The real-life trade deadline came and passed, as did many fantasy league trade deadlines, but for those in keeper leagues still with the ability to trade, now is not the time to pack it in. In fact, now is the time to really start thinking about 2015 and beyond, no matter if you're in first place or last. Well, especially if you're in last.
Whether it's plotting keepers and/or extensions, looking for ways to condense keepers, or scouring for bargain contracts, draft picks, etc., owners should be proactive in roster evaluation and exploring avenues for future success. Trading is easily the best way to go about improving your roster and outlook. In re-draft leagues, trading is pretty much cut and dry, but trading in keeper leagues is a different monster entirely. There are a number of additional factors which affect player values, including the following:
- salary (or round value) and profit potential
- keeper eligibility, control
- numbers of keepers per team
- position scarcity
- minor league spots
Back in late May, I made a trade with Derek VanRiper in the RotoWire Staff Keeper League 2, sending Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Enny Romero and J.R. Graham his way in exchange for Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Martinez, Corey Seager, Raimel Tapia and Jesse Winker. At first glance, it may look like I was robbed – a Twitter user kindly pointed out as much – but it's far less one-sided when considering the deeper context. First, it's an 18-team mixed league with rosters consisting of 23 active major leaguers (14 hitters, nine pitchers), seven reserves and 10 minor leaguers, with keeper prices subtracted from a $260 annual auction budget.
McCutchen was kept at a $45 salary and is thus in his "B" year, meaning he can be kept for one more season at the same price or extended at $5 per additional year. I estimated coming into this season that McCutchen's salary was $8 above market value – so he was a $37 player for me coming into the year – something I was fine with given the caliber of player and fact that my other keeper contracts were mostly very efficient, but it would be hard to justify extending him even with the inflation from year-to-year in the auction.
Sale is also in his "B" year, with a salary of $24. He was the piece I valued most, and DVR could easily justify extending him for at least two years given inflation, but that would limit his profit potential. Blackmon, meanwhile, was kept at $1, making him a serious candidate for an extension. Martinez is unlikely to be kept but I considered it an option at the time and Seager, Tapia and Winker are all under minors contracts and thus don't count against our 15-player maximum for major league keepers.
A slow start also played a major role, as I was in the bottom third of the league at the time and didn't see myself making a serious run at the title this year. The chance to acquire several quality prospects was something I jumped at, as not only could they be major contributors in future years but they could also be important trade chips. We're all optimists when it comes to prospects, and like stocks, they can be sold at the right time for an immense profit. If I'm on the verge of making a serious run next season, I could sell the farm for guys who could help me right away, something Andrew Martinez did this season. He's pretty much assured of a championship, as he currently has a 22-point lead over the second-place team.
Last month, I flipped Tapia to James Anderson for Matt Kemp, Brian McCann and Raul Adalberto Mondesi. Believe it or not, I was very hesitant to accept James' offer, as I already had my 15 major league keepers set in my mind and did not want to lose a valuable asset like Tapia. Now, Tapia is a 20-year-old at the Low-A level, but he's hit .336/.391/.466 with the Rockies' Asheville affiliate this season, with eight homers and 28 stolen bases, and of course he's under a minors contract. Players under minor league contracts in this league don't enter their "A" year until the season after they're activated.
Kemp was purchased in this year's auction at $27, and despite his recent success, I almost certainly won't be keeping him nor do I think he will draw interest from others as a potential keeper. McCann is at $11 and is in his "B" year, and I will likely keep him for just 2015, because while you could perhaps justify extending him for two years given inflation and position scarcity (two-catcher league), that commitment to a declining player could be problematic. Mondesi more than likely will not be kept.
I ended up pulling the trigger on the deal because I had worked my way back up the standings and thought Kemp and McCann could at least push me up into the money. I'm currently one spot out but confident I can get there. Sure, if I hadn't traded McCutchen and Sale, I would almost certainly be in the money, but I'm fairly positive I still would not have had enough to compete with Andrew for the top spot, and I think I'm now better set up for future success.