The Rosin Bag 4/26: Trading, Prospects, and the Endgame

This week's mailbag is all about how to navigate the trade market and the impending prospect call-ups. Gabe Zammit takes a look at these questions as well as a few others.

Welcome back to The Rosin Bag, our weekly Pitcher List mailbag!

So much happening this week in the world of sports and entertainment. I’ve got to be honest for a minute: I have had a hard time fully focusing on baseball with the NFL draft happening and with the Avengers: Endgame movie on the horizon (words can not fully express my level of excitement for the Avengers). There are all sorts of things to distract and garner attention every week besides baseball, but that’s why it’s all that much more important to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Managers who remained focused and diligent will see the payoff more often than not. Right now, you will increasingly notice guys getting dropped by impatient owners because they’ve had cold starts and top prospects getting called up. Stay vigilant, stay focused, but also…go see the Avengers movie!

With that, let’s get to this week’s batch of questions!

All questions are either submitted via our Discord channel or through email to pitcherlistmailbag@gmail.com.

From Edward Gregory: How aggressively should we pursue top prospects like Carter Kieboom? While there is certainly an unknown factor, there is always that potential fantasy gem.

I feel like the allure of the unknown with a prospect call-up usually goes one of two ways for me. I’m either left feeling like I’ve found some sort of hidden treasure that’s made me wealthy beyond my wildest dreams or like I’m steering a ship and hear the oh so sweet song of the sirens before they lead me toward running aground on a jagged reef.

Every year there is a whirlwind of FAAB flying around about this time as prospects get the call. Sometimes it pays off in a big way (Juan Soto!), sometimes the guy goes back and forth between the minors and majors, and sometimes they get called up and just don’t reach their lofty expectations for one reason or another.

The best advice I can give is to do your homework around the call-up, because there are so many factors at play. For example, I may not spend big on a pitcher getting the call who may only be up for a spot start before getting sent right back down. Or, I may be more inclined to spend on a guy if I have a need on my roster positionally or statistically that the call-up might help me supplement.

I don’t mind spending early in the season, but don’t fall into the trap of going crazy and making your FAAB dollars rain just because someone is getting the call. I’ll say it again in case you missed it the first time: Do your homework on the guy. What is this player’s likely statistical output going to be? Where do you see their floor and where do you see their realistic ceiling? After saying all of this, I will tell you that I like taking shots on prospects…maybe it’s because I just can’t resist the sirens’ song. The key for me has been trying to get ahead of the curve on a call-up so that I’m not feeling as much pressure around using all my FAAB on what could be a risky acquisition. We all want to be the one who has the next Soto, but predicting versus grabbing some turd that takes up a roster spot is not always an easy task.

From Alex Tran: What’s your approach to trading? Do you usually just send out trades to other owners after quickly looking at their rosters? Do you try to talk to them first? Do you usually send a “fair” offer first or do you try to ask for more initially if that doesn’t work, move down to the “fair” offer?

Seriously, one of my favorite aspects of fantasy sports is trading. It really makes you feel like you have gone from playing a game to actually managing a real-life commodity. I love to talk trade with league mates, and I think the key to a successful trade is all in your approach.

My goal in a trade is never to “win” or take advantage of the other owner. The best trades are the ones where, at least initially, both owners feel like their teams are better off. If you walk away from a trade and that owner feels like you screwed them over or were deceitful, then you not only will lose them as a future trade partner, but you will also damage your credibility with the rest of the league. Naturally, you will get further away from a trade and look back and be able to say at some point that you either won or lost that trade.

So, if I am looking to make a trade I almost always send a text to the other owner first. Check in and see first of all if they even want to make a trade. How they respond will tell you right away if they are a responsive and active owner (which is a super important thing in a trading partner) and where their interest level lies. If you are the one reaching out to trade, the appropriate thing to do is to set the groundwork. Usually, I look at the team and see if they are a good trade partner in that they need something I have a surplus of and vice versa.

At this point, I will tell the owner something like, “I’m reaching out around the league and looking to add a bat. I see you may have a surplus in power and need speed, which I have a surplus in. Would you be open to trading player X, Y, or Z?”

What I like about this approach is that it shows you want to create a mutually beneficial trade and you are giving them some options as to guys you are interested in acquiring. From there, you can always ask them if they are looking to add something else or if any players on your team catch their eye. You may be surprised as to someone they would like. Once you’ve laid this groundwork, it gives you a sandbox to play in in terms of resources both you and the other owner are open to moving around.

Now, not every trade requires this much effort. Sometimes a trade is as easy as you just offering something up. I just don’t see those working out as often, at least not in leagues with managers who really pay attention or with whom I’ve played with before.

From John Koch: When do you decide to evaluate your team and make moves based off league standings and getting into the playoffs? What is the best way to go about this? Are there any key “do this every year/season” tips for novices? Thanks.

I guess I am constantly doing this. I’m always looking at, evaluating and re-evaluating my team and trying to sort out if I feel like I need to make any moves. However, I don’t like to make significant moves until there’s been four weeks or so of play. Trading is of course a great way to patch up a rough spot on your roster, as is scouring the waiver wire. There is one mistake I see owners make that I alluded to in my open. Every year I see guys drop players drafted in the top 100 before they’ve even played a month into the season. I’m not trying to say you should never drop a player, but sometimes guys just get off to cold starts. At the very least, bench them or even shop them around if you really don’t want them on your roster. Try and recoup some sort of value before just dumping a player and getting nothing. Conversely, keep an eye on the waiver wire for that guy who may get dropped. No joke, I got Corey Kluber once because of a frustrated owner dumping him.

In head-to-head category leagues, keep in mind you don’t need to win every category; you just need to win the majority and keep your eye on the Endgame…(see what I did there?). So, at this point you should know pretty well where your team’s strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe you need to decide to fully punt a category and pour more resources into other ones to ensure you take full advantage of your strengths.

From Stevek: Do you think Shaw will come around, and if so when?

This was a question asked earlier in the week. Since then, Travis Shaw has hit three homers and is showing signs of life. It’s really a testament to having patience, which seems to be a recurring theme. I’m always willing to give a little bit more benefit of the doubt to player with a track record, provided they aren’t coming off an injury or something. I try to remind myself that these aren’t just robots with a variable outcome, but these are real people with real lives. They could be having family or relational trouble, may be battling an anxiety disorder, or could just be getting really unlucky at the plate.

From Mike P: What’s going on with Justin Turner? Only two extra-base hits on the season. We know he’s technically not a home run hitter, but he hasn’t been great, especially for someone with a 92 ADP preseason.

Justin Turner is an interesting case; so far he’s been about as useless as Star Lord in Avengers: Infinity War. I mean, seriously! Star Lord losing his temper and ruining the trap with Thanos was so infuriating but still doesn’t make me love the movie any less. Back to Turner: His K%, batting average, slugging, and on-base percenatge have all drifted away from where they were last year. Most alarming of these is his six-percentage-point rise in strikeouts. However, his hard-hit rate is actually nine points higher than last year and his xBA shows that he should be hitting quite a bit better than he has shown. So long as the Dodgers keep trotting him out at the top of the lineup, there are reasons here to be optimistic. For me, he’s a hold or maybe a buy low if you aren’t spending a ton.

Another week and another mailbag in the books! I’ve loved watching this community grow. If I didn’t get to your question, feel free to hit me up on twitter: @gabezammit

Don’t forget to send in questions via our Discord channel for next week’s mailbag. You can also submit questions by sending an email to: pitcherlistmailbag@gmail.com.

Good luck in your fantasy leagues, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Gabe Zammit

Gabe Zammit has been writing about baseball since 2017. He is a contributor on Pitcher List in addition to Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Outside of the baseball world, Gabe is a music director and producer and loves to chat about anything and everything music.

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