This sleeper post feels like it’s been three years in the making. I first started getting the vapors for Zach Eflin coming off his 2018 season, when he had 8.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in 128 IP. What always kept me recommending Zach Eflin, while not going full-throated with a sleeper post on a giant megaphone like The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, was his strikeouts seemed maxed out at 8.5 vs. having real promise for more. The command was never an issue, as far as I was concerned. He had 1.5 BB/9 in Triple-A in 2016, and rarely scrapped above a 3 BB/9 at any stop in pro ball, usually hovering around 2.5. To make a 2.5 BB/9 work, you only need about 8.5 on Ks, but that’s a number four/five fantasy starter range, and that borders on yawnstipating. Not much excitement for sleepers, or nada mucho enthusiasmo en dormirs, for my Spanish-language readers. Hey, I’m worldly, deal with it. So, what’s changed from a guy giving me the snooze button to a full-on sleeper? Last year his K/9 and BB/9 were 10.7 and 2.3. Hello, beautiful, I’m glad you could join us. Allow me to shower you in spa accouterments that I’ve seen on TV shows. Perhaps a rub of the shoulders? Maybe some thinly-sliced cucumbers for your eyes? A hot towelette? I’m showing my love for you, Zach Eflin, don’t push me away! So, what can we expect from Zach Eflin for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Zach Eflin sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Zach Eflin sleeper:

Let’s look at Zach Eflin’s ERA, xFIP and yadda. His 3.97 ERA through 59 IP last year with a 3.23 xFIP. Hmm, that’s weird. OR IS IT?! Mr. Reversal Question, you are scarier than a cat jumping out of a closet! Eflin’s .344 BABIP was effin miserable. His BABIP is the equivalent to a grounder going to 2nd base for a sure out and a squirrel running through, grabbing the ball, holding it up to the sky, and a UFO beaming the squirrel up with the ball dropping ninety feet away for a double. These kind of things usually normalize. Like when you stopped wearing overalls, that was you normalizing. The exit velocity and Launch Angle on his BABIP was 87.4 MPH and 7.9, respectively. Let’s just grab another pitcher to compare him to…hmm…what’s a acronym I can make-up for a pitcher to be named later…Oh, I know — PTBNL! Did I just make up that acronym? Cool. A PTBNL’s marks were 7.9 and 87.8, that PTBNL is Clayton Kershaw. Oh, that chestnut.

With a ground ball rate that was 38th best in the league, Zach Eflin is a bit prone to bad luck, but I’d much rather a guy who keeps the ball on the ground, especially in his home park. Speaking of dinkers to 2nd base (I was. Earlier. You’re not reading any of this, are you?), Eflin had the fifth lowest Hard Contact Rate, top four was Maeda, Wheeler, Fried, and Ryu. As a man once said on a beach in the 1930s when they were all wearing one-pieces, “There’s nary a bum in sight!”

My biggest concern with Zach Eflin is he will throw too many strikes, and reduce his strikeouts, because hitters will just aggressively ground out. Aggressively grounding out isn’t the worst of outcomes. At 26 years of age (turning 27 in April), there might even be a bit more upside. I don’t see it with his strikeouts or walks from his previous year marks, but a low-3 ERA with a low-9 K/9 is easily in the “all hands on deck, let’s ‘ship with him” category of pitchers. For 2021, I’ll give Zach Eflin projections of 11-9/3.47/1.21/174 in 169 IP with a chance for more.

 
  1. Ante GALIC says:
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    Grey!!!!!

    Awesome fantasy/sleeper report on Eflin!

    a. Love Eflin, is anyone making a sleeper file with all these sleepers! These are really juicy, lovin’ them a lot.

    b. Merry Christmas to all celebrating according to the Julian Calendar, so Orthodox Christians mostly though the Berbers of North Africa also use it!

    c. Have a nice weekend!

    d. Gearing up for the Marx Brothers quote of the day for next year! Lots of material, reading one of his autobiographies (Groucho and Me). Really great read.

    e. MLB quote of the day for January 7, 2021

    1. Tony Conigliaro, born January 7, 1945

    ‘The Tony Conigliaro Award is given each year to the MLB player who overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of Tony Conigliaro. Conigliaro was hit in the face by a pitch in 1967. His injuries were so severe that he did not return to the playing field until 1969, homering on Opening Day. Despite his dramatic return, Conigliaro continued to be plagued with vision problems and was forced to retire at age 30.’

    Author Bill Nowlin in Overcoming Adversity: Baseball’s Tony Conigliaro Award (The SABR Digital Library, 01/05/2017, Cover)

    2. Eric Gagne, born January 7, 1976

    ‘This role (closer) is perfect for me. I love the adrenaline rush that I get as I jog out to the mound with the fans cheering me on. There is nothing like it.’

    Eric Gagne

    3. Alfonso Soriano, born January 7, 1976

    ‘The guy (Alfonso Soriano) works his butt off all the time. There’s no doubt the fans lost a little faith in him sometimes with the things he does, but I think the fans have to understand he’s probably the hardest-working guy in the clubhouse. That’s always refreshing, and players love him to death. He’s the most prolific guy in our lineup and he’s done it before.’

    Chicago Cubs Manager Dale Sveum on MLB.com (Carrie Muskat, 02/28/2012, ‘Cubs confident that Soriano can produce’, Source)

    4. Francisco Rodriguez, born January 7, 1982

    ‘There’s pressure from everyone, from the media, from my family, from the organization, but if I think about that, if I put all of that on my mind, I’m not going to do well. I want to have fun, but at the same time, do my job.’

    Francisco Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times (Mike DiGiovanna, 04/07/2005)

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      A. Nice!

      B. Wow, will have to remember this for next year so I can say Cougs’ gifts aren’t late, they’re Julian calendar

      C. Weekend? It’s Thursday

      D. Nice, looking forward to it!

      E. 2. Ha, yeah, the crowd was where he was getting adrenaline

      3. He should’ve received more HOF consideration

      • Ante Galic says:
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        Grey!

        a. Sry man. It seems like every day of this Xmas new year break is either a Sunday, Saturday or Friday. I’ll be here tomorrow if you’ll be here so I can re-wish you a ‘nice’ weekend.

        b. Thought you’d like the K-Rod quote!

        c. Yeah, also looking forward to it. Just reading their story and how they are real brothers (same mother, same father) is really great. Throw they are a piece of Americana and I am so happy to be a tiny part of it.

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          A. Haha, No problem!

          B. It was good, but it made me think about how I use to call him Dork bc it was Krod in a mirror

          C. Yeah, pretty stoked!

          • Ante Galic says:
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            Grey!

            We go from the five movies with the 4 brothers, than the myriad of movies (including A Night in Casablanca where the Marx brothers stop the Nazis) with the 3 brothers (the other two went to do other interesting stuff that fulfilled them more than the stage) and then solo work and the autobiographies so yeah a ton of material.

            Cheers,
            Ante

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Then Groucho just did a ton of stuff by himself later in life

  2. Harley Earl says:
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    You know, I don’t have a problem with your opinion here or calling Zach Eflin a sleeper. There’s some truth to everything you say and believe.

    It’s just that it’s Zach Eflin. I’m so damn tired of Zach Eflin.

    Maybe that’s why he’s a sleeper? Because he sure makes me f-ing sleepy.

    Screw Zach Eflin. He can carry someone else’s pitching hopes. I’m sick of his under-performing ass. Of course, that makes it the perfect time to invest in him on the cheap. Meh. Thanks but no thanks.

    There’s just some guys that wear your ass out by the time they actually break through. Like Steven Matz. Get the F outta here Matz. Same goes for you Eflin!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Oh, I’m done with Matz

  3. Ascher says:
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    In Grey We Trust!!!

    I’m loving the appetizers (sleepers) but when can we get the meat and potatoes (rest of the rankings)?

    Love EVERY word you put out

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Rankings start on 18th, unless you sign up for the Patreon, link in post

      Thanks!

  4. B to the ry says:
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    Which sleeper do you like more in a dynasty, Eflin, Mahle, or Mitch Keller

    • Phil says:
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      Ohhhh that’s a tough one. I personally like Mahle a whole lot, although Mitch Keller has some upside and was a highly touted prospect. With that said, so was Mark Appel, Carlos Rodon, Shelby Miller, Brian Matusz, Kyle Drabek, AJ Cole, Braden Shipley…you get the picture. Also, Keller pitches for the Bucs. Good luck getting wins there. However, despite 11 atrocious starts in 2019 upon his call-up, his five starts last year weren’t so bad, and he could eventually put it all together and the Bucs trade him to the D-Backs for Bumgarner or the Dodgers for David Price.

      In a redraft league, I’m definitely going Mahle, but not as much of a slam dunk in a dynasty league. But personally, in either league, I’d go Mahle right now. I’ve liked what I’ve seen thus far, and love the strikeout rate.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Mahle or Keller, prolly go Mahle, it is close like Phil said

  5. Dave D says:
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    Fantastic write up, Mr. Albright! I suggest you stop, however, flattering me and my early Razz DC team with back to back posts on my SPs. Hernan is really going to get an inferiority complex that was already simmering following two consecutive years of just missing the prize money zone. This great read might make him soil his sweatpants (no offense, Sweatpants Nation).

    Yeah, Eflin looks good. I couldnt agree more on his value at current ADP of 210. I feel like I got great value at 227 with him.

    • Hernan says:
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      Lol, actually Eflin was a Better Burritos target, seems to have found the right mix of pitches, except for whiff rate, everything else checks out, so , enjoy one of the few bright spots on your team, you know how the story goes, “ even a blind squirrel bumps into an acorn now and then, yada, yada , yada…”, I’ll have plenty of Eflin shares on other teams…, peace!!!!!!

      • Dave D says:
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        I’m definitely not a blind squirrel, but I might share more similarities with a deaf gorilla. Either way, the only thing certain for 2021, is that Montezuma’s Revenge will once again strike Team Hernan and the diarrhea will be trickling down your leg on October first and I will be offering you a sanitary napkin as a consolation prize for your third consecutive year of missing the prize money.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Ha, I didn’t know you had him too…You did all right in that post, don’t let Hernan know I said it

      • Dave D says:
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        Face it, you like my team more than you realize. It’s okay, I won’t hold that against you except in the final standings.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          I hope I win and everyone else comes in 2nd…I have no favorites, except for me

  6. Jimmy says:
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    Great stuff as usual! Thoughts on this trade? I traded Nate Lowe, Tyler Freeman, Tyler Matzek for Lewis Diaz and Isaac Paredes, and Reds SS Jose Garcia..5×5 20 team dynasty

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Thanks!

      Close, I’d prolly go with Diaz side

  7. Carloots says:
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    I just traded Flaherty/Dom Smith for Adell/Soler in a 10 team, 20 keeper dynasty league (30 man rosters) I was pretty loaded at pitcher and wanted to grab Adell before a window shut. I know I didn’t “buy low” what is your thoughts on this trade and my team?

    C-
    1B-Cody Bellinger
    2B-
    3B-Anthony Rendon
    SS-Tim Anderson
    OF-Mookie Betts
    OF-Austin Meadows
    OF-Jo Adell
    OF-Randy Arozarena
    Ut-Franmil Reyes
    Ut-Jorge Soler
    Ut-Kyle Lewis

    Bench-Shohei Ohtani

    SP-Lucas Giolito
    SP-Blake Snell
    SP-Dinelson Lamet
    SP-Tyler Glasnow
    SP-Sixto Sanchez
    SP-Jesus Luzardo
    SP-Dustin May
    SP-Jose Berrios
    SP-Triston McKenzie

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I’d want Flaherty, but I guess it could work out…I think your team still looks good tho, you do have a ton of pitching, I just would’ve wanted more for Flaherty

  8. Cyler says:
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    In a Dynasty league where we use OPS instead of Average do you think trading Ketel Marte for Jarred Kelenic is a good swap?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Sounds fair, I like Marte a lot still, but Kelenic could be a top 50 or higher guy by next year

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Essentially, Marte’s upside feels clipped, and Kelenic feels like sky’s limit

    • NUX says:
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      It’s more than fair. Go get Kelenic if that’s the cost. Figure out 2B later

  9. TC says:
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    10 team, keep 15, standard scoring roto.
    I’d give Fried (3rd round value) and Castellanos (22nd round)
    I’d get Kelenic (15th round value) and A. Reilly (16th round)

    We can keep guys as long as we want in their round.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Is that Austin Riley?

      That side

      • TC says:
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        Sorry, yes… Austin Reilly. 3b and OF eligible in my league

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yeah, that side

  10. Will says:
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    Wow, Lindor and Carrasco heading to the Mets. Steve Cohen isn’t messing around.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      WOW, Carrasco too?

      • Will says:
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        Yep, and they get back only one MLB player (Gimenez) and a bunch of kids. Just like the Darvish trade’s returns.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Jesus, these trades are a joke

          • Will says:
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            Everyone’s waving the white surrender flag I guess. At least the Cubs and Indians are.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Only 3 teams in each league are competing — these trades would be vetoed in dynasty leagues

              • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                Rosario to the Indians with Gimenez and two prospects.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Terrific, now Amed and Andres can fight for PT there too

                  • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                    The Cleveland baseball team made a horrible trade if you ask me

                  • NUX says:
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                    Negative, one at 2B and other at SS, they can both play now

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      True! Realized that after my comment… That helps, at least for fantasy

  11. NUX says:
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    Should be a big time bump in Cookie Carrasco value, going from that park to the Citi

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I liked Carrasco already, won’t hurt him at all

      • NUX says:
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        And Gimenez could lead off, that’s pretty epic for him. That’s how roster resource has it at the moment at least.

        I had read something recently that they want Mercado starting in CF too btw

        • NUX says:
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          Might open a slot for Quantril in the rotation too, which would be cool, I liked him but he didn’t have a spot before this.

  12. Scott Kimmel says:
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    Grey,

    I made a trade and wanted to know what you thought of it.

    I give up: Jake Cronenworth/1B,2B,SS/SD ($5), minor league prospects Nick Yorke/SS/BOS, and Logan Wyatt/1B/SF

    I get: Aaron Bummer/CWS/RP ($6), minor league prospects Nick Bitsko/RHP/TB,and Griffin Conine/OF/MIA

    • NUX says:
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      It’s fine I guess, if Bummer closes. But Bitsko is quite a ways away. I would have expect that you could get more for Cronenworth, even with the Kim situation crowding things.

      • Scott Kimmel says:
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        I can afford Cronenworth. I have Freeman, Bellinger, Vlad, Gurriel. Bohm, and Voit

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Agree with Nux

          • Scott Kimmel says:
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            what else can i ask for that package. Here is his roster

            C Mitch Garver (MIN) $6.00
            C/1B Yasmani Grandal (CWS) $29.00
            1B/3B *Asdrubal Cabrera () $6.00
            1B/OF Hunter Dozier (KC) $6.00
            1B/2B/3B/SS/OF Dylan Moore (SEA) $5.00
            1B/OF Hunter Renfroe (BOS) $22.00
            1B Rowdy Tellez (TOR) $5.00
            2B/3B/SS/OF David Fletcher (LAA) $6.00
            2B/3B/SS Jean Segura (PHI) $41.00
            2B/3B/SS/OF Chris Taylor (LAD) $6.00
            3B Eugenio Suarez (CIN) $21.00
            SS Javier Baez (CHC) $33.00
            SS Miguel Rojas (MIA) $5.00
            SS Corey Seager (LAD) $43.00
            OF Lorenzo Cain (MIL) $17.00
            OF Willie Calhoun (TEX) $6.00
            OF Corey Dickerson (MIA) $6.00
            OF Sam Hilliard (COL) $5.00
            OF Kevin Kiermaier (TB) $6.00
            OF Tommy Pham (SD) $34.00
            OF Harold Ramirez (MIA) $6.00
            OF Bryan Reynolds (PIT) $6.00
            OF Mike Trout (LAA) $57.00
            OF Kyle Tucker (HOU) $5.00
            SP *Jake Arrieta () $34.00
            SP Dylan Bundy (LAA) $6.00
            SP Zach Eflin (PHI) $6.00
            SP Pablo Lopez (MIA) $6.00
            SP Tyler Mahle (CIN) $5.00
            SP Nate Pearson (TOR) $5.00
            SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (TOR) $37.00
            SP *Anibal Sanchez () $6.00
            SP Zack Wheeler (PHI) $41.00
            RP Bryan Abreu (HOU) $5.00
            RP Aaron Bummer (CWS) $6.00
            RP Edwin Diaz (NYM) $28.00
            RP Will Harris (WAS) $6.00
            RP *Liam Hendriks () $50.00
            RP *Jeremy Jeffress () $5.00
            RP Joe Jimenez (DET) $31.00
            RP *Mark Melancon () $23.00
            RP Freddy Peralta (MIL) $6.00
            RP *Brandon Workman () $29.00′

            Minor leaguers:

            C Miguel Amaya (CHC)
            C Philip Clarke (TOR)
            C Ethan Hearn (CHC)
            C Drew Romo (COL)
            C/UT Yermin Mercedes (CWS)
            1B Grant Levigne (COL)
            2B Michael Busch (LAD)
            2B/OF Justin Foscue (TEX)
            2B Brendan Rodgers (COL)
            3B Nolan Jones (CLE)
            3B Tristan Casas (BOS)
            3B Issac Paredes (DET)
            SS Jack Blomgren (COL)
            SS Hayden Cantrelle (MIL)
            SS Sammy Infante (WAS)
            SS Geraldo Perdomo (ARI)
            SS Thomas Saggese (TEX)
            SS/OF Alerick Soularie (MIN)
            SS Bryce Turang (CIN)
            SS Jordan Westburg (WAS)
            OF Matthew Barefoot (HOU)
            OF Luis Basabe (SF)
            OF Griffin Conine (MIA)
            OF Heston Kjerstad (BAL)
            OF Luis Matos (SF)
            OF Johnny Rizer (BAL)
            OF Jake Vogel (LAD)
            SP/RHP J.B. Bukauskas (OAK)
            SP,RP/LHP Dante Biasi (KC)
            SP,RP/RHP Nick Bitsko (TB)
            SP,RP/LHP Jagger Haynes (SD)
            SP,RP/RHP Cole Henry (WAS)
            SP,RP/RHP Jared Jones (PIT)
            SP,RP/RHP Zack Peek (LAA)
            SP,RP/RHP Brandon Pfaadt (ARI)

            • NUX says:
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              Is the deal done? Or did it not get accepted?

              Ask for Trout, Ryu, Tellez, or Dylan Moore

              • Scott Kimmel says:
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                will never get Trout who is Dylan Moore

                • NUX says:
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                  He is one of The guys in the list you just sent us, Scott. He is a baseball player. He plays for the Mariners.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Agree with Nux

            • NUX says:
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              Luis Matos is the prospect name that jumps out. Get him instead of a teenage arm

              • Scott Kimmel says:
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                so what package should I ask for in exchange for Cronenworth, Yorke, and Wyatt?

                Are you saying Matos, Bummer and Bitsko?

                • NUX says:
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                  Sure get everything back that you can. I was just saying Matos should be a much bigger target for you than prospect arms should be.

                  Ask for Matos, see what he says. If I were him, I would say no. But maybe he says yes, Luis Matos+ stuff for Cronenworth and the other parts… that’s a better deal than the original One you posted. But quite honestly, if your planning to try to win at all in 2021 then keep Jake Cronenworth if this is this best kinda package you can get for him.

                  You know your league better than we do

                  • Scott Kimmel says:
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                    he is now asking for Yuli Gurriel, Yorke and Wyatt for Bummer Bitsko and Matos

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Meh

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      im not sure just how much PT Cronenworth will get

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Me either

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      He wont be playing in the infield (no room with Tatis, Machado, the new guy from Japan and Hosmer) so that leaves the OF (Pham, Grisham, Myers), so i think he is riding the bench unless the NL adapts the DH

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Yeah, it’s a concern

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      so it might be time to trade him

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      It could

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      He wants to do the deak where I give up Cronenworth, minor leaguers Logan Wyatt, and Nick Yorke and I get Aaron Bummer, and minor league prospects Matos and Bitsko. Thoughts?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Kinda meh

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      what makes it kinda meh?

  13. Bamabterry says:
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    I just traded Beiber for Loubob in a keep 6 forever league.
    Thoughts? I generally dont like having a pitcher as one of my 6 keepers, but i am unsure if I made the right move here. Other keepers are Tatis, Trout, Arenado, Mondesi, Yordan.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Bieber over Lou Bob, tho, more or less it’s just fair

      • Bamabterry says:
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        Yea. My bias against keeping pitchers in this 6 may have gotten the better of me. But… the consolation prize is Lou Bob. So not the worst i guess.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Not terrible

  14. primetime says:
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    Grey, Lindor to the Mets. Alonso, Conforto and my gut says they will get Springer too.

    Does this trade impact Lindor’s stats for this season at all?

    • NUX says:
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      Hell yea it does. Price going to inflate. He will be a 1st rounder now instead of 2nd rounder. And lineup around him is much better than when he was on the Cleveland Spiders team that is not trying to win anymore

      • primetime says:
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        I mean I am happy. I have Lindor, Tatis and Bellinger on my keeper team. Among other greats.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Not especially, but I will go over Lindor tomorrow in trade recap

  15. My gamble on Sugano did not pay off as he has decided to stay in Japan. That’s alright, the Opt-Outs still have good options, but did have visions of him pitching in SF. Over it movin on.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      In your defense, you didn’t know not one free agent would sign this offseason

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