Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016 Salary Keeper Machinations - Part 1

I'm in a salary-based fantasy baseball keeper league that is probably my most fun fantasy league right now. I have other leagues with more friends, but the framework of how this league is set up really piques my interest.

Last season I finished in third place, which paid for my entry into this year's league. The league just opened up, so I'm starting to look at my options for this coming season. I like writing, and I like talking about this league, so I'm going to post my whole roster with relevant contract information, and give my thoughts about each player. If you have any input, I'm happy to hear it.

Here are some of the basic rules to help you understand how the league works.

The league is run through CBS, and uses their position eligibility rules. The scoring is 5x5 rotisserie with on-base percentage instead of batting average. There are 12 teams in the league.

During the auction draft, players are put into type A contracts at their sale price. After the first season, you can keep any player on an A contract for the same price, moving them to a B contract. After that season, you can keep players on B contracts by paying $5 more and moving them to a C contract. Players on C contracts cannot be kept.

Each team gets $280 of salary. Each team can keep up to 10 A, B, or C keepers, and up to $100 of salary. There are also minor league contracts, but they don't suffer any limitations, so they'll just be an afterthought here. I'll mention who I've got on minor league deals, but only so you have a full picture of my team.

Here we go. The players will be listed with their position eligibility and their contract status if I choose to keep them (players who just finished C-contract seasons have already been removed from my team).

*** indicates player has multiple position eligibility

HITTERS

John Jaso, C - $6, B
Jaso was a spot-filler for me towards the end of the season. He did a fine job of posting mediocre stats to close out my run, but he's barely worth a roster spot. Plan: Release into draft.

Carlos Santana, 1B - $30, BSantana was one of a few "high OBP" targets in my first draft. He was also 3B eligible, increasing his value. But his bat was limp, and he's just a 1B now. Plan: Release into draft.

***Chris Colabello, 1B/OF - $1, B
Colabello had an insane BABIP, so it's fair to expect that he won't be hitting .321 again. But if he hits .275 with 20 HR, $1 is a reasonable price. I've also noticed that position flexibility is pretty useful, even if it's these two positions. Plan: Keep if there's room.

Robinson Cano, 2B - $35, B
Cano was a guy in that second tier that I'd hoped to capitalize on: strong, reliable players who wouldn't cost the $50-$60 that a guy like McCutchen or Goldschmidt would cost. Well, it turned out Cano was a real disappointment. Maybe he'll bounce back. I might end up with him on my team. But not at this price. Plan: Release into draft.

***Logan Forsythe, 1B/2B - $2, B
Forsythe is a curious case. He's projected to hit about .260 with 17 HR and 6 SB, making him the 12th-rated 2B. But that means he's a started in this league (we use MI spots as well). As long as he gets playing time, he should be fine. Using one spot out of ten might be too much for him, though. Plan: Keep if there's room.

Manny Machado, 3B - $21, B
Don't need to waste brain cells on this one. Plan: Locked in as a keeper.

***Jung Ho Kang, 3B/SS - $1, B
The only hesitation I have about Kang is that he was on the shelf to end the season last year. But if he's healthy, he's more valuable than Forsythe. He's expected to return in April; that timetable works for me. Plan: Keep as long as he doesn't suffer injury setbacks.

Mookie Betts, OF - $10, C
Betts was one of a short list of holdovers from the original team I picked up before the 2015 season. He really came into his own last year, which is nice, except that this is the last year I can keep him. Ah well, nothing lasts forever. Plan: Locked in as a keeper.

Hunter Pence, OF - $15, B
Pence is a rough decision. After a lifetime of durability, he muddled through injuries all year in 2015. Despite that, his pace would've put him at 27 HR, 120 RBI, and 90 R. If he's healthy, $15 is a good price, but it's a fair chunk to spend. Plan: Keep if there's money.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF - $6, B
Kiermaier is a nice player, but $6 is too much for a guy whose claim to (minimal) fame is solid defense. Plan: Release into draft.

Jayson Werth, OF - $9, B
Werth is a 36-year-old player coming off of a pretty bad year. Maybe he bounces back a little bit, but no way am I spending $9 and a keeper slot on that. Plan: Release into draft.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF - $1, B
Choo was one of the brightest spots on my team. That I managed to get a top 25 outfielder for a dollar made it even more exciting. No question about this one; the price is oh so right. Plan: Locked in as a keeper.

Khris Davis, OF - $7, B
This is a guy with a lot of power upside, but his inconsistent play and marginal batting average make him a risky play. I think, at worst, he'll be available for $4-$6 in the draft, so $7 to keep him isn't worth it. Plan: Release into draft.

Evan Gattis, U - $25, C
Gattis was a decent play last year when he was catcher-eligible, but he played almost exclusively at DH in 2015, and is only utility eligible. That won't do. Plan: Release into draft.

Alex Rodriguez, U - $2, B
A-Rod is one of my most difficult decisions. He's only a DH now, and at 40, a decline is almost inevitable. He popped 33 homers last year, though, and that kind of power isn't common in today's game. At $2 he's a keeper, but I might dangle him to see if I can divest. Plan: Keep or trade.


HITTERS - MINOR LEAGUES

*** Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
Schwarber was my first mid-season minor league draftee, and so far it looks like he'll pan out fairly well. He's already projected as a top five catcher, and if he can develop further in an improving Cubs lineup, the sky's the limit. Might just be an outfielder down the line, though.

Yoan Moncada, 2B
I acquired Moncada in a trade when I thought I was out of the running in July. Our fates were intertwined from that point, where he flourished and my team jumped up the standings. He's still probably a year away from getting to the big leagues, but he's trending very nicely.

Javier Baez, 2B
I'm not real excited about Baez at this point. He seems to be kind of a quadruple-A player; too good for the minors, but lacking the plate discipline to make it in the big leagues. Hopefully he develops an eye for the strike zone this year; next year he costs money to keep, and I can't see paying for him if it's a repeat of 2015.

Rafael Devers, 3B
Devers is probably two years from producing. He's a 19-year-old Red Sox prospect, but they say he can really hit. We'll find out down the road.

Aaron Judge, OF
Judge is the Yankees' top hitting prospect, which makes him big news. But he's 6'7", and height can be a problem for hitters (see Richie Sexson). He's highly touted, but I might try to move him. The height really does scare me.


That's the end of part 1. Part 2 will go into my pitching staff (a hodgepodge of miscreants and nobodies), and take an overall look at my team's keeper options. See you then!

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