I think I may have made a huge mistake.
Well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but I am a little worried. I made a trade (something I rarely do) today that could blow up in my face or turn out great. I don't make many trades as a philosophy because I prefer to build through smart drafting and picking guys up off the wire before they get too much hype. I find that most of the trade offers I receive leave my team at about the same overall quality at best, and mostly result in me losing talent. So, when I do make a trade, it takes me two or three days to stew on it, crunch dollar values and prove to myself that the trade works in my favor.
Let's breakdown this trade by looking at all four pieces and hopefully, since these are all players with some fantasy relevance, others can learn from looking at each of these guys and my thoughts on them.
First, although you may not care too much, I'll give you the basics of this league. It is a 14-team dynasty league (30 keepers out of 35 roster slots) with R, RBI, SB, HR, OBP, Slugging, SV, QS, K/9, IP, ERA, and WHIP as categories. It is head to head scoring. I ran away with the regular season W-L record, but lost in the championship last season. I currently have Jed Lowrie for my MI slot and Eugenio Suarez for my SS. Neither of those are great options, so I have been looking for a SS upgrade.
After some back and forth negotiating, here's the deal I ended up accepting: I give up Danny Salazar and Robert Stephenson for Trevor Story and James Shields. Starting pitchers are extremely valuable in this league and nearly all 4th starters are owned, along with many 5th starters. That's why I insisted on receiving a pitcher back in the deal. Anyway, let's dive in to these four.
Once again poised for a breakout season, Salazar has shown flashes of greatness for several seasons now. Last year, he reduced his strikeouts a little in favor of improved command, but was still up-and-down most of the year. He finished with a solid 3.45 ERA, which incidentally, matches his 3.45 xFIP from 2014 and is very close to his 2015 xFIP of 3.48. He could certainly push his ERA down to 3.2 or 3.3 with better defense behind him (check) and a return to previous strikeout rates (TBD). It hurts to lose a guy of this caliber, especially in a league with K/9.
The biggest concerns with him are health (he had Tommy John way back in 2010 and the clock on his elbow is ticking), inconsistency (he had 8 starts out of 30 last year with an ERA of 5 or more), a small home run issue (1.12 HR/9, three straight years of 10% HR/FB or higher), and too much hard contact (he's had league average or higher Hard Hit % the last two seasons).
Many in the fantasy industry are excited about his potential for 2016, and I see why. Unfortunately, I will be on the sidelines this year, watching from afar. Maybe I will regret this.
This is the top Reds pitching prospect and a guy with the height, strength, and velocity to be dominant. He's close to the majors, down in AAA. All of last season, he struggled with walks. He really struggled with walks. His walk rate has been well over 4 BB/9 for two years now, across AA and AAA. He still has a 70-grade fastball (good velocity and movement), elite strikeout stuff, and he's only 23 years old. He has continued to struggle with walks this spring (7 walks in 10.1 innings) and couldn't earn a rotation spot.
He's basically a stash, hoping that he will make good on his #2 starter potential down the road. I'm trying to win now and he hasn't shown any growth in his control, so I'm not worried about losing him. I think he ends up in the bullpen as an elite closer, but the Reds will probably use him as a starter until he proves he can't.
Here's where the latest news comes in. Jose Reyes had the domestic abuse charges against him dropped, but an MLB suspension of at least 30 games is still likely. He hasn't had any spring training, so he will probably not be ready for at least six weeks. Even then, there is no guarantee that the Rockies hold on to him or give him starts. At least that's what I am trying to tell myself today. Reyes is highly paid and wouldn't have much trade value if the Rockies try to move him, so I can see why they might just play him. That's enough about Reyes.
Story is a still-unproven 23-year-old SS prospect that will at least start the season as the Rockies starting shortstop. He's shown excellent power this spring (6 HR, 0.911 slugging) and even has good baserunning instincts (22 SB in AA/AAA last season). He's walked at an above average clip at every level up to AAA. Strikeouts are his biggest concern, lurking in the mid-20% range at AA and AAA. Will he be able to handle MLB pitching? That's the big question.
I'm taking a big gamble here that he will continue to show power and speed, while keeping the strikeouts in the mid-20s. If he can do that, 15 HR and 10 SB are realistic with a good OBP. He gets to play half his games in Coors, so that certainly helps me feel better. This is the key piece in the deal for me and the success of the deal really depends on him taking the starting job and running with it for a year or two or three. Maybe the Rockies end up trading Brendan Rodgers when he's ready or move Story to second. Just keep Reyes away from the ballpark, please.
"Not so big game" James had a pretty rough year in 2015. He dramatically improved his strikeout rate and moved to a pitcher-friendly stadium. Somehow, that resulted in one of the worst years of his career. A career-high walk rate and an absurd 17% HR/FB ratio are the big culprits. At least the HR/FB ratio is mostly just bad luck and should come down. Based on his long career of consistency, I find it hard to believe the new high walk rate is here to stay. He's not going to put up a 9.61 K/9 again, but even with strikeout regression, you have a 200 inning pitcher with a 3.6 ERA. That is pretty good in my book and a decent replacement for the loss of Salazar. He doesn't have anywhere near the upside, but he fills 60-70% of the hole left behind.
So, that's the deal. Did I screw this up? I clicked "Yes" on this just an hour before the Reyes news broke, for what it's worth. I hope you got something useful out of this. Each of these players represents a different type of player: the popular breakout (Salazar), the top prospect (Stephenson), the popular rookie (Story), and the boring, consistent veteran. A nuanced trade with lots of opportunity for me to look stupid in a few months. Tschus!