Predicting Value: Wheeling and Dealing

Posted by: Michael Frost

Opening day has finally arrived and baseball season is underway! Now that you have your team ready to go it’s time to actively try to find any edge you can over the rest of your league. But how? Well, I thought I would try a somewhat unique approach to how you may be managing your team.

Below I have created two categories of players that require similar yet different actions. The first list contains players that, if they start off red-hot in April or even only the first couple of weeks, you should consider selling high as soon as possible. The second list is players that if they start the season off poorly or horribly, I would consider not wasting any more of your time on them and you should outright drop them.

Sell high list: I would consider trading the following players if they start hot. I would probably aim for guys that are under performing that you may think can turn it on or around at any point.

Carlos Gonzalez – He should do well and will probably start the season off outplaying his pre-draft ranking to the tune of a top 25 player. If he does this in April I would trade him for a top 50 or better player. You might even be able to land another top 25 player in return for him, but don’t hold out too long or you could end up with nothing to show for him if a DL stint occurs.

Troy Tulowitzki – Much like CarGo, I place Tulo high on my trade bait list. The difference here is it takes great discipline to sell this guy high due to his amazing talent at a hard to replace position, but keep reality in mind and count on him missing some time and take this into consideration. If he starts anywhere close to where he did last season, you will have teams drooling and jumping on top of each other to make a deal for this guy. Take advantage of that fact and grab a couple of top 25 players if you can.

Matt Harvey – If this guy approaches Felix Hernandez like numbers by the end of April, I would sell him immediately; as in, trade him no later than May 1. I know you can still get 3 or 4 more solid months out of him, but that is kind of the problem, you will only get 3 or 4 more months out of him. Expect him to be shut down after 160ish innings of work; that puts him at around an August expiration date. You may try to hold on to him until sometime in June or July.  The problem is as soon as May hits, writers are going to start forecasting his time line; that will remind your league mates of his potential shutdown and reduce his trade value.

Chris Davis – If Chris can pull off a monster April, sell him. Don’t hesitate. Do it. The chances of him doing what he did two years ago are a pipe dream. I would count on him rebounding some from last year, but his AVG will still leave something to be desired. If he plays big in April, use it to your advantage.

Drew Pomeranz – I know, he looks out-of-place here, but I would pick him up for April if you have room with the sole intention of cashing in on him after a month. He doesn’t pitch deep into games and batters tend to figure him out after they learn he’s pretty much a one trick pony. Capitalize on this and turn it into a profit.  If all goes well, you can land someone in the top 100-150 range.

Other sell high names to consider if they perform well in April:

Ryan Braun
Dustin Pedroia
Matt Kemp
Prince Fielder
Masahiro Tanaka
Nelson Cruz
Jered Weaver
Adam Wainwright
Yoenis Cespedes
Yordano Ventura
Evan Gattis
Dallas Keuchel
Matt Shoemaker
Albert Pujols

Drop the Funk: Let me start this part off by saying, these guys were worth drafting for one reason or another, so there is value in them. But if you did take on the risk and drafted one or more of these guys with hopes they would continue producing or rebound to help you team go that extra mile, be very cautious. They may not rebound this year – or ever for that matter, so you should not get too attached or wait too long as it could kill your team. Drop these guys without a second thought if they fail to do anything by May.

Danny Santana – Granted Santana is certainly not a rebound candidate by any means. In fact, most are calling for regression. The problem is, he will be at shortstop this year and is pretty horrific defensively at that position. With no room in the outfield for him, Santana is x number of errors and x number of hit-less games away from being demoted. Don’t take too long waiting to see if he pans out this year before finding his replacement. The Twins certainly won’t.

Yasmani Tomas – Coincidentally, the day I started writing this article, Tomas was optioned to Triple A. I had this big spiel written up about how he isn’t MLB worthy and then Arizona did what I had expected to happen a month from now. I’ll leave his name on here in the off-chance you still own him and have high hopes. He is more hype than he is worth, drop him and find somebody else.

Gregory Polanco – Polanco should have a better year than last year, and he is very talented. But don’t let him hurt your team until you start to see positive results. I would probably give him a longer bench leash than many of the other names on this list, but only by a few weeks at most. Leave him on your bench until at least the end of April and see how he plays in May. If he hasn’t given your confidence to play by mid-May, I would consider moving on.

Here are some more names you might want to carefully consider dropping if they do not start to live up to expectations after 4-6 weeks:

Derek Holland
James Paxton
Starlin Castro
Homer Bailey
Jason Hammel
Yasmani Grandal
Eric Hosmer
Daniel Murphy
CC Sabathia
Shelby Miller
Yovani Gallardo
Matt Cain
Justin Verlander
Jay Bruce
Elvis Andrus
Dee Gordon
Jean Segura
R.A. Dickey
Shin-Soo Choo
Wil Myers

With those things in mind, I also included a few names that may start off slow but then pick up steam after April. If after a month you find yourself in some big need for more pop, you might want to consider looking at these guys for some help. Whether you already have one on your roster and are beginning to lose patience, they are on other teams, or they are out there on the free agent list, you should consider giving these guys a little more slack than you might normally give players. Just also understand they come with their own baggage even when they do perform.

Chris Carter
Pedro Alvarez
Matt Adams
J.J. Hardy

Lastly, if you have room on your roster, I would highly recommend adding any and all of these guys to at least your bench – Immediately.

Archie Bradley – Made Arizona’s starting rotation and will get his chance to show his stuff in the Majors. This will be your only chance to get him at zero cost if he does well.

Micah Johnson – Making the White Sox opening day roster after winning out the fight for the 2B spot makes him a must add if you are finding yourself short at that position. If he pans out, you are all set for steals and some average. If he doesn’t after a few weeks, then you move on.

Billy Burns – Also made the opening day roster for Oakland as their outfield is currently injury depleted. This guy had nearly 130 steals over two seasons. If he starts off well, the A’s will have a hard time putting him back in the minors and if that happens, it will already be too late to add this speedster to your team.

Nathan Eovaldi – I’ve heard and read some things that the Yankees like what they see with Eovaldi since he moved from Miami. He showed flashes of excellence last year, if he can gain some consistency in the Big Apple, you may wish you had noticed him earlier. I’m more interested in Bradley and Burns for the moment, but I am still going to be watching Eovaldi as well, just in case.

Dalton Pompey – Blue Jay outfield speedster that made the cut for opening day may pleasantly surprise some of us. I have him on my team just in case.

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