Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 5: The Free Agents
Clearly, the initial trades are the most important part of this process, but it continues on with establishing a direction for your team and rooting out the players who don’t fit in. This is the most time consuming, and occasionally frustrating, part of the rebuilding process. In a dynasty league with deep minor league rosters, you need to go through a ton of players to see who is available because you just never know.
Example #1 of this – in the league I joined, I had been going through prospect names one-by-one to see who was free for the taking as a free agent. I grabbed team prospect lists, league prospect lists, anything I could find. Name after name, creating a list of potential pickups. And while I’m in the middle of the process, I check the league transactions and see something which made me want to smack my head against the wall. “TEAM X added Miles Head – 1B – OAK.” He could have been mine! One or two more days, and he could have been mine! Now, I’m not even much of a Miles Head believer, but to have a player putting up those kind of numbers opens up all kinds of possibilities. In the end, I’d have to settle for other players (who I really like), but Head is a guy I’ll keep an extra eye on just because of what could have been.
Now for the actual free agents I do pick up, I try to make my goals as realistic as possible. In this league of 16 25-man minor league rosters (that’s 400 minor league spots), it would be very uncommon to find a player who has high upside and could be major league ready for my team’s time horizon of 2014. So instead, I’m focusing on three groups of players:
1) Prospects who could be on top prospect lists in 2013/2014
2) Major league players who could perform well enough in the next 12-18 months for me to flip them
3) Players who have fantasy relevance when healthy, but have long-term injuries
But with that being said, I believe it is very important for everyone (especially new owners) to field full lineups, even if you have no hope of being competitive during the current season. I know it’s not against the rules to start stashing non-stat accumulating players on your active roster, but it’s against the spirit of the game and won’t make other owners happy. And happy owners will trade with you more willingly than unhappy owners.
Anyway, here are the nine transactions that I made to help augment my trades, starting with the major leaguers I picked up (all of these transactions were made between June 3 and June 13):
Add Will Venable (open roster spot)
This was two-fold. First of all, I needed another healthy OF to field a full lineup. Second of all, for all his faults, Venable should not be unowned in a 16-team league. He’s a guy who can actually hit away from Petco – and if he ever gets traded, he could be a legit fantasy option. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that he could get hot and I could spin him for a prospect.
Add Daisuke Matsuzaka, drop Max Stassi
Why not? He was a pretty valuable pitcher for a while and even though it seems like he’s been around forever, he’s really only 31. It’s worth a shot in the dark with there being very few starting pitchers unowned. Plus, Stassi is a defense-first catcher who will be playing in Oakland, if he even works his way up to a starter job. Not much chance for fantasy value there.
Add Greg Holland, drop Stetson Allie
Now here’s another guy that I put in the David Robertson category, who should also not be available in 16-team leagues with 8-man benches. I really like Holland’s chances to be the Royals closer as soon as next year. And Allie became expendable when the Pirates decided to turn him from a pitcher to a third baseman – though, honestly, he was probably expendable as a pitcher anyway.
Add Ryan Madson, drop Philippe Aumont
Again, another guy who I like to have a closer job somewhere in 2014. Madson was one of the best relievers in baseball leading up to his Tommy John surgery this spring, and I think he’ll get back to at least a point close enough to where he was at to hang onto a ninth-inning gig. In another organization, Aumont could be a sleeper to have a job then too, but Papelbon will still be in the third year of his four-year contact at that point and I don’t see any way he’s closing for Philly.
Add Jonathan Sanchez, drop Luke Jackson
I picked up Sanchez almost entirely on name value. He’s probably going to suck, and I’ll probably drop him in another few weeks once he proves this out, but what’s the risk here? Luke Jackson has a 5.00 ERA while repeating Low-A. Pass.
And now the prospects who I’ve added during this process:
Add Alen Hanson, drop Brett Oberholtzer
Hanson is currently having a breakout season at Low-A for the Pirates, and the most likely of all of the free agent prospects currently out there to be on a year-end Top 100 list [Update: Make that Top 50]. The importance of that cannot be understated in a dynasty league, as it gives a player validation in other owners’ eyes. Oberholtzer is exactly the kind of guy I’m trying to get rid of – he’s almost a fantasy NP.
Add Ravel Santana, drop Chris Marrero
Santana is one of my favorite end-game sleepers in dynasty leagues as he was one of the most impressive players in the GCL in 2011. He’s a long way away, but he’s got the upside to be a difference maker. Marrero, see: Oberholtzer.
Add Elier Hernandez, drop Carlos Carrasco
As much fun as it would be to have a seventh pitcher on my roster who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery (Anderson, Duffy, Drabek, Madson, Lamb, Gibson), I would much rather have a huge upside guy in Elier Hernandez. He was one of the best July 2 prospects in 2011 and got a $3m+ bonus from the Royals. Huge upside, and he’s getting pushed to the Northwest League as a 17-year old.
Add Jimmy Nelson, drop Jeff Francoeur
I love Frenchy from a fan perspective – as anyone who’s read the bacon dog story can attest to – but he’s not starting for me and I don’t need to carry a reserve player without upside. Nelson is a guy I’ve had my eye on since last year, as he’s a big man who keeps the ball on the ground. In this league, where innings and WHIP are key to scoring, he could be a nice contributor if he pans out. Plus, he’s already in AA.
Now, even though this is now Part 5 of the series, we’re finally at the end of “Stage 1”. I’ve turned over exactly half of the roster at this point (21 out of 42 players) and it looks much more a team I’d consider MY team. That means it’s time to finally give the team a name of my choosing. I’m going to temporarily name this one “Generation K 2: Electric Bugaloo” as an homage to both the much hyped (and ultimately unsuccessful) trio of Mets top pitching prospects from the 90’s and an exquisite piece of 80’s cinema. Trust me, it’s better than the team’s inherited name.
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 1: Setting the Table
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 2: Establishing Your Time Horizon
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 3: The Evaluation Stage
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4: The Opening TradesRebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4a: Wait at Your Own Peril
Another great article, sir. Thank you. You mentioned Miles Head as a guy you aren’t thrilled about, but who else is a good 1B prospect for a time horizon of 2014 or further?
I can think of Jon Singleton…..and that’s about it.
Thanks – as always I appreciate the kind words. You make a great point and that’s exactly the reason we need to pay attention to guys like Head even if they have their flaws (as he certainly does).
When you’re looking at potential 1B guys that are in the minors, you really have to guys at other positions now that are on the wrong side of the defensive spectrum. If you take a look at the top 1B options today, it’s a lot of players who came up at a different position. On that time horizon, I’m talking about guys like Miguel Sano, Gary Sanchez or Joey Gallo. They could all be solid 1B options down the line.
In reality, you’re just as likely to fill your 1B position from someone already on your team sliding over to the position. Two more potential impact guys took the leap to 1B this year in Edwin Encarnacion and Allen Craig. And more will do the same next year and the year after.