Whether you are trying to win or finish in the money this year or aren’t sure you can get to that point and need to focus on keepers for next year, there are decisions to be made even in May.
Last week was a stunning example because there were clear cut players who might be useful this year as well as being keepers for next season. So let’s look at the players added via FAAB in both an AL-only and NL-only league last weekend. Both leagues are standard $260 auction leagues with unlimited keepers and assign a $10 retention salary for free agents.
The American League certainly had more players of interest.
At the top of that list for help this year was Toronto first baseman Chris Colabello, who also added outfield eligibility with his fifth game chasing fly balls on Sunday. Colabello actually could not only help teams right away but despite being labeled by some writers as a Quad-A hitter, could easily be a $10 keeper in 2016 should he win the majority of playing time at first base once Jose Bautista can throw and return to right field. In my AL-only league, Colabello went for $9 out of a $100 budget.
There was actually a player who went for more than that, but while I can clearly see the need for the Angels’ Carlos Perez in a two-catcher AL league right now, I am not sure he would be the club's starting catcher next April and thus be a keeper – but stranger things have happened. The team that actually won him for $13 is already rebuilding and needed a catcher, so they are happy regardless.
Houston’s Preston Tucker was not a highly regarded minor league prospect entering this season coming off a 2014 split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City where he hit .280+ with 24 home runs and 94 RBI. But a hot start this year at Triple-A Fresno, where Tucker hit .320 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 100 at-bats, earned him Houston’s minor league player of the month for April. While Tucker only got the call-up because of George Springer landing on the disabled list, he survived a roster cut when Springer returned this week and may get further chances in the Majors this year to prove he might be a contender for a starting spot in the Astros outfield in 2016. The winner of Tucker's services ended up spending seven FAAB bucks for him.
We don’t know who the Seattle Mariners would have chosen to be the opening day shortstop if both Chris Taylor and Brad Miller were healthy, but when Taylor landed on the DL, Miller had the job. When Taylor was activated last week, there were fantasy teams willing to see if he could win the job at some point this year or become the starter next year. Taylor also went for $7.
Finally, we come to Yankees prospect Jose Pirela, who hit .370 with three doubles and two triples in spring training but did not win a job on the opening day roster, even though many thought he would have been a better choice than Stephen Drew. Pirela was put on the major league 7-day DL shortly after the season started because he had been injured in a collision in spring training. He was transferred to the 15-day DL in mid-April and then sent first to Class-A Tampa and then Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being activated to the Yankees on May 6, in part because Gregorio Petit was put on the DL and also because of the poor hitting of Drew and Didi Gregorius. Pirela actually had 24 at-bats in his major league call-up last year after breaking out at Triple-A, hitting .305 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases. With no strong middle infield prospects in the organization, he will again fill a need with some chance of being a starter next year. Pirela also went for $7.
There weren’t as many new call-ups last week in the National League but Padres catcher Austin Hedges was one of the highest rated catching prospects in all of baseball. So when he was activated last week, a team with weak catchers was more than glad to spend 23 FAAB dollars (this on a $1000 yearly budget) just to see how he might fare in the Majors. Hedges can already hold his own as a receiver but it he proves he can hit major league pitching, it wouldn’t be a total surprise for him to be the starter for the Padres next year.
One other NL prospect who was activated last week, Nationals lefty Sammy Solis, was added for one dollar of FAAB. As strong as the Nationals pitching staff is this year, there are some potential free agents in their rotation and Solis, who was a highly regarded prospect before suffering several injuries, might have a shot at making the 2016 rotation if he pitches well enough. I only had to bid one FAAB unit to roster him and while he won’t be more than a reserve pick next year, hope springs eternal
In life and in fantasy baseball.