Who to Use to Buy in Ottoneu
As we near the end of May, we are moving beyond the point at which you can tell yourself it is still early. It’s not imperative that you start to buy or sell right now this very instant or even on June 1, but you do have to start developing a plan for how you will compete this year or, failing that, next.
I often find that part easy. My 12th-place team in the Keep or Kut Listener League is not going to make a miraculous comeback, so I will be selling. My first-, second-, and third-place teams across four leagues are going to fight for the top, even if in some cases it is an uphill battle.
But having decided to buy or sell, I find the hard part is determining which players I will sell or use to buy.
In Ottoneu League 1, the league from which Ottoneu was born, I am currently sitting in 5th place, thanks to a terrific day Tuesday that boosted me up from 7th. The top team in that league is running away with things at the moment, while second place also has a nice lead, but 3-8 are all pretty close. Close enough that deciding to be aggressive going after a top-four spot in a league with prizes for 1-4 is a worthwhile venture.
Which brings me to the question of the hour: who am I willing to part with to try to win? At some level, the answer is “anyone.” There is literally no one on my roster I consider untouchable, but there is a spectrum from “doesn’t really make any sense to trade this guy” to “I really want to trade this guy.” Let’s look at a few buckets and try to share some thoughts that can help you figure out who you are willing to move in your leagues.
Sure, I Would Trade Him but I Can’t Imagine It’ll Make Sense
- Juan Soto ($58)
- Alex Bregman ($33)
- Christian Yelich ($26)
- Dalton Varsho ($7)
These are mostly just players who have only borderline keeper value or players whose future value is meaningfully lower than their current value. That might be unfair to Soto, but since our main purpose is to help you think about your roster rather than critique mine, that’s secondary here. I’ll just note that in 4×4, elite players are not as valuable as they are in points leagues, so a $60 Soto isn’t as enticing.
Bregman and Yelich are not playing their way into being keepers, so there really isn’t any reason to think someone else would want them in a trade. In general, these are the players likely to be on my block if I decide to sell, so they don’t make a ton of sense to put on my block when I am buying.
Varsho is a unique case where the question is less whether or not he is a keeper with value to another team (I think he will prove to be a keeper by the end of the year) but whether or not his keeper value is higher than his current value. Because he is C-eligible this year and not likely to be C-eligible in 2024, using him to buy doesn’t make a ton of sense. If you think, like I do, that he could be a top 3-5 catcher the rest of the way, but is just a useful OF, then his keeper value to a potential seller is pretty low, while his value to me is pretty high.
Other examples of this are players who are currently MI-eligible, but likely to lose that eligibility. Max Muncy is likely to lose 2B. Justin Turner might lose 3B (or he might keep that and add 2B, but I doubt it). Jazz Chisholm Jr. is headed to OF-only. Be sure to keep those kind of eligibility questions in mind as a buyer or a seller – if you are buying, you won’t get fair value for Muncy; if you are selling, you need to trade him now, almost no matter his price, because his value drops quite a bit in October.
Definitely Open to It, but You Have to Make it Worth my While
- Paul Goldschmidt ($28)
- Kevin Gausman ($25)
- Carlos Rodon ($23)
- Framber Valdez ($20)
- Randy Arozarena ($15)
All five of these players are keepers and all five would have value to a seller, but I kind of need them, and they aren’t so inexpensive that another manager is likely to just blow me away with an offer. So we get into a tough spot negotiating around them. If you want my Goldschmidt, I need you to replace his production this year and give me enough of an upgrade at another spot to justify the trade. Trading him for an overpriced Freddie Freeman doesn’t really help me, but are you willing to give up a stud OF or MI or SP in addition to Freeman to get a deal done? If so, let’s talk.
These are players who I also might consider selling if I fall out of it, but they are not as obvious as the gentlemen on the previous list and would require a bigger return.
The takeaway for you is to identify players who, regardless of keeper value, would hurt your team too much to move without a really meaningful return.
I Expect Managers Will Come for Him But I Really Don’t Want To
- Spencer Steer ($12)
- Pablo Lopez ($12)
- Jesus Luzardo ($11)
- Vinnie Pasquantino ($8)
- Cristian Javier ($7)
- LaMonte Wade, Jr. ($5)
- Mike Yastrzemski ($5)
- Isaac Paredes ($3)
- Luke Raley ($1)
- Yennier Cano ($1)
This list is sorta like the one above, but with the added wrinkle that they all have high keeper value. I could argue Spencer Steer belongs on the previous list, but I all his eligibility plus his performance make him quite valuable.
If I were a seller talking to the manager of this team, those are some of the names I would be most interested in. But I am going to be hard-pressed to move any of them. Let’s use Pasquantino as an example. Like Goldschmidt above, he’s a fixture in my lineup and producing for me, with room to grow. He is also helping in HR and SLG, which are categories I need help. As he continues to develop, he looks like a guy who will either absorb a lot of arbitration for me or be on my roster for the next half-decade. So if someone wants to acquire him they need to a) replace his util production for this year and b) provide enough other value to make up for losing him in 2024, 2025, and 2026, if not longer. That overpriced Freeman that isn’t really enough for Goldschmidt isn’t close to enough for Pasquantino.
The exceptions here might be Wade and Yastrzemski. Neither is young and they are both platoon bats for me. Given they are teammates, that means that when I can’t use one, I also can’t use the other, and when I want to use one, I also want to make room for the other. That’s not an ideal situation and so while I like them both long-term, trading one now is a bit more palatable than it might be. This, by the way, is an issue I have noticed with other platoon teammates, such as TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley. The overlap means I am more likely to bench one of them when they have the platoon advantage and I am more likely to need one of them when I can’t use them. Pairing one of Fraley or Friedl with one of Yastrzemski or Wade would be far more productive.
I Would Do It, But Is There a Market
- Jeff McNeil ($10)
- Trevor Larnach ($3)
- Brendan Donovan ($3)
- Tyler Wells ($3)
- Drew Smyly ($2)
- Trey Mancini ($1)
- Edmundo Sosa ($1)
- Nick Maton ($1)
- Wade Miley ($1)
- Sam Hentges ($1)
- Colin Holderman ($1)
- Mark Leiter Jr. ($1)
- Nate Pearson ($1)
- Kyle Bradish ($1)
- Clarke Schmidt ($1)
These players represent a pretty wide range of production so far this year, with some of them being borderline cuts if needed and others being reliable contributors. What they all have in common is that they are all players I would trade for upgrades but with warts that might make them hard to move.
McNeil, Mancini, Donovan and some of the others aren’t really performing how I expect, and so I imagine many sellers will be uninterested in acquiring them. Smyly, Sosa and some others are producing but their track records and lack of hype are probably going to depress their values. Bradish, Larnach, Schmidt and others are guys I believe in long-term but who are currently either hurt or not producing enough to justify a high trade value.
This, though, is the first group of guys I would put on the block. Anyone who has looked deeper into Bradish or Larnach, for example, may be intrigued and swapping them for someone more immediately productive with less upside is still a smart move for me.
My relievers are all in this bucket, too, with the exception of Cano. Cano has turned himself into a clear keeper and would be tougher for me to move. The rest? Well, you know how I feel about keepers (they’re a dime a dozen) and if anyone is really excited about trading for one of them, they can have them for basically any upgrade anywhere else, or even for an overpriced ace RP.
Probably Should Be Traded
- Ezequiel Tovar ($5)
- Logan O’Hoppe ($5)
- Matt McLain ($3)
- Casey Schmitt ($1)
- Enmanuel Valdez ($1)
- Geraldo Perdomo ($1)
- Michael Massey ($1)
This is the group that likely represents my best chance to upgrade. Let’s table the first and last names for a moment, but the rest are a) putting up numbers, b) young, and c) cheap. They are also not guys I am relying on. I find myself using one of McLain, Schmitt, Valdez, or Perdomo pretty often, but not all of them and so trading a couple of them for an upgrade would work well. O’Hoppe looked like a stud, but he isn’t even playing and won’t be for a while longer, so making a change there isn’t a bad idea.
Tovar and Massey are the two who maybe don’t belong, and they represent an issue we all struggle with: the endowment effect. Tovar and Massey were both targets for me in a lot of leagues this off-season. I believe in the talent with both. They are both struggling, but they are also young and have shown some positive signs.
The problem is, I might be viewing them in this camp (“Of course someone else would want to trade for them, I just need to find the right deal”) because I like them, rather than because someone else actually does like them. I probably need to spend a little more time with those two and determine if they aren’t better suited to the “I Would Do It, But Is There a Market” bucket above.
So why go through all of this? My hope is that it demonstrates how thoughtful you can and should be about setting yourself up to buy. Be honest with yourself about who you want to trade but probably can’t; who you will get asked about but know you won’t want to deal; and who you can really put out there to try to get something done. When you are making a trade block, make it up from the bottom bucket (“Probably Should Be Traded“) and whoever you talk yourself into being okay moving from the third bucket (“I Expect Managers Will Come for Him But I Really Don’t Want To”).
Don’t try to push guys from the fourth bucket if they don’t really have value. Don’t push guys from the second bucket if a deal just doesn’t make sense. Let people know you are open to moving them, but don’t pretend you are trading players you are not or try to aggressively shop players who no one will want.
Lastly, be smart about how you shop. If you talk yourself into moving a guy like Paredes but need a MI to replace him, be direct about that. I sometimes get myself into corners when I think I will trade away a MI in one deal and replace them in another. Sometimes multiple deals come together all at once and make that work. More often, they don’t.
A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.
What bucket(s) would you tend to put prospects? Those have always seemed like the best today for tomorrow trades.
They almost always go into the “probably should be traded” bucket with the exception of someone I am confident is going to be called up very soon (before the break for example). Those guys still probably go into “probably should be traded” but might end up in ” I Expect Managers Will Come for Him But I Really Don’t Want To.” But that would be rare.