Keeper League Trade: Manny Machado for Alex Cobb

Mike Ehrmann

Ray details a trade he just made in an AL- only keeper league where he dealt future superstar Manny Machado for Ray starter Alex Cobb.

I often preach here at Fake Teams to always deal pitchers for hitters, or to "wait on pitching" in fantasy drafts. I use the "wait on pitching" strategy quite often, and used it in the Tout Wars mixed league draft last season, finishing fifth in the league. The wait on pitching strategy will be a successful strategy this season as pitching appears to be very deep once again. But like any league, you must have some luck to be successful, or place in the money. To win your league, you have to be very prepared on draft day, and hopefully we are doing that for you here at Fake Teams. You also have to have a strategy. And have luck on your side. Luck with injuries, or a lack of injuries. Luck with not drafting players that have down years. Finally, luck drafting players who break out. You will have some misses, but being lucky enough to have few misses helps one win fantasy championships.

In my AL-only, 4 x 4 keeper league last season, my second year in the league, I finished in fourth place, winning back my league entry fee. One of the reasons why my team did not finish higher was the poor performance of my pitching, even though I had Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez and John Lackey on my roster. At midseason, I traded Jarrod Parker before he went on his hot streak in the second half. Well, he did blow up in September, but he performed better than the pitchers I rostered to replace him.....Jared Cosart, Danny Duffy and Jordan Lyles. Yeah, they killed my ERA and ratios.

So, this offseason, i have decided to do something about it. I traded one of my best hitting keepers, a $10 S0 Manny Machado ( he is due a raise if the new owner wants to keep him after the 2014 season) and the #9 pick in the MILB draft, for a $9 S1 Alex Cobb and the #10 pick in the MILB draft. I mentioned this deal on Twitter the day I made the trade and many felt I made the wrong decision. But, the issue with Twitter is that one is limited to 140 characters per tweet, so I could go into this detail as to my reasons.

Machado is one of the best young hitters in the game, but for me, he still has some maturing to do. He's already a great defender, but if you take a closer look at his counting stats, they don't wow you. I was going to compare him to Mike Trout here, but they are just at two different levels for fantasy purposes at this point. Granted, Machado is a year younger, but he has some areas where he needs to improve.

One, his second half was horrible. He hit just .240-.277-.370 with just 19 extra base hits after a strong first half where hit hit .310-.337-.470 with 49 extra base hits. So, you can see he struggled in a big way in the second half, where pitchers may have found some holes in his swing. Who knows. Two, he plays third base, and 14 home runs won't cut it. One can get that from their catcher without much trouble. Three, he is coming off a bad knee injury. Report say he will be fine for spring training, and I think he will be fine. Four, he doesn't walk much, as his 4.1% walk rate indicates. That may change as he matures at the plate, but right now, his value lies in his BABIP and ability to hit for power. My real worry is the power, and when he will begin to reach his potential. My team is ready to win now, so I dealt my most valuable asset in return for a starting pitcher, Alex Cobb.

When doing the research for a few draft strategy pieces on starting pitchers a few weeks ago, I realized that Alex Cobb is on the cusp of becoming an ace. Cobb made just 22 starts last season, missing two months after being hit in the head by a come backer line drive. Even still, he ended the season with an 11-3 record in his 22 starts, with a 2.76 ERA, 3.36 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. Strong surface stats, but his peripheral stats were even better.

His strikeout rate jumped from 7.00 K/9 to 8.41 K/9, his walk rate bumped up a little, but still under 3.00 BB/9. His growth was not limited to to his strikeout and walk rates. He was also able to keep the ball on the ground at a 56% rate, borderline elite. His ability to keep the ball on the ground actually dropped from 2012, but combined with the high strikeout rate, make him an ace, or just a step below an ace. He needs to show he can stay healthy, throw over 200 innings, and pitch deep into games to become an ace, and i think he will do just that in 2014.

I think he is ready to make that step in 2014, thus my reason for dealing Manny Machado for him. Right now, I think Machado's name value is higher than his actual fantasy value, and I think I got a good return for him in this deal. Cobb could become more of a household name in fantasy circles this season.

Let me know your thoughts about this deal in the comments and poll below. Am I reaching with Cobb? Did I give up too soon on Machado?

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