If you’re a regular TDG reader, you probably have a thing for prospects. It’s ok, the first step is admitting it, and you’re among friends here.
Keeping up with prospects throughout the season can be hugely advantageous for diligent Fantasy players. Everyone knows about the Jurickson Profar’s and Oscar Taveras’s of the world, sure, but how many casual fans knew to grab Pat Corbin before the season? How many invested in Jean Segura?
To put it bluntly, those in the know when it comes to MiLB are better positioned in the Fantasy world than those who are note. Obviously, this is infinitely truer in keeper and dynasty leagues, where at least some MiLB knowledge is a requirement.
Yet there are two times during the year when our thirst for MiLB knowledge and quest for “the next big star” can come back to bite us. The first is during draft day, when many overlook established stars while trying to catch younger, sexier lightning in a bottle. And the second is at the trade deadline, when we become loathe to give away promising prospects for anything short of Mike Trout.
So today, I am here to remind you of two things that you already know: it’s ok to trade prospects, and if you have a shot at competing in 2013, you should take it.
A point that Bret makes all the time in his rankings is that league and roster size play an enormous role in determining the inherent value of any prospect in Fantasy. If you’re one of the clinically insane who plays in a 20-30 team league with 25-40 man rosters, then yes, Fantasy prospect value is pretty similar to the value of a prospect in real life.
But for the vast majority of Fantasy players – those of us who frequent 10-, 12-, or 14-team leagues – that isn’t the case. And the fewer players rostered at a time in a league, the less value any non-premium prospect commands.
This is important because it gives savvy keeper and dynasty leaguers the ability to try and take advantage of other prospect-happy owners who are impressed by quantity rather than quality.
Let’s go with a feasible example to try and make this a bit more tangible. Let’s say you’re in a 12-team keeper league with 10 MiLB spots per team. Your team is in second place and your biggest area of need is pitching. The team in eighth place has Cliff Lee on the block and is ready to deal, but is demanding your best prospect – Xander Bogaerts – as a starting point (an imaginative scenario, I know).
It may be tempting to send Bogaerts, maybe even in a one-on-one, and keep the majority of your farm system intact. But Bogaerts is a potential future first-round pick, and replacing him, at least in the short term, is nearly impossible.
So instead of hitting “accept,” you send a counter-offer instead: Garin Cecchini, Kyle Zimmer and Tyler Glasnow for Lee.
You might be thinking “woah, that’s way too much” – and hopefully your trade partner is too — but it’s a package I’d much rather give up than one even of just Bogaerts. For one, none of the players listed above has true star power. And secondly, it’s a package focused largely on pitching prospects, which we all know are bigger gambles than their offensive counterparts.
So yes, you’re giving up three Top 100 names. But those names are easier to replace than is Bogaerts, and that’s especially true if you’re very invested in the minor leagues.
I’m aware that this entire column is a little abstract and there are a wide variety of circumstances I haven’t covered, but I hope the essential takeaway is clear. We all have favorite prospects and guys we’re especially intrigued by, and just like many real-life GMs, we hate the idea of trading these players away. But a shot at a first-place finish in a Fantasy league is a rare thing (if your league is halfway decent), and moving non-elite prospects for a shot at glory is something every owner should be very willing to do.
So hold on to the Bogaerts’s and Taveras’s and Buxton’s of the world, but other than that, deal your precious MiLBers liberally. Prospects come along a lot more often than do shots at a title.