Arb Hurts: What I’m Learning from the Allocations to my ottoneu teams

There is just over a week left in ottoneu arbitration (11/14 deadline!) and rather than rehash what Brad Johnson and I have stated in the past, I thought I’d look at arbitration from the point of view of the allocation target.

I’ve gone ad nauseum about what I try to do when I make my allocations, but it can be valuable to relfect on my reactions to what my teams are getting hit with. If something causes me angst, it’s probably a good way to go after my opposition, too.

I have three teams, all in allocation leagues.

Original League ottoneu Arb Hits
Player Current Salary Allocations Projected Salary
Jacob DeGrom $9 $14 $23
Carlos Carrasco $6 $4 $10
Mike Trout $63 $4 $67
Kyle Seager $13 $4 $17

Nine of the other 11 teams in this league have allocated, so I have been hit with $26 of a max $27. This, by the way, is the first thing I look at – I am way more concerned with total dollars than dollars to any one player. Which is a good first lesson – you are punishing the owner. Jacob DeGrom doesn’t care what you do.

I am actually pretty happy with what I see here, for two reasons. One, the heavy concentration on dollars on one player. My pitching is deep in this league and I was already thinking about moving a SP for a bat in the off-season. Now I have the option of shopping DeGrom, who at least 4-5 owners (probably more) think is undervalued, and effectively ship out the majority of my arb dollars. Or, on the off-chance DeGrom struggles next year, I can cut him at $25 before 2017 and keep down the long-term impact of those dollars. Either way, the concentration makes it easier to duck the dollars. And if DeGrom remains an ace, then I still have an under-priced asset.

The other thing I like here is the $8 on Trout and Seager. Trout I fully intended to keep and still do – he’s well worth this price. But this has no impact on his trade value or anything. $63 Trout will net me the same offers as $67, $70 or even $73 Trout. Those same $4 on Carrasco would hurt more.

As for Seager – I like Seager a lot, but I have been questioning his value. He’s a very solid, very consistent player. But using ottoneu points as a proxy for 4×4 value, he was the seventh ranked 3B last year and that was with 161 games played. I still think he is worth keeping at $17, but I was already thinking he might not be part of my long-term plans.

Experts League ottoneu Arb Hits
Player Current Salary Allocations Projected Salary
Nolan Arenado $13 $7 $20
Mookie Betts $10 $4 $14
Chris Sale $27 $4 $31
Corey Kluber $22 $2 $24
Anthony Rizzo $24 $2 $26
Rougned Odor $5 $1 $6

I smile less here. This time I see $20 out of a possible $21 so far (with four teams yet to allocate), which is again painful. I also see the dollars spread out amongst six player – and all six that I really like. Not only guys I like, but guys who seem set to be a part of my long-term plan. I had no thoughts that any of these players would be a cut candidate in the next couple years, so those dollars are going to stick.

Not one of these players is an easy trade candidate either. I don’t have great 3B options behind Arenado, I need Sale and Kluber after pitching sunk me in 2015, Betts is an anchor in an OF that is full of question marks. I could move Rizzo, as I also have a relatively cheap ($35) Edwin Encarnacion, but this actually probably makes me more likely to shop Encarnacion – Rizzo is still more valuable and still lower priced. In fact, that might be the one smile that arises here – $24 Rizzo should be getting hammered in arb, and he isn’t.

Staff League ottoneu Arb Hits
Player Current Salary Allocations Projected Salary
J.D. Martinez $9 $8 $17
Anthony Rizzo $33 $6 $39
Carlos Carrasco $11 $4 $15
Chris Archer $13 $4 $17
Chris Davis $29 $2 $31
Nomar Mazara $3 $1 $4

With two teams left to allocate, this team has taken on $25 of $27 possible, so again right up near the top. It is spread around, like the Experts league, but there is one thing I like seeing here.

I never mind having prospects get targeted. Mazara would go for more than $4 at auction, so I’ll definitely keep him, but in about a year, we’ll know a lot more. He could easily be worth $20, $30 or even $40, in which case the one dollar in arbitration this year won’t matter. He could also flop and be a cut candidate, in which case the $1 this year won’t matter. I guess he could prove a decent back-of-the-lineup #4 or #5 OF, but that is not why the owner who gave him a dollar gave him a dollar.

I like Davis as a target, as well. He could be my long-term answer at 1B, I suppose, but with Rizzo in tow and 1B being deep, Davis is probably worth an awful lot in 2016 (with OF eligibility) and then a lot less in 2017 (without it). If I don’t need him past 2016, any dollars that go to him are a win.

The biggest lesson for me here is the importance of spreading dollars around. I never thought a ton about that before – focusing more on what teams I hit, not targeting prospects, etc. – but I am much happier with DeGrom shooting up while the rest of my team stays protected that I am with the other two leagues where all of my guys are staying under market price…but those dollars are going to going to be impossible to dump in the future.

It isn’t as clear cut on my team, but the Seager and Arenado allocations suggest to me that I should check a team’s reserve options. If I had a good young 3B on the original league team, I might be less concerned about Seager getting hit. So targeting a team where it is weak might be a good strategy. If a team has Correa, Machado and Tulo, you might be better off targeting someone in their thin OF than one of their SS options.

Lastly, I’ve long-thought that older players are under utilized targets in arb, but looking from this perspective, I can see where anyone you might cut in the next couple years (cause of age, positional eligibility, a prospect coming up behind them, etc.) feels like a lesser hit.

We hoped you liked reading Arb Hurts: What I’m Learning from the Allocations to my ottoneu teams by Chad Young!

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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This is one of the most intimidating aspects of ottoneu. I love the scoring format, but arbitration and the ottoneu offseason is greek to me. I need to join the Slack channel.