This article is part of our The Long Game series.
Last time out I offered up some AL players who could come cheap this season and be useful keepers in 2022, and I'll do the same for the NL below. First though, I want to do a quick review of the recent Staff Keeper League auct... err, salary-cap draft, and give some pointers on how to navigate a league with extremely high inflation.
I've used the SKL as an example before, but here's a quick recap of the rules that create an inflationary environment. It's 18 teams mixed, with $260 budgets at the table (less the occasional penalty if someone wants to buy out a long-term contract on an unproductive player) and then 17 spots for minors (10) and reserves (seven) doled out in a draft after all active rosters are full. Big-leaguers have the standard 'two years at starting salary, then a third option year or sign them to a long-term deal at an extra $5 per year' structure for their contracts. The inflation comes from how we handle those minors and reserve rosters. Anyone drafted as a minor leaguer has a $0 contract that becomes a $3A (the equivalent of being picked up for $3 in the big-league portion of the evening) the season after they lose their rookie status. For instance, I currently have Jesus Luzardo as a prospect. Our rookie threshold is 20 MLB games, which he hasn't reached yet, so I could still keep him as one of my minor-league keepers for 2021. Even if