This article is part of our The Long Game series.
Spring training has officially sprung! Even though there are some big-name players conspicuously without a uniform yet, roster deadlines in keeper and dynasty leagues wait for no one, so it's time to get to work figuring out who you're going to protect and who gets kicked to the curb. Over the years I've written a number of columns to help you compile your protected list: how to make basic keeper decisions, how to calculate and handle inflation, how to determine an optimal basic auction strategy, and even a pick value chart for draft leagues.
One topic I've never tackled in depth, though, is how to determine the value of a prospect. Keeper and dynasty championships are built on a foundation of prospects. Winning rosters have a core of cheap stars who came up through the system, often supplemented by more expensive players acquired by trading away other prospects. How do you determine what a prospect is worth in those circumstances?
In truth, the "real" answer is "whatever you can get for them in a trade". Every league's marketplace is different, and will evolve over time and even within a season. A prospect dealt in the preseason will have a different value than he will if he's dealt at the midseason trade deadline, simply due to different market forces being at play. Even beyond that, factors such as league roster depth, or what contracts are assigned to minor leaguers when they lose their minor-league status, can have