Written by: Ray Butler (@CoachRayButler)
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I started playing fantasy baseball in the summer of 2015. I knew next to nothing about how to be successful; I had become so detached from baseball itself that I knew very little about some of the league’s elite players (for example, all I knew about Paul Goldschmidt when I joined my fantasy league was that he was a dude with a fancy last name who played first base for the Diamondbacks). Looking back, at the time, I really had no business being in a highly-competitive fantasy baseball league.
But ever since I began playing fantasy baseball (shortly thereafter, anyways), I’ve really wanted Corey Seager. He’s been the apple of my eye since I first searched through top prospect lists over two years ago. I’ve basically had an ongoing dialogue about a potential trade with his owner in my fantasy league for 18 months now, at times feeling optimistic about a deal finally happening only to have my dreams dashed somewhere along the way.
Until last night.
My latest continual dialogue with Seager’s owner began a little more than a week ago. I originally approached him with a desire to acquire Michael Conforto, but things quickly escalated to something much, much more. The first legitimate offer was made by him: My Trea Turner and Noah Syndergaard for his Corey Seager and Michael Conforto. As much as I wanted Seager, my Turner/Syndergaard pair was simply too much. When healthy, Turner is easily one of the most valuable players in all of fantasy baseball. I countered by asking him (in a hypothetical world) how he would feel about a Francisco Lindor (my other shortstop) and Noah Syndergaard for Corey Seager and Michael Conforto deal. He expressed his interest.
For awhile, we passed hypothetical offers back and forth. I really wanted to swap Noah Syndergaard for Marcus Stroman. He pondered it, but eventually declined. I tried swapping Syndergaard for Stroman and adding Kyle Tucker. I was stunned, but he rejected that one as well. It was Syndergaard or bust if I wanted Seager.
A handful of days ago, we finally met common ground and I began thinking there was a chance that a deadline blockbuster might happen. The deal on the table? His Corey Seager, Michael Conforto, and A.J. Puk for my Noah Syndergaard and Francisco Lindor. Puk is a player I’ve thought the world of since he was at Florida. He’s built like a bulldog and has a strong #2 ceiling (not enough people have talked about how well he’s pitched this season. His strikeout numbers are ridiculous, he keeps the ball in the yard and his AA ERA of 5.63 is more than two points higher than both his FIP and xFIP. I think he’s a stud.) His addition to the deal was a big deal for me.
Still, I was hesitant. Seager could easily slide into my SS slot (even though I would still have Trea Turner, who I’m fine slotting in at OF or UTIL when he returns from his wrist injury), but adding Conforto would further jam my already-solid active player outfield that consists of J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Andrew Benintendi, and Chris Taylor.
I asked around the league about trading one of my outfielders for a starting pitcher. I thought a potential deal was gaining traction a couple of different times, but to no avail. Such is normal life in the fantasy baseball trade market!
1:00 AM CT this (Monday) morning was my league’s trade deadline. Yesterday consisted of me reaching out to nearly each person in my entire league, sniffing around for a deal that would ease the blow of potentially moving Noah Syndergaard. No dice.
Around supper time, I made sure he wouldn’t take the Stroman/Lindor for Seager/Conforto offer. Nope.
At about 8:00 CT, I truly felt like a deal wouldn’t happen. It was just too much. Conforto didn’t organically fit into my team’s puzzle. Puk is a beast, but I already own Alex Reyes, Julio Urias, and Triston McKenzie. I had Francisco Lindor and Trea Turner, so I didn’t HAVE to have Corey Seager.
Except that I did.
I had never been so close to acquiring the player I had been after since I began playing fantasy baseball, so I began thinking outside of the box with ideas that would make me feel better about a potential deal. There were five hours left until the deadline, but there was no way I was staying up until 1:00 with a Monday at school awaiting me when I wake up. It was literally now or never.
That’s when I landed on Eloy Jimenez.
If Michael Conforto doesn’t naturally fit the structure of my team, neither does Eloy Jimenez. But my mind was on an Eloy for Kyle Tucker swap, so Eloy would simply take Tucker’s NA spot on my team. Yes, Jimenez and Tucker are ranked closely across the board in the prospect industry, and some sites even give a slight edge to Tucker when comparing the two. Both are fantastic prospects who have all-star ceilings, but Jimenez is the safer player who possesses a (at least slightly) higher floor and ceiling than Tucker (in my opinion, anyways). The swap was an idea that would increase the overall value of my team, even if Jimenez develops in the minor leagues until 2019.
(A quick aside about my league’s format: We have 23 active player slots, 2 DL slots and 3 NA slots. This year, we’ll be able to keep 18 active players and up to 4 NA players. Even before the trade you’re about to read about, my keeper situation was a complete disaster. It’ll be an interesting offseason.)
Out of nowhere, I asked my leaguemate about his willingness to part with Jimenez. He told me his heart was literally hurting, but agreed to hear me out on an expansion for our deal.
Corey Seager, Michael Conforto, Eloy Jimenez and A.J. Puk for Noah Syndergaard, Francisco Lindor, Kyle Tucker and Marco Estrada was officially accepted by both sides at 11:00 PM. A blockbuster deal FOR THE AGES, discussed for days only to finally happen two hours before the trade deadline.
It’s a trade that would change the landscape of any team fantasy team in any format. Barring something unforeseen, I’ll now head into the offseason with both Corey Seager and Trea Turner as SS-only players. My outfield (we only have three OF slots and one UTIL slot in my league) now consists of J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Andrew Benintendi, Michael Conforto and one Eloy Jimenez. My other prospect/NA players are Francisco Mejia, Rafael Devers (who may lose eligibility before the end of the season), Julio Urias, Alex Reyes, Triston McKenzie, and A.J. Puk. If I were to keep them all, my active player pitching staff (now headed by Carlos Martinez and Marcus Stroman) would be quite slender.
Like I said, it’ll be an extremely interesting offseason. But I don’t care. My team is more talented now than it was on Sunday afternoon, even if the puzzle fits together differently than it normally would.
I won’t spend time attempting to slander Noah Syndergaard and Francisco Lindor. Both guys are young, centerpiece-type players that will play a large role on any team they’re on. I know he’s currently sidelined with a torn lat, but I genuinely hope Syndergaard can elude the arm trouble that’s popped up from time-to-time over the past two seasons. He has a chance to be Clayton Kerhsaw-esque sooner rather than later. I legitimately hope that Lindor can maintain the home run numbers from 2017 while finding his way on base like he did in 2016. Both are likeable guys, and I hope they’re both superstars a decade from now.
And yeah, I acquired Michael Conforto, Eloy Jimenez, and A.J. Puk– three big-time players that could prove to be incredibly huge pieces for a championship/future championship team– in the blockbuster deal. But at the end of the day, it’s all about Corey Seager. It always has been. I’ve been chasing Corey Seager since around the time I graduated college. I had a different job when I began chasing Seager. I was an unmarried man living with my parents when I began chasing Seager. And I finally got him.
Thanks for following along!
Featured image courtesy of MLB.com.