Playoff Tax Candidates: American League

Yesterday I looked at the National League players who could see their 2020 draft price jump after a strong playoff run. Brandon Woodruff and the Brewers are already eliminated after losing the wildcard game in heartbreaking fashion so his draft price won’t get out of control based on just four strong innings, but he did earn some new believers last night.

Here is a candidate from each AL playoff team who could greatly improve their draft cost with a big October.

Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson

Before needing surgery to remove his hamate bone following the Japan series, Olson was carrying a 106 ADP, regularly going within the top 100. Knowing he was slated to miss a month, his price tanked especially because hamate surgery has always been a major concern for a player’s power even when they return. Olson bucked that trend, smacking 36 home runs in 541 PA from May 7th on and his early ADP is actually now higher than last year’s pre-injury mark at 100th in the Too Early Mocks (TEMs). That could skyrocket with a big October and I think he could peak somewhere in the 60-70 range.

Tampa Bay Rays: Emilio Pagán

It’s tough to buy in fully on the idea of a locked in Rays closer, but he quietly secured the role in the second half. He logged 15 saves with a 2.91 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 34 second half innings. On the season, Pagan had a 36% K and 5% BB rate in 70 innings. He did have a 1.5 HR/9, though, which can spell trouble for a closer, but if he maintains the role and curbs his home run rate, he could emerge as a premier closer for 2020. Pagan went 15th among relievers during the TEMs, around pick 200 so there’s plenty of room to move up and if he shuts it down in the ninth during a big run for the Rays (like maybe even a World Series run) I could see him as high as the 8th-9th closer, landing around pick 150-160.

New York Yankees: Luis Severino

I’m copping out a little bit here but it’s partly because I don’t really see any other candidates (maybe Gio Urshela, who only went 252nd in the TEMs). Severino’s been a premium pick before so this would be a return to prominence. Heck, even his TEM ADP of 93 is high considering he pitched just 12 innings this year. That number will soar if he leads the Yankees rotation throughout a solid playoff run. Drafters just need to feel confident on his health and he’ll rejoin the top 20 SPs, which would place him within the top 70 picks.

Minnesota Twins: Mitch Garver

Garver might not even need a huge playoff run to elevate his draft price. Just flashing his 2019 numbers across the screen every time he comes up to bat should bring more people on board and boost his ADP. The 28-year old backstop hit an astounding 31 HR in just 359 PA during the regular season with a .273/.365/.630 line.

I’m reluctant to use the TEMs price too much since those were 1-catcher drafts and the standard is 2-catcher so don’t look at his 187 ADP and think you’ll get him there in 2-catcher leagues. He probably won’t leapfrog the top four catchers – Gary Sanchez, J.T. Realmuto, Willson Contreras, and Yasmani Grandal – but he could close the gap and land near Contreras and Grandal. He was 45 picks away from them in the TEMs.

(Note: I probably would’ve used Luis Arraez here if he was healthy, but his status is uncertain after a late-season ankle sprain. After originally ranking him very low on my 2B ranks, I’ve been sold on the 22-year old contact stud.)

Houston Astros: Jose Urquidy

This was a tough one. All of their studs are already super expensive and even their mid-tier stars never really fall too far down the draft list. So I went deep with Urquidy. He’s not even guaranteed to make the ALDS roster, but the 24-year old had a breakout season and might’ve done enough in September to earn a spot.

In four appearances – two starts, two follows – the righty allowed just 3 runs in 18 innings (1.50 ERA) with a 0.82 WHIP, 25% K rate, and 5% BB rate. A pivotal multi-inning relief role in the playoffs could put him in wide awake sleeper territory wherein he winds up on every list thus robbing his sleeper status. He went just 403rd on average in the TEMs, but could jump 100 picks or even more deeper into draft season if he secures a rotation spot (JV, Cole, Greinke, McCullers, Urquidy perhaps?).

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

newest oldest most voted
OddBall Herrera
OddBall Herrera

Mark my words, Astudillo is going to go nuts and the hype train will be even worse than going into this year


small problem. He’s not on the LDS postseason roster.