Here at Pitcher List, we thought it would be fun to give the readers a look into the dynasty leagues of Pitcher List staff members. I will be providing reviews throughout the season of my dynasty team in my home league, which originated in 2009.
The league is a 10-team weekly head-to-head points league, and I became a member in 2011 with the team name of ColviNation. Talk about a blast from the past, Cubs fans.
After a handful of discouraging playoff losses, with some rebuilding years scattered throughout, I won my first league championship this past season and have no intention of returning the traveling trophy, which snapped in half during its trek to me. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
Most dynasty leagues have their own variations of a minor league system, and after going through a few iterations, I think we finally got ours right. Any prospect (designated by not starting the year on the MLB roster) is initially given a 0 contract, and the owner can call him up on that 0 contract or save that 0 contract for the following year. If a player starts the year on the major league roster, the owner must begin the player’s contract clock. The second year of the contract is worth 5, and the third year is worth 15. We hold a separate minor league snake draft with two rounds each year.
Throughout the article, when I reference mL contracts, the order will go as follows: Player mame (dollar amount, how many years are left on the minor league contract).
2018 was our first year doing an auction draft after previously using a snake draft format with yearly contract allowances. Each owner begins the draft with 275 draft dollars. Teams can trade draft dollars (maximum of $20 per year) and are allowed to drop any unwanted keeper prior to the draft without penalty. The 2018 draft was a one-time hybrid draft as we switched over to auction format. We decided on this hybrid draft to allow teams that had been rebuilding, and therefore trading for picks in the 2018 draft, to reap the benefits of those picks. The one-year hybrid draft allowed for the first round of the draft to proceed in a snake draft format, then switched to an auction draft after all first-round picks had been made. The values placed on the players were reflective of the values CBS Sports assigned for 2018.
I entered the 2018 draft with the following team: Robinson Cano ($24), Manny Machado ($23), Andrew Benintendi ($5, 2mL), Alex Reyes ($0, 3mL), Maikel Franco ($5, 2mL), Dylan Bundy ($5), Sean Manaea ($5, 2mL), Greg Bird ($4), Danny Salazar ($15), Addison Russell ($5, 2mL), Lance McCullers ($17), Ian Happ ($0, 3mL), Lucas Giolito ($5, 2mL), Reynaldo Lopez ($0, 3mL), and Orlando Arcia ($0, 3mL).
As you can tell, I have some great value scattered throughout but also have assets who didn’t warrant the contracts or dollar values attached to them.
I swung a handful of pre-draft trades, each with different goals in mind:
- I held the 2nd and 11th overall picks in the draft. I had my sights set on Mike Trout. I knew he would go No. 1 overall, but I also knew that the owner of the No. 1 overall pick wanted Chris Sale. Knowing there was no way he would pass on Trout at No. 1 and with knowledge of his affinity for Sale, I packaged up the No. 2 pick, Happ, and $3 in 2018 draft money for the No. 1 overall pick. I got my guy, he got his guy, and we both walked away happy.
- I swung another trade shortly after trading for the No. 1 pick, acquiring Kyle Schwarber ($15, 0mL) for Bird and Lopez. I was very high on Schwarber heading into 2018 and found myself in a great position to snag him with all the helium that Bird had pre-2018 and added in Lopez because of my superfluous young pitching depth. Also, the other owner wanted some insurance in case Bird didn’t live up to expectation.
- Next, I wanted to free up some draft cash, trade some of my pitching depth and acquire a stud prospect in the process. This next trade was a match made in heaven: Bundy and Giolito for Nick Senzel ($0, 3mL). I floated the idea to the owner, and the deal came together quickly. I wanted to free up some cash heading into the draft and did not want to drop either player, and the other owner wanted some cheap pitching depth. This was a no-brainer for both parties involved.
Following my trading spree, I decided to drop a handful of players because I was unable to find a trading partner for them and did not wish to carry their contracts into the draft. The players I dropped were Franco, Russell, Cano and McCullers. In total, I was able to free up $51 before the draft.
I took Machado ($23), Benintendi ($5, 2mL), Reyes ($0, 3mL), Manaea ($5, 2mL), Schwarber ($15, 0mL), and Arcia ($0, 3mL) into the 2018 draft.
After my flurry of trades and declaring my keepers, I entered the draft with $227. I had the No. 1 pick and No. 11 pick in the first round of the hybrid draft and selected Trout ($46) and Carlos Carrasco ($28). Both were given three-year deals, as was agreed upon by the league pre-draft. Following the first round of the draft, I headed into the auction with $153.
This was my first auction draft, and I was worried I didn’t have enough of a bankroll to adequately compete in the draft room. As you’ll see later, I was extremely incorrect. Not only did I outdo myself with bargains and savvy maneuvering, but I left an absurd amount of money on the table. I cannot stress enough: Keep an eye on how much money you have left and take advantage of every dollar you have available to you.
Without further ado, here is how my draft played out:
Yadier Molina ($3), Rhys Hoskins ($32), Ozzie Albies ($16), Justin Turner ($14), Khris Davis ($17), Michael Brantley ($5), Domingo Santana ($1), Jeff Samardzija ($2), Rich Hill ($5), Tyler Chatwood ($2), Mike Clevinger ($3), Luis Castillo ($2), Corey Knebel ($10) and Adrian Beltre ($2). In our separate two-round minor league draft, I grabbed Fernando Tatis Jr. and Taylor Trammel.
I obviously had my targets who I did not want to leave the draft room without (namely Hoskins, Albies and Clevinger), but this article is not the place for the research and analysis I conducted prior to the draft on whom I chose to spend my money, rather a review of how my draft went. I ended up dropping Arcia after the draft because of roster constraints and having to begin his contract clock because he started the year on the big league club. I picked up Marcus Semien to play shortstop until Machado gained eligibility. After a couple free agent pickups to shore up my roster, my Opening Day lineup was ready to roll.
I opened the season with the following lineup:
OF: Trout, Benintendi and Davis
U: Beltre and Santana
SP: Carrasco, Clevinger, Hill, Chatwood, Castillo, Samardzija
I was very savvy on the waiver wire throughout the year, but I also made a couple decisions that, in retrospect, make me second guess myself. I will not bore you with every detail but here are the highlights:
Big free agency wins: Juan Soto, Miguel Andujar, Jameson Taillon, Zack Wheeler, Nick Pivetta and Marco Gonzales.
Big free agency loss: Miles Mikolas. I grabbed him when he was hot but dropped him shortly thereafter. What a knucklehead move.
I am very active in trade talks with my league-mates and was able to link up on five trades during the season. Here they are:
- Justin Turner (I waited for his value to rise after he returned from injury), Schwarber and Hill for Yu Darvish (good buy-low at the time but obviously did not work out), Walker Buehler (the obvious win of the trade), Francis Martes (yuck) and A.J. Reed (I knew another guy in league wanted him).
- Manaea, Castillo and Reed for Kyle Seager and Alex Wood. The target for me here was Wood. I loved Castillo, but with the way my team was set up and going after a championship, I didn’t have the patience for first-half Castillo, so I shipped him off. The manager included Seager, who I admit stayed on my team longer than he should have. Adding Seager was simply as a replacement for Turner until I could figure out what to do a third base.
- Garrett Richards (whom I had recently picked up off waivers) for Josh Hader (2 mL) and Chase Anderson. This trade followed the Knebel injury, so adding Hader was the short-term remedy as my Greg Holland experiment didn’t go according to plan. Hader helped me a lot down the stretch, but Anderson never found 2017 form.
- Tatis Jr. for James Paxton and Craig Kimbrel. I felt that I had to make this trade because of the lack of a top-tier closer. In hindsight, Kimbrel was a big win for me, but Paxton got hurt shortly thereafter and Tatis Jr.’s stock has only improved.
- Trammell, Reyes and $10 in 2019 draft for Patrick Corbin and Jack Flaherty. This was a deadline trade that I felt was necessary for the playoffs. I had the best team at the time, but I have been bludgeoned in the past with pitch count and matchup mishaps, so I took the blow of trading two more prospects and a lot of draft cash for a shot at the title.
These trades had their pros and cons, but I am confident when I say that each of them brought me to the championship matchup and eventually helped propel me to league champion. I mortgaged the future in terms of my farm system, but I told myself all along that if I win the league, I will regret nothing.
2018 Playoff Roster
Now, after my trades and work on the waivers throughout the season, my team looked very different than it did early in the season. Below is my final roster:
OF: Soto, Brantley and Benintendi
U: Trout and Davis
SP: Carrasco, Buehler, Taillon, Corbin, Paxton and Clevinger
As you can tell, my roster was jam packed with studs and 2019 early-round picks. My rotation was very deep because I could have thrown Flaherty and Josh James into the mix as well.
As I am looking back while writing this piece, I am seeing that I likely could have gone without trading Trammel, Reyes and cash for Corbin and Flaherty. Nevertheless, what’s done is done, and they helped me down the stretch.
I can’t go without saying that the championship matchup came down to Game 163. I had gone to bed the night before thinking that I lost the championship, but to everyone’s surprise, Game 163 came around, where I had Buehler and my opponent had German Marquez. We could not have written the final week of our fantasy baseball season any better. I ended up barely coming out on top to end a championship matchup that was thrilling from start to finish.
I will be deploying a similar strategy heading into 2019 with hopes of going back to back.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
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