Keeper Deadline (2018) – All Questions Answered by Trey Baughn January 31, 2018 Welcome to the Ottoneu keeper deadline, 2018 edition. Today (11:59 PM EDT) is the final day to make that difficult decision about your on-the-bubble players before rosters lock and you set your sights on your upcoming league auction. Per the rules: Between the end of the Major League Baseball regular season and the end of arbitration, players may be cut. Between the end of arbitration and the keeper deadline, players may be cut or traded. After the keeper deadline and before the auction draft, teams may not cut or trade any players. Since the keeper deadline also serves as a de-factor trade deadline, I’ve lined up a few final resources for you below and I’ve asked a handful of Ottoneu experts (Justin, Chad, Brad) to check your questions and comments periodically throughout the day to offer their input on your toughest decisions. You don’t play this game? You should, but even if your non-Ottoneu keeper deadline is still a few weeks away, feel free to fire your questions below and we’ll do our best to give you feedback (for context, don’t forget to let us know details about your league format). A few deadline resources: Justin has updated his Surplus Calculator and has offered a road map for inflation and trade analysis Paul has updated his Starting Pitcher rankings Brad has warned us all about keeping too many players and the flaws of rebuilding Chad wrote the book on player values across Ottoneu formats and how to calculate your own values I’ve got you covered on prospect values To kick things off I’ll use Justin’s calc to highlight a few of my own players I’ve been talking myself in or out of for 2018: Mike Trout ($68 Calc Value; $81 Salary) In one particular league I own Trout at $81. His current average salary in Ottoneu is $74. Is he worth it? In my situation (likely rebuilding), there’s no doubt at all that he’s a keeper for me. Yes, I’ll push hard to get lucky enough to be in contention in July, but I’ve been playing long enough to know you always want to be the guy holding the Trout card. If I’m winning, I’ll have Trout to thank. If I’m out of it, I’ll be holding the best trade chip in the league. It’s a win-win situation. I’m not thinking twice about this. Clayton Kershaw ($53 Calc Value; $68 Salary) I’m keeping Kershaw in the Ottoneu Champions league, and on it’s face it sounds pretty foolish. After an average of just 162 innings over the past two seasons and with 2017 being his worst season since 2010 (1.18 HR/9 last year), Kershaw, due to his high average salary (currently $64…will be interesting to see what it is tomorrow), will be one of the most commonly cut players across all leagues today. Not only do I believe Kershaw is primed for a big bounce back in 2018 (Steamer doesn’t agree with me, calling for a HR/9 closer to last season than his career average of 0.60), but I’m carrying a ton of high impact prospects in this league and need to do everything I can to maximize the value of every open roster slot heading into the auction. This is a tricky play, but (like Trout above), it’s very likely Kershaw is more valuable to me than almost any other team in the league due my roster construction, so the risk of losing him outweighs the potential burden of overpayment here. Context is everything, and I’m riding Kershaw to the finish (or at least until I trade him). Christian Yelich ($26 Calc Value; $32 Salary) Yelich’s average Ottoneu salary is currently $25; I just traded for him at $32. This has less to do with his move to Milwaukee (though 41 of his 59 career home runs have come on the road), and more to do with the fact that there are few established players who I believe still have another gear or two of potential improvement. To me, Yelich’s baseline is about as stable as they come, but I’m willing to pay extra here for the chance he takes that Charlie Blackmon-like leap into superstardom. True, the big expected breakout didn’t come last year at age 25, but as they say, I’d rather be a year too early than a year too late. Kyle Schwarber ($16 Calc Value; $24 Salary) There are plenty of reasons not to pay a premium for Schwarber heading into 2018: 30% career strikeout rate .171/.306/.341 vs. LHP in 2017 Limited AB’s (Steamer projects just 117 games) But after playing fantasy baseball for more than 20 years I’ve realized that every once in awhile (I’ve set my target at one or two per off-season), you have to occasionally ignore the numbers and bet on your gut. Kyle Schwarber seems like a terrific kid; I’m all in on the “best shape of my life” storyline and it isn’t even spring training yet, and the “eye test” tells me the kid is just a damn good hitter, plain and simple. I don’t have a lot of analytics to back this up (well, he was much better in the 2nd half last year), and I could be very wrong on this one, but I also know I’m going to have a lot of fun watching Kyle Schwarber in my lineup this year if I’m right… Ok, now it’s your turn. Which players are you struggling to keep or cut today? What’s stories are you telling yourself to make those decisions? Let us know in the comments (remember we’ll be checking in and out all day, so even if you don’t get a quick reply, be sure to check back in closer to the midnight deadline).