Selling Mike Trout In a Dynasty League

I bought Mike Trout for $10 in 2012. He brought me two top-three finishes in the ottoneu experts league. But I was not up to the challenge, and now he’s $49 and my team is 8th. I see no other option but to sell Mike Trout.

It’s utterly depressing.

It’s also utterly exhilarating.

The packages I’m seeing! They are delightful. I thought I’d break down the two best packages before I hit the accept button. Even if you aren’t in ottoneu, you may find my process interesting. Or abhorrent.

Let’s just look at the offers first. Offer one wants my $4 Ryan Howard and $1 Seth Smith along with Trout, but I’m not actually too torn up about those details. In either case, here are the deals I could get. I have the roster space to accept these deals, but I might have to drop someone like Steve Delabar or Anthony Bass to accept the first. I’ll put my team lineup next to the offers for context.

Offer 1 $ x Relevant Lineup $ x Relevant Pitchers $
Jose Fernandez 8   C Brian McCann 11   SP Masahiro Tanaka 24
Kris Bryant 10   C Wilson Ramos 3   SP Doug Fister 9
Kyle Schwarber 2   1B Brandon Belt 10   SP Yordano Ventura 7
C.J. Edwards 2   2B Jed Lowrie 15   SP Drew Smyly 7
Archie Bradley 3   SS Elvis Andrus 24   SP Scott Kazmir 3
Brett Lawrie 26   3B Pablo Sandoval 22   RP Bryan Shaw 7
      MI Jordy Mercer 2   RP Chad Qualls 5
Offer 2     OF Mike Trout 49   RP Jenrry Mejia 3
Joey Gallo 3   OF Jay Bruce 36   RP Sean Doolittle 1
Jonathan Gray 6   OF Yasiel Puig 17   RP Hector Rondon 2
Mookie Betts 2   OF Leonys Martin 5   BN Derek Holland 8
      OF Marcell Ozuna 2   BN Shelby Miller 7
      UT Domonic Brown 9   BN A.J. Griffin 4
      BN Nick Franklin 5   BN Matt Lindstrom 4
      BN Ryan Howard 4   BN Wily Peralta 2
      BN Seth Smith 1   BN Lucas Giolito 1
      BN Jorge Bonifacio 1      

I didn’t list Dustin Pedroia, because at $44, he’s no keeper. You could probably say the same for Pablo Sandoval at his price, and there might be a non-keeper or two on this list still. But this is the best context I can give you: a team that has some nice pieces at good prices, but is still a middle infielder and a couple pitchers away from contention again. A couple middle infielders?

Of course, neither deal addresses that need, but since I’m talking about building a team, right now, this is about asset building. I could trade further now that I’ve decided to sell — Pedroia can be had for a song, everybody! — and I could create redundancies that allow for more trades even into next season.

One note that is particular to ottoneu before I go into the offers: We have an arbitration system that allows teams in your league to put as much as $3 on the price of a player. That’s how Trout got so expensive so quickly. There’s a non-zero value in keeping Trout to help defray some of the money headed for other well-priced youngsters. With Miguel Cabrera going for $75 last year, Trout’s true value in our league is somewhere around there, minus his future price.

Okay, the offers.

Offer 1
Quantity favors this offer by far. But I’m tempted to not even list Brett Lawrie at that price. But beyond him, you’ve got two nice pitching prospects, two nice hitting prospects, and a young ace that will be $10 as he returns from surgery. That’s a decent package.

Here comes some bad math. I was trying to figure out the bust rate on a major leaguer like Jose Fernandez and I think I can put a number on it. Pitching projections have a year-to-year correlation of about .5, meaning that you could assume that every year, 25% of pitchers ‘bust,’ even ones with major league track records. You’ll probably want to add the 10% failure rate on Tommy John surgeries to get Fernandez’s bust rate. Do you think Fernandez has a 30% bust rate next year?

The other guys are prospects, so we know their bust rates from the excellent work from Chris St. John and Scott McKinney. As a top-ten hitting prospect, Bryant has an excellent bust rate around 37.4%. Amazingly, high-walk, high-strikeout hitters in the high minors see their bust rates drop to around 25% according to St. John’s first method. Given his pedigree, you could maybe push Bryant to a 20% bust rate. His price is high, but an 80% chance of a great power hitter, even in the outfield, is probably worth around $10, especially since he’s up this year or next.

Most of the time, though, I like my prospects to be priced like the rest of the guys on this list. Let’s group the pitchers. Before the season, Bradley was a top-ten pitcher and Edwards merely a top-30 guy, but let’s say their work this year has them both as top-20 pitchers right now. They’d have a bust rate of about 63% each!

Add it all up, and I’d get 1.5 great young cheap pitchers (.7 Fernandez plus .4 Bradley and .4 Edwards) and 1.0+ great young hitters (.8 Bryant plus ? Schwarber) out of this deal. Schwarber might be closer than you think — the team is supposedly considering putting him in left field right now because he’s blowing through the minor leagues. In any case, that doesn’t seem like a lot for Trout, but how many seasons before Trout is at auction cost or worse? Two seasons of Trout for lots of seasons of these guys is interesting at least.

Offer 2
Given my style of analysis for the first, I’m sure you’re ready for the second. It’s probably light, mostly because of quantity considerations.

Yes, I love Joey Gallo like the rest of us. Talent evaluators were telling me on the field, as Gallo launched homer after homer in BP (and broke a car window), that more impressive than his raw power were the adjustments Gallo was making at the plate this year. Given the fact that his walk rate is high, you could give Gallo the 25% bust rate from St. John’s work. But you’d have to at least adjust somewhat for the fact that he was merely ranked 60th going into the season, and also that his STRIKEOUT RATE IS 43.7% RIGHT NOW! Man, that’s high. All of this is guess work — St. John’s second method only found eight comps, and for every Jose Canseco there was a Brandon Wood — but I feel okay putting maybe a 40% bust rate on him. (With a high high ceiling.)

You couldn’t have a more different pair of prospects than Gallo and Betts. Betts was ranked worse going into the season (75th), but had a similar meteoric rise, and has the plate discipline of a prospect with a high floor. Amazingly, in St. John’s study, players with a high walk rate and low strikeout rate in Triple-A had a zero percent bust rate. In his revised study, with power numbers factored in, he rose to around a 23% bust rate.

So already this trade is ahead of the other in one respect. Even if the ceiling is lower on Mookie Betts, he counts almost as a major league hitter next year. Even if we give him a 10% bust rate as a prospect, and then add in the normal hitter bust rate (lower because hitters have a year-to-year correlation of .67 to their projections, so their bust rate is about 16%), you have a guy that’s 75% likely to contribute next year. I might get 1.5 great players from my bad math here.

But then we get to the pitching, and I’d be lucky to get half a good pitcher with just Jon Gray as an input. Even if we call him a top-ten pitching prospect (he was 12th coming into the season), he’s got a bust rate just under 60%. If Offer 2 was beefed up — he does own Tyler Skaggs ($2), Daniel Norris ($3) and Noah Syndergaard ($4) — it could pull even with the other trade. It would probably take Skaggs and Syndergaard to equal the Fernandez, Bradley, Edwards trio.

But say those pitchers get thrown into the second offer… what then? Then I’ve got two trades that, even with bust rates factored in, should net me three young cost-controlled players. That’s a decent return….

Oh wait, the guy with Addison Russell wants in on the discussion.

He’s got a long way to go to match that first offer.

With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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