ASK ROTOMAN: Rendon for One Year, or McCullers for Two?

12 team league. Keepers are kept in round drafted for a max of 3 years. My set Keepers are Rizzo (1st), J. Fernandez (8), and Correa (22). I need to pick 2 of these last 3.

Rendon (21st Round, 1 year left)

McCullers (23rd Round, 2 years left)

C. Martinez (23rd Round, 2 years left)

Who do you like?


Dear H:

Of these six players you have five excellent freezes. That is, guys who are cheap! The one exception is Anthony Rizzo, who is a first round keeper at a first round price.

Now, that isn’t to say he isn’t a good keeper, but because of this and the fineness of your other five picks, he’s the one I would first look at closely.

Who would you be able to get with your first pick if you didn’t keep Rizzo? If everyone else is keeping their first round picks, you might be able to make your first pick Rizzo, which would be like having six keepers!

There’s no way for me to know how this games out, but while Rizzo is your best player he is the one with the least amount of extra value.

(Note: In auction leagues you would also have to consider how much higher your opponents would bid up Rizzo because of inflation, but that is not a factor in draft leagues. Your only question is who will be available to you for your first round pick if you throw Rizzo back.)

If, for some reason, you judge it is best to hold onto Rizzo,  as well as Correa and Fernandez, then your choice is indeed between the three you list above. They clearly rank Rendon, Martinez, McCulllers (partly because of inexperience and partly because he’s likely to pitch fewer innings this year), which makes the question, would you rather have two years of McCullers or one year of Rendon and your best late-round find this year?

I’m sure there’s a way to tease the math, to look at two year projections for McCullers, to scale up Rendon’s injury risk, and prove that two years of McCullers is the better deal. But the bottom line in shallow league valuations is that with such high replacement-value players available, it’s okay to take on the injury risk and go for the higher impact player. Rendon comes with some risk, but he’s a high-octane hitter in the middle infield, a much more valuable piece this year who will allow you (force you) to find another similar gem next year.

As much as I love McCullers’ arm, he’s the one to cut loose if you’re sure that Rizzo is a good keep in your league.