Catcher Auction Values…To Bid or Not To Bid

This is the first in the series of auction values that will correlate with the consensus picks at each position here on Fantasy Assembly.  The values you will see here are for a 12 team, 23 player, 2 catcher redraft league.  I assigned values to all players based upon what I think they should go for in an auction.  The numbers add up to 3,120 as the budget is $260 per team.  After a few revisions, the split ended up 65% hitting and 35% pitching.

I also had to pick the number of starters and relievers to include so I went with 6 starters and 3 relievers per team.  It is impossible to account for a few teams doing otherwise.  The same will go for who gets drafted in Corner, Middle and Utility spots.  There will be players bid on that don’t have values and vice versa, but these are usually the low unit, fill out your roster type players like Brian McCann.

Catcher is definitely the weakest position, and the auction values go along with that.  My home league has gone to one catcher. We felt that since the second catcher is usually worth only a unit, let’s add a 10th pitcher instead.  So the dilemma in an auction, 2 catcher leagues is…to bid or not to bid.

Last year Gary Sanchez easily garnered the most interest, followed by Buster Posey and Willson Contreras.  Sanchez’s injuries and production disappointed. He hit 18 homers, but his sub .200 BA was a killer. Posey only hit 5 dingers.  Contreras’ numbers were almost identical to those of Tucker Barnhart who probably was drafted for only a unit or two, if at all.

So what do you do?  It’s a similar thought process in a snake draft league.  Do you go early for a good catcher, leaving you vulnerable at other positions, or do you wait til the end and fill out your roster with catchers that just won’t hurt you?   There is a tier of catchers that are worth spending some money on, but after that they are all about the same and shouldn’t garner more than a 2 unit bid.  Why two?  If you like a specific one unit catcher and someone else calls out his name, you’ll have to go to 2 or more to get him.  Always have a few options ready to go for the “fill the roster” type players at the end of the auction.  If the unit is worth more spent elsewhere, then pivot to another catcher that you can get for a unit.

There is also more risk in going after expensive catchers when it comes to injuries.  The replacement value of what can be picked up on the waiver wire is so bad that losing Realmuto, Sanchez, Perez, Grandal, etc. can be a killer.  Spending a lot on the catcher position gives you a leg up on the competition at that position as it is so shallow, but it’s a risky ordeal.

There were only 10 catchers who had over 400 ABs last year, and only one of them had over 500 (barely at 510 for Salvador Perez). If you can get one of the top 12 at a bargain then it may be worth it, or you can sit back and wait towards the end and only spend 2-4 units on the position shoring up the rest of your team with players that get more at bats or by getting better pitchers.  It is also a place that you can take some risk with rostering a rookie or a new acquisition who will have a starting job for the first time, and if it doesn’t work out, the replacement player won’t be so far off in value.

I only have 3 catchers valued at over 10 units.  Sanchez can be an absolute bargain with his potential, but I don’t see any one else in this group doing any more than you think they will.  Catcher is a position I draft for their floor and not their upside because there is very limited upside to all of them.  Spending a little more than what I have here for the likes of Contreras, Ramos, Grandal (whose value definitely increased with his signing with Milwaukee) and Perez is reasonable, but you will be hurting yourself when it comes to getting a few bargains in the latter part of the auction when you need those 2 or 3 units to outbid someone on that closer that everyone passed on.  Last year I was bidding on Molina, and after I bid 7 the crickets arrived.  I was happy with the price. He wasn’t who I had in mind when I prepared for the draft, but at that price I was happy.  Always be prepared to pivot off your targets.  Bargains appear all the time, and knowing when to snag one is essential to a successful auction.

The consensus Fantasy Assembly rankings are as follows along with my auction values.  As you can see, they do not exactly match up.  The values are what I think each player should go for in an auction.  It’s up to you, as I’ve said, to do this exercise for your league, but this will give you a head start at what I think is a reasonable amount to pay for each of these catchers.

NOTE: Auction Values updated 3/8

FA Rank   –   Player   –   Auction Value
1 J.T. Realmuto 21
2 Gary Sanchez 18
3 Wilson Ramos 11
4 Willson Contreras 10
5 Buster Posey 10
6 Yasmani Grandal 9
7 Yadier Molina 8
8 Danny Jansen 3
9 Wellington Castillo 3
10 Mike Zunino 3
11 Francisco Mejia 2
12 Jorge Alfaro 2
13 Tucker Barnhart 2
14 Francisco Cervelli 1
15 Robinson Chirinos 1
16 Yan Gomes 1
17 Omar Narvaez 1
18 Kurt Suzuki 1
19 Austin Hedges 1
20 Mitch Garver 1
21 Manny Pina 1
22 Tyler Flowers 1
23 Chris Iannetta 1
24 Willians Astudillo 1

I am very conservative in my catcher values.  I believe the inherent risk in all of these players keeps their values down.  The only player on this list that may go for significantly more is Gary Sanchez depending upon your league.  There is no way I’m paying up for someone who hit below the Mendoza line last year.

The Grandal signing gave his value a boost (these rankings were tabulated before his signing). I’d drop Manny Pina from this list and add Austin Barnes who, with dual position eligibility and a time share with another sub Mendoza line player (Russell Martin), definitely has some value.

Remember, if you like someone else off of this list, that’s fine.  Just don’t pay more than a unit or two for him.  In a two catcher league I’m trying to get any of the top 10 at cost or lower, and then filling out the position with a one unit player that won’t hurt me, because at catcher, there are many who can.

There are some timeshares here.  Suzuki/Gomes, Mejia/Hedges, Castro/Garver/Astudillo.  Limited ABs. Limited chance at upside. Worth more than a unit? Up to you. Want to take a chance? With Russell Martin gone, Danny Jansen becomes a commodity if he garners the majority of playing time in Toronto.  Astudillo has garnered some preseason hype, but Jason Castro returns and Garver showed some value last year so be careful when bidding.  Doubt the Twins will carry 3 catchers.

The catching position is filled with landmines.  Just avoid getting blown up.

Auction Values
First BaseSecond Base – Third BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelievers


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Andy Spiteri

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Playing fantasy sports since 1991 when you got your stats in the mail on Thursdays...Husband and father of two. I put people to sleep for a living. Mets, NY Rangers and Eagles/Jets (a product of being born in NYC but living in Bucks County PA for 20 years) fan. Home league baseball auction is top 5 day of the year!