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The cost of "playing for this year": Building a winner for 2015

Ray discusses how he approached his offseason, his trades, there were several, and some of the strategies he is pondering heading into the 2015 draft.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend, I wrote this piece discussing how my decision to "play for this year" in the UBA, 12 team, NL only keeper league played out. My rebuild was very successful in that I was able to trade for and draft some of the top prospects in the game, but in my haste to go for it and win the league, I gave up the future for  the present, and it didn't work as planned.

This weekend, I will discuss what I have done this offseason to build up my roster for another run at the title this season. In last week's article, I wrote that I had made the following trades after realizing my decision to "play of this year" wasn't going to work and I had blown up my rebuild strategy.

Here is a list of trades I had made before the mid-August trade deadline:

Trade # 1

Rays gets: Carlos Gonzalez Col from Bid Weissters
Jeff Baker Mia from Bid Weissters
Darin Ruf Phi from Bid Weissters
Yonder Alonso SD from Bid Weissters
Bid Weissters gets: Jean Segura Mil from Rays

In this deal, I traded Segura, who I originally traded Joc Pederson for, as he was a zero and I took a chance that Gonzalez would return this season and help me. It didn't work out.

Trade #2

Rays gets: Vance Worley Pit from Pelicans
Donald Lutz Cin from Pelicans
Billy Hamilton Cin from Pelicans
Brandon Crawford SF from Pelicans
Pelicans gets: Josh Harrison Pit from Rays
Justin Upton SD from Rays
Paul Goldschmidt Ari from Rays
Kyle Lohse Mil from Rays

Here's where I really packed it, as i gave up several of the players I originally traded for, Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt, along with a retainable Josh Harrison at $10 and a $5 Kyle Lohse. In return, I received a $5 Billy Hamilton for 2015 and beyond, and a cheap Brandon Crawford at $4. I was reluctant to deal Harrison, as he is a keeper, but had to include him to get Hamilton.

Trade #3

Rays gets: Ben Revere Phi from Bid Weissters
Andy Marte Ari from Bid Weissters
Johnny Cueto Cin from Bid Weissters
Bid Weissters gets: Ryan Braun Mil from Rays
Homer Bailey Cin from Rays
Brandon Crawford SF from Rays

In this deal I received a very cheap ace in Johnny Cueto at $14, who I can keep at that price for the next two seasons, assuming he stays in the National League. I also received Ben Revere, who at $29 might be a little overpriced, but offers solid stolen base totals and batting average. The Bid Weissters needed power and a starting pitcher, and got that in a $49 Braun and a $15 L1 Bailey. Bailey was in the midst of a hot streak on the mound, so I took advantage.

Trade #4

Rays gets: Adrian Gonzalez LAD from Hinz 57s
Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD from Hinz 57s
Carl Crawford LAD from Hinz 57s
Hinz 57s gets: Christian Yelich Mia from Rays
Trevor Story Col from Rays
Nathan Eovaldi NYY from Rays
Yonder Alonso SD from Rays

Giving up a $10 Yelich doesn't look so good right now, but at the time of this trade, I was beginning to move up in the standings, and needed some power to offset the Braun deal. Yeah, my season was a roller coaster ride for sure, but it made my season interesting even though I blew up my rebuild plan. In return for Yelich, I received a $34 AGonz and a $8 Ryu. Ryu is retainable, and a very undervalued starter.

Trade #5

Rays gets: Carlos Torres NYM from Silver Tongues
Justin Turner LAD from Silver Tongues
Noah Syndergaard NYM from Silver Tongues
Silver Tongues gets: Adrian Gonzalez LAD from Rays
Jarred Cosart Mia from Rays

I didn't keep AGonz long, as I dealt him a few days later for a $5 Syndergaard. Sydergaard is easily the best keeper in this deal, but he didn't last on my team long either. More later.

Trade #6

Rays gets: Xavier Paul Phi from Wooden Badgers
Kenley Jansen LAD from Wooden Badgers
Wooden Badgers gets: Ben Revere Phi from Rays
Aroldis Chapman Cin from Rays

I traded for a $36 Jansen, as he is retainable even at the elevated price. Good closers go for $30+ in this league, so I decided to get one for 2015. But…..

Trade #7

Rays gets: Zack Greinke LAD from Pelicans
Kyle Lohse Mil from Pelicans
Pelicans gets: Vance Worley Pit from Rays
Kenley Jansen LAD from Rays

When you get offered a $5 Lohse and a $27 Greinke for Jansen and a $10 Worley, you can't say no.

That concluded my in-season trading leaving me with the following rotation for 2015:

$27 Zack Greinke

$5 Kyle Lohse

$8 Hyun-Jin Ryu

$14 Johnny Cueto

$5 Ken Giles

$7 Sergio Romo

And below are my list of retainable hitters:

$10 Kolten Wong

$10 Billy Hamilton

$7 Lucas Duda

$10 Charlie Blackmon

$10 Chris Owings

Not bad. Two aces in Greinke and Cueto, and a near ace in Ryu, and an undervalued Lohse. In addition, I have two cheap relievers who have a good chance to close in 2015.

My offense includes some cheap power and cheap speed, something I can build around for 2015.

The Offseason Trades

Heading into the offseason, I felt I needed to deal for a closer, but the only one that was readily available was Craig Kimbrel, as his owner declared he was in rebuild mode a few days after the World Series ended. With that in mind, here are my offseason trades and reasoning:

Trade #1

Mutts gets: Rays round 1 draft pick from Rays
Rays gets: Josh Bell Pit from Mutts

I traded my first round pick in the minor league draft, as I was picking 10th and felt that there wouldn't be a compelling prospect left at the 10 spot in the draft, so I traded it for Pirates prospect Josh Bell. His owner had close to 10 prospects on his farm roster, and in this league, we are allowed to keep only five farm guys, so dealing Bell didn't hurt him, as he had five prospects he preferred to keep. In Bell, I get a top 50 prospect, who I could keep or deal later.

Yeah, you guessed it, he didn't stay on my team for too long…..

Trade #2

Rays gets: Matt Kemp SD from Bid Weissters
Bid Weissters gets: Noah Syndergaard NYM from Rays

I don't have to explain why I made this deal, as, by now, you know how much I am buying into the fact that Kemp is all the way back from his shoulder surgeries. His second half performance proved it to me. He is $32 and I felt that if he was thrown back into the draft, he would be bid up to close to $40, so dealing Syndergaard was worth it to me. Plus, we don't know when Syndergaard will make it to the big leagues, and he is blocked by about 2-3 other starters in the Mets rotation.

Trade #3

Mutts gets: Chris Owings Ari from Rays
Rays gets: Austin Meadows Pit from Mutts
Albert Almora ChC from Mutts

I dealt Owings even though I do think he can put up a 15-15 season at the plate in 2015. But, he is dealing with a bad shoulder, and there is no telling if he will be ready for spring training. In return, I get two cheap outfield prospects at $5 each. Both are top 75 prospect, depending on which source you are using. Meadows has the upside to be a future top 10 prospect in the game.

Trade #4

In last week's piece, I mentioned that I traded for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who I thought had a $15 L1 contract assigned to him when I traded for him, allowing me to keep him in 2015. Prior to the trade deadline, it was brought to my attention, his contract was not accurate, and he would be a free agent at the end of the season. As compensation for this oversight on the part of his previous owner, I received his three 2nd round picks. I won't go into more details here, but a $15 closer like Chapman is pretty valuable in this league, so suffice to say, I was pretty upset when I learned of this.

That said, I didn't keep the thee 2nd round farm picks:

Rays gets:

Jonathan Lucroy, MIL from Holliston Donkeys

Khris Davis, MIL from Holliston Donkeys

Robber Barons gets:

Josh Bell, PIT from Rays

Three second round farm picks from Rays

In this deal, I received a $26 Lucroy and a $10 Davis, as I feel Davis is a bit undervalued after hitting 22 home runs last season. Lucroy is probably at value at $26, but he offers some power upside and an excellent batting average. He will play more first base this season, so the power could increase a bit.

Trade #5

Rays gets: Arismendy Alcantara ChC from Robber Barons
Starlin Castro ChC from Robber Barons
Robber Barons gets: Lucas Duda NYM from Rays

Trading a $7 Duda wasn't easy, but a part of me thinks he may have had a career year last year, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92 in 153 games. Prior to the 2014 season, he never hit more than 15 home runs in the big leagues, so I felt I was selling high here. Plus, there are about 8-9 first baseman in our first base pool on draft day, including Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeeman, Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto and others. In return, I get a $22 Starlin Castro and a $5 Arismendy Alcantara. I think Castro has more power in his bat, and I will write more about him in next week's Top 30 Shortstop rankings. I think you already know how much I like Alcantara, so I won't go into more detail.

Trade #6

Mutts gets: Jonathan Lucroy Mil from Rays
Rays gets: Jake Arrieta ChC from Mutts
Maikel Franco Phi from Mutts

Sometimes trades happen so quickly, and this was one of them. I had previous conversations with the Mutts, as he had indicated his interest in Lucroy. When I asked him if he was still interested, he said he was. I asked him to make an offer, after listing who I had interest in, and this was the offer he made. I had to accept. I get a $10 Arrieta, who is coming off a breakout 2014 season, and a $5 Franco, who should see considerable time in the big leagues in 2015.

Trade #7

Rays gets: Julio Urias LAD from Robber Barons
Robber Barons gets: Zack Greinke LAD from Rays

After dealing for Arrieta, I felt I had too much pitching, with Arrieta, Greinke, Cueto, Ryu, and Lohse, so I dealt a $27 Greinke for a $5 Urias. Dealing Greinke wasn't easy, but I dealt from surplus, giving me one of the best pitching prospects in the game, and freeing up some salary for draft day.

Or other deals…..

Trade #8

Holliston Donkeys gets: Austin Meadows Pit from Rays
Roman Quinn Phi from Rays
Albert Almora ChC from Rays
Rays gets: Juan Uribe LAD from Holliston Donkeys
Robert Stephenson Cin from Holliston Donkeys
Brett Anderson LAD from Holliston Donkeys
Craig Kimbrel Atl from Holliston Donkeys

I got my closer!!! After talking trade with the Donkeys all offseason, we finally pulled another deal, this time I landed my closer, albeit a very expensive $39 closer. I already own Sergio Romo and Ken Giles, but there are no guarantees they will close this season. Do I think they will close? Yes, but I wanted certainty after all the bad luck I had last season with filling the closer role on my roster.  In addition to Kimbrel, I get a $1 Brett Anderson, who just needs to stay healthy to provide a positive return in 2015. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher who should benefit from the Dodgers improved infield defense. I also receive a $5 Robert Stephenson, the Reds top prospect. He had his ups and downs last season, but the prospect experts still like him. If he can't' cut it in a starting role, he could become a dominant closer. In addition, I get a $10 Juan Uribe as I don't want to spend what it would cost to get a David Wright or Ryan Zimmerman, both in the draft pool, on draft day.

All of these deals leaves me with 16 keepers, not including Franco and Urias, who are on my farm roster. Here is my list of keepers at the moment:

Pos

Player

Team

Con

Sal

SS

Starlin Castro

CHC

S1

22

2B

Kolten Wong

StL

S1

10

3B

Juan Uribe

LAD

S1

OF

Matt Kemp

SD

S1

32

OF

Charlie Blackmon

Col

S1

10

OF

Billy Hamilton

Cin

S1

10

MI

Arismendy Alcantara

CHX

S1

5

OF

Khris Davis

Mil

S1

10

P

Jake Arrieta

CHC

S1

10

P

Kyle Lohse

Mil

S1

5

P

Hyun-Jin Ryu

LAD

S1

8

P

Johnny Cueto

Cin

S1

14

CL

Ken Giles

Phi

S1

5

CL

Sergio Romo

SFG

L1

7

CL

Craig Kimbrel

ATL

S1

39

P

Brett Anderson

LAD

S1

1

3B/CI

Maikel Franco

PHI

S2

5

P

Julio Urias

LAD

S2

5

P

Robert Stephenson

CIN

S2

5

We are limited to 15 keepers in this league, along with five prospects, so I am not sure who I would drop at the moment, but all of these offseason deals will leave me with about $72 to spend a the auction on March 21st. There is still time for more offseason deals, and I am already crafting a draft strategy, but will hold off on discussing it till after the draft. I am pretty much set with my rotation, so I can focus on filling out my hitters on draft day.

I think I have a chance to fare very well in the four pitching categories and in the stolen base category, so I will need to focus on the power categories on draft day.

In the meantime, I have some prospects and extra keepers that I can use as currency in trades between now and draft day.