Dr. Neu is a semi-regular series that all the writers of The Can of Corn will be contributing to. Think of these pieces as a peek inside the counselling room, where we try to tackle some of the more confounding, risky, frustrating ins and outs of Otto as they slowly drive us to the brink.
Dr Neu: What’s Up With These Early Drops?
John: Let me start out by pointing out a larger topic that includes this one – Always Be Seeking Value (forgive me for not coming up with something catchier or more motivating). Being vigilant in the nonstop hunt for value is absolutely necessary to be successful in Ottoneu.
In my four Otto leagues I’m already seeing a flurry of activity and fateful decisions being made. A couple teams are going in for a rebuild year, others are swapping big names to address areas of need, and some, in rarer cases, are cutting big name players. So what to do when we see this kind of activity happening before the effervescence of Tax Day has flattened out?
Let me set this up by sharing three big drops I’ve seen so far and what actions have been taken on them:
- $26 Daniel Murphy was dropped in a 5×5 league (claimed by me) 
- $34 Marcel Ozuna was dropped in a FGPTs league (nominated by me, won by another owner at $25) 
- $22 Craig Kimbrel was dropped in the same FGPTs league (still a FA) 
From my perspective I’d say first and foremost: don’t sleep. If you executed your auction as planned, you may well find yourself in a tough spot as far as cap space with which to add a $20+ player. That’s life played the right way, but if you want to try to pull a coup and acquire another of the kind of top player you thought you couldn’t afford at auction, you best rustle up your creative juices. Here’s how I tried to make it work in a couple cases.
When Murphy was dropped, I had a few bucks free and I had drafted an $18 Brian Dozier. For my money, $26 Daniel Murphy in Coors is a superior baseball value to that share of Dozier. Not only that, but they play the same position, meaning Dozier went straight out the door, saving me $9. I had also paid an egregious $10 for the Brad Boxberger experience, which I offloaded none-too-soon for an additional $5 in wiggle room. Finally, I elected to dump $7 Zack Godley, getting me in under the wire.
The Ozuna situation turned into a something more of a feeding frenzy. One owner claimed a $16 Alex Reyes and gave Ozuna the axe to make room. A couple days later I found myself dealing with one of the aforementioned sellers. When the owner asked for my Brandon Nimmo in addition to prospects (for Freddie Free), I checked the waiver wire to see where I might find some OF help. I was all like, “Lo, is that a $17 Marcel Ozuna?” I countered the trade offer, including Nimmo and asked for a loan that I hoped was big enough to give me the cap space to add Ozuna, too. Duder accepted the trade and I nominated Ozuna, putting $21 on him. Ozuna subsequently went for $25, and the owner who grabbed him dropped Mikolas ($9), Raisel ($14), Matt Olson ($22), and Soria ($6). All but Soria were immediately claimed. I got Mikolas and I’m hoping he sorts it out and, interestingly, the guy who cut Ozuna claimed Olson. To me, this lively exchange is a pretty good representation of a number of owners being ready to strike when the iron is hot, and early season cuts can be some of the very best times to try to steal some value for your roster.
Simply put, it’s hard to come by top talent after the auction without paying an arm and a leg. If you’re willing to be creative and make tough roster decisions, the payoff of making a big claim or post-drop add can be huge.
Jer: While you are speculating on those high priced cuts, keep in mind this often forgotten rule, from the Ottoneu Fantasy Baseball Rules:
b. If at any time during the season any team’s cap room is not greater than or equal to 40 minus the number of players on that team’s roster, you cannot field a team. In this circumstance, your team will be frozen until the issue is resolved. The owner will be forced to cut a player to resolve this issue, and will not be able to perform any other activities in the game, including editing and making auction bids. However, bids already placed will be processed as described in section V. below, and trades that have already been accepted will process as expected.
i. Functionally, this means that while you do not need 40 players on your roster at all times, you must have at least $1 available for every free roster spot on your team, not including extra roster spots due to a player being on the 60-day IL.
This has tripped me up once or twice this year already. In my Fangraphs Points league, just before the Japan series, I orchestrated a beautiful trade for my expensive $52 Kris Bryant and a $12 loan for a haul: $1 Dinelson Lamet, $3 Mallex Smith, $6 Didi Gregorius and $30 Aaron Nola. I had been hawking for an ace all off-season and so to get one PLUS two other solid pieces (if you’ve read my previous work, you know I don’t own rabbits like Mallex Smith in points leagues) I was ecstatic.
As the transaction page clearly shows, the math worked out for both sides. However, while Ottoneu accounted for the salary ramifications, it did not account for the number of players, that caused us both to have to cut players to get back under the “$1 for every roster spot” rule. I ended up dropping 4 players; I was already planning on dropping Smith, I also dropped $3 Matt Kemp, $3 Andrew Suarez and (the only one that pained me a little) $7 Michael Kopech. The other owner had to resort to more dramatic methods with his newly opened roster spots and ended up dropping $13 Wade Davis which in my eyes is a pretty big loss.
So keep this in mind when you’re signing those high priced cuts. One last note before we go, I just want to point out that this is happening even in the Ottoneu Fangraphs Staff League. As Brad Johnson pointed out on Twitter, in that league someone dropped $62 Joey Votto. And looking at the league’s transaction page, he was claimed during the waiver period and added at his full $62 price. Nutty. Okay, there it is. Do the damn thing! More soon.
(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)