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Keeper league dilemma: The rebuild decision

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Ray provides insight into one of his keeper leagues and his decision to rebuild.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Back in mid-August, I went through the series of trades I made and my reasons for going all in on the 2015 season in my home UBA NL-only keeper league. You can read some background on the trades in the two articles linked below:

Keeper League Trade Dilemma: Going All In

Keeper League Trade Dilemma: Trading Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado

At the time of these trades, I was way behind in some pitching categories, so I made some deals improve my pitching staff in the hopes of gaining points in wins, saves, ERA and WHIP, trading away a $5 Kris Bryant, a $15 Nolan Arenado and a $5 Maikel Franco. In return for these cheap young hitters, I received Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Carlos Martinez and Kenley Jansen, along with hitters Yoenis Cespedes, Hunter Pence, Jung ho Kang and others. You can read more about the trades in the first article linked above, but the results were not good. At the time of the trades, I was in fourth place, and although I did gain in the standings, to third place, the cost of going for it was not worth it. I was well aware that giving up such cheap hitters for pitching was a risk, and along with taking the risk I needed everything to go my way, and it didn't.

Lesson learned.

With that said, I came into the offseason thinking I had enough to compete next season, but the more I looked at my roster seeing that I would have to build around my pitching rather than the cheap hitters I previously traded away, I decided it was not worth it and have begun my rebuild.

Here is a look at my roster before the trades:

Pos

Active Players

Con

Sal

1B

Ryan Howard

S2

22

2B

Hector Olvera

L1

23

SS

Jung ho Kang

S2

19

3B

Juan Uribe

S2

8

OF

Matt Kemp

S1

32

OF

Yoenis Cespedes

L1

22

OF

Michael Bourn

S2

9

OF

Hunter Pence

S2

28

OF

Jayson Werth

S2

26

C

Derek Norris

S2

15

C

Carlos Ruiz

S2

6

UT

Khris Davis

0

10

CI

Adam Duvall

S2

5

MI

Ruben Tejada

S2

10

P

Kenley Jansen

S2

24

P

Arodys Vizcaino

S2

6

P

Ken Giles

S1

5

P

Carlos Martinez

S1

5

P

Jake Arrieta

S1

10

P

Tyson Ross

S1

7

P

John Lackey

S2

9

P

Lance Lynn

S2

13

P

Brett Anderson

S1

1

As you can see there are a lot of question marks among my hitters, with several of them not retainable, including Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Hector Olivera, Jung ho Kang and on and on. You get the picture…..but my pitchers are all retainable, with three closers, an ace in Jake Arrieta, a near ace in Carlos Martinez, and several top 20 NL-only starters.

Once I made the decision to rebuild, I decided that I would attempt to trade all of my tradable starting pitchers and closers, as most are below, or well below, market value.

So here are the trades I have made to date:

Trade #1: Trading Carlos Martinez

With my farm roster barren, i decided to focus on trading for prospects and near ready prospects, as it is not easy to trade for cheap hitters in this league.In the first deal, I traded away Cardinals young starter Carlos Martinez, for Rockies outfield prospect David Dahl and Mets infield prospect Dilson Herrera. Martinez will either be kept at $10 next season or can be raised to $15 for the next two seasons. Dahl's, and all prospects, have a $5 salary attached to them, while Herrera will own a $10 salary next season.

This deal leaves me with Dahl who has yet to play a full season due to various injuries, but is still considered one of the top outfield prospects in the game. I see him eventually replacing Charlie Blackmon in center field in Colorado. He owns a power/speed combo that should provide excellent counting stats playing in the hitters haven, Coors Field.

Herrera is the Mets second baseman of the future, and should man the position beginning in 2016 with Daniel Murphy leaving via free agency in the next few weeks.

Rays gets:

David Dahl Col from Holliston Donkeys

Dilson Herrera NYM from Holliston Donkeys

Holliston Donkeys gets:

Carlos Martinez StL from Rays

Trade #2: Trading Ken Giles

In this deal, i traded away a $10 closer in Giles and Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ($22 L1) who, like Murphy, is a free agent this offseason and may, or may not, sign with a National League team. I rid myself of the risk of Cespedes not signing in the NL, and gave up a very cheap closer in Giles, but I feel I received a very nice return.

The main get in this deal is $5 Phillies shortstop of the future, J.P Crawford. Crawford should see time in the big leagues in 2016, but, frankly, I hope he does not, so I can keep him at the $5 salary for when my team is ready to compete in 2017, hopefully. That said, you don't need me to tell you that Crawford is one of the top 2-3 prospects in the game, and is capable of hitting for a solid batting average, 10-15 home runs, and 25+ stolen bases in a full season of plate appearances. After seeing how thin the shortstop position is in the NL, adding Crawford was a priority for me.

In addition, to Crawford, I received two second round minor league draft picks, pick #19 and #22, an $8 Joe Ross and a $10 Andrew Susac. With both Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister leaving for free agency this offseason, Ross will be in the Nationa;ls rotation in 2016 and beyond. ESPN's Keith Law wrote in his midseason Top 50 prospect rankings that Ross owns three above average pitches and is very athletic for a pitcher. Susac will need an injury or for the Giants to trade him to a team where he can play every day with Buster Posey locked in at the catcher position for the foreseeable future.

Rays gets:

Joe Ross Was from Holliston Donkeys

J.P. Crawford Phi from Holliston Donkeys

Andrew Susac SF from Holliston Donkeys

Rays round 2 draft pick from Holliston Donkeys

Holliston Donkeys round 2 draft pick from Holliston Donkeys

Holliston Donkeys gets:

Ken Giles Phi from Rays

Yoenis Cespedes NYM from Rays

Trade #3: Trading Kenley Jansen

In my third trade, I traded away my second cheap closer, a $24 Kenley Jansen and a Giants outfielder Hunter Pence at $28. In return, I received two of the top 30 prospects in the game, Nationals pitching prospect Lucas Giolito and Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia. Both carry a $5 salary.

I give up one of the best closers in the game and an at value outfielder in an improving Giants lineup, but when you are rebuilding, you don't need a closer and should trade them for cheap hitting whenever possible. I did that, but I also received the best pitching prospect in the game in Giolito and Tapia who is one of the better hitting outfield prospects in the game.

I can see Giolito getting a call up by midseason should the Nationals need a starter, but there is no question in my mind that he could become an ace in due time. With Giolito, I have my future ace to build my rotation around. I can see him having an immediate fantasy impact upon his eventual call up, similar to Mets young starter Noah Syndergaard.

Tapia is another Rockies outfielder who probably starts the 2016 season in AA and should get called up in 2017. Like Crawford, Tapia is capable of providing my roster a solid batting average with low double digit home runs and 25+ steals or more.

Rays gets:

Lucas Giolito Was from Robber Barons

Raimel Tapia Col from Robber Barons

Robber Barons gets:

Hunter Pence SF from Rays

Kenley Jansen LAD from Rays

These trades have re-stocked my farm roster with the following top 50 prospects:

J.P. Crawford

Lucas Giolito

David Dahl

Raimel Tapia

In this league, we are allowed to keep up to five prospects on draft day, so I can only add one more prospect in any future offseason deals. With ace Jake Arrieta and closer Arodys Vizcaino still on my roster, I have to decide whether to just keep them or deal them.

I have already received several offers for Arrieta, with one offer involving an elite pitching prospect and another involving an elite hitting prospect. A third offer involves a closer to big league ready hitter and some farm picks, so I have to decide if I really want to deal Arrieta or wait to deal him during the season where I could extract an elite prospect in return.

That said, I will keep Lackey and Anderson should they sign with an NL team in the offseason, along with Lynn and both Tyson and Joe Ross as well.

Rebuilding is not for all owners, but I have found that giving up on a year or two results in several years of finishing in the money, and some league championships. I have finished in the money in this league in all but two of my years in the league, so hopefully that trend continues beginning in 2017.