Staff Keeper League – Going for the #3Peat

The 18-team Rotowire Staff Keeper League auction took place Wednesday, March 6th.

A quick run-down of the league for those who aren’t familiar: 18 teams, $260 auction/keeper budget, you can keep up to 15 major leaguers and 10 minor leaguers per season. You get a $100 in-season FAAB budget. The in-season salary cap is $360, which gives you flexibility to add pieces via FAAB or trade after the auction.

You may remember from my 2017 recap that Team Rufe narrowly edged Bret Cohen’s “Tuffy’s Goats” squad by a single point to secure its first league championship. Last year was far less dramatic, as I climbed atop the standings early in the season and never looked back, winning by a comfortable 25-point margin.

To be honest, my 2018 draft wasn’t spectacular. Out of the 11 players I purchased in auction, only 2 made significant contributions to my team – Gerrit Cole ($36) and Jed Lowrie ($1). I did strike gold in the Minors/Reserves draft with Chris Paddack and Seranthony Dominguez (who was ranked in the 200’s on Rotowire’s Top 400 Prospects list at the time). Jose Alvarado was a notable in-season pickup for $1.

In a league this deep, I closely monitor the relief pitcher market and and typically use 1 or 2 bench spots on relievers that have potential to work their way into ninth inning duties. If they earn the closer role, I may have an affordable keeper option for saves as opposed to spending $25+ at auction or high price via trade. If they don’t become the closer, I can still slot them into my lineup for elite ratios/strikeouts when my back-end starters have bad matchups.

While I made a few solid moves given the deep 18-team format, I wouldn’t have had such a dominant 2018 season without an elite base of keepers that includes Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola and Luis Severino. With Gerrit Cole now in the fold for the next 2 seasons at minimum, I wanted to put even more pressure on the league prior to Wednesday night’s auction.

Two weeks ago, Jeff Erickson emailed the league declaring his intention to trade an expiring Mike Trout ($28). I didn’t have much I was willing to part with, but felt I could put together something that would draw his attention and be competitive against the trade offers he would field. As much as I love Chris Paddack, he was the best piece I was willing to trade without blowing things up entirely for one year of Trout’s services. I added a 2019 1st round Minor/Reserves pick (18th overall) as sweetener, along with Max Muncy ($7) and Seranthony Dominguez ($3) – two players with favorable contracts who had outstanding seasons last year. Dealing away Muncy and Dominguez could certainly come back to bite me, but I think both are regression candidates and now is probably the best time to sell high.

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Fortunately, Jeff accepted my trade offer. Adding Trout certainly improves my chances of becoming the Rotowire Staff Keeper League’s first-ever three-peat winner. Adding Trout also meant I’d have less money to play with in Wednesday’s auction – $53 to be exact – to fill 9 positions (2 catchers, one second baseman, a corner infielder, 2 outfielders, a utility player and 2 pitchers).

Here are the players I purchased (in red) with keepers in black:

I’m all in on David Peralta this year. Basically, he’s Michael Brantley with more power. One team bid me up for Peralta’s services, so I ended up paying a few more dollars than I planned to. Looking back at the overall auction results via Chris Liss’ recap, his price was comparable to fellow outfielders Mitch Haniger ($30), Max Kepler ($29), Justin Upton ($29), Jackie Bradley Jr. ($24) and Andrew McCutchen ($22).

One regret is not purchasing Victor Victor Mesa for $1 at the tail-end of the auction. I was the last team to fill my entire roster and would landed him uncontested. Instead, I bought Dexter Fowler (bounce-back candidate?) and Scott Schebler (meh) to fill my remaining OF and UT positions.

A few other observations from the auction:

  • Craig Kimbrel was a steal for $24 relative to Roberto Osuna ($37), Aroldis Chapman ($37) and Kenley Jansen ($36). Kudos to Liss for that purchase. Hopefully he signs somewhere…and soon.
  • I’m mad I missed out on Elvis Andrus ($16). I’m sure a lot of folks reading this have him as a bounce-back candidate this season.
  • Peter Schoenke landed Shohei Otani ($20). He was nominated early and I was in on the bidding (for the keeper discount), but given my limited budget, I was unwilling to close.

Here are my Reserves/Minors (full list here via Liss’ recap):

I love some of the pitching prospects I landed. Oscar Mercado and Isan Diaz could help me in the stolen base category later this year.

Feel free to let me know how I did in auction and reserve rounds on Twitter. Will I secure the 3-Peat?