will reward patient owners with saves eventually and in the interim I like him to provide plenty of Ks and good rates.
I’ll miss Rajai, who I acquired last week for two far-away kids I like (Wilkerman Garcia and Magneuris Sierra) and two late-round picks. I keep pegging him for dead a year too soon, so I won’t do it again. If I were to try, though, I’d say that with lefty-swinging Brantley, Naquin and Chisenhall, there’s not a lot of playing time for a righty bat in the Indians’ outfield.”
James Anderson’s Perspective
“I obviously don't like this trade for me in terms of asset for asset, but for 2016 value I think it made a lot of sense, considering I'm set on saves (more on that in a second) and I was starting Chase Headley. Steals are one category where I can legitimately make up ground in a hurry, and even if Bradley Zimmer comes up in July and takes all of Davis' playing time, I should get 8-10 steals from him before then with a batting average that won't kill me. I no longer think Giles gets that job back this season without an injury to Luke Gregerson.”
TDGX FAAB ACQUISITIONS
Joe Smith $44 (James Anderson, Rotowire)
Lucas Sims $9 (James Anderson, Rotowire)
“Smith is a guy who I don't like as a player or as a long-term asset, but for the next month or two, he should help me gain ground in a category (saves) that is pretty tight right now in the standings. Huston Street is a slow healer, so I'm taking the long end of his timetable, and 10-12 saves from Smith should get me to the top of the category. Hopefully his time as the closer lines up with Tyson Ross's time on the disabled list, and I can switch the two once I have double-digit saves banked from Smith. Also, while Jeanmar Gomez is cruising now, he could easily lose that job over a bad week or two, so Smith's saves help make up for potentially losing Gomez as a closer down the road. In a league like TDGX, it's almost impossible to add saves off the waiver wire without it being a guy like Smith or Gomez who is not that appealing to begin with. All the high-end relievers who are next in line for saves are already owned.
Sims has a 2.03 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 26 23 innings this year as a 21-year-old at Triple-A. His control has been an issue at previous stops, and while he's still walking too many guys, hitters’ inability to make hard contact against his offerings gives him a little leeway there. I got a glimpse of him in the AFL and the swing-and-miss stuff was apparent then, and it all hinged his fastball command. If he has legitimately taken strides there, I see a no. 3 starter who will be contributing in the big leagues for a good chunk of this season.” —James Anderson
“I tried to make a play for Joe Smith, but ended up getting blown out of the water. Brach is a fine fallback. If Zach Britton hits the DL with his ankle injury, there’s a chance he could get some save chances. If that happens, I’ll try to trade him for another piece. If not, no real loss.” –D.J. Short
“In a move that finally allowed me to drop John Danks, the acquisition of Morgan helps me to improve the quality of my pitching depth. He is worth a flier, as he had a good-enough spring that he nearly cracked the Phillies' rotation out of camp, and then with some added velocity, performed well in three starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. If nothing else, Morgan should be a decent control pitcher, particularly away from Citizens Bank Park, where his fly ball tendencies could bring trouble.” –Al Melchior
“Why not? Peralta's had a rough go of it but he's only 26 and is just 1.5 seasons removed from being a very reasonable starter in a league of this size. He might need a change of scenery, but this is the type of starter I like gambling on when rebuilding, especially at such a low cost. I did something similar earlier this year with Jarred Cosart, and if I can gamble on 10-12 pitchers at $3 each, odds are one or two of them sticks.” –Ben Carsley
Mike Zunino $2 (Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ)
“We’re on the lookout for a long-term catcher who can provide some offense, and though d’Arnaud’s injury will give us some more time to take a look at current backstop Kevin Plawecki, Zunino is just a few years removed from a stellar career with the bat in the nation’s best college conference. Sure, it’s small BABIP-tinged sample in Triple-A, but a .397/.440/.795 slash in 21 games, along with a better contact rate, is worth a couple bucks just in case it’s the start of his prospect rebirth.” –Brent Hershey
Marcos Diplan $2 (J.P. Breen, Baseball Prospectus)
Eddie Butler $2 (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
Chris Devenski $2 (Greg Wellemeyer, Baseball Prospectus)
Michael Soroka $1 (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
Christian Vazquez $0 (Nick Doran, Fake Teams)
Miguel Castro $0 (J.J. Jansons, Baseball Prospectus)
Cheslor Cuthbert $0 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Shawn Kelley $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Tyler Wilson $0 (Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts)
Yohander Mendez $0 (James Anderson, Rotowire)
Antonio Bastardo $0 (Luke Chatelain, The Dynasty Guru)
J.J. Hoover $0 (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
Skye Bolt $0 (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
Drew Stubbs $0 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Steven Brault $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
Josh Staumont $0 (James Anderson, Rotowire)
Ronald Guzman $0 (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
Buck Farmer $0 (Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs)
Zach McAllister $0 (Tom Trudeau & Craig Glaser, MLB.com/STATS Inc.)
“I messed up last week dropping Steve Pearce since I didn’t have a major-league outfielder to fill his spot, so I picked up Stubbs this week. I have been churning my roster trying to find one I like and I know I will make mistakes. I just have to limit the mistakes. Farmer has been dominant since moving to the Tiger’s bullpen with an 11.4 K/9. I think he has a chance to pick up some saves if he can pull off a Wade Davis transformation in a weak Detroit bullpen.” –Jeff Zimmerman