Assessing Fantasy keeper values: Take the ace

In Wednesday's Fantasy baseball chat, analyst Al Melchior took this question:

Keep Jose Fernandez and lose a 7th rounder, Homer Bailey and lose an 18th, or Alex Cobb and lose a 22nd?? Draft is tomorrow!

His response:

Bailey is probably the best value, but I'd still want Fernandez, who could wind up being one of the top three or four SPs overall.

This is an interesting conundrum owners face when deliberating between two keepers who come attached with different draft-pick assignments. If the question just involved picking a keeper without draft picks getting involved, Fernandez would be the clear keeper.

Average Draft Position data from Fantasy Pros suggests that Fernandez will be drafted in the fourth round on average in a 12-team league, while Bailey will go in the eighth round (and Cobb in the 10th round). It seems the value lies in Bailey or Cobb, as keeping Fernandez means getting him about three rounds later than expected, while the other two are being taken 10-plus rounds later than expected.

Despite this, Al made what I believe is the correct decision: take the ace with Fernandez.

If you truly believe that Fernandez is a top-five pitcher, getting him in the seventh round is actually the better value, once you think about it a little longer. Bailey is considered around 20th at the position according to the same ADP data, while Cobb checks in at 28th. Finding a pitcher of that quality late in the draft is generally much easier than finding a top-five pitcher outside of the top four or five rounds.

While Bailey certainly isn't going to be around in the 18th round in 2014, players like Alex Wood, Corey Kluber, Yordano Ventura, Ivan Nova and others can be had later in drafts that have the potential to jump into the top-20 this season and be taken at that level in 2015. In the seventh round, pitchers like Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmermann and James Shields tend to be the best available on average. I don't see those guys, or the ones beneath them, rising to top-five status, do you?

If I had these keeper options in my league, I'd side with Al and keep Fernandez. What about you?

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