Why I Won’t Bid on Correa (and most draftees)

In the original ottoneu league, the weeks following the amateur draft tend to be among the most active. As contracts are signed, draftees become roster-eligible and teams – particularly those that are out of the running for this year – begin the process of stocking their farm system with newly minted millionaires.

This year, Carlos Correa was already auctioned in that league, going for an impressive $6. Not only that, but half the league bid on him and four of the bids were for $5 or $6. All for a 17-year-old. The kid has a ton of potential, and may very well be the second coming of Alex Rodriguez. But I didn’t enter a bid.

And it isn’t because I couldn’t use a top prospect, particularly at MI. My minor league system has graduated a lot of talent recently, and is close to barren at the moment. I could easily drop a Mike Carp to make room for a future stud, but I find it’s best to be picky with the new class.

First of all, prospects are always risky, and guys who have never seen a pro arm (or in the case of arms, a pro bat) are even riskier. There are plenty of stories of top picks who have turned into valuable fantasy assets (I believe the Washington Nationals have a couple of those), but there are plenty of busts, as well.

But even more importantly, the path to the big leagues is often a long and arduous one. Let’s all acknowledge that the Bryce Harper‘s and Matt Bush’s of the world are what they are, and focus instead of the average top pick – a guy who moves at a typical pace through the minors, develops as anticipated, and becomes a useful Major Leaguer. Maybe even a very good one.

Let’s take Adrian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez went first overall in the 2000 draft, nabbed by the then Florida Marlins, who could probably use a stud 1B right about now. At age 18, in the Florida system, he played in both Rookie ball and Low-A (although with limited power) and in 2001 played a full year in Single-A before advancing to the high minors for 2002 (his age 22 season). After a decent year in Double-A, Gonzalez suffered a wrist injury, found himself in a trade to Texas, and struggled in his first look at Triple-A in 2003. 2004 and 2005 were a different story, as the big 1B pounded minor league pitching and earned a shot to go to the show, where he did basically nothing of note.

Then, in 2006, his age 24 season, Gonzalez moved from the hitters-haven that is Texas to run-sapping San Diego, and really blossomed, putting up a .304/.362/.500 line with 24 home runs for the Padres. The rest, as they say, is history.

So here is a guy who moved along, station-to-station, through the minors, and by 24 was establishing himself as an MLB star and a must-own fantasy player. But that was a SIX YEAR PROCESS! Let’s put the same timeline on a $6 Carlos Correa. Correa plays some Rookie ball this year, advances at a decent pace, and his owner pats $7 to hold him in Single-A in 2013. In 2014-2015, Correa keeps moving up but doesn’t see Houston, and now costs $9 as we enter 2016. In 2016 he gets a cup of coffee but provides limited value, if any, and costs $11 entering 2017, when (if we accelerate Gonzalez’s timeline a bit) he breaks out and becomes a star. Of course if the breakout is too big, instead of being a $13 SS in 2018, he is, instead, voted off your team and a guy you have to buy back for the next season.

Now, this is obviously only one scenario. Maybe he is A-Rod, or Justin Upton, or Bryce Harper, and we will see him tearing up the AL West in 2014, or sooner. And maybe he is Matt Bush and never has a real impact. The point is, the Gonzalez scenario is a good outcome. The Astros would be thrilled for a 23- or 24-year-old Correa to be a breakout star at SS. But if that happens? Not too helpful in ottoneu.

Because of this, I try to limit my draftee bidding to a couple scenarios: First, if I can nab a guy like Correa for $1, then why not? Sure, I might have to wait 4 or 5 years to use him, but at that point he will only cost $5 or $6 (and he will have taken up less than that each preceding year), instead of $11 or $12. Second, if I have good reason to believe a guy will be up much sooner than that. Trevor Bauer last year was a good example. Harper and Stephen Strasburg fall in that camp. This year, a guy like Mark Appel could be a case of a guy who is already closing in on his ceiling and could make a quick leap.

Some will disagree with me, and believe that grabbing a guy like Correa now, before the hype-machine really takes off, is the way to go. But roster spots and salary dollars are your two biggest assets in ottoneu. Tying up one of the former and a handful of the latter for the next few years doesn’t make sense to me.

We hoped you liked reading Why I Won’t Bid on Correa (and most draftees) 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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Trey Baughn

This is exactly right. Similar situation in our league where Tyler Austin (NYY), Low A, was picked up for $5. At least $4 too much…