I think I’ve mentioned this a number of times before, but my tragic flaw as a fantasy owner is that I become too attached to the players I draft, especially players who are exceeding even my own optimistic expectations. For this reason, I’m not a frequent trader, as I tend to either patiently wait for my underachieving guys to come around or hang onto my overachievers as a sort of way to reward them for all they’ve done. Yeah, cashing in is an option that often crosses my mind, and an extreme example would be dealing away Nelson Cruz, who is the biggest reason why my Mixed Auction Tout Wars squad sits in third place. Look, Cruz is bound to slow down. There’s no way he continues to produce at this pace, which would result in a 58 HR, 151 RBI season. But honestly, there aren’t many outfielders who I’d rather have on my squad from now through the end of the season. And besides, who knows what the trade market for Cruz is like. I won’t really know until I officially put him on the block, and for now, I have no intention of doing that. I am curious though.
So while we’re on the topic of trades, let’s look at five hypothetical offers I could make, each involving one of my overachievers. To keep it simple, all of these trades are straight up one-for-one deals, and I’d be trading for someone who plays the same position as the guy I’m dealing away. What do these trades have in common? One thing is that back in March, you probably would’ve looked at me like I was crazy to even suggest that they were fair offers. Another thing is that all of these offers are deals that I’m not prepared to make because, well, my tragic flaw as a fantasy owner is that I become too attached to the players I draft. And I’ll continue to wonder if shying away from these types of moves is what’s holding me back. Maybe these are exactly the types of moves you need to make to finish in first as opposed to third. Note that by each player’s name, I’ve included their current positional ranking on the NFBC Player Rater.
Trade Nelson Cruz (#1 OF and #1 overall) FOR Justin Upton (#10 OF)
I’m being realistic here. The chance that Cruz can net me the somewhat disappointing Andrew McCutchen is slim to none. Upton, however, seems like a reasonable enough match. With 13 homers, 34 RBI and a .368 OBP through 56 games, the Braves outfielder is off to a strong start, and he’s already swiped six bags, compared to the eight stolen bases he registered all of last season. Trading Cruz for Upton sounds very tempting, and I have my doubts as to whether it would even be accepted, as Upton is the less risky bet going forward. But ultimately, it comes down to homers, and barring injury (which is always a possibility with the brittle Cruz), I still think that Nelson will top Justin in that category from here on out. And I need those homers.
I’ve always been a fan of both of these second basemen, and Pedroia has been one of the most reliable fantasy forces at the position for quite some time now. But Dustin’s main appeal was his ability to contribute in all five categories, and so far this season, aside from Runs, he hasn’t been doing much in any category, as he’s on pace to finish the year with five homers and five steals to go along with an uninspiring .270 AVG and good but not great .344 OBP. Altuve, on the other hand, is batting .313 and boasts an AL leading 21 steals, and since those 21 steals make up almost one-third of my entire team’s total, it’s safe to say that I cannot afford to lose him, even though I’m fairly confident that Pedroia will heat up sooner rather than later.
Outside of Cruz, from a pure profit standpoint, drafting Escobar for $3 has proven to be my best pick. The Royals shortstop was so disappointing last year that most owners were afraid to touch him. But I figured that at 27, he was still young enough to bounce back. Escobar rarely walks, so he’ll never be a high OBP guy, but if he can even maintain his current .319 OBP, he will continue to be a major threat on the basepaths. Cabrera, who went for $14, was drafted for his ability to carry a fantasy squad in the stolen base category, but he has fewer steals than Escobar to go along with a dreadful .273 OBP. Some might see Escobar as a prime sell-high guy and Cabrera as a prime buy-low guy, but I’m sticking with my guy.
Being that I try not to drain my auction budget by purchasing too many high-priced starting pitchers, I always head into my drafts with a long list of potential $1 gems. Eovaldi was one of the first names on my list this year, and he’s making me look pretty good so far (4-2, 3.27 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). That said, Eovaldi has yet to throw more than 119 1/3 innings in a season, so it remains to be seen if he can keep this up over the long haul. Estrada’s ERA is nearly a full run higher than Eovaldi’s and he’s been inconsistent of late, with only one quality start in his last four tries. I was very high on Marco heading into the season, but let’s face it, Nathan has been the better pitcher. Would I be surprised if it stays that way? Nope.
Now this is bordering on the ridiculous for Buehrle. A 2.04 ERA through 13 starts along with a Major League leading ten wins? Being that there’s still a great deal of skepticism as to whether Buehrle will remain a high-impact mixed league starter for the remainder of the season, I made sure not to set the bar too high with this pairing in choosing Santana. His numbers are nothing special, but I do like the fact that he is striking out just under a batter per inning while posting a respectable 2.69 BB/9. And I do like the fact that this is his first taste of the National League, always a bonus for any pitcher. This is a trade I would make.
Yeah, I guess I sort of lied when I said that I wouldn’t make any of these trades because I become too attached to the players I draft. But not entirely. Because I didn’t draft Buehrle. I claimed him through FAAB. If I had drafted him, it would be a whole different story.