Playing in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues is a different kind of animal. There are so many factors that play into roster management. Player age, talent level, production, potential, and proximity to the major leagues are all factors that play into how you manage your team.
One of the best things you can do in dynasty leagues is to determine when to buy low or sell high on a specific player. It is hard to know when a player is likely to start declining. But being proactive on the trade market will go a long way.
This article is going to help you find players to be proactive in trading or acquiring in dynasty leagues, depending on your team structure. It’s important to know where you stand. Are you a contender or a rebuilder? Know your team and your team’s needs and commit to your strategy. Don’t ride the fence, or you may set your team up for failure in the long run.
Before we dive in on the players, I want to address some general trading tips for dynasty leagues. Trading in dynasty leagues differs completely from re-draft. It’s essential to understand this, as it’s easy to overreact to dynasty trades at first glance. Stay calm. The initial “clear winner” of a dynasty trade might end up the loser.
Dynasty Trade Tips
Know Your League Settings
This may seem like common sense, but it’s essential. Knowing your league’s scoring settings, roster setup, keeper rules, and more will go a long way in helping you.
Do you know if future first-year player draft picks tradeable? Some leagues will also allow you to trade your FAAB budget or waive wire position. Know these settings like the back of your hand! Being the most knowledgeable player in your league on these settings can set you up for success on these things.
Your approach to prospects can make or break your dynasty team. There is always a balance to strike, even if you are trying to win now. While it’s not always easy to accomplish this task, it’s doable.
Now more than ever, we see prospects come up and make a significant impact immediately. Ronald Acuña, Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis are just a few examples of players who became fantasy studs instantly upon being called up. It’s never a guarantee, but it seems to be more of a common thing.
When attempting to acquire a prospect in a trade, never show your full hand to the opposing owner. If you make it clear you want to acquire Clarke Schmidt, the owner will probably wonder: “what do they know that I don’t?” You will end up overpaying in most instances where you make your intentions known.
Instead, express interest in two players of similar value. Let’s say, Schmidt and Grayson Rodriguez. Even though you may be higher on one than the other, there’s a chance the owner could have a different view than you. This means you could acquire one cheaper.
Another important note with approaching prospects is the fact that often a prospect’s highest value will be when they are first called up to the majors. You get the notification, or you see it on Twitter: a particular prospect has been called up to the big leagues. The hype is crazy, and everyone is talking about it. Sometimes, people are willing to overpay in dynasty leagues because of the hype. If someone is willing to overpay with a legit major league talent, don’t be afraid to part with a prospect.
Know Your Opponents’ Rosters
Knowing what your opponents have and need can help in trade negotiations. Do you have a surplus of third basemen? Knowing your opponent is lacking at third can help move a trade along. Maybe you are rebuilding, and your opponent is contending. Take advantage of that and sell off some veterans for an excellent prospect return. Finding a trade partner that needs what you are looking to part with is an excellent start to trade negotiations.
Don’t Make Blind Trade Offers
This goes for any league, dynasty, or re-draft. Sending blind trades over and over is a great way to annoy other owners and make them less likely to trade with you. Be willing to have conversations with other owners. That is such a big part of fantasy baseball –connecting with other people. Have fun and connect with others. Discuss trades and come up with reasonable offers that can benefit both teams. If you try to trade just to make your team better, you are not going to complete many trades.
Know The Value of Draft Picks
Often, managers will be willing to trade first-year player draft picks because they do not put in the time to research the players. Picks in these drafts are frequently undervalued. Know the draftees and evaluate where you would rank them in a top 100 or 200 prospects rankings. From there, you can better assess what a player might be worth at a specific draft pick.
Also, never be afraid to ask for an extra draft pick. Maybe you have been going back and forth with another owner on an offer. The opposing owner may be ready to get the negotiations over with, so it is worth trying to acquire a draft pick to seal the deal. Drafting well in first-year player drafts can give you a significant boost in your farm system, so know the value of draft picks.
Know the Value of Veteran Players (and when to sell)
This is a significant factor in dynasty leagues. Knowing the appropriate time to buy and sell individual players can take you a long way. Always be proactive in selling players before they begin to fade. Players that are stolen base specialists will typically lose value faster than a power hitter. As players age, especially into their thirties, they usually steal fewer bases. Find the right time to get maximum value on a return in a trade. If you wait too long and there is no trade value, just ride the player out. Often, dynasty league players refuse to trade for players over 30 unless they underpay. But there is real value in those players, and they can help you win your league. So, know the value or veterans and when the proper time is to sell them.
There are a variety of factors that go into a dynasty trade. The most obvious being whether you are a contender or a rebuilder. That will factor into how you trade in a dynasty league. Knowing your team’s position is essential, but even more critical in 2020. During a high-variability year where any team could win with a few players getting hot, dynasty owners need to decide early which direction they intend to go.
Typically, when looking to buy in a dynasty league, I am looking for post-hype sleepers. These may be players who were once a top prospect and have not come to fruition in the major leagues. Prospect fatigue is a real thing, so taking advantage of those situations can give you an excellent buying opportunity. These players are typically better for a rebuilding team to acquire, but can often help across the board.
When selling in a dynasty league, you always want to be proactive. Selling a player before a significant decline will net you the best return. Holding onto a player for too long can cost you the chance to get a valuable return in a trade. This is a hard act to balance.
Without further ado, let’s get to the players.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels, Age: 28
2019 Stats: 600 Plate Appearances/ 45 HR/ 110 R/ 109 RBI/ 11 SB/ .291 AVG
Okay, I get it. Mike Trout does not fit the description of the typical player I am looking to buy. He is the best player in baseball and the furthest thing from the “post-hype” player that I described. If you did not already know, Trout and his wife are going to have a child in August. He has made it clear that he does not feel completely comfortable with the idea of playing with the birth of his child imminent.
There are so many question marks that surround the situation at this point from a fantasy perspective. It has hurt Trout’s value from a re-draft standpoint. Through six NFBC Main Event drafts, Trout has gone at an average pick of 9.67 with a max pick of 17. It’s clear that with the questions surrounding him, people are struggling to gauge his value.
Dynasty is a little different because Trout will have plenty of value beyond 2020. If there is ever a time to check in on acquiring Trout, now is the time. I am not saying he will be cheap because he should not be. But if I am in a dynasty league, I am at least checking in with the Trout owner to see if they would be willing to part with him at a reasonable price. Trout is the best player in the game and a tremendous Fantasy asset. He gets better each year and it is hard to imagine him slowing down anytime soon. If the price is right, it’s time to buy Mike Trout.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros, Age: 23
2019 Stats (AAA/MLB): 606 PA/ 38 HR/ 107 R/ 108 RBI/ 35 SB/ .268 AVG
Kyle Tucker fits the mold of a post-hype player, thanks to the Astros slow playing and not giving him the at-bats he deserves. When you look at his numbers, it leaves you with a couple of questions. First, how can Kyle Tucker be a post-hype player? Second, why haven’t the Astros given this guy more of a shot?
There is nothing left to prove for a Tucker, who has dominated the minors and has been solid in his minimal major league chances. In early July, reports came out that Tucker would back up Josh Reddick in right field – just another hit to Tucker’s value. He has the skills to be a true 25/25 player at the big league level. He has great bat control over the plate and hits the ball hard.
This was located perfectly by the pitcher on a 1-2 count, literally one strike from winning the game.
What incredible poise and bat control from Kyle Tucker to go out and get this one, especially given that type of game pressure.pic.twitter.com/8Q25iB4RoL
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) September 6, 2019
Now, with Yordan Alvarez on the injured list, Kyle Tucker will hopefully be the biggest benefactor of playing time. If Tucker starts the season hot, it’s hard to imagine he will get bumped from the lineup upon Alvarez’s return. The playing time has been sporadic in exhibition games, but I am holding out hope that when he does get a shot, he will perform.
Tucker has all the skills to be an elite fantasy asset. If he can get playing time and perform, Tucker is likely a top 50 draft pick going into 2021. His price tag is likely as low as it will ever be, so now is the time to buy.
Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox, Age: 31
2019 Stats: 147.1 IP/ 6 W/ 4.40 ERA/ 1.09 WHIP/ 218 K
Chris Sale is another buy option that does not fit the typical post-hype player. Sale also will not pitch again until mid-2021. It will take an interesting team and fit to make this work. But if you are in the middle of a rebuild, with an eye on 2021 or 2022, Sale could be a good fit for your team.
Many will read this and think it is crazy to suggest buying Sale. He just came off the worst season of his career and will be 32 years old to begin next season. On top of that, he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery. Why should you buy in?
First, I would argue that pitchers can pitch at a high level deep into their careers. Innings pitched, and the pitcher’s arm has more of a factor than age. It is almost a given that Sale has been dealing with an injury as far back as the beginning of the 2019 season, majorly affecting last year’s performance.
Despite his injury, Sale still dominated hitters, striking out 13.32 hitters per nine innings. That was the second-best mark of his career. A couple of factors on top of the injury played into the high ERA—first, a higher BABIP of .309. A 66.7% LOB% also was by far a career-worst for Sale. His SIERA of 3.00 and FIP of 3.39 were helpful indicators that Sale was due for some positive regression.
When Sale does return in 2021, it will likely be in June or July. It’s hard to know for sure if he will return to his usual self upon recovery, but there is a good chance that Sale returns close to his career form. A career 3.03 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and 30.7% strikeout rate is an ace. There is no reason to believe that Sale will be in his 2019 form when he returns.
The value has dropped, and the Sale owner may be looking to dump him for a piece that will help them now. Check-in with the person who owns Sale in your dynasty league and see if they are willing to sell low, especially if you have an eye on contending in 2022.
Note: The same applies to Noah Syndergaard.
Corbin Burnes, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers, Age: 25
2019 Stats: 49 IP/ 1 W/ 8.82 ERA/ 1.84 WHIP/ 70 K
After a dominant performance as a rookie reliever in 2018, Corbin Burnes was a popular breakout pick in 2019. He earned a spot in the Brewers rotation, but only lasted four starts after allowing 13 home runs in those four starts. It was a rough 2019 for Burnes, who spent much of the season bouncing between Milwaukee’s bullpen and Triple-A San Antonio.
The stat line for Burnes was quite ugly. An 8.82 ERA with a 1.84 WHIP has no spot on a fantasy baseball team. The good news is that Burnes’ inflated ratios are partially attributable to bad luck. His BABIP was .414, a staggering .118 above the league average of .296. Burnes’s LOB% was also 57.4%, compared to the league average of 72.3%.
Burnes features one of the best sliders in the game. It is nearly unhittable. Last season, that pitch averaged 87.9 mph with 2853 rpm while producing a 58.4% whiff rate. Burnes’ fastball is also elite from an analytical standpoint, despite its poor results last season. His fastball possessed a higher spin rate than Justin Verlander’s in 2019, who is known for one of the best analytical fastballs in the game. There is plenty of reason to believe that Burnes can harness his fastball and have it become a compelling pitch in 2020. His four-seamer averaged 95.1 mph in 2019, but he has had it sitting above 98 mph in summer camp.
While I don’t take full stock in how players have been performing in exhibition games this summer, pitch velocity and pitch mix are two things I am watching. Burnes has been dominating hitters. Beyond that, he has featured a cutter and a curveball more. Last season, Burnes used his four-seam and slider over 80 percent of the time. If Burnes can feature a curveball and cutter more in 2020, it will significantly increase his value.
It is possible that Burnes could be available on your waiver wire, depending on how deep your dynasty league is. But, if he is owned, it is the perfect time to check in with the owner. Maybe the owner has not kept up the recent news of Burnes and just remembers being “burned” by him in 2019. Now is the time to buy, in case he takes off this season and manifests as the high-end starting pitcher he has the potential to be.
Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, Age: 24
2019 Stats: 48 IP/ 1 W/ 7.13 ERA/ 1.83 WHIP/ 65 K
Long gone are the days when Mitch Keller was one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Keller has been the Pirates top prospect for some time, but he ranked as highly as the 16th overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He has steadily dropped down prospect rankings as well as rankings for dynasty leagues.
Keller’s MLB debut in 2019 was one of the primary reasons he has fallen in ranking lists. On the outside, the 7.13 ERA and 1.83 WHIP is cause for a player to be dropped in fantasy. Dynasty owners may be ready to sell, believing that Keller is not what he was cracked up to be as a prospect.
The good news is that Keller posted a 3.19 FIP and 3.47 xFIP, which should provide optimism to Fantasy owners. A 21.6 percent strikeout minus walk rate is also an encouraging sign from a rookie. Keller also had some bad luck swing his way, as shown by his .475 BAPIP. As I mentioned when discussing Corbin Burnes, the league average last season was .296. Keller also had a LOB percentage of 59.6, with the league average being 72.3 percent. Both of those numbers are signs of bad luck and show that Keller could positively regress closer to his FIP.
One of the problems for Keller and the rest of the Pirates pitching staff was the heavy fastball approach that Ray Searage implemented. Keller threw his fastball 59 percent of the time last season. The good news is that Keller’s fastball, while potentially being overused and hit hard, was analytically good. His 95.4 average velocity on his four-seamer was good for 83rd percentile in baseball. His spin rate of 2473 RPM was in the 91st percentile. The crazy thing is, Keller spent much of the offseason working to gain even more spin on his four-seamer. Keller also compliments his four-seamer with a nice curveball.
Mitch Keller, Filthy 80mph Curveball (spin axis/release). 😷 pic.twitter.com/EckKZpzfdB
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 24, 2019
Mitch Keller was arguably the unluckiest pitcher in baseball in 2019. Both he and Corbin Burnes could argue they deserve the title of the unluckiest pitcher. Keller’s price tag is quite cheap for a pitcher of his caliber in re-draft leagues. In dynasty leagues, you can likely acquire Keller for pennies on the dollar. He is a prime bounce-back candidate in 2020 with his strikeout upside and the batted ball positive regression. Now is likely the lowest his value will be in dynasty leagues, so buy now!