Keeper Trades – 8 Injured Players to Target

Another one bit the dust yesterday. Troy Tulowitzki is out for the remainder of the season and will have hip surgery tomorrow. He’s just the latest in a deep pool of injured keepers. If you’re looking to stock up on Grade A goodies for 2015 before your fantasy trade deadline, then you may want to target these disabled stars. Especially if your team is out of the running.

It should be pretty easy to understand why trading for injured keepers can be advantageous. A fair trade, by definition, is balanced. Usually, if you’re trying to trade non-keepers for keepers, you have to offer a lot more win-now talent than you get back in win-later value. Depending on the precedents in your league, the cost of a keeper can be very high indeed. This can be doubly true late in trade season when all the best keepers have already been acquired.

When trading for an injured player, you’re replacing your league’s fantasy replacement level, i.e. whoever your rival picked up off the wire. There is a lesser burden on you to provide over the top statistics. If you want to acquire that $20 Paul Goldschmidt from a contender, your non-keeper $60 Miguel Cabrera should more than do the trick. If Goldschmidt were healthy, your offer of Cabrera would probably be declined along these lines, “Cabrera might be five percent better than Goldschmidt over the rest of the season, but that’s not nearly enough to give up on his keeper value.”

Since Goldy is injured, your rival has the choice of selling or trying to compete with a Kennys Vargas type. We’ve all been in that position, it’s uncomfortable.

Now that we’ve discussed the premise, let’s quickly cover eight injured, potential keepers.

Troy Tulowitzki – COL: The Rockies shortstop was considered a surprise trade candidate at the deadline, but he’s not going anywhere now that he’s injured. Someday, he might have a fully healthy season, but I don’t think you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to sell him at a discount. He probably costs a first round pick or big bucks to keep. Those in snake draft leagues can try to increase his value by layering first rounders. If you’re able to keep Tulo, Goldschmidt, and Andrew McCutchen with your round 1-3 picks, you realize some value even though you’re also paying the highest price possible.

Paul Goldschmidt – ARI: He’s expected to miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand. His owners have probably been shopping him for about a week. Since he was relatively untouted when he broke out a couple years ago, he might be cheap in your league. In which case, pony up and acquire him. He’ll be a pricey option in most leagues, so the same thoughts apply as with Tulo. It was a freak injury, so don’t worry too much.

Andrew McCutchen – PIT: He’s expected to be back in short order, but remind your possible trade partner that oblique injuries can be tricky. An explosive player like McCutchen relies heavily on his core, so nobody should be surprised if he re-injures himself. With the fantasy trade deadline on the way, your job is to convince a rival that they’re better served with a “sure thing” like Justin Upton.

Masahiro Tanaka – NYY: Here’s a scary one. He threw fastballs from flat ground yesterday, and there’s chatter about a late 2014 return. I worry we’ll see the same thing we witnessed with Cliff Lee. If Tanaka ends up needing Tommy John surgery, he’ll miss all of 2015. Make sure that risk is priced into your acquisition cost.

George Springer – HOU: He’s taking very slow steps back from his injured quad. While he’s an example of a dirt cheap keeper in most leagues, you might want to remind his owner of the downside to prospect breakouts. Springer’s blend of skills is relatively unique, but plenty of guys burst onto the scene, rake for a bit, and promptly disappear. It could still happen with Springer given his crazy strikeout rate.

Jose Fernandez – MIA: Odds are, if his owner wanted to sell Fernandez, they probably would have by now. Still, I know I’ve been failing to deal Fernandez in one keeper league, so opportunities must still exist. He’s probably pretty cheap, but we’re also penciling in a May return and lesser performance for the 2015 season. His real value probably crops up in 2016, and I don’t often advocate planning that far ahead. Still, he’s a potentially very elite pitcher who might be available in return for a good non-keeper. I’ve been targeting guys like Darvish and Hamels with no luck (I’m also offering an extra tidbit in the form of Odrisamer Despaigne or Jeff Locke – it’s a very deep pitching league).

Edwin Encarnacion – TOR: EE has shown some signs and symptoms of being injury prone. He’s begun his rehab assignment for Toronto, so he could contribute again soon. Like with McCutchen, your hope to acquire him is to convince his owner that the risk of a relapse merits bringing on somebody who’s healthy.

Jason Kipnis – CLE: Unlike the others on this list, Kipnis is on the active roster and playing every day. He’s also banged up with an oblique injury that he claims has sapped his power. Kipnis owners might be happy to convert him into a different second baseman depending on their needs. Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler are two that jump to mid. He’s a five category talent when healthy, which always makes for a good building block.

Parting Thoughts

There are other injured players who could make good keepers. Michael Wacha is out there. He’s just a small adjustment away from elite performance in my opinion. For owners in ottoneu, guys on the 60 day disabled list like Avisail Garcia make for good $1 targets. Ultimately, it’s up to you to evaluate which guys are keepers under your league’s framework. Targeting injured players is just one way to make it a little easier to bulk up on keeper talent.

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I was expecting Joey Votto to be on this list. Thoughts on him for 2015?