One of my favorite things to do in fantasy baseball keeper leagues is rebuild, which is great because it makes a poor start much less frustrating. However, rebuilding is a complicated process and many teams who attempt to rebuild find themselves in the same position next season. While a second round of back luck is sometimes impossible to prevent, the following are some helpful tips for rebuilding your team.
Tip #1: Know When to Rebuild
It is difficult to accept this is not your team’s year, but knowing when to throw in the towel is crucial to a team’s long-term success. As a general rule, if your team is in the bottom half of the standings at this point, unless you can make a rational argument for a miraculous comeback, it is time to rebuild. Few teams regret their decision to rebuild because it’s an enjoyable process that improves your team. First, you can kick the underperforming players off your roster. Second, it’s easy to manage a rebuilding team because you do not have to watch the team’s performance regularly. Finally, you can take on more risk because it doesn’t matter when a speculative player underperforms.
Tip #2: Emphasize Talent Over Stats
The primary mistake rebuilding teams make is trading for mediocre players who are over-performing. For your team’s purposes, statistics are meaningless until next season. Therefore, you must consider whether the player is really undervalued or simply playing over his head. Of course, statistics have some meaning, but in general, discount the value of players with excellent numbers without a long-term track record of success or considered a top prospect.
Tip #3: Use the Disabled List to Your Advantage
Generally, many of the best rebuilding trades involve getting an injured player at a discounted price. For example, imagine this scenario: Competing team owns a renewable Kendry Morales at $12 (done for the season) and Rebuilding team owns Price Fielder at $40. At this point, Kendry Morales for Prince Fielder is a great trade for both teams. The rebuilding team gets another less obvious advantage acquiring Morales because they can “cover” him with another player who—depending on the league’s rules—can provide a second potential renewal for the next season.
Tip #4: Target Low Priced Players
This statement seems as obvious as a “Murphy’s Law” before a 1990’s Rockets game. But here, I am suggesting something which goes further than what common logic would indicate. Presumably, rebuilding teams should view renewals based sheerly on the difference between the player’s salary and next season’s projected value. For example, assume Rebuilding Team owns a $30 player they believe will be worth $40 next season. In return, Rebuilding Team is offered a $5 player they believe will be worth $20 next season. Should rebuilding team–who gains only $5 in value–accept the trade? While many would disagree, I would argue “yes” because the $5 player is a scarcer commodity. You can always find a productive $30 player at the draft, but finding a productive $5 player is nearly impossible. A second reason which justifies trading away high-priced (yet renewable) players is teams are often less reluctant to trade away elite low-priced guys under the logic they get a renewable player in return.
Tip #5: Watch the Prospects
My favorite part about rebuilding involves watching prospects. There are many players with long-term potential who arrive in the majors offering little short-term value. Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel is a great example. Kimbrel—who is currently bouncing between AAA and the majors—is currently a scarcely-used middle reliever, meaning he can be grabbed off the waiver wire in almost every league. But Kimbrel is widely-reputed to inherit the Braves’ closer role when Billy Wagner’s retires this season, making Kimbrel a great target for rebuilding teams. Prospect watching becomes especially important in September, as teams call-up great prospects for the final month of the season who can provide solid renewals for next season.
Tip #6: Example Targets
In conclusion, the following are some players who will be involved in many “rebuilding trades” this season. These are players with long-term value (presumably underpriced) many competing teams would be willing to trade. I list the players as “overvalued” or “undervalued,” but it’s important to mention that it depends upon the offer. I also like the players listed as overvalued at the right price, so if somebody offers you Jose Bautista for Chipper Jones, of course it’s worth taking. Here are some names of players to target in rebuilding trades:
Undervalued rebuilding targets: Justin Smoak, Matt Wieters, Alcides Escobar, Kendry Morales, Brian Matusz, Colby Rasmus, Julio Borbon, Chris Heisey, Reid Brignac, Trevor Cahill, Chris Tillman, Evan Meek, Dexter Fowler, and Jennry Mejia.
Overvalued rebuilding targets: Carlos Silva, Scott Rolen, Ty Wigginton, Mitch Talbot, Jaime Garcia, Livan Hernandez, Dallas Braden, Doug Fister, Matt Lindstrom, Jose Bautista, Alex Gonzalez, Casey McGeehee, Matt Lindstrom, Tyler Clippard, Brennan Boesch, and Alfredo Simon.