Buy Low Sell High: Trout Fishing

We are now in the middle of June which means fantasy owners should have a pretty good idea where their team stands. Some teams are sitting pretty atop of the league with little to no concerns. Many are sitting right below just looking for that something extra to give them that push they need. Even those teams at the bottom are not that far off, and could even make a run at a playoff spot with a few savvy transactions.

While making that key addition can help elevate your team, fantasy owners should also be looking at those players on their team who may have either reached their peak or are playing well above their statistical head. Now might be an ideal time to cash in on these players good fortune – and in turn net yourself a player (or two) who is either a more stable option or someone whose best numbers still lie ahead.

With the dog days of summer approaching, the trade desk is now open.

Sell High

Mike Trout – Angels

How can you sell high if he’s hurt you ask? Trust me, I’ve seen some silly trades made. Mike Trout IS the best player in any format when he’s healthy, but it is closer in some formats than others. And it’s not like he’s a lock to be the #1 player; he is just almost assured to be in the Top-5 or so. That’s what you pay for.

In a points format you could definitely argue Arenado or Kershaw. You could also argue Donaldson when he is healthy as well Harper if you view last year as something he deserves a quick mulligan for. For roto and category, I would say that you can argue Altuve as the best player because of the speed, batting average, and position.

Some trade examples that I have seen in very competitive leagues:

  • Trout for Altuve and Sale
  • Trout for Arenado
  • Trout for Votto and Conforto

The name value that Trout carries is immense. Even on the shelf you can command a monster asking price. I recommend at least testing the market in any re-draft league. It’s a major injury as well, and there’s no guarantee he returns to normal Mike Trout level production right away. He might, but there is a better than average chance he will not.

Keeper and Dynasty changes the conversation a bit as he is still so young. Even there I’d see if I could get back some big time pieces that aren’t too long in the tooth. There’s no need to include numbers here as we all know Trout awesome.

Andrew McCutchen – Pirates

I would personally sell really low here, but maybe you won’t have to. McCutchen recently had a little bit of a hot streak, and there are definitely some Cutch holdouts who just keep praying he’ll return to stud status. Still others think the peripherals suggest positive regression. They might see a .290 BABIP that is almost 30 points below his career average, but overlook the fact he is producing the best contact rate he has had in several years. They may even see that he has six steals which is equal to his 2016 total.

Normally I would be one of those guys – pointing at the numbers and promising he’ll turn it around. But not today, not with 2017 Cutch. I would sell the ever-loving crap out of Cutch if I owned him, and it would not take much to pry him from me – you should be aiming a little higher than I would, though.

Watching him play, he just looks done. His range in the outfield is terrible and is hurting his pitchers, and he’s not driving the ball how he used to at the plate. Sure he has six steals, but he has also been caught seven times! And to back my eye up with some numbers, he has a career high ground ball percentage (40.8%). He’s still hitting the ball hard, but not as hard as he used to and nearly identical to last year’s disappointing season.

I legitimately only view him as a top-40 outfielder in roto/cats and maybe a top-30 in points because of his solid approach.. In my mind he’s basically Brett Gardner at this point, maybe worse. So if you can get better than that in return, I would do it. But maybe you can do even better given his enormous popularity and residual name value from years past.

I’m not sure what Andrew McCutchen will go for in your league, but I might be the lowest analyst in America on him. I’ve only seen him traded once in my dozen or so leagues, and the return was not overwhelming.

  • Andrew McCutchen for Carlos Gonzalez and Addison Reed

I’m actually fine with that, but I bet you can get more in many leagues.

Ryan Braun – Brewers

Braun is kind of a mix of the first two players; he is hurt and he’s old. He is different from Cutch in that he is still very productive when he plays. Like Trout, Braun is injured, and he gets hurt a lot more often than the game’s best player does. Plus, even when Braun is “healthy,” he generally sits at least once per week for  routine maintenance.

Just like McCutchen, there are tons of Braun lovers and he has a lot of name value. Unlike McCutchen, I do think Braun will continue to be good when he plays. I thought his home run rate would regress from last year, but it’s only down a point or so. This also kind of makes sense as he is hitting the ball insanely hard (44.9%) and pulling the ball a lot (50% ) in the very favorable Miller Park.

Do not sell Braun just to sell him. Make no mistake, he is still an asset, but see if you can cash in on his brand value. It should be pretty enticing for the buyer as well given that Braun is about to go out on a rehab assignment. Some deals that I’ve seen for Braun that I like are:

  • Ryan Braun for Michael Conforto and Alex Wood
  • Ryan Braun and Robbie Ray for Mitch Haniger and Jacob deGrom

Buy Low

Jacob deGrom – Mets

Speak of the devil. deGrom has been very frustrating for his owners this year. Like seemingly every other “ace”, deGrom has flashes of brilliance mixed in with some misery. I didn’t get many shares of him as I was scared of by the surgery, but I have traded for him in multiple leagues,

He is throwing harder than he has ever thrown before, averaging 95 MPH. He is also averaging a career high 28.8% K rate. That’s silly good and is backed up by nasty stuff. Additionally, deGrom gets to pitch against the Marlins, Phillies, and currently Freeman-less Braves with great frequency. He has been a WHIP killer and somewhat blowup prone, although many pitchers have been as well. I don’t think he suddenly forgot how to pitch with command – the almost 9.8% walk rate should come down.

I traded for deGrom in 3 leagues, and here is what the deals looked like:

  • Bryce Harper, Matt Moore, and Antonio Senzatela for Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Rick Porcello and Seung-Hwan Oh
  • Robbie Ray for Jacob deGrom
  • Carlos Carrasco for Jacob deGrom and Alex Colome

Happy to hear how you guys feel about these deals as I am probably too close to them. I still believe you should buy confidently in deGrom. With all the injuries and poor performance with pitchers across the league, there’s only 4 or 5 active starters that I’d take over deGrom.

Rick Porcello – Red Sox

One of my league mates calls Rick Porcello, Rick “piss poor cello.” It amuses me, so maybe it will amuse some of you as well. And yes, he’s been pretty bad for the second time in the last three years. There’s no reason to just believe that he is unlucky every other year even though that has been the trend.

I like Porcello in general, but especially in points. For points, I think he has top 20-25 upside, which he obviously showed and then some last year. The Red Sox are a good team to pitch for. The lineup should score plenty, and their outfield, defense, and bullpen are amazing as well.

I really try to avoid BABIP analysis as it is pretty obvious. In Porcello’s case, it bears repeating. He has a .366 BABIP against. That’s insane, and almost 100 points higher than last year and about 50 points from his career norms. Hitters are crushing the ball off of him at an absurd 43.1% hard rate, and some will point at that as reason for the high BABIP. He is also giving up more balls in the air than year’s past (40.8%). This is also not great news.

I’m not saying he’s going to be an ace like he was last year. I have two theories as to what is going on with Porcello.

  1. He is tipping his pitches. It would explain the poor results with what seems like the exact same stuff he has had the past few years. This is also something that can be fixed as it was with teammate Eduardo Rodriguez.
  2. He has just been unlucky. Porcello was really lucky last year, and the pendulum has swung back on him. If that’s the case, we should still expect normalization.

People may be frustrated with him. Heck, I am, and I’m a big supporter, but he’s been driving me crazy. That just means you might be able to acquire him for next to nothing. I’ve seen him dropped in plenty of leagues as well so make an offer.

  • I traded Jeremy Hellickson for him in a league, straight up.

James Paxton – Mariners

I made the bold prediction that big James Paxton would make the leap into fantasy ace-dome this year, and he has largely delivered so far He has electric stuff, a great defense, and a solid pedigree had him continuing his strong results from last year. Then the old injury bug reared its ugly head. That’s scary, especially for a guy with his history. He has also been pretty bad the past two starts not long removed from his DL stint.

Paxton is a risky buy because of the injury risk, but one I’d be willing to take a chance on. I’m not as worried as I could, or maybe should be, about his health since he still looks nasty when you watch him. His velocity is down just a tick, but he is still averaging between 96-97 MPH. That’s not bad for a guy who might be holding himself back a bit after coming off the DL. A 96-97 average is serious cheese for anyone in the league, except maybe Luis Severino these days. He also had 9 swinging strikes in each of the past two games. That’s nothing to sniff at, ever after a couple of bad outings.

I haven’t been able to buy on Paxton yet, but I definitely would. I have seen one trade for him in one of my leagues and I liked it.

  • Robbie Ray and Bud Norris for James Paxton and Alex Colome

Best of luck buying low and selling high.


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Mike Sheehan

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Comedian, Powerlifter, and most importantly a Cum Laude graduate of the fantasy baseball school of hard knocks. Double major in points and categories with a minor in roto. Happy to be doing my Postgraduate work here at the Fantasy Assembly.

One thought on “Buy Low Sell High: Trout Fishing”

  1. Who is going to give you Altuve and Sale for an injured Mike Trout. If he was healthy, it is highly unlikely to fetch two top ten players for Trout. Same for Arenado, he is at worst a top five player and comparable to Trout. You might have been literally high to suggest you could sell high on Trout in those two deals…

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