Trade Opportunity: Finding the right price for Price

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14)In the American Dream League, which is an ancient 4×4 AL only rotisserie league, a player who is dealt to an NL team is lost to it’s ADL owner.

Stats no longer accrue, he becomes a sudden bad memory, and a daily irritant, since the ADL owner may keep him on his reserve list, and where his production is posted daily accompanied by the notation (N.L.).

This leads me to experience a certain panic, because I am the owner of David Price in that league, and offers up something of an opportunity because I am the owner of David Price. Yesterday I emailed all the other owners in the league:

Subject: Trade Opportunity

Because we are approaching the month of July, and what we used to call the inter league trading deadline is looming, my thoughts turn to David Price.

Price is one of the best pitchers in the game, and has had an excellent if star-crossed first half. His Ratio is lower than his career Ratio, his strikeout rate is higher and his walk rate is lower than his career rates (he’s walked just 14 in 124 IP), yet his ERA is the highest of his career. Why? He’s allowed quite a few homers, and his BABIP is outrageous, partly because the Tampa defense hasn’t been as efficient as in the past, but also because he’s been wicked unlucky.

With all of that he’s earned $11 in the first half in 4×4, according to Alex Patton, and is on pace to earn $22. The important thing about that, however, is that he could earn much more than that if some of the bad breaks go his way in the second half.

Alas, we have a rule in the American Dream League that a player traded to the National League is dead to us, and David Price is the player most likely to traded this year before the July 31st deadline.

Now, he may not be traded to the National League. There are AL teams in the running for his services, too, but that drop dead rule means he’s about a 50/50 chance to be either the excellent pitcher David Price for an ADL team or null and void.

My team is in the running for the Lukas Cup this year, currently in second place, and is strong enough that I might be able to stay in contention without Price, but it occurs to me that it might make sense to flip him at this point and get half a pig rather than a poke.

Please feel free to make an offer. I’m not really in the market for speed or batting average, in fact I might package some of either or both for a nice power upgrade. I would also consider trading a potential keeper next year, if the price is right. My ideal candidate is a power-hitting catcher, for what that’s worth.

Thanks for reading along, and for your cleverest offers.And enjoy this lovely weekend.

The Bad K”

So far the letter has elicited a few offers of decent hitting catchers, which tells me I shouldn’t have used that example, and a gag offer of Vidal Nuno, who I was disappointed I didn’t land in the auction.

As I’ve discussed these trades Price’s price has become clearer:

His market price was $30, which included a little discount for the possibility he would be traded. But let’s say he’s a $30 pitcher (since there was also some draft inflation in our keeper league).

Half a season is worth $15. Because he has a 50/50 chance of being traded out of the league, his worth is actually $7.50. But because he actually probably has a month of playing time left in the AL, worth $5, his actual value is somewhere between $7.50 (if he were to be traded today) and $12.50 (if he were to be traded on July 31).

Because I probably just lost Josh Reddick to the DL, I have a hole in the outfield, so I’m looking for an outfielder who cost $25 more than Endy Chavez on auction day, or a catcher who cost $20 more than Carlos Corporan.

One interesting aspect to the ADL this year is our standings, which have bifurcated. There are seven teams between 71 and 56 points, and five teams between 40 and 32. A team that finishes with fewer than 35 points is penalized $1 of our $50 FAAB the next year for each point lower than 35 he finishes.

Plus, teams that finish 10-12 have fewer keeper slots the next year. So there’s a lot of incentive for one of the cellar dwellars to make a big play to climb out on David Price’s arm.  If he were to stay in the AL the rest of this summer, he’ll be a terrific bargain and give a down team a big edge. And might even turn out to be a keeper next year, too, if he signs a long-term deal.

I’ll let you know how things work out.

ASK ROTOMAN: Which Lateral Pitching Move Should I Make?

Dear Rotoman:

My league: 12 team, categories are r, 1b, 2b, 3b, hr, RBI, bb, k’s, sb, avg, w, L, qs, era, whip, k’s, s, bs, holds

My team:
C- Carlos Ruiz
1b- Anthony Rizzo
2b- Howie Kendrick
3b- Evan Longoria
SS- Xander Boegarts
Of- Andrew McCutchen, Matt Holliday, Melky Cabrera
Uti- Justin Heyward, Mark Teixeira
Bench- Oscar Tavares, Jon Singleton, Michael Bourne, Brian Dozier
DL- Josh Hamilton
SP- Madison Bumgarner, Jason Verlander, Cole Hamels, Alex Cobb, Yovani Gallardo
RP- Krod, Joakim Soria, Grant Balfour, Cody Allen
DL- Andrew Cashner

2 questions: I’ve been offered two deals, one where I would give up Hamilton for Gio Gonzalez and another deal where I would give up Mark Teixeira and get Trevor Bauer.

Also what 2 guys do you think I should drop to activate Hamilton and Cashner with my roster right now or if I were to make either of those deals

“Pitching Poor”

Dear PP:
You’re problem is that Bumgarner had a bad April, Verlander and Hamels are struggling and Cashner is hurt, so you have to play Gallardo.

Solution No. 1 is to put Cashner in for Gallardo when he comes off the DL this weekend. That’s easy.

Solution No. 2 is tougher. Verlander has pitched poorly this year, worse than in his mediocre 2013 campaign. Velocity, strikeouts are down, bases on balls are up. This is a struggling pitcher. Hamels, on the other hand, has been throwing some more walks, but for the most part looks the same as usual. So, expect him to bounce back some. But what do you do with Verlander?

Are either Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Bauer an upgrade? And if so, enough of an upgrade to be worth dealing Hamilton or Teixeira?

While both might pitch better than Verlander, neither is close to a chalk starting pitcher for your staff. Gonzalez is fine, strikes out one per inning, but allows a fair number of baserunners. Bauer is freshfaced, and has been throwing a worrisome number of walks. Either might be just fine, if you had them you might choose to play them ahead of Gallardo, but it’s hard to see either solving your problems unless they get uncharacteristically hot. Teixeira and Hamilton have their flaws, but they are real contributors on offense when they’re healthy. Both seem to high a price for either of these guys.

Before making either of those deals, I suggest you try to pry a better pitcher away from some team, even though there will be a bigger price. You have enough outfield depth to put together a package, or even deal McCutchen and play your depth, in order to land a pitcher as good as Bumgarner.

The other alternative is to use Taveras or Singleton as bait for a hot starting starter without a strong rep. With an extra arm or two you might be able to play matchups, and still play Verlander if he gets hot. Last year, after a strong start, he struggled through June and July, but he was able to right the ship, and finished the season strong.

I don’t think he was taking the velocity hit then. Let’s see. Just downloaded Verlander’s chart from Brooks Baseball.


Nope. He had other issues last summer. I’d be worried, but I would also try to really get better before trading for guys like Gio and Trevor.

In a league like yours, with so many categories, playing time and category management matter a lot. It’s really hard to tell from outside which of these hitters you should be playing. All of them are fine hitters, who will contribute in some ways and hurt you in other ways. Teixeira, for instance, hurts you in BA but helps you in walks. Michael Bourn doesn’t have a lot of power, but will help you in Triples. And so on.

Good luck finding a better trade.

Tout Wars NL: I Made A Trade

Work on the Fantasy Football Guide 2014 hasn’t distracted me from my fantasy baseball teams, but it has distracted from writing about it. Last weekend I made a trade with Phil Hertz in Tout Wars NL that might be of interest.

Background: Tout is using OBP instead of BA this year, as we’ve talked about, and in the auction I decided to treat OBP as a more reliable category than BA. So, when Joey Votto was nominated first I bought him, for $5 below my bid max on him (but for $4 more than his BA bid price was). But it turns out no one else was willing to pay the full premium on OBP, so after Votto I kept getting decent OBP guys for BA par prices. Bargains every one, in a sense.

The Problem: I have an awesome team of stars, but early in the season many of my scrubs didn’t play much. Plus Ryan Zimmerman got hurt. I trail in at bats by a huge amount, but am competitive (barely) in the quantitative stats. And I have a big lead in OBP. I needed to convert that OBP lead into hard hitting assets.

What Happened: Phil Hertz has suffered a horrendous run of injuries to his corners. He sent an email last Saturday asking for a corner in exchange for an outfielder. I said I had Votto, who has been on the DL with a bad knee (the same knee he had multiple surgeries on before) and it was announced would not be back this Saturday (31st), when he was eligible. I sent a note to Phil saying I had Votto and in the right circumstances would trade him, but given his injury wasn’t sure what the market was. I said I’d consider an offer.

Next: Phil offered Matt Holliday, who has a decent walk rate, but doesn’t have as much power as Votto. Given the injury risk it was a fair deal, but the problem for me was that Holliday was kind of a Votto lite. He’d protect my OBP, but I couldn’t expect more homers from him if both he and Votto were healthy. In fact, I had to assume I’d lose homers. Not a bad deal for injury mitigation, but not a deal that addressed my needs.

Counter: I told Phil I would make the deal for Jay Bruce. Bruce hasn’t had the on base skills of Votto, but he’s hit more homers. And he’s stolen more bases, especially more than a knee-sore Votto would. So, more quantitative numbers in exchange for a way better OBP hitter with health issues. It was easy for me to say yes. For Phil, who is close to the OBP bottom, Votto may come with some risk, but he brings huge rewards if he stays healthy. You can count on OBP, it is a skill.

The Tickler: Phil asked for $3 FAAB to offset the injury risk. I thought the deal was fair as it was and said so, but countered by offering him $1 FAAB. He accepted. Deal.

Conclusion: My hope had been, before Votto got hurt, to deal him in June to a team at the bottom of the OBP pack for two more productive quantitative players. In other words, trade OBP for AB. But when Votto got hurt, and when the Reds started saying that he might not be 100 percent all year, I thought it made more sense to go for a power hitter now.

Jay Bruce: One problem, of course, is that Bruce isn’t acting like a power hitter at all this year. He’s hitting more grounders, has only hit three homers. Oh, he’s sucked. I call this buying low. He’s a 27 year old power hitter. If he’d been himself Phil wouldn’t have traded him. I think.

But I’m scared, of course, because Votto could get healthy quickly (he played catch today!) and he’s a better hitter than Bruce. And something could be wrong with Bruce.

Of course it could. Bring it on.

ASK ROTOMAN: Holliday for Machado? Blame It On Cain.

Hey Rotoman:

I have Longoria as my 3B, and have Manny Machado. I want to trade Machado to improve my outfield.

What do you think of this trade: I get Matt Holliday for Machado and Matt Cain?

“Machado Man”

Dear Macho:

Some music while we think about this.

First off, I don’t have enough information to judge. It sounds like you won’t miss Machado much, playing Longoria instead, but whose working week does Holliday end? And who is filling Cain’s shoes?

The problem here is that Cain has not been a Top-20 starter so far this year, and that makes it easy to undervalue him after a few bad outings. I recently l0oked at last year’s slow starting pitchers and found that pitchers who were expected to be good usually did okay after a bad start. Matt Cain was one of those guys last year, and he recovered, at least part way. A bad start doesn’t mean the rest of the season is a disaster.

Still, over the five months after his bad start Cain wasn’t the Cain anyone who bought him last year hoped for him to be. And it has to be disturbing that he’s starting this season in similar fashion. So I can understand disenchantment.

Okay, another musical interlude.

But I can’t really judge your trade because I’m not seeing all the pieces. The two parts that stand out are: It’s a great idea to upgrade your outfield by dealing a reserve corner. Not that it isn’t valuable to have a solid backup like Machado, but to win you probably have to maximize even if that’s a little risky. So that makes sense if Holliday is a nice bump on the guy you’re replacing.

But Matt Cain shouldn’t be a throw in. If you have a great staff without him, making him expendable because of his poor start, I don’t have a problem with that. But if you’re dealing him because you’re expecting him to be replacement level the rest of the way, I think there’s a fair chance you’re selling him a little short.


ASK ROTOMAN: Stanton for Braun?


I play in a Head to Head points league, with -1 for strikeouts and -1 for errors.

My friend requested a trade where  he gives me Giancarlo Stanton and I give him Ryan Braun. I was about to hit yes when I decided to look at the stats and Giancarlo strikes out an awful lot more than Braun. He also commits more errors. Should I go for the boom-or-bust Stanton, or keep my very solid Braun.

“First I Look At the Stats”

Screenshot 2014-04-25 18.25.57

Dear First:

Good idea to look at the stats. Here’s some back-of-the-envelope projections:

Braun should score a lot more runs (+30), hit roughly the same number of homers and drive in a lot more runs (+20). That’s the benefit of playing on a better team in a better stadium. Braun will have a higher batting average, and, oh, he will run more than Stanton, too.

Braun also has an advantage in strikeouts (125 to 140 for Stanton) and errors (6 vs. 8), but these differences are small beer.

On Stanton’s side, he’s still young and is likely to have some years in which he hits more homers than Braun ever did. But it’s hard to see that happening as long as he plays in Miami, so that’s not relevant this year.

Also on Stanton’s side, Braun is older, which usually leads to an increase in strikeouts at some point. But Braun isn’t worrisome old yet at all, so if you’re looking for an edge there you’re reaching.

Obviously, it’s your decision, but I’d hang onto Braun.



ASK ROTOMAN: Time To Give Up On Salazar?


Is it worth giving up Danny Salazar in a 5×5 keeper league where I need some power in order to get Matt Adams?  I already have Madison Bumgarner, Adam Wainwright, Robbie Erlin, Yordano Ventura, Tyson Ross, and Jeff Samardzjia for SP’s plus a couple others. What do you think?  The other offer was Bumgarner for Mark Trumbo, but I think thats too spendy.

“A Bridge Too Salazar?”

Dear Bridge,

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. You are pretty rich in pitching and need a power hitter. On draft day Salazar and Adams probably cost a similar amount, and it sounds like in hindsight if you could have taken Adams instead of Salazar you would have. So this deal is obviously to the good for you.

And I agree about Bumgarner and Trumbo. The former was a $24-25 player in NL leagues, while Trumbo was a $22-23 player. If that was your only way to add power you might do it, but it isn’t as square a deal as Salazar for Adams.

It might have a bigger impact, since Trumbo is a more significant hitter than Adams, and Bumgarner is a more significant pitcher than Salazar, but sometimes it’s better to play it safer and smaller, which is what Salazar for Adams does.

That’s because we know quite a bit about Adams. He’s a very solid power hitter against right-handed pitchers (and not so good against lefties). He may lose some at bats versus lefties at some point, especially given the Cardinals’ plethora of hitters in the bigs and the minors, but he’s been weak enough against lefties (.588 OPS in limited time the last three seasons) that you probably want to see him sit against them. He’s still a solid power hitter even when missing those at bats.

We don’t know quite a bit about Salazar. He took the AL by storm late last year, in 52 IP, and was quickly elevated to stud status  by many despite the lack of experience. I warned about that during the preseason, because regardless of a young pitcher’s obvious gifts (he throws very hard, missed lots of bats with good control, etc.), we simply don’t know how well and quickly he’s going to be able to adjust as hitters adjust to him and his workload increases. Salazar has not been good thus far this year. His velocity is down, he’s walking guys, and throwing homers. It’s early, just three starts, but things are not right right now.

So make the trade. Getting out from under the struggling Salazar is really just a slim advantage. Odds are Salazar is going to work things out, and once he’s in a groove he’ll throw plenty of strikeouts, but he’s not in that place now, and if you can fix your team by dealing a struggling cipher, you have to do it.



ASK ROTOMAN: Should I trade Mike Trout?

Dear Rotoman:

ESPN 10 Team 5×5 roto league. Should I trade Mike Trout and Pedro Alvarez for Jacoby Ellsbury and Giancarlo Stanton?


Dear Fishing:

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)No.

In a shallow league the greatest value goes to the most irreplaceable players. Mike Trout is the best outfielder out there, by a lot. He is the only irreplaceable outfielder, and as such is paid a premium (which is what you get when you’re the first draft pick). You don’t want to trade him. Ever. Unless the bounty you reap means you don’t have to ask anyone else whether it makes sense.

Plus, Pedro Alvarez is a third baseman. He’s not an irreplaceable third baseman, per se, but with Ryan Zimmerman and Adrian Beltre on the DL, Alvarez ranks as one of the top six or eight third basemen. He will hit a lot of homers. Since you don’t say how you would replace him it’s hard to judge totally, but in general Alvarez earns a little premium, too, for his position.

Which is not to run down Ellsbury and Stanton, both of whom have plenty of skills. They could conceivably earn more than Trout and Alvarez in any given year, though again, without a discussion of who plays 3B for you it’s hard to figure this. But neither Ellsbury nor Stanton is irreplaceable.

Don’t do it.

ASK ROTOMAN: Austin Jackson for Khris Davis? I want power.

Dear Rotoman:

12 team dynasty, standard 5×5 roto. I’m trying to upgrade OF and HR. Current OF Ryan Braun, Austin Jackson, Adam Eaton, Brett Gardener, Avisail Garcia, Nic Markakis. Can also use Gattis (have 2 other catchers-Santana &Ramos) and Craig in OF. Can keep 5 OF plus prospects with less than 131 AB. In that category I have Springer, Polanco & Castellanos. I am thinking I should trade runs/SB for some HR. Would you trade A. Jackson for  Khris Davis to accomplish this. If not him any of my of OF? Thanks.

“Khris with a K”

khrisdavisOh K:

I can’t tell whether it’s a good idea to trade speed for power, there are just too many variables at play (who is available as a free agent, how the other teams in your league are set up, who your other position players are). But we can look at Khris Davis versus Austin Jackson, who might be expendable because you have decent speed in Brett Gardner and Adam Eaton.

The biggest problem is that Jackson hasn’t been a speed guy since 2011. So what you’re offering is a guy with modest power and decent on-base skills for an oldish fella (he’s 10 months younger than Jackson) coming off a rookie season in which he showed prodigious power—but a tendency to strike out. The mechanical projection in this year’s Guide is for him to continue to hit for power and even maintain the strong BA, which could happen but is really a mistake. We haven’t seen what happens to him when teams face him a second time and adjust.

My scouting sense says there’s a good chance he’ll still hit homers, but he’ll also strike out more and his batting average will plummet. And since he’s not much of a defensive player, that will lead to a platoon or reserve role. I wouldn’t mind having a cheap Davis, a lottery ticket (maybe he will adjust, too), but especially in a mixed league it’s hard to see him having any auction value.

So no, while adding power is always a good goal, and Austin Jackson isn’t rounding out into the player we thought he’d be, I wouldn’t deal any of your guys for Davis.



ASK ROTOMAN: Rime or Reason of the Right-handed Mariner

Q: I need starting pitching (Sale, Cobb, Roberto Hernandez, Wade Davis, and Esmil Rogers) and have a pretty balanced team offensively. I was offered Hisashi Iwakuma for either Alexei Ramirez or Shane Victorino. I’m inclined to do Ramirez even though I don’t have a ton of speed. The only thing holding me back is Iwakuma’s last bunch of starts in which he’s been giving up a lot of home runs. Would you do this in an AL 5×5 league?

A:: Iwakuma is on pace for a $30+ year, while both Ramirez and Victorino are clocking less than $20. On pure value I think you should make the deal. There is always the chance that a pitcher is going to run out of gas, and Iwakuma has now pitched more innings this year than he did last year. He’s not a stone lock to dominate the rest of the way.

But the fact of the matter is that the homers Iwakuma has allowed this month were to Adrian Beltre (2) in Texas, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mark Trumbo. Those are three tough offensive teams and some tough hitters. I think you can cut him some slack on that one.

And a guy who has pitched as well as Iwakuma has the last 400 days or so (maybe the best pitcher in baseball over that span) can’t usually be had for Alexei Ramirez or Shane Victorino. So, I think you have to do it if you need pitching and can afford to give up the steals (maybe even dump the category). There’s no guarantee, but there’s not enough evidence against him to ignore how effective he’s been (and even if he falls off a fair amount he’ll be worth more than those guys).

If you trade Ramirez, Victoryno should be yours.

ASK ROTOMAN: Four-Letter Players Starting With C

Dear Rotoman:

I’m in a points league, head-to-head just like fantasy football. Pitchers obviously get you more points, but would you trade away Cano to get Cain? I’m on the fence on this one.

“Tough Cs”

Dear TC:

The only way to give you a definitive answer is to understand how points are scored in your league and what the roster requirements are for your team.

But I can say that, just like in fantasy football, the gross number of points isn’t the important thing. Quarterbacks generally score more points than other positions, but the difference between the average QB and the replacement QB is generally less than the difference between the average RB and the the replacement RB.

You have the same issue here. What you have to determine is how many more points Matt Cain will score versus the pitcher who takes his place, then compare that to the difference between Robinson Cano and the second baseman who would replace him.

Without knowing your league settings I can’t tell you who rates better. And without knowing the makeup of your team (do you have a strong squad of hitters now, so you can afford to take a little hit to improve your pitching staff) it’s equally difficult to give you a definitive answer. But if you think about it this way I suspect an answer will become quickly obvious (or this really is a close call).

Until then, I’ll say: Cano.


Bonus Link: My friend Todd Zola has written the primer-to-end-all-primers on Head to Head Points over at ESPN. It looks like you need to be an Insider, but I include it here in case you are an Insider, or maybe you don’t need to be.