ottoneu Trade Targets (and Trade Bait): (IF Edition)

The ottoneu off-season is well underway and I know many leagues have been wildly active, making the Padres and Dodgers look dull in comparison.

My leagues, however, have had slow developing trade markets, so rather than being able to report on what I’ve done, I am instead going to provide a list of players, by position, who I am targeting (or would be, if I had a need) in trade talks. For good measure, I’ll add in a player I am trying to trade away, too (or would be, if I owned him). We’ll hit the infield today and I will follow up with the OF and pitchers.

Catcher
Target – Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers
I have liked Grandal for a while, and in a couple leagues, I don’t have to target him. But I find the former-Padre to be undervalued by most. Among C with 400+ PA, Grandal was 13th in SLG, 10th in OBP, T-8th in HR, 9th in R, 17th in RBI, and stole three bases to boot. He also did this while playing in Petco, and while Dodger Stadium isn’t exactly a hitter’s paradise, it’ll feel like a bandbox compared to Petco. No to mention the improved lineup around Grandal compared to the ’14 Padres. Basically, he was a solid starting fantasy C when he played. I think there is serious breakout potential here, but the downside is still pretty good.

Bait – Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
I expect Santana to do what he always does and be a stellar offensive player. I also expect him to not get enough playing time behind the plate to qualify as a catcher in 2016. If you are gung-ho, win-now, go-for-broke, he’ll be a top 2-3 fantasy catcher for ottoneu teams in 2015. But if you are thinking about the long-haul, I’d happily trade him now. The issue is that he comes with a $30 price tag, and he is easily a $30 catcher, but as a 1B in 2016? Not only does his value drop, I am not sure there is any surplus in a $32 Carlos Santana playing 1B only.

First Base
Target – Lucas Duda, New York Mets
Other owners I have talked to seem to have missed Duda’s breakout 30-HR performance in 2014. He paired that impressive power number with .253/.349/.481 line that won’t kill you in 5×5 and will help in 4×4 and points leagues. And I really see no reason to think that last year was a huge fluke. His BABIP was .283, which is both below average and below his career mark (.292). His 16% HR/FB rate and 49% FB rate were both career highs, but in 2013 they were 14.3% and 48.4% respectively, so nothing to worry about there. He swung a bit more often and made better contact, but those numbers stabilize quickly so there is no reason to think that is not legit improvement. Oh, and the fences are being moved in at CitiField? I wouldn’t bank on 30 bombs again, but I expect solid numbers. For a $5 1B/Util, I’ll take it.

Bait – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Mauer is a very solid player, with a strong bat, who will post great rates. But there still isn’t much around him in Minnesota and he still has very little power. He is still paid like a catcher but as a 1B? I am not optimistic that he’ll provide much value.

Second Base
Target – Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
Sure, his 2014 line was just .210/.280/.333 with 10 HR and he isn’t exactly providing double digit steals anytime soon. But he is only a year removed from a .249/.301/.444 season with 23 HR, and that is an awfully valuable line from a 2B. In addition, he had a heavy split before (221 PA, .162/.213/.270 with 5 HR) and after (222 PA with a .260/.347/.398 with 5 more HR) a DL stint for plantar fasciitis, which is quite painful and likely impacted that brutal first half. The second half is nothing special, but it is solid for a 2B – give him a full season with 600 PA and you are talking about a good OBP, good enough SLG from a MI, and 15 HR. His overall line is ugly and I bet you can get him for a relatively low price.

Bait – Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
This is all about perceived value. Dozier is an excellent play at 2B, a near lock for a 15 HR/15 SB season. But his 2014 was 23/21, and he posted a .345 OBP which looks a lot more like a career year (at least to me) than a new baseline. He looks like generally the same player, except with more FB crossing the fence than falling into gloves. Maybe he maintains that, but his second half gives cause for doubt – after cracking 18 HR in 360 PA before the break, he had just 5 in 283 after the break. I would not be surprised to see Dozier and Gyorko put up similar rate stats – better OBP from Dozier, better SLG from Gyorko – and have Gyorko hit ~5 more HR and Dozier steal ~15 more bases. But I bet you can trade Dozier for Gyorko and then some, and I bet the “and then some” more than makes up the difference.

Shortstop
Target – Jed Lowrie, Houston Astos
His one previous season in Houston, Lowrie played only 97 games and still managed a career high 16 HR. That power has faded in his two years in Oakland (21 total HR over 290 games), but he continues to be a solid hitter for a SS. He doesn’t provide much speed, so the HR matter, but I see him bouncing back away from O.co Coliseum, which just punishes fly balls. He’s cheap, his owner likely feels burned from last year – now is the time to strike.

Bait – Starlin Castro
The hardest part of selling him will likely be his price tag. And the reality is, he is probably worth the $20+ he costs, maybe worth much more. But I think there are enough causes for concern that I’ll be shopping him. He has been up and down since coming up, and those ups and downs appear to be BABIP related. Last year was a high BABIP year for him, even compared to his previous good years. He hit more FB, which worked because his HR/FB rate jumped, but if the former sticks and the latter doesn’t, it’ll hurt. The biggest issue is that if he struggles, there are a number of options to replace him in Chicago. I can’t see them just straight benching him, but platooning him (he is much better vs. lefties for his career) or playing him less often to give Addison Russell or any number of other players a shot? Quite possible.

Third Base
Target – Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
Kyle Seager is still priced under $15 on average. He had the #6 wOBA among 3B last year and two of the five above him (Anthony Rendon and Josh Harrison) will be mostly a fantasy MI in 2015. That leaves you with an elite 3B bat being paid like an average one. The fact that the national consciousness on the Mariners is that they have great pitching and no offense will only help your case in trying to acquire him. Any Seager owner who was paying attention last year likely knows what a steal they have, but if they will sell, you should be buying as fast as you can.

Bait – Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians
Find the owner who remembers Chisenhall’s explosive first half, when he was a clear cut fantasy MVP candidate. Remind that owner that, despite his brutal second half, Chisenhall was STILL 8th among 3B in wOBA (unless that owner does not remember his second half, then just ignore it). I actually think Chisenhall is a valuable fantasy piece, particularly in deeper leagues, but he is more “backup you don’t mind playing regularly” or “platoon guy” or something, than he is “top-10 starting 3B.” If you can get someone to pay for that first half, or even close to it, jump at it.

We hoped you liked reading ottoneu Trade Targets (and Trade Bait): (IF Edition) by Chad Young!

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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.

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Kris
Member
Kris

Agree on Carlos Santana. A good elite option for C for 2015 but if you want to get anything for him before he loses C eligibility in 2016 you have to sell now. I did this and got Pence/Bundy/CJEdwards collectively for the same price as Santana.

CoolWinnebago
Guest
CoolWinnebago

Little late on this, but Santana should have 3b eligibility in most leagues this year.