FANALYTICS: The Mega-Rebuild, part 2

So... going into the Xperts Fantasy League (XFL) draft in Phoenix this past November, my roster looked like this: (CLICK HERE to see how I got to this point).

FINAL KEEPERS

ca                        p  Ryu,H         7*         
ca Lucroy,J       16*     p  Hughes,P      6      
1b Encarnacion,E  19*     p  Richards,G    6  
3b Chisenhall,L    6      p  Keuchel,D     6      
ci                        p  Shoemaker,M  10       
2b Odor,R          4*     p        
ss                        p        
mi LaStella,T      4*     p  Robertson,D  11      
of Cabrera,Melky  11      p  Melancon,M    6      
of Myers,W         4*                   
of                       fm  Appel,M        0*
of             
of             
ut 
* Players originally drafted as farm (+3) 

Continuing the goal of building a contending roster for 2016—with little regard to 2015—I set these objectives for the draft:

1. Purchase at least three star hitters no matter the cost. I had no intention of keeping these guys; they were simply trade bait. Teams in contention are more willing to part with cheap, long-term talent for a big gun to secure a title. In the XFL, the marketplace blows open around Memorial Day. Odds are I would move all three players around then.

2. Surround these players with cheap, young talent. I wasn't going to worry too much whether the remaining players would be protectable a year from now; they were just here to fill out my roster. But if I happened to uncover a protectable gem, all the better. There would still be a 17-man reserve draft, trades and in-season free agents to draw from to build my 2016 keeper list.

3. Keep reminding myself that 2015 is irrelevant. I've found that I do need this reminder. It's tough coming to terms with the fact that it did not matter what players I drafted beyond those that would contribute to the longer-term plan.

And the November auction went off swimmingly:

POST-DRAFT ROSTER

ca McKenry,M       6      p  Ryu,H         7*         
ca Lucroy,J       16*     p  Hughes,P      6      
1b Encarnacion,E  19*     p  Richards,G    6  
3b Chisenhall,L    6      p  Keuchel,D     6      
ci Gonzalez,Adr   37      p  Shoemaker,M  10       
2b Odor,R          4*     p  Heaney,A      6      
ss Tulowitzki,T   45      p  Hendricks,K   3      
mi LaStella,T      4*     p  Robertson,D  11      
of Cabrera,Melky  11      p  Melancon,M    6      
of Myers,W         4*                   
of Werth,J        32     fm  Appel,M        0*
of Davis,K        10            
of Peralta,D       1            
ut Hicks,A         1

Not only did I land my trio of star-powered trade-bait—Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Werth—but I also got to redraft Khris Davis for two dollars less than what I would have had to pay to protect him.

The rest were all low-cost speculations. David Peralta and Aaron Hicks might turn into something, or not, but would only be $6 apiece if I wanted to keep them next year. Pitchers Andrew Heaney and Kyle Hendricks would have to pretty much break out in 2015 to be future considerations. Doesn't matter; there will be many more protectable pitchers coming out of the reserve draft and free agents.

The complete XFL draft results.

Ordinarily, now I would just sit back for the winter, contemplating my plans for the March reserve draft. But then it struck me... if I waited until the season to move my three stars, I would likely end up with some combination of farm and reserve players in return. Any players I received then would arguably be lesser commodities than anyone who was rostered during the November auction. Plus, I would have to compete for talent with all the other owners. Any player that an owner had paid draft dollars to put on his roster had to be a better option now.

So I decided to make a major pre-emptive strike. On December 3, just a month after the auction, I sent out the following note:

Gentlemen!

We’ve had Black Friday, Cyber-Monday and now it’s XFL Wednesday!

Hope everyone is doing well and had a sumptuous Turkey Day weekend. I suspect some of you came out of the draft with your sights clearly focused on a 2015 XFL title. Sadly, I am not among that group this year.

For those who are all-in for 2015, I offer you a few key pieces that could give you a hefty head start. Consider:

Troy Tulowitzki ($45)
Adrian Gonzalez ($37)
Jayson Werth ($32)

Take a look at your roster and imagine what kind of upgrade any one of these guys could provide you. Imagine Tulo taking over at shortstop with all his big numbers. Imagine AGon with his guaranteed 100 RBI. Imagine Werth with his consistent .390+ OBP.

Go ahead and look where they would fit. I’ll wait.

 

 

See? MASSIVE UPGRADES, RIGHT?

So, here’s what I’m looking for. For each player, I’d need to get EITHER Option A or Option B:

OPTION A: Any one +3 hitter with a current salary of $16 or less.

or

OPTION B: Your first round March pick plus the crappiest player on your current roster (since every deal must include a live body on each side). I’ll toss in my 16th round March pick to even things up.

Basically, you’d be trading ONE PLAYER for Tulo, AGon or Werth.

Yes, it’s a bit early to make that go/no-go decision on 2015, but here is an opportunity to lock in your early title grab with a major impact player.

Who’s in? Drop me a note.

I was immediately peppered with emails, each one more interesting than the last. But then I received this note from Inside Edge's Steve Moyer:

STEVE: I'm intrigued by your offer. It's possible I'd be interested in all three guys. I certainly have cheap +3's and March draft picks galore (four first-rounders - numbers 4, 5, 11 and 15 overall).

That was certainly one way to get my attention. Steve had been building a huge cache of young talent and draft picks for several years. With our respective teams headed in opposite directions, now was a chance to see if there was a fit. This was the complete negotiation:

STEVE: Here's my best offer—all or nothing: I give you Manny Machado (10*), Angel Pagan (1), Javy Baez (4*) and my #15 first rounder for Adrian Gonzalez, Jayson Werth and Troy Tulowitzki.

ME: For the record, you can’t do this all and stay under the $300 in-season cap. You’re trading me $15 in salaries for $114. Just saying. Anyway, Machado is interesting, but I have offers on the table for players better than OBP-drain Baez and a 1st round pick higher than 15th. Would you do Machado for Werth?

STEVE: Would not do Machado for Werth. I would probably still do the deal despite the cap troubles. Would probably swap in Bogaerts (4*) for Baez as I don't mind keeping Baez one bit.

ME: I’d do all three for a higher 1st rounder. Machado, Bogaerts, Pagan and a higher 1st rounder for Tulo, AGon, Werth and my 16th.

STEVE: If you'll take #11, then we got a deal.

ME: I’ll pull the trigger for the #4. I’m selling you a championship—these reserve picks should be meaningless to you now.

STEVE: I'll give you the #5 because I'm a pushover. These reserve picks are the most important part of the XFL, no matter where one plans to finish. (Your #16 though is, in fact, meaningless to me.) #5's the best I'll do. If this falls apart and someone else beats me this year, I'm not afraid to build my behemoth for another year.

ME: Okay, let's do this. I send Tulo, AGon, Werth and #16. You send Machado, Bogaerts, Pagan and the 5th pick in Round 1. I am intrigued to see how you are going to make the pieces fit. Good luck!

And so, I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to do in one fell swoop. That never happens.

Here is where things stand now:

CURRENT ROSTER

ca McKenry,M       6      p  Ryu,H         7*         
ca Lucroy,J       16*     p  Hughes,P      6      
1b Encarnacion,E  19*     p  Richards,G    6  
3b Chisenhall,L    6      p  Keuchel,D     6      
ci Machado,M      10*     p  Shoemaker,M  10       
2b Odor,R          4*     p  Heaney,A      6      
ss Bogaerts,X      4*     p  Hendricks,K   3      
mi LaStella,T      4*     p  Robertson,D  11      
of Cabrera,Melky  11      p  Melancon,M    6      
of Myers,W         7*                   
of Pagan,A         1     fm  Appel,M        0*
of Davis,K        10            
of Peralta,D       1            
ut Hicks,A         1

This group of players cost me just $161; our 2015 projections put their potential 2015 earnings at $175. I can already see 13 possible 2016 keepers here and their cost would only be around $150. Odds are there will be some churn between now and next year's draft. It's a start.

What have I accomplished since the end of last season?

1. I turned four (+3) contracts (I cut Austin Jackson) into nine (+3) contracts. Nearly all of these are interesting players with upward mobility, offering future profit potential.

2. I reacquired the first round reserve pick that I traded away last summer and added a third round pick. Now I have four reserve picks in the first three rounds.

3. I kept my salary exposure very low, providing flexibility if I need to deal for some bigger protectable pieces later on. Should these kids develop quicker than anticipated, 2016 might become more than just a growth year.

And, I don't know... I might not be done yet.

Next up is the reserve draft, scheduled for the end of March. I'll report back on that in April.
 


 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.