The evaluation process varies from person-to-person, so I am just going to give all of you the rundown of how I do it. Each person has their own values for players, so that is going to vary from person-to-person as well. What follows in this step of my process is the way I am going about evaluating my team’s talent level and what areas I need to improve in.
For reference, here is my team once more:
A personal philosophy of mine is that during a rebuild, or even in general until the very last stages of one’s fantasy championship push, a team should not worry about positions. I don’t really ever worry about the positions of my players until I am deep in a playoff push and then I try to round out my roster. In general, and especially when rebuilding, I try to just acquire the best players available. It helps in this case that I have a lack of talent at many positions so clogging positions will not be an issue for me, but the best way to go about rebuilding a roster is simply to acquire talent irrespective of position. Now that that’s said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
The first thing I do when evaluating talent on a new roster is separating players into one of three categories based on age. Those categories are pre-prime, prime, and twilight (as in twilight of a player’s career). This process largely ignores talent and other things like that. Pretty simple, right? Here’s what my roster looks like broken down into those three categories:
Pre-prime: Ben Gamel, AJ Cole, Chris Flexen, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery
Prime: Alex Avila, Wellington Castillo, Carlos Gonzalez, Didi Gregorius, Starling Marte, Kevin Pillar, Andrew Cashner, Jhoulys Chacin, Rafael Montero, Trevor Rosenthal (DL), Dan Straily
Twilight: Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Danny Valencia, Ryan Zimmerman, Jesse Chavez, Miguel Gonzalez, Junior Guerra, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Tomlin, Jordan Zimmermann
Once that is done, take a step back.
You’ll notice that four of my six top scorers from last season are in the twilight category. That’s not a good sign. The only two of my top six players that are in the prime category: Didi Gregorius and Kevin Pillar.
This is really not a good sign. Most of my pre-prime players are not valuable assets (Jordan Montgomery is a solid starter in an 18-team league), and my prime category is not exactly filled with studs. I actually would go so far as to say I do not have any bonafide “studs” on this roster at all. Marte could possibly have been considered that prior to his PED suspension last season. Didi is still relatively young and is producing, but all-in-all, this team is devoid of youngsters.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the team from an age perspective, let’s look at the team from a talent perspective. Again, we will group these players into categories, but this time those categories will be franchise player, starter, bench player, and waiver fodder.
Franchise players: None 😦
Starters: Alex Avila, Adrian Beltre, Wellington Castillo, Jhoulys Chacin, Carlos Gonzalez, Didi Gregorius, Yuli Gurriel, Ian Kinsler, Starling Marte, Hunter Pence, Kevin Pillar, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Montgomery, Dan Straily
Bench Players: Danny Valencia, Andrew Cashner, Trevor Rosenthal (DL), Josh Tomlin, Jordan Zimmermann
Waiver Fodder: Ben Gamel, Jesse Chavez, AJ Cole, Chris Flexen, Domingo German, Miguel Gonzalez, Junior Guerra, Rafael Montero
Again, we see a problem here. I have no franchise players and a whole lot of waiver fodder. That bodes well for me in a sense because it means I will be able to pick up a handful of prospects and more intriguing players in place of my “waiver fodder,” guys. On the other hand, it means my team sucks. But we knew that already.
One thing I notice when I group players into these categories is that I have a surprising amount of starters considering how bad my roster is. I wouldn’t be overjoyed to have any of these guys as starters in an 18-team league, but most of them are serviceable or better. As I mentioned before, there is a dearth of young talent, but most of the players in the “starters” tier could be starters on contending teams. For guys like Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Hunter Pence, and Ryan Zimmerman, I’ll look to trade them before the season starts or once we get underway and other teams start losing players to injury. The good thing is that there is really no rush here because my team is not going to be contending in the near future.
With that being said, you will want to make sure you capitalize on your player’s values when they are highest. For example, I find it highly unlikely that Ryan Zimmerman will replicate his campaign from last season. He isn’t going to fall off a cliff, but his value right now is probably just about as high as it’s going to get, so dealing him before the season might be a wise move. The same can be said for Jhoulys Chacin.
I also have two startable catchers on my team which is something I will look to take advantage of. In an 18-team league, catchers are hard to come by, so I’ll try to trade Castillo and Avila this upcoming season. Both of those guys are 30 or older, so there’s no point in keeping them on a rebuilding team.
Other guys like Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre are going to go at some point, but since they are both still solid and probably will not be out for an extended period of time, I’m not as quick to pull the trigger on deals for those guys as I am for guys like Zimmerman.
Jordan Montgomery is a special case because he is actually young (only 25!) and talented, which is a rarity for this roster. I’ll hold on to him.
The rest of the starting group I can either keep or trade. Didi is still smack-dab in the middle of his prime so I’ll hold on to him for now and see if he improves. If worse comes to worst, I can flip him for a prospect or two in a few years, but he can also be a valuable piece in the middle infield. Gurriel, though he is a bit older, should be in the same boat for a little while, as should Marte, Pillar, and Straily.
Carlos Gonzalez could be a starter on my team but I’m hoping he will bounce back to 85% of his former self instead of whatever he did last year. If he plays well, I’ll try to flip him for some blue-chip prospects, but if he doesn’t I can still likely deal him for lower-level prospects.
The bench players are just that: bench players. I’ll probably keep some of them on just so I can field a lineup this year, and if a trade offer comes around for one of them, I’ll pursue that. Ideally, Cashner, Tomlin, Valencia, and Zimmermann will all have bounce-back seasons and I can deal them for something of value, but if that doesn’t happen I’m no worse for the wear and I can just cut them and scoop up a prospect.
Trevor Rosenthal is a special case because he’s injured. Normally, I’d say hang on to someone with Rosenthal’s age and talent level even if he’s injured, because he’ll come back and contribute, and you have nothing to lose right now. Hanging on to injured players and pursuing them at a discount through trade is usually a good strategy for rebuilding teams. With that being said, you should always trade your closers away during a rebuild. Just last season, nearly half of the league had different closers to start and end the season. There’s no telling who will be closing two or three years down the road, so it’s best to just address that need when the time comes. I doubt Rosenthal will pique any of the other owners’ interest, so I’ll probably end up stashing him on my DL until someone else more valuable gets injured.
So as you can tell, a lot needs to be done with this roster. We’ve really only identified one player who is worth definitely holding onto given the time frame we intend to compete in (Montgomery), and the rest can all be sent to the waiver wire or sent away via trade.
The one thing I am disappointed there is not more of on this roster is prospects. This league has an NA slot that was not even utilized at the end of last year (there are no minor league prospects on this team), and the team went 5-16 last year, so it was pretty clear they were not winning. Why the previous owner didn’t drop some of his back-end older guys for waiver prospects I do not know, but I was sure to pursue some younger talent (read: prospects) when waivers opened at the end of March.