When evaluating trades in dynasty leagues, it is impossible to consider them in a vacuum. Perspective must always be taken into account, be it a winning or losing team, league size, minor league roster size, scoring system, roster construction or ultimate championship window. For example, a team built to maintain a sustained challenge at the top of a league would be less likely to sell young talent that is major league ready or on the cusp regardless of their current performance as opposed to one that is built to win now or that is unexpectedly punching above its weight class. Such situations create opportunities for rebuilding owners to snap up rising talents or underperformers in exchange for their currently performing players.
In dynasty leagues, the name of the game is asset accumulation. As such, teams are rewarded for hoarding assets, both present and future, and cashing them in when the time is right. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on players that selling/rebuilding teams should look to either buy or sell at the trade deadline in order to bolster the net worth of their roster.
Most of the players seen in this column have been written about by scouts, analysts, and fellow fantasy enthusiasts who are much smarter than I, and as such, will not be discussed in-depth. Additionally, not all situations are equal, as discussed above so a number of the players listed may not (and should not) be available. Lastly, premium players often must be sacrificed in the rebuilding effort, but again those decisions are circumstantial and major ticket players won’t be discussed here, nor will the majority of players who would make ideal targets in the offseason.
Keys to Successful Rebuild:
- Build towards a specific championship window
- Sell aging yet still productive components
- Buy mid 20’s underperforming talent with a prior track record of success
- Sell young, overperforming talent for a premium
- Don’t sell all present value for future value
- Don’t be afraid to strengthen another team if in return you also become stronger
Major League Candidates for Selling
Alexei Ramirez – Ramirez is an example of a player who most dynasty owners wouldn’t go near. His performances this season may be just good enough for you to be able to extract a fairly decent chip from a contender in need of a SS. Perhaps the team has been stuck with a similar skill set player in Jean Segura. Although Ramirez’s production has slowed from his torrid first 2 months, he still provides solid value across the board, especially with his move back up the order to hit in front of power machine Jose Abreu. This may be your one and only chance to cash in on Alexei, so take advantage if you can.
Carlos Santana – This recommendation is solely based upon position eligibility and magnitude of the potential return. Leagues vary on the number of starts per position to maintain eligibility. Currently Santana has played catcher for 11 games, 3B for 26 games and 1B for 44 games (the rest coming at DH). If your league requires 20 starts at a position for eligibility, Santana may be losing his versatility as soon as next year. It is quite clear that the 3B experiment wasn’t ideal so that should be stripped from him after next year, and with the emergence of Yan Gomes behind the plate, Santana will see very limited action at catcher moving forward (barring significant injury). If you can extract a premium on the recent performance of Santana along with his positional flexibility, he may well be the trade chip that nets you the biggest return of all players discussed in this column. If you have an adequate backup catcher, or can acquire one cheaply, moving Santana while his services are worth a premium across the board may be worth considering.
Dee Gordon – Gordon is in the middle of a breakout year and likely will lead the majors in steals this year. His utility is tied to his ability to get on base and steal bags in bunches. Sure, he will continue to run rampant on the base paths, but will he continue to be a near .300 hitter? I’m not convinced and have much more faith moving forward in a similar player, Jose Altuve. Trading Dee now when his value is extremely high would be wise if you can exploit someone needing to make a push in steals and runs. This is just one of many examples of a player having a breakout and very likely career best year, thus capitalizing on the situation is advisable.
Dustin Pedroia – Pedroia is a player who still carries a significant amount of “name value” in some leagues. His performances have dropped the last few years and his ability to hit for power has been severely impacted by injuries. The days of Pedroia being a top 3 option at 2B are in the past and it would be advisable to try and cash in on his name while you still can get fairly hot ticket item for him.
Closers – Closers are worth much more to contending teams. If you can turn yours into building blocks for the future, it should be done immediately. With the amount of annual turnover at the position, there is no reason to get attached to closers. Even Craig Kimbrel should be traded if you can extract a high level starter or premium bat in return. By the time your championship window comes around, you should have pieces which can be moved to acquire current closers.
Other Candidates – Alfredo Simon, Ben Zobrist, Brock Holt, Casey McGehee, Chase Utley, Garrett Richards, Howie Kendrick, Jacob deGrom, Jake Arrieta, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Khris Davis, Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd, Scott Kazmir, Tim Hudson, Victor Martinez
Major League Players to Target
Andrew Cashner – Injuries have always been Cashner’s problem and this year is no different. Perhaps an owner’s patience is wearing thin and he needs a more reliable arm for the stretch run. This is a window of opportunity to grab a high potential arm for an aging, productive veteran. His teams offense will not do you any favors in the win column, but you shouldn’t be chasing those anyways. The home park combined with Cashner’s age and ability makes him an ideal target in a rebuild.
Danny Salazar – Remember Trevor Bauer? Well here’s another guy with killer strikeout potential without the mental issues. Once Salazar learns to stay down in the zone and limit the walks he will be back in the big leagues striking out batters at a high rate. This might be the last opportunity to buy in.
Jay Bruce – 3 straight 30 home run 90 RBI seasons followed up by the current clunker, Bruce is the poster boy for buy low candidates. Even in the best of times Bruce is frustrating to own as he often goes ice-cold before getting smoldering hot. Patience must always be preached when dealing with Bruce but it’s very likely your opposing owner expects and needs a lot more out of his starting lineup spot. Tempting him with a higher average, similar home run potential veteran paired with an attractive prospect should yield dividends as soon as next season.
Matt Moore – Moore was one of the first Tommy John victims this year and as devastating as the epidemic was, for a rebuilding team it could result in access to a premium arm like Moore. He still has issues with walks and isn’t back on a mound yet, however he should still have elite stuff and perform like a number 2 starter moving forward with ace upside.
Matt Wieters – As seems to be the theme here, where there is an injury there is an opportunity. There is some risk with Wieters, as with his Tommy John surgery he may not be the same catcher he was and thus his time there might be limited. He also has not become the superstar he was touted to be, but Wieters still makes an attractive buy low target for a team in need of a solution at catcher (perhaps if you traded Carlos Santana as suggested above).
Other Candidates – Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Christian Yelich, Derek Holland, Gerrit Cole, Jason Heyward, James Paxton, Matt Harvey, Mike Minor, Jose Quintana, Manny Machado, Marcus Stroman, Wil Myers, Xander Bogaerts
Prospects to Cash In On
Clearly a rebuilding team isn’t in the market to sell off its best future assets, however when finding balance in a trade to a contender, it never hurts to sweeten the deal with a prospect whose current value may be inflated due to recent performance, prospect lists, etc. It’s not to say that the players on this list won’t turn out to be good major leaguers, it’s just that you may be able to pry away a future cornerstone for your roster by being willing to move them based on their current hype or utility.
Austin Hedges – Perfect example of better real life player than fantasy. Most savvy dynasty owners already know this, but maybe someone needs a catcher for the future and bites due to Hedges’ lofty prospect ranking.
Matt Wisler – As Jesse Hahn’s start limit draws closer, someone will have to fill the spot in the rotation and Wisler has the potential to be that guy. He has long-term value as a surefire #4 fantasy starter with upside for more and could be an attractive second or third piece in a deal for a team looking for added pitching down the stretch.
Mike Foltynewicz – Is he a reliever or is he a #3 starter? Regardless of role Foltynewicz will strike batters out, but likely doesn’t live up to the lofty prospect ranking. If you can cash in with someone basing their prospects value off of a scouting lists, now is a good time to do so with Foltynewicz.
Ryan McMahon – All the analysis says he could be a monster in Coors. His stats seem to suggest the same. There’s just the problem of Nolan Arenado blocking his path, and Arenado has shown the ability to hit and play gold glove defense. Pretty solid player to sell on the lower minor league success and hype level as he very well could be a primary piece the Rockies trade to acquire pitching.
Other Candidates – Aaron Blair, Aaron Sanchez, Dalton Pompey, Domonic Smith, Henry Owens, Hunter Dozier, Hunter Renfroe, Maikel Franco, Mark Appel, Nick Kingham, Kyle Crick, Peter O’Brien, Stephen Piscotty, Tyler Glasnow
Prospects to Acquire
If we are being honest with ourselves there are a number of prospects where the window of opportunity has likely closed. Perhaps prospects like Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, and now Joey Gallo are still available but their price tags may be prohibitive to rebuilding owners. As such we need to look at where there may still be the opportunity to buy in on premium talent. It would be highly unlikely for an elite prospect on the cusp of the majors or who has recently reached the major league level to be pilfered from a contender. However, there are cases where an owner may have soured on one of these players, given injury or production to date (ie. Miguel Sano (injury),Oscar Taveras (underproduction), Taijuan Walker (injury, underproduction)), and they may be tempted to part ways with a sufficiently juicy win-now offer.
Francisco Lindor – Many will liken Lindor to Hedges with the reality that he is a better real life player than fantasy, however that is a bit simplistic. Lindor has the innate ability to put the bat to ball and that has value in fantasy. Think of this year’s production from Alexei Ramirez and it’s not hard to believe that Lindor could do that with some addition stolen bases. Of course, Lindor will likely bat 1 or 2 for the Tribe and as such his RBI totals will not match those of Ramirez this year, but this is still a player that can help you across the board in hitting categories. The Lindor era is likely not starting until 2015 with him just being promoted to AAA, however this truly may be the last opportunity to invest at a discount.
Noah Syndergaard – Vegas does cruel things to pitching prospects and Syndergaard is no different. His surface stats may not look pretty but the skills are still there. Syndergaard admitted recently that he’s unable to use his primary pitches as effectively in Vegas and and has had to work on his other offerings. All this does is bode well for future success, as does his strong mentality and ability to fight through niggling injuries this year. Syndergaard should join what will be a fierce Mets rotation some time in 2015 and if you want a piece of the action, now is the time to act.
Corey Seager – All this kid does is hit. so who cares if he may not stick at SS. The Dodgers will likely resign Hanley and he can reasonably replace Juan Uribe at 3B. There’s also a reason the Dodgers refuse to trade him, even for David Price. It may be more than 18 months before Chavez Ravine is graced with the younger Seager brother’s presence, but the time to buy is now.
Taylor Guerrieri– Command and control separate the good from the great, just talk to Greg Maddux. Guerrieri has an ability to pound the zone and keep the ball on the ground while still racking up strikeouts and keeping the ball in the yard. Since being drafted, the knock on him has been his makeup, which he has done little to remedy by being suspended 50 games for recreational drug use. This suspension was served while he was already on the DL with Tommy John surgery, but he has recently returned to the mound and has picked up right where he left off. His velocity is ramping back up and although he resides in a Tampa Bay system that is known for being deliberate with its arms, he holds immense upside and is worth acquiring due to that alone. Many may have forgotten about Guerrieri, but don’t let yourself fall into that category.
Other Candidates – Albert Almora, Andrew Heaney, Blake Swihart, Daniel Norris, David Dahl, DJ Peterson, Hunter Harvey, Joc Pederson, Jonathan Gray, Jorge Alfaro, Jorge Soler, Kyle Zimmer, Marcos Molina, Nomar Mazara, Rafael Devers, Raimel Tapia
Hopefully this has been informative as to identifying a few players to target when buying and selling as well as a useful set of scenarios to recognize and exploit in an attempt to upgrade your roster before the coming trade deadline. Please feel free to comment with reactions or specific questions regarding your rebuilding efforts.