Ottoneu 101: Midseason Free Agents

Over the past 7 days, the most added player in Ottoneu is Yulieski Gurriel. Over the past 30 days, the most added player in Ottoneu is Yulieski Gurriel. That’s a lot of Gurriel auctions! Here’s quick glance at the most added players in Ottoneu over a 7 and 30 day split:

Ottoneu Most Added (7/20/2016)
Name Owned Added (30 days) Added (7 days)
Yulieski Gurriel 70.59% 70.59% 70.59%
Eloy Jimenez 37.25% 31.86% 18.13%
Ryan Dull 62.75% 46.57% 17.65%
Ryon Healy 23.04% 20.59% 15.20%
Dylan Bundy 72.55% 25.49% 12.25%
Tyler Naquin 72.06% 44.61% 10.79%
Bud Norris 41.18% 39.71% 6.86%
Danny Espinosa 83.33% 41.67% 2.94%
-Dull and Gurriel appear on both lists.

This post is not so much about Gurriel, but rather a larger Ottoneu topic. What do you do with free agent top prospects during the season? How do you bid? (In this sense, the term prospect can be broadened to mean any player added to the player pool midseason). If you don’t see Gurriel as a pertinent example, consider the likes of Kyle Lewis, Corey Ray, Nick Senzel, Lazaritos, or any other of the recent draftees or international free agents. While the same premise should hold for any of them, Gurriel is an exaggerated example.

Yulieski Gurriel
Pos. Average $ Min Max
Util $13.08 $1 $32

As seen above, Gurriel is being scooped up in nearly all leagues, and the price range is rather broad. An important question needs answered. Why bid so much? While the $32 max mid is eye-popping (and probably is met with some criticism from other owners) we shouldn’t ignore well justified reasoning if it presents itself.  Two common responses to a $32 Gurriel bid.

“I believe he is a $32 player”

“I want to block other teams from having a good keeper, if he produces well”

 “I believe he is a $32 player”

I personally do not believe this is the case. I should acknowledge my bias up front. That being said, if I am going to bid $32, or any amount on a player, it is important to consider what a player at that price point looks like. Using our pre-season rankings, we can compare Gurriel to other 2B/3B/OF (where he has played in the past and is likely to get eligibility). Yes, these rankings are from the beginning of 2016, but it can be helpful to get an idea of a pricing curve. By looking at what $25-$35 could buy you pre-season, we can get a general idea of what type of production should be expected. Can we expect Gurriel to perform like these names?

$25 – $35 Players (2B/3B/OF)
Name Pos pre-2016 Price PAs wOBA
Matt Carpenter 2B/3B $32 351 0.415
Jose Altuve 2B $32 427 0.412
Carlos Gonzalez OF $26 379 0.386
Nelson Cruz OF $26 392 0.382
Robinson Cano 2B $30 417 0.382
Ryan Braun OF $29 325 0.371
J.D. Martinez OF $34 285 0.370
George Springer OF $27 432 0.353
Miguel Sano 3B $35 275 0.348
Yasiel Puig OF $26 292 0.305
Jason Heyward OF $29 366 0.294
Justin Upton OF $32 367 0.292
A.J. Pollock OF $30 0 0.000
Average $30 354 0.361

From our rankings, that’s the entire list of pre-season $25 to $35 players at those 3 positions. Some pretty elite company. Currently, several of those names are worth more than $30, while some are worth less. Players are volatile.  Certainly it’s possible Gurriel produces a ~.360 wOBA in Houston, but I would bet against it. Either way, it helps to give you a barometer for what $30 can buy you in an auction and the type of production you could end up with from spending $30 on player. Feel free to bid highly on a free agent, but have a baseline in place of what your bid is worth.

“I want to block other teams from having a good keeper, if he produces well”

In my experience, this response is more common when a higher than expected bid is placed. Gurriel may not be worth $32 in the eyes of this owner, but he is rebuilding and has extra money to spend. He wants to assure Gurriel is not owned at (what may turn out to be) a favorable price for someone else. By bidding $32 (or some higher amount), Gurriel would have to perform far better than expected, only to be an “okay” keep. This owner does not care about that. He’ll cut Gurriel in the offseason, and see what he costs at the annual auction when the league has a better idea of his expected production.  In theory, I do not have a problem with this justification. If you can bid a high price on a midseason free-agent (like Gurriel), without having to make some difficult cuts or hamstring your budget through season’s end, the tactic can work. In many circumstances, this is not the reality. I would only advocate for this strategy if you left yourself the means to go after other recent draftees or free agents at modest prices. For example, last year you could have forgone blocking teams from a high priced player and gone after 2015 draftees like Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi, Brendan Rodgers, or Ian Happ at $5 or less a piece. Maybe some players are cut as the result of a high bid and leave a few attractive free agents on the wire. I’d want to scoop these guys up. If I could block Gurriel while keeping my ability to go after other free agents (and prospects), I would, but I have not seen this be the case in any of my leagues. What about in yours?

In situations like this, I would approach Gurriel by bidding what I think he is worth. For me, that is around $12. If I was playing in a league against a super-team and was rebuilding, I would probably put a premium on the volatility surrounding Gurriel – since Ottoneu allows you to cut and re-auction a player every 30 days to reduce cap penalties – adding around $4 to my bid. However, I would not do this at the expense of targeting other top prospects available in free agency. Is there other justification for extremely high bids on midseason free-agents? Let’s discuss in the comments.

We hoped you liked reading Ottoneu 101: Midseason Free Agents by Joe Douglas!

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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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Brad Johnson

I figured he was a $2 player. He went for $15 in our league.

Trey Baughn

Agree with Brad here as my expectations of Gurriel are very very low, yet I bid $24 (won him for $23) in one league where I had $30+ in cash to spend. There’s maybe a 1% chance he’s worth $20+ this season and heading into next but at this stage in the season I figured there isn’t going to be much else to spend the extra cash on, so why not?


You can always cut him in the off-season and re-sign to a reasonable rate. I see nothing wrong with that kind of bid. If you got the money, spend it. Your cap doesn’t roll over into next year.