There wasn’t a ton of moves with fantasy implications over the weekend but there was enough to lump together some. I’m still at the point that no major team breakdowns can really start with the two big bats still available. Anyways, here is a breakdown of the moves:
Phillies sign David Robertson
The 33-year-old righty immediately joins the Phillies closer discussion for the simple reason he’s projected to be the best bullpen arm. Steamer has him for a 3.22 ERA with Seranthony Dominguez next at 3.39 and previous closer Hector Neris at 3.62.
The Phillies front office would prefer Robertson to close instead of the other two to save money. The team is already on the hook for his $23 million dollar contract, so his price is set. The more Saves the pre-arbitration arms get, the higher their arbitration contracts will cost.
The real wild card in this situation is manager Gabe Kapler. Last season, nine different relievers got a Save, six with two or more, and no one over 16. He has a propensity to mix-and-match depending on the matchup. While understandable for a real-life team, the situation causes some issues with our fake teams. Even if Robertson stays as the official closer for the entire season, he may end up with limited Saves and must be valued as such.
The lack of Saves must be especially valued in on draft day. Without them, he doesn’t belong in the top flight of closers. Owners who draft him aren’t going to be happy if he’s their top guy.
Before the signing, Dominguez was the 68th pitcher off the board in NFBC drafts. The next highest was Corey Knebel at 54th, Ken Giles at 49th and Kirby Yates at 45th. I’d expect Robertson to start going around these closers.
Yankees sign Zach Britton
The 31-year-old worm killer was once an elite closer averaging 40 Saves from 2014 to 2016. Over the last two seasons, he dealt with forearm and Achilles injuries forcing him to the DL. While he still accumulated 22 Saves over the time frame, I’d be hesitant to roster him because of his walk rate.
While dealing with the injuries, his walk rate jumped from the mid-2.0’s to the mid-4.0’s (4.35 in 2017 and 4.65 in 2018). He sort of got them under control as he got healthier. Here are his walk rates from June (when he came off the DL) until the season’s end: 7.3 BB/9 to 5.0 to 3.4 to 3.7. It’s not just his walk which has been affected.
Since the injuries, his strikeout rate dropped from around 10 K/9 to around 7.0 K/9 with his fastball velocity going from averaging 96.3 mph to 94.9 mph.
I’m not buying the bounceback Steamer projects with an 8.7 K/9. I’d need to see a spring training velocity bump before projecting a strikeout rebound.
At least he’s still getting the elite number of groundballs (73% last season) which will keep his ERA lower than his ERA estimators.
It’s tough to roster a middle-reliever with a subpar strikeout and walk numbers who may just get a handful of Saves. There are a ton of elite non-closers who will help a fantasy team’s ratio’s more than Britton. His draft value will adjust to but I see him dropping from NFBC’s 208 overall and switch with Betances who is going at pick 272.
Brewers trade Keon Broxton to the Mets for Bobby Wahl and other minor leaguers
In 798 career PA, he’s hit 33 HR and stole 50 bases. Prorating them to 600 PA, he has 25 HR and 38 SB. This should have everyone’s attention. What is keeping him off everyone’s radar is his .179 AVG from last season and .221 on his career. He has major strikeout issues (37% on career) but did post a career-best 32% last season. The only item keeping him on the field is his over 10% walk rate.
His profile (good power and speed, no AVG) is similar to those of Jonathan Villar (101 ADP), Tim Anderson (117 ADP), and Adalberto Mondesi (45 ADP). But none of the three walk like Broxton who has been taken as 626th player off the board.
I could come up with a good reason Broxton should go ahead of Anderson and Villar but in upcoming drafts, owners won’t have to pay close to that much. The key is figuring out where he moves up to. I’m guessing around pick 250 which still makes him a steal.
There is some risk that he posts a sub-.200 AVG and Juan Lagares stays healthy but around pick 250, little will be invested with huge upside.
As for the Brewers return, Bobby Wahl is a good bullpen arm who is going to an already stacked Brewers bullpen. He could be a closer with a projected 11.3 K/9 and 3.65 ERA. The problem right now is that too many arms are between him and the closer’s role. Ignore him for now but depending on how the bullpen shakes out, don’t hesitate to roster him.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.