2009′s two most talked about fantasy baseball prospects – Tampa Bay lefty David Price and Baltimore backstop Matt Wieters – are going to start the season in the minor leagues.
Moves like this are frustrating for most fantasy baseball owners, but the cases of Wieters and Price are a reminder that fantasy baseball is always at the whim of sports business. With the demotion of these two players, the Rays and Orioles delay each player’s eligibility for salary arbitration.
Sure, these demotions could cost each team a couple wins early in the year, but both teams are more concerned about funding the future than winning in April. When you consider how tough it will be for these two teams to annually compete with the unlimited budgets of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, sending these two down to the minors at this time makes perfect sense.
We have been caught up just like you in drafting Price based on his high ceiling of potential, we’re not surprised the Rays made this move. Last season, in similar fashion, the Rays bunched Evan Longoria into a batch of Spring Training demotions.
Then, three weeks into the season, Longoria got called up. Fantasy baseball owners still got to use him for the majority of the season, and the Rays got his eligibility for free agency delayed until 2014.
In standard 10-team fantasy leagues, Price is currently going in round 13; Wieters in round 17. Should you still draft them there despite the demotions?
YES, and YES.
Assuming Price is used as a starter, he has been projected to put up numbers close to 7 wins, a 4.00 ERA, 135 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP in 20 appearances over 135 innings. Wieters has been tabbed to hit .291 with 14 homeruns, 49 RBI, and 45 runs scored in 400 at-bats.
Based on those numbers, drafting both players at their current average draft positions still seems like a good idea. In the case of Wieters, make sure you take a second catcher during your draft so you aren’t dependent on Wieters getting called up ASAP.
While Fantasy Baseball Dugout doesn’t have any inside sources with either ballclubs, we think both players will be called up during the month of Apri. These demotions had nothing to do with the potential of these players and everything to do with saving money and extending contracts.
Feel free to continue to draft Price and Wieters if they remain in your player universe during your draft. You’ll be rewarded for your sacrifices in April when they both pay BIG dividends in September.