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Who's Going to Stay with You Next Season?

For those of us playing in a Keeper League, our trade deadlines are as important as the real MLB's. Here is a quick review of your potential keeper plays.

This is how the JBJ owners feel these days.
This is how the JBJ owners feel these days.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Trade deadline is just around the corner, and so are our Fantasy deadlines! For those of you who are playing in a Keeper League, this is the most important time of the year. Depending on your league's setup, this could be the crucial time to build up your next year's crop.

Not all Keeper Rules are same, but I'm going with the whoever-drafted-cheaper-this-year-is-cheaper-to-keep-next-year rule. I'm simply using Yahoo! O-Rank to estimate the players draft stock during the pre-season. Let's begin.



Wil Myers (O-Rank: 239 / 2016 Rank: 25)

He is not just an ordinary 5-cat beast. He has all the pedigrees to qualify as the best keeper candidate of the year. His monstrous power was pretty well known since his minor days, so we already got that checked. His 17 SB was quite a surprise, but we know that he wasn't just running wild to ink a great Free Agency deal like his old teammate Justin Upton. Most sluggers who can run usually become less aggressive on the base path once their lineups start to feature more power (e.g. Manny Machado, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo), but they will continue to run if that's the only scoring option the teams have (e.g. Paul Goldschmidt, and Bryce Harper). It's very unlikely at this point that the Padres will sign a number of sluggers to protect Myers next year, so there is a good chance he will continue to run. On top of all that, he is turning 26 next year.

Unfortunately, he is most certainly losing his multi-position eligibility, but 1B isn't the same Fantasy goldmine as it used to be. There aren't many better 1B than this guy.


Trevor Story (O-Rank: 232 / 2016 Rank: 18)

I don't think there is any explanation needed here. He plays the shallowest position in Fantasy, and not many player hits more HR than he does. There is a zero risk of him leaving the Coors anytime soon, and he still possesses a speed upside. Anybody who gets to keep him for the next year is the luckiest man on earth.


Jackie Bradley Jr. (O-Rank: 302 / 2016 Rank: 44)

The former first rounder showed a glimpse of potential breakout last year, and he is now an All-Star at age 26. It took him a while to settle down as a full-time big leaguer, but his emergence to the stardom was relatively a quick one. He doesn't dominate any category, but he simply can do everything really well. He also plays in the hitter friendly park/division, and he is surrounded by the best teammates.

He is going to lose his corner outfielder eligibility, but despite the current CF depth in the league, he is still worth his price tag for the next season without a doubt.


Honorable Mention: Xander Bogaerts (O-Rank: 62 / 2016 Rank 8)




Daniel Murphy (O-Rank: 158 / 2016 Rank 12)

Murphy was kind enough to show a preview of his potential breakout during the last postseason, but none of us, either in real or fake world, didn't care enough to believe him. His hot streak has been going on too long that now we have no other choice but to accept that he is an elite Fantasy infielder. The problem is that his power breakout came so late that now it's tough to predict what he can do for the next year.

His both high BABIP and increased HR are byproduct of a big jump in his hard hit % (31% to 38%), so as long as he can maintain a good health, he should continue to produce amazing numbers. Even if his .351 BA starts to regress, he plays a talent scarce position that his numbers will still be a godsend for the Fantasy purpose. Of course the biggest problem for an aging infield is whether he can stay healthy, so this isn't a risk free keeper play. Regardless, the upside certainly outplays the risk here.


Jay Bruce (O-Rank: 162 / 2016 Rank 30)

After two consecutive horrendous seasons, the Bryce Harper of 10 years ago is back in our lives. There is no reason to doubt the veteran's power, and his high level production of 2016 is more likely to be the real side of Bruce (read more).

Unfortunately, the slugger is turning 30 soon, and even if he isn't traded during the season, there is high chance that he leaves the Great American Ballpark before the next season starts (if not, mid-season of next year). Although his power can still fare well in pretty much anywhere, his value will still take a small hit if he departs the one of the best HR friendly ballpark.

The good news is that he will play for his free agency next year, so he will do everything to stay healthy for at least one more year, and he can even be more aggressive on the base path.


Ian Kinsler (O-Rank: 89 / 2016 Rank 17)

After hitting just 3 HR for the first half of 2015, many experts put "finished" tag on the veteran infielder. He bounced back with 8 HR and .325 for the rest of the season, but people no longer believed that the 34-year-old has enough left in his tank.

We all know what happened since then. So far he is having one of the best seasons in his career, and he is not only hitting, but also running hard. Still, it won't be an easy decision to keep him for his 12th season, and it's probably not fair to expect him to continue to display power in the current manner.

He is not the most exciting keeper, but we have seen many second basemen aging gracefully (Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips, and Robinson Cano), so it's not crazy to expect the borderline future HoF can deliver another quality year. Plus, he has so many tools that he should be able to find ways to produce numbers even when his skills start to fade.


Honorable Mention: Rich Hill (O-Rank: 301 / 2016 Rank 58)




Ian Desmond (O-Rank: 130 / 2016 Rank 9)

Well, no one saw this coming. The 30-year-old former SS is finally ready to hit the Free Agency market with some prides. He is going to lose his SS tag for the next year, but his current numbers are playable anywhere on the field.

His next year numbers will be probably closer to this year's than 2015's (read more). His power/speed tool is quite trustworthy, but his .300 BA is very likely not repeatable. At this point, however, he is so unpredictable. Once he signs a long term deal, he might not be as aggressive as this year on the base path, and the move-out from Arlington could affect his performance more than we think. He could have been a sure thing if he still played SS, but quite risky as an outfielder.


Jonathan Villa (O-Rank: 304 / 2016 Rank 33)

The best base stealer of the Major League has been a pleasant surprise. The Astros pretty much dumped him despite hitting .284/.339/.414 in 2015, and now he is proving that he is a real deal in his new uniform. He also possesses enough power to reach double digits in HR at the Miller Park, and his manager simply loves to let everybody run (the Brewers lead the ML in SB).

He is situated in the best case scenario to excel as a top Fantasy SS, but the obvious risk here is his relatively short track record. There is no reason to doubt his speed, but power/average should be a concern for his owners.

He did show some power in his Minor days, but everyone under the Astros system owns decorated hitting slashes, so he shouldn't get the full credit. He rarely hits the ball in the air, so if he can't keep up with his surprisingly high 15.7% HR/FB, his HR total should see some regressions. Also, even if he can maintain his .404 BABIP, he strikes out 26.2% of the times, 16th highest in the Majors, so it's safe to assume that he isn't a .300 hitter. Nevertheless, he should do everything just enough for us to go all over his excellent SB, and if nothing else, his SS tag will provide a safe floor for his value.


Mark Trumbo (O-Rank: 220 / 2016 Rank 31)

Well, what do we do with this guy? We knew he was a HR hitter, but we just didn't know he can hit this many. His BA came down to reasonable .270 as he cooled off after a scorching start, but he hasn't stopped hitting HR. His monthly HR goes 6, 9, 8, and 7.

There isn't much explanation for his revival, but his current 23.1% HR/FB isn't too far off from his Angels days (he recorded over 20% in 2012 and 2013). His numbers dropped significantly for last two seasons, but back in 2014 he was hitting 7 HR in 21 games to lead the NL before he went on to the DL. It's very possible that his recent struggles were related to his fractured foot. He is now two years removed from the injury, so he may have found his monstrous swing once again.

We won't find out where he will play for the next season anytime soon, but he owns enough power to hit HR pretty much anywhere in the U.S. His BA won't probably stay this high, but 40 HR guy should be always welcomed in any Fantasy team's roster. Moreover, despite his lack of defensive skills, he is very likely to qualify at both OF and 1B (4 starts so far) for the next season.


Honorable Mention: Eduardo Nunez (O-Rank: 305 / 2016 Rank 38)




Jose Altuve (O-Rank: 14 / 2016 Rank 1)

Anyone who didn't have to spend his or her early first round pick for Altuve's service got an amazing discount this year. If nothing crazy happens for the rest of the season, he is probably worth the first overall pick for the next season. He is simply a beast in every single category, and he plays in a very hitter friendly ballpark. He has been durable throughout his career despite his size, and he is only turning 27 next year.

This tiny middle infielder is perfectly built for the Fantasy, and his power has a room for improvement. Depending on your league's setup, he could be a huge profit despite his high keeper price tag.


Mookie Betts (O-Rank: 19 / 2016 Rank 3)

This 23-year-old proved enough that he should be picked at the first round every year from now on. He is the AL East version of Altuve, who simply does everything so well and plays in the best environment. His power is still growing in every minute, and he will continue to steal as he hits a leadoff.

He is going to lose his CF tag for the next season, but the position eligibility isn't the major concern for someone who can destroy the scoreboard in so many ways.


Honorable Mention: Madison Bumgarner (O-Rank: 28 / 2016 Rank 5)