It’s the holy grail for any team competing for a fantasy title, maybe even more so in a 5×5 league – the opportunity to add Mike Trout mid-season (assuming, you know, that you did not have him PRE-season).
In the FanGraphs Experts ottoneu league, I am in the midst of negotiating for just that opportunity. My team in this 5×5 league currently sits in 6th* place, but only 6.5 out of 3rd and with some upside. For example, the team in first is currently tops in strike outs – but has also thrown 110 more innings than any other team. He’ll be dropping in K, W, and Saves as other teams catch up once he hits the IP limit. So I want to make a run, and how better to do that than with Trout.
*All stats as of Saturday, so they may be out of date by the time you read this.
My team has four obvious statistical weaknesses. I sit 11th in ERA and WHIP, tied for 8th in Saves, and tied for 9th in AVG. At first glance, this makes Trout a less than ideal acquisition, as he only helps with one. But there are other factors.
I am fourth in SB, but only 4, 6 and 12 SB from the teams ahead of me. I am tied for third in HR, but there are four teams in a tight race for 8, 9, 10, or 11 points from that category. R and RBI are not as close, but if I can add 5 HR, 7-10 SB, and some average, I could easily pick up 4-5 points from the counting stats alone, plus a few more in average.
But at what price? The initial ask from Eno Sarris, Trout’s current owner, was both Mookie Betts and Addison Russell, plus others, for Trout and some additional “win-now” pieces. I pushed back on both and finally settled on making this offer:
Start with this – Russell and Taylor have barely played for me. My OF, when healthy, is Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Zimmerman, Brandon Moss and Mookie Betts, with Jake Marisnick and Seth Smith on the bench. My MI is Kolten Wong, Hanley Ramirez, and Brandon Crawford, with both Betts and Russell also available.
With all of my injuries, Hanley does find himself in the OF on occasion, with Taylor and/or Russell getting playing time. Tomas hasn’t been used much (Nolan Arenado at 3B) but figures to play plenty of OF now that he is eligible.
Let’s assume that the rest of the way, with my current roster, I use Tomas full-time, Taylor once a week (~15% of the time), and Russell twice a week (~30% of the time), but if I make the trade, I use Trout full-time and Castro 45% of the time (basically making up the time that both Taylor and Russell would have played. Here are the lines for the Tomas/Taylor/Russell trio vs. Trout/Castro:
Trio: .264 AVG, 14 HR, 52 R, 56 RBI, 7 SB
Duo: .293 AVG, 24 HR, 82 R, 78 RBI, 16 SB
Gaining 10 HR takes me from 9.5 to 11 points (+1.5 total); gaining 30 R takes 31 back to just one back from gaining another point); 22 RBI does little for me; 9 SB takes me from 9 points to 11 points (+3.5 total). It’s a bit harder to calculate the impact on average, but it looks like gaining 4-5 points there seems reasonable. That’s already a 7.5-8.5 point gain.
In addition, I am adding Axford’s saves. He’s not an elite closer, by any means, but if he can get me 10 saves I otherwise wouldn’t, that is another four points – so 11.5-12.5 total. That takes me into 3rd place and hurts the two teams ahead of me.
It isn’t enough to win, but it makes a big impact. The cost though? Well, I straight up lose Taillon, and I go from keeping Tomas at $17 and Russell at $12, plus having an option on Taylor at $7 pending his performance, to likely cutting a $31 Castro and making a tough call on a $58 Trout.
So, as I asked above – how much is too much for Trout? Well, maybe this much? It’s a tough call. Getting back a healthy Ellsbury, adding Tomas to my depleted OF, maybe using my trade chips on an elite closer…all of these things could make the price for Trout too much to pay.
Right now, the offer is sitting on there, awaiting Eno’s reply. For now, my take is that flags fly forever, and I want to make a run at my second title in this league. I am much closer to that title with Trout than without. But if Eno turns me down, I probably won’t lose much sleep.
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.