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Custom Fantasy Baseball Advice: Harvey or Harper in Dynasty League?

The following article was written by’s team of expert analysts, in response to a question asked by one of our RotoBaller readers.  You can click here for more info if you’re interested in having RotoBaller’s experts answer a custom fantasy baseball question.

Question Submitted to RotoBaller

I was proposed the following: I give Bryce Harper ($8M/3 years), Allen Craig ($2.5M/3 years) and Wily Peralta ($1.5M/5 years) and I get Alex Gordon ($6.25M/3 years), Matt Harvey ($1.5M/5 years with option for $10M at the end of the 5 years), and Allen Webster (MiLB - 6 years). What do you think? I have one of the best-hitting teams in the league. And after Verlander, Moore, Miller and Bumgarner, my pitching is slim. This is a SP-heavy league where the average price is $12-$15M with studs going for over $20M.  This is why I like locking up Harvey for the next 10 years! I have T. Hunter, Ibanez, Trout, Holliday, Frazier in my OF to go along with Craig and Harper so it is crowded. And I have to call up Taveras and Castellanos in the offseason. What do you think?

  • Player Pool: Mixed
  • # of Teams: 14+
  • League Info and Categories: 16-team dynasty league, head-to-head scoring, 26 players per team and the contracts are as follows: two five-years, three four-years, four three-years six two-years, and the remaining are one-year contracts. We also have $170M salary cap.
  • Roster Positions: C, 1B ,2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, UTIL, SPx5, RPx4, BENCHx7
  • League Host: Yahoo!
  • Any Other League Details: Heavy on SPs, they go for well above average. Not many ppl like OFers, tried trading Holliday and no bites.


RotoBaller Detailed Analysis

You play in a league that sounds really great-- honestly, as I was reading through your league details I found myself wanting to be a part of a dynasty league like that!
Before we get to the heart of the matter, there were a couple assumptions I made here that I wanted to be clear about:  first, that during the length of the contract the salaries stay the same, or I'm guessing you would have indicated otherwise.  Second, that it is H2H 5x5, as opposed to a points league.  This is a bigger point because points leagues are usually much more OPS and IP dependent than 5x5 leagues, and that will change how a guy like Alex Gordon is valued.  That said, I don’t think the scoring format is what pushes the deal in one direction or the other.
Let’s break the deal down:  Craig is really solid player - for $2.5M, he is great value, a 7.5 / 10.  His upside is a bit limited because of his line drive and ground ball tendencies-- though his batted ball profile supports his high BA, it also limits the number of homeruns he will hit. Unless he changes his approach, which will lower his BA, Craig won’t hit more than 20-24 HR in a year.  In a three-OF league where you have Trout and Holliday, who are way better than probably all but one or two teams’ top two OF in a 16-team league, you can afford to lose Craig.  Gordon is a downgrade from Craig, and with a price tag at $6.25M you'd have to rank him a 6.5 / 10 on the talent-for-value scale.  That said, $6.25M for Gordon as a #3 OF is still very solid, and most likely way above the average return-on-investment in a 16-team league.
With Wily Peralta, I think that’s a closer swap for Webster, with both guys coming pretty cheaply.  Peralta has had control issues at every stop, and as he’s tried to solve them this year, his usually reliable strikeouts have disappeared. Webster’s control is below average also, but his “stuff” has been much better at the MLB level this year. He is missing a lot more bats than Peralta and hitting the zone with first-pitch strikes much more frequently.  I like Webster’s contract much more than Peralta's in your league, but the difference in value is tough to tell since both guys are so young.
Lastly, we have Harper and Harvey.  Harper at $8M is fantastic value-- his upside for the next three years is probably as high as any first-round pick in a fresh draft, and it's only limited by his propensity to play with his hair on fire and get injured. Harper is close to a 9.5 / 10 on the talent-for-value scale at $8M.  I'm sure you're thinking "How can I trade a guy like that," right? Well, you can when the player you’re getting in return is Matt Harvey, a.k.a. Mr. 2014 Cy Young. Here is what RotoBaller said about Matt Harvey on March 27th: “Matt Harvey will have an enormous breakout and finish in the top three of the NL Cy Young voting. He’ll rack up about 220 K, with 15 W and a low 3 ERA. Mets fans will compare him to Doc Gooden because he’s the best young pitcher they've seen since Doc.”  He's been even better than that.  Pretty good prediction, huh?  Besides patting ourselves on the back, the point here is that we absolutely love Matt Harvey. For $1.5M, he’s a 11 / 10 on the value-for-talent scale.  Name a peripheral stat, and Harvey dominates it. Solid GB%? Check. Ridiculous swinging-strike rate? Check. Gets hitters to swing at a lot of bad pitches and make really bad contact on those pitches? Check. Pounds the zone with first strikes? Check.  Harvey is the real deal, and in a league that values pitchers so highly, with a potential ten-year contract that only goes to $10M after five years at $1.5M, he is arguably the most valuable player in your entire league, and easily in the top five.  The value gap between Harvey and Harper is plenty big enough to make up for the value lost in the Craig0-for-Gordon swap.

Net Net:

You’re losing a lot in Harper and Craig, but you seem to have a pretty good idea of how pitchers and outfielders are valued in your league, and your outfield is quite deep already. On top of that, Harper is only on a three-year deal, compared to ten potential years of ace pitching from Matt Harvey. I would make this deal if I were you. You’re getting one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball at the cheapest possible price.  It’s just too much value to pass up, even if you are trading Bryce Harper.

Hope this helps, and please continue to hit us up whenever you need fantasy baseball advice.