As I noted previously, coming into Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, I had the fourth-most money remaining in National League Tout Wars. With only three players of significance moving into the league – Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes and Brandon Moss – it was the worst possible place for me to be.
While the three hitters generated winning bids of between $78 and $75, I was forced to remain on the sideline with my $74. I was out of the action for that particular week, but not dead yet.
This past week brought the first wave of MLB’s scratch and dent sale, otherwise known as waiver trades. Generally, the only players to clear waivers and be dealt are older players with contracts so ugly that no one else would want them.
So it was with Cleveland and Atlanta. The Braves shed one bad deal in Chris Johnson for two in Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. This deal would have been an absolute blockbuster in 2010, but in 2015 it is more about disposing of distressed assets between two teams out of the playoff picture.
Though I took over the FAAB hammer this week in NL Tout, it was not a comfortable lead. Gene McCaffrey was just one dollar behind with Scott Wilderman holding $60.
My decision was whether to potentially spend my entire $74 on Bourn, wait in hopes of another waiver trade later this month for a better player coming into the Senior Circuit or take a hybrid approach.
The latter would be to go for both Bourn and Swisher in a conditional pair of bids, knowing I would get at least one of them and have $12 or so remaining for other bids later.
A sticking point for me is that I do not see the two players as equals. I think there could be a gulf in performance between Atlanta’s two new outfielders. Swisher has a bad knee and had been rehabbing in the Minors. Even upon his return, there is no assurance he will be an every-day player for the Braves. On the other hand, Bourn enjoyed a brief resurgence in July, with a .300 average and five steals, almost as many as the first three months combined.
I could see leverage to pick up a couple of quick points in the standings in stolen bases with Bourn and perhaps make a bit of headway in runs scored. Opportunity to gain points with Swisher seemed less certain.
Considering that imbalance and with no confidence a better player will move from the AL to the NL later, I went ahead and rolled the dice. I made a simple $74 bid on Bourn with no contingencies. After all, they would not be necessary.
As it turned out, McCaffrey inadvertently helped me. Looking at the category standings, my guess is that he valued steals less than power. Further, knowing he could not get Bourn, he focused his efforts and money on Swisher, instead. Gene bid $61, just enough to edge out Wilderman’s highest potential bid.
The end result is that neither McCaffrey nor I had to spend our entire remaining balance because Wilderman was only willing to go $32 on each of the new Braves. He won neither. Now with $59, Wilderman is the new carrier of the FAAB hammer, waiting to see what the next week’s trades may bring.
With Wilderman unwilling to flex his financial muscle this time around, it fell to Tristan H. Cockcroft to become the enforcer. His $45 bids for Bourn and Swisher set the $46 price paid by me and McCaffrey under Vickrey rules. With $52 now remaining, second-place Tristan holds the second-most money going forward.
I am delighted the cards played out this way. Expecting to be price enforced on Bourn and be stuck with $0 FAAB for the remainder of the season, instead I still have $28. That is plenty to work with the rest of the way. In fact, only six of my league-mates have more money.
My initial assessment is that this particular dumpster dive move could pay off.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.