Ask Rotoman: Help! Keepers and Trade Possibilities

I recently purchased your magazine and I was looking over some auction values. I have a 2-part question. This is for a 14 team 5X5 Roto league, $260 budget. We can keep 7 players, but we don’t have to use all 7 spots.

Part 1: Which keepers would you go with:

Luis Robert-$21
Yordan Alvarez-$21
Robbie Ray- $7
Zach Wheeler- $16
Jonathan India- $11
Hunter Renfroe- $7
CJ Cron- $8
Frankie Montas- $19

Part 2: There are 2 potential trades I can make, would you do either or both if I can pull them off? Which would you prefer if you like both?

Send: $7 Robbie Ray and $7 Hunter Renfroe or $8 CJ Cron for $33 Trea Turne

Send: $7 Hunter Renfroe or $8 CJ Cron for $26 Trevor Story

I feel like I am trying to compensate for my lack of steals with my keepers. But, I can trade in this league if I am behind in steals mid-way.

I am really enjoying the magazine, thank you!
A Fan

Dear Fan:

The important thing to note about the prices in The Guide is they are scaled to 24 team mixed leagues, a much different universe than a 14 team mixed league.

The difference is dramatic. In a 24-team mixed league, CJ Cron is a $14 player. That means he’s a hair above average in value for an only league fantasy league. But overall he ranks about 25th at first base and around 50th at corner infield. That means Cron would be one of the last corners taken in a league your size, giving him a price of $2. Or $4 if you really like him.

Hunter Renfroe is in the same situation. He’s about 80th among outfielders. A 14-team mixed league takes 5 x 14 = 70 outfielders. Given multiposition and utility Renfroe could be an endgame steal, but you should not freeze him for $7.

The good news here is if you can trade Robbie Ray and Cron for Trea Turner, you hit the jackpot. Ray’s price is really good, but he doesn’t yet count as a solid starter. Trea Turner is a unique talent, the sort you want to roster in a shallow mixed league. You could lose this deal. Ray could be as good as last year and Turner is coming off a career year, he may not perform at such heights this year. But I think you start better putting together a winning team having Turner at $33 than Ray and Cron at $7 and $8 respectively.

As for Renfroe for Trevor Story, I’m a big Story fan. Or maybe I should say I was. He’s coming off a down year, he could be leaving Colorado, and he’s getting older. He’s way better than Renfroe, but at more than three times the cost, I don’t think I’d deal unless you expect many shortstops to be kept by other teams. You’re not keeping Renfroe, but the only reason to keep Story at his price is if you think he’s going to cost more on draft day.

If he is, jump in. But I suspect he won’t.

Good luck,

Trade Talk

Q: Should I trade Mitch Garver for Dansby Swanson in a straight trade? Seems a little light to me. I have two other startable catchers.

A: I like Swanson. They both earned the same last year. Garver was a career year. Swanson, probably not. Better could come. Have no idea if you could do better for Garver, who did hit a ton of homers in limited AB, but if you can’t Swanson is a good match I think.

Ask Rotoman: Two Fer Two Trade

Ask Rotoman: Hey hope all is well. Love the articles!!

I am in a 10 team NL-only 5×5 league. I was offered Starling Marte and Archie Bradley for Sonny Grey and Ben Zobrist. Should I jump on it?? Should I stay away from Marte?? Thanks!!

“Contusion Confusion”

Hey CC:

All is good here. Thanks for the question.

I’d say about 100 percent of your question turns on how hurt Marte is. We don’t have a definitive answer, but after running into Erik Gonzalez last week Marte has resumed some baseball activities. Does that mean he’s due back soon? No.

But it does mean that there is a timeline for him coming back. Since he’s a bit of a star that’s important, because the other guys in your deal are not stars. An Archie Bradley who isn’t closing is a fill in type. Not a bad pitcher, but someone you’re looking to replace if you have him active.

As for Sonny Grey, so far so good. Right now he’s pitching like the front line pitcher he was a few years ago. If he continues with that he could be worth Marte, who is a front line hitter (when he gets over the injury). Are you going to bet he continues with that?

As far as Zobrist goes, he’s the bat side equivalent of Archie Bradley. Useful in an NL only league, but less so in a 10 team edition.

In conclusion. Starling Marte in a hot month or two could produce more than the other three combined over the whole season. Or not, but I think that’s the bet you want to take.


Ask Rotoman: Should I Trade Mookie Betts?

Dear Rotoman:

I’m in a dynasty H2H total points based. Got a trade offer.

Juan Soto. Jon Lester. Blake Snell. Pick 29 and Pick 53 for

Mookie Betts. Mike Clevinger and Pick 42.

It’s a 12 team league on we are on year eight. My starting line up is:

Bats…S Perez C…J Bell 1B…Baez 2B…J Rameriz 3B…Machado SS…Betts. Acuna. Braun OF… N Cruz DH
Pitchers…Tanaka. Bumgarner. Clevinger. Buehler. Porcello

I dont have much depth and close to the cap. I’ll drop braun and I have Cueto I can easily drop to make room. Thoughts on the deal, I could use the advice on this one please.

“Blockbuster Made or Averted?”

Dear Blockbuster:

This is a big deal, and without knowing your categories, how big your roster is, how weak your depth actually is, and if that matters, it’s hard to be definitive. What I know is this:

  1. Juan Soto is not as valuable as Mookie Betts, because he won’t run as much, and because he’s had one amazing partial season, while Mookie has proven he’s a Top 5 player.
  2. Blake Snell is probably equally better than Mike Clevinger as Mookie is better than Soto. So these two pieces wash. If you had enough hitting and needed pitching, that’s a deal you might do reasonably. Since it looks like you have hitting and need pitching, that’s an argument for it.

The rest of the trade has you giving up Pick 42 and getting Pick 29 and Pick 53 plus Jon Lester, who is not a sure thing to be excellent, but has a decent chance of it. In a league with as many keepers as your teams seem to have, there is very little difference between picks 29, 42 and 53, and you get two for the price of one. Since Lester is better than Cueto, who is going to miss the whole year, he’s a bonus.

Could you lose this trade? Certainly. My rule of thumb is don’t give up the best player in a deal in return for depth, especially in shallow leagues, where only the very best players are much above replacement level, but I like Snell enough this year (I like Clevinger, too, but not quite as much) that the core is a solid pitching for hitting deal, and the add ins are a bonus.

Go forth and multiply,


Ask Rotoman: Dump Trade Blues!


Is this trade something that should go through?

Four-keeper-league. Player that is in contention trades B. Snell ($4) next year for J. Votto and Y. Tomas. The team getting Snell has at least six better keeper options for next year and can only keep four.

Am I right to be pissed about this? I don’t like vetoing trades but this is kind of out there right?

“Snelly Deal”

Dear Snelly,

One of the prime reality distortion fields (RDF) covers a league leader who sees an opponent get key pieces for something he sees as marginal. So here’s my question:

Is Snell really his seventh best keeper on the team that traded away Votto and Tomas?

The follow up question:

Does the team that traded away Votto and Tomas think Snell is his seventh best keeper?

I have no way of knowing the answer to either of these questions, but the only way for you to pull back the RDF is to honestly evaluate them.

If your answers are Yes to the first question and No to the second, you then have to ask:

Is there some sort of collusion going on?

If not, then you have to ask:

Is this guy an idiot?

If the answer to either of those questions is Yes, it might make sense to challenge the trade. In the case of collusion, it is imperative. But in my experience almost all trades that are looked at as fatally imbalanced look that way because the evaluator isn’t looking at the goals of the involved teams accurately.

I would talk to the team that dealt away Votto and Tomas, and find out what he’s thinking. You shouldn’t have to agree with him to decide whether his side of the story is at all valid. Chances are it is, even if you don’t like it.



PS. I would surely like to have Snell next year at $4 in an AL league, and would be happy to have him at that price in a Mixed league.

ASK ROTOMAN: Trade Josh Donaldson for Kris Bryant and Jeurys Familia?

We can keep 6 players in a mixed keeper league. $260.. My first three are Mike Trout ($18), Bryce Harper($27), Josh Donaldson ($14) are no brainers. Curious to get your opinion on the final three…

Joe Panik ($4), David Price ($29), Zack Greinke ($20), Dellin Betances ($11), Mark Melancon ($15), Luis Severino ($8). Also I have been offered a trade , Kris Bryant ($8) and Jeurys Familia ($7) for Donaldson. What do you think.

“Keep Trouble”

I think you have four good keeps, they are your top three plus Greinke.

I was in a mixed auction this week and all the other players on your list came in below your prices. Draft inflation can drive those values up, and no two mixed auction leagues are alike, so you can justify keeping guys you like at okay prices. Panik went for $4 in my auction, so he is keepable. But he’s not a good keep.

Which is why you might want to the two for one deal.

Donaldson is a great keep. Bryant is cheaper, but he’s not as valuable this year. He’s a solid freeze, in terms of value, but a less certain player, but add Familia and you have a nicely-priced closer. The key question is how much closers will cost in your auction.

Saving a few dollars on one closer is a value, but if other closers not quite as good go for $4 or $6, as some did in that auction I was in, your keep might cost you an opportunity at a better price. In which case you’re probably best not making the trade.

But Bryant is an exciting young player at an exciting your price, so out with the old Donaldson, in with him and Familia, and keep Greinke and Panik. No panic.


ASK ROTOMAN: Quantity Quality for Quality Quality?


Would you trade Shelby Miller and Sonny Gray for Clayton Kershaw?

“Arms Race”

Dear AR:

There is no answer to this question. No thoughtful answer, anyway. You’ve left out an important component: Who replaces Gray when Kershaw replaces Miller?

Without that piece of information it’s impossible to judge the wisdom of this deal. The answer is different if the missing sub is Mark Buehrle or Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon or Jose Fernandez. See what I mean.

Or, since you asked what I would do, I would trade Miller and Gray for Kershaw because I’ve got Jordan Zimmermann on reserve right now. But I don’t know what you’ve got.

But let’s say you don’t have JZ on reserve. Let’s say you would acquire Kershaw and replace Gray with a replacement value starter. That’s a $1 player, expected to earn $1. If that’s the case than you would want Kershaw to be better than the Miller and Gray combined.

So far this year that’s not the case. So far this year Gray is on pace to earn $40 and Miller is on pace to earn $44, while Kershaw is on pace to earn $16.

But you’re not buying pace in your trade, you’re buying future performance. Preseason expectations for the three were starkly different. Tout Wars Mixed Auction paid $36 for Kershaw, and $17 combined for Gray and Miller.

So, you have three questions to answer:

Clayton-Kershaw1Can Kershaw return to form? Of course he can. He’s throwing about as well as he has in the past, but he’s allowed homers on fly balls at twice the rate as last year, and well above his career mark. Still, he’s allowed six homers in 60 or so innings. Last year he allowed nine in 190. That costs runs. He still excels in every category except BABIP. There is some speculation he’s tipping his pitches. There is other talk that he’s throwing too many first pitch strikes, and hitters are swinging earlier in the count to avoid the slider. Hard to say for sure, but both of those things are both small potatoes and fixable. He’ll be fine.

How good is Sonny Gray? Good, but not quite this good. He’s a ground ball pitcher, so it isn’t surprising he hasn’t allowed many homers. But he’s allowed homers on only three percent of fly balls. That number is lower than Kershaw’s rate last year, and should rise to closer to 10 percent. With homers, again, come runs allowed, and the ERA and Ratio will go up.  Gray looks to me like a $25-30 pitcher, which is plenty good.

And what the heck is up with Miller? I’ve often wondered why people give Miller such a bum rap, and have been pleased that so far he’s been showing that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. But it isn’t really true, I’m afraid to say. Nick Lampe at Beyond the Boxscore does a good job of killing the straw man of Shelby Miller’s Cy Young Award candidacy this year, one I wasn’t arguing for, but what matters to you is whether Miller can sustain his $40 season, or whether he’s going to regress to the $2 expectations. Like Kershaw and Gray, Miller hasn’t allowed many fly balls. He’s also allowing few line drives and is getting lots more soft contact than ever before. We don’t know if that’s because he’s taking a new approach or getting better results with his old approach. He changed teams in the offseason and is working with new coaches, which can sometimes make a difference. He’s throwing more cutters and fewer curve balls, which can make a difference, too. Still, he’s not an elite strikeout guy and his control is fine, not great. Even if he gets lots of ground balls, as he has been, he’s going to give up more runs. But that might make him a $15 to $20 pitcher the rest of the way.

Hmm. $25 for Gray plus $15 for Miller equals $40 for Kershaw. If you have a strong replacement for Miller, make the trade. If not, you’re likely treading water unless you land a waiver wire find.



ASK ROTOMAN: Shining A Macho Light on Yasiel Puig

Dear Rotoman:

In a 5×5 12-team mixed-keeper league with five keepers where you can keep a player for up to three years, would you make the following deal:

I trade an extra 5th round pick and release either Manny Machado (2yrs left), Jorge Soler (3 yrs left) or Xander Bogaerts (3 yrs left).

And I get Puig with 2 years remaining.

Is giving up one of my fifth round picks and one of those players worth 2 years of Puig?


Dear P:
I have one hand tied behind my back because I have no idea what the value of a fifth round pick is. If all 12 teams keep five players, that’s 60 players gone. Another four rounds gone is 48 players, which would mean the fifth pick would be somewhere between the 108 and 120th best player.

Based on the consensus Average Draft Position at, that would be a player like JD Martinez or Mookie Betts, Lance Lynn or Steve Cishek.

Yasiel_Puig_2Puig is ranked 24th in the consensus ADP, while Machado is 138th, Soler is 111th, and Bogaerts is 182nd.

It isn’t clear to me what you get back for that fifth pick, but even if it was the 23rd round pick, I think you would prefer Puig and the 23rd round pick to Bogaerts and JD Martinez or Mark Trumbo.

Remember, the rule of thumb is, you almost always want to be on the side of the trade that gets the best player, especially in a relatively shallow league, as a 12 team mixed is.




When Win-Win Becomes Lose-Meh

We make trades trying to get an edge for ourselves, but since the other guy is also trying to get an edge what we hope for is a Win-Win scenario. Both teams get what they need. Very nice, and all that, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Rafael Soriano’s meltdown in last night’s Nationals game caused me to revisit a trade I made in Tout NL with Brian Walton at the end of July. Brian, in fact, took possession of Rafael Soriano on July 28th, the same day I took possession of Eric Young Jr.

Soriano had a 1.10 ERA and .902 WHIP going into that night’s play.

Young was averaging 50 AB and 6 SB per month on the season, though he had been slightly more productive when active because he missed time on the DL in June. In July, up to the point of the trade, he had 38 PA and 5 steals.

To set the context, Brian and I were virtually tied in Saves, each with one closer, at the bottom of the pile. The idea was that whichever of us got two closers would be sure to gain at least a few points in Saves. I was ahead of Brian, so I wanted him to trade me his closer, but he wasn’t interested in my starting pitchers (other than Bumgarner, who I wasn’t trading), and all my hitters were hurt. I needed steals (and Runs and RBI) and Brian had a big lead. It wasn’t perfect for me, but it seemed fair on the points potential, Soriano for Young, and, more to the point, something had to be done.

If I got a steal for every save I lost I would have been happy.

The night of July 28, Soriano allowed 4 runs and blew the save and Eric Young did not play. And that’s the way it’s gone for both ever since.

Since Walton acquired Soriano he’s won 2, saved 6, with an 8.22 ERA and 1.786 WHIP. He has struck out 15 in 15.1 innings.

Since I acquired Eric Young he’s had just 24 AB and stolen 2 bases, with 3 runs and 2 RBI. Yawn!

What-if scenarios are tricky, but to assess it roughly, if I had kept Soriano I would have one half point more in saves (tied with Walton, instead of 12 behind), and at least one fewer point in ERA and WHIP, and my hitting would be the same, except I’d be five behind the two guys ahead of me in steals, instead of three.

Brian has gained one and  a half points in Saves, and Soriano’s terribleness may not have cost him points in ERA and WHIP, but that’s because he’s so low in the standings in those cats (and he remains in first in steals).

He wins the deal, but not in the way either of us expected.