A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the dilemma of owning David Price in an AL only league in which the stats of players traded to the NL don’t count. I’d sent a note to the other owners in the American Dream League offering Price for a power hitter, a catcher preferably, but as a team battling for first place, willing to take any deal that returned fair value and helped my team in some way.
The initial offers—Jason Castro, Derek Norris—seemed potentially doable on July 29th, if I was panicked and certain that Price was going to the Dodgers or Cardinals, but not strong enough to get me to give up in early July the four or five more starts he likely had with Tampa in July, and the not insignificant potential that Price would remain in the American League.
I then came up with an idea that I thought was great. The team that owned Yu Darvish was in last place, below the point threshold that triggers a penalty in the next year’s FAAB. That is, a team loses one FAAB (of 50) for each point it finishes below 35 points. You also gain extra keeper slots for each standings place you gain, from four up to eight. So a team in trouble has a great incentive to gain points.
My idea was to trade for Darvish, offering Price and James “Some Came Running” Jones, who has ranked second in the AL in stolen bases since he was inserted into the Mariners outfield on May 6th. Price is of equal value if he stays in the AL and no value if he is traded to the NL, which is where Jones comes in. If Price stays in the AL the team gets a huge boost, if he’s traded they still get some points moving up in steals.
The team that owned Darvish were not moved to move him. Part of the problem was that they only had three places to gain in steals, which is nice but not a big deal. And while Darvish and Price have keeper value for 2015, Darvish in all likelihood will be back. Not only might he lose Price this year, but he’d also likely lose him for next year.
At this point I was thinking that I might end up keeping Price. My pitching staff was okay, but it never hurts to have one of the best pitchers in the league on your team. And if I lost him? My staff was still okay, and if I managed it creatively I might even gain points in ERA and Ratio without Price. My lead in wins was big enough I wouldn’t be crushed. I was okay keeping Price, but then Huston Street was traded to Anaheim.
Two teams had $38 FAAB left. No other was close. One was in the second division, but second in saves with a big lead. He had no need for Street. The other was, depending on the day, a point ahead or behind me in the standings, a couple points out of first place. Another closer for him was worth at least three points in saves, plus another potential point or two in ERA and WHIP.
Over at the discussion board at pattonandco.com I suggested that the team who didn’t need a closer might benefit more by buying Street and flipping him than by waiting to see who else is dealt to the AL. A bird in hand and all that. I wasn’t thinking at that time of being the one to get Street, I just didn’t want the team I was fighting to get him. That owner accused me of being self-interested. Guilty.
What I didn’t think of, the other owner did, was trading David Price for Huston Street. The other owner proposed it online, and there was only one reason I could see not to do it. I’m pretty far behind in Saves. Two saves for one point, and then it’s 13 saves to the pack. That’s a lot of ground to make up.
But I decided to go for it, for a few reasons.
Street is a fair value return for Price in 4×4. Did I mention this was 4×4? So far this year Street has earned $24 and Price $20, using Alex Patton’s prices. I don’t expect Street to outearn Price the rest of the way, Price’s first-half ERA was inflated by what seemed to be some bad luck on fly balls. More than usual left the yard. He should have a lower ERA in the last two months.
Important to me, however, is that relief pitcher ERA and Ratio have real value. To date, Price has earned $4.90 in ERA and $7.60 in WHIP. Street doesn’t have nearly as many innings, but he’s earned $4.20 in ERA and $3.90 in WHIP.
But if my per month earnings projection for Price is $5, he’s projected to earn $11 the rest of the way. While Street’s per month projection is $4, so he’s expected to earn $9. But there is some real chance that Price will do his earning in the NL. If that chance is 20 percent, I get a slight edge in the deal. If the odds are more 50-50, which I do, then things look very well today pricewise.
Category-wise, however, the prices are askew. For one, I have a big edge in wins, so Price’s wins (worth $8.70 to date) have helped me out to a decent lead in the category, and don’t mean that much to me at this point. And I have a big deficit in saves, so Streets saves (worth $14.90 so far) might not mean that much to me.
Except, I have a couple of outs, as we say in poker.
For some reason I bought Matt Lindstrom in our auction, and he was the White Sox closer at the start of the year before he got hurt. He is rehabbing now and is expected to be back in the majors in early August. If he is reinstalled as the team’s closer and save 5-10 games the rest of the way, I could actually make up ground.
I also have Aaron Loup, who saved two games for the Blue Jays this past weekend (before Casey Janssen was pounded last night). More saves is a big help (my fingers are crossed).
I hope that breaking the lead up to this deal will help illustrate the many different factors that go into dealmaking. I think the biggest one, however, are your league’s rules. This old school AL 4×4 league, the first AL rotisserie league in existence ever, is no longer typical, but then neither are your 6×6 15-team mixed league that doesn’t include teams from the NL west. Or whatever.
Working through how your league works will help you unlock value, and perhaps make trades that help both sides, and give you a better chance to win.