Assessing Injuries: Hold or Move?

If you play in more than one league, the odds are high that you have that one team where no one can stay healthy. In the past, I’ve had my season derailed in the first month due to injuries to core players. This year, I have one league where I’m competitive, but injuries to lots of secondary players had me struggling in the last few weeks. So what’s a manager to do when the injuries pile up? Do you drop a few guys because it’s hard to move an injured player in a trade? Do you give up a keeper-worthy injured bat because you need help now? Or do you hold out hoping that the injury will be on the shorter side, and the player will quickly get back to helping your team?

There are too many players to choose from, but I’ll give my thoughts on what you should do with a handful of them. It goes without saying that the more injuries you have, the lower your tolerance has to be, because most teams can’t afford a bench full of DL players, or even some DL guys in the active lineup. I’ll give my thoughts in order, with the guys you should hold the longest at the top. Ranking priority is geared toward keeper leagues, but I’ll offer my thoughts on redraft as well.

Michael Brantley

It goes without saying that a player who’s capable of putting up a top-50 season for two straight seasons (one of them a top-10 year) is worth holding on to. A shoulder issue may keep him out for most of this season, and it may affect him some when he returns, but in terms of keeper value he’s the best on my list, as someone who can produce in five categories and isn’t yet 30 years old. For keeper leagues, I’d sell at a discount if you’re very close to the top of your league, but you’d better get a solid  upgrade that fills a big need. For redrafts, the uncertainty of his DL stint has probably killed all value, so you’re better off stashing him instead of trading for three pennies on the dollar.

Jorge Soler

I’m a bit of a Cubs fan — in the way that politics is a bit of a divisive topic. However, Soler was raking before he hit the DL, and his age, power, and ceiling bode well for his career. You do have to worry about the injury bug and whether he’ll become a frequenter of the DL train, so I can see his trade value varying greatly in all league formats. By next year, we’ll hopefully have an idea of whether he can stay on the field, or whether Almora makes Soler expendable for the Cubs, who could move him to the American League where he can DH at times. For keepers, hold on if you can. For redrafts, I wouldn’t blame you for trading him, but doing so at the beginning of his DL stint won’t produce much in return. Then again, if the hammy issue keeps him out beyond 15 games, you’re risking a further drop in his value. It’s a gamble either way, and I’m likely to hold him unless I’m desperate for the roster spot.

Tyson Ross

I’ll keep touting Ross for now. He picked up his swinging strike rate and greatly improved his walk rate in 2016 before hitting the DL. The issue is his shoulder, not his elbow, which is good news if only because I worry more about his elbow (due to his reliance on the slider). Long term, I see no reason why he can’t get back to his 2014 level as soon as next season. For this year, his playing time is very uncertain, but you may be able to get solid value from a team who’s already set on rebuilding. I wouldn’t drop Ross or sell low on him. Stash him on your team if at all possible. For redraft leagues, you again have to worry about the long-term DL stint, so you’re not going to get much in return. I’d understand a drop in this case, but someone will benefit when he comes back.

Alex Wood

I really like Alex Wood, just like Ross. However, Wood hasn’t had two solid seasons like Ross. In his 10 starts from 2016, the good news is that his K/9 rebounded after a low dip in 2015, and he’s maintained his high GB%. The bad news is that his walk rate has risen for three straight years, and whether it’s bad luck or his approach, he’s sporting career worst numbers in HR/FB%, strand rate, and BABIP. Those may correct over a full year, but missing at least a month is going to force him to show he hasn’t lost a beat and can get on the right side of Lady Luck. Given his age and the Dodgers’ tendency to win games, I’m holding him in keeper leagues. I’m hoping for less time missed, which means he’ll still help you in 2016, so don’t give him away. This applies to redraft leagues as well. His potential is still too intriguing to dump into the FA pool.

Raisel Iglesias

Iglesias is an interesting case.  Before this season, I was very high on him, along with a lot of other writers. Besides some bad luck in the BABIP department, he delivered as promised in his five starts for 2016. However, an impingement in his shoulder has put him on the disabled list. Normally I wouldn’t be too concerned about his long-term value due to this, but when he comes back, the Reds are moving him to the bullpen in an effort to keep him healthy. If they’re that worried about his health after only 1.5 seasons, or they’re that desperate for a Chapman replacement in the pen, it could mean the shift to relief is for a few years, or even permanent.

He has great potential and could reach 200 strikeouts as a starter, so his keeper value could be high. However, if he’s relegated to the bullpen beyond 2016, then his value’s obviously going to take a big hit. Redrafts will at least get to use him in some role, and he should continue to produce a high K/9, but it’s not the same. If your league gives very little value to middle men, you may want to drop him — though Cincinnati’s current (poor) closing options could mean Iglesias gets a shot to earn saves at some point this season.

Lucas Duda

I was hoping for a big 35 HR season from Duda this year, but a DL stint due to a lower back issue is going to affect him all year. I’m not positive he’ll have any great value in 2016, but the power bat is worth stashing in deep keeper leagues. That said, he’s not the youngest guy on this list . If you can keep only 4-5 guys per year, I’d consider selling low, or dropping if you’re desperate for roster space. For redrafts, his low BA and the likelihood of six plus weeks recovery (instead of the minimum four weeks) means you’re not going to get much, so drop him if you have to.

Alex Gordon

Gordon is coming back from a hand injury. He’s not amazing in any one roto category, but he’s known to be helpful. The Royals have been playoff contenders for two seasons, so his team is pretty good. That said, he’s getting older, and a hand or wrist injury can affect his swing for at least 2016, if not the next season. I’d have no problem dropping him if you have to, in any format. Only very deep keepers (franchise leagues) would I even consider keeping him anyway. For redraft, sell at a large discount or just drop him if roster space is an issue.


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Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.

2 thoughts on “Assessing Injuries: Hold or Move?”

  1. No Pollock update? FYI, don’t be shocked if he starts baseball activities sometime in July. I’m guessing Pollock will get himself into ball games before the season concludes, if for no other reason than to provide peace of mind to both AJ and the organization

    1. Thanks for reading, Chuck. Pollock wasn’t likely to repeat 2015, but I thought he could come close. With the injury, I’m not docking his long-term value much. Simply bear in mind he could be rusty in 2017, and remember his high GB%, which will likely prevent him from repeating 20 HR.

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