Highlander Dynasty Invitational: Part 1

by Andrew Spurling
Dynasty Directives Houston Astros Prospects

Welcome to the Highlander Dynasty Invitational: Part 1 article!

I was recently scrolling Twitter, like many others anxiously anticipating the upcoming season, when I saw a post from some prominent dynasty baseball writers pertaining to a new dynasty league. The league is known as The Highlander Dynasty Invitational. I quickly submitted my application in hopes of participating in a Dynasty league against the best competitors and evaluators of talent in the dynasty baseball forum. A few days later I was ecstatic to find out I had been selected for this elite competition.

I highly recommend following all of those involved in this unique Dynasty competition. Doing so has most definitely made me much better at drafting, trading, and managing my own fantasy teams.

Make sure you follow everyone participating as well as follow @Highlander_DI on Twitter. Before the draft, I make sure to brush up on the Dynasty Baseball rankings from Dave Eddy.

Highlander Dynasty Invitational: Part 1

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There are many interesting facets to the league constitution that help align the league as a dynasty league with some keeper and draft realignment implications from year to year. The hope of the founders is that this will help contribute to the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the league for all those involved, eliminating the ability for just a couple of teams to hustle trade their way to the top, then potentially sit on the talent that they have accrued in the process.

Before the draft began there was a blind bidding process to determine the draft order. It is a 20 team league with 40 roster spots each totaling 800 selections in the startup draft. Bidding on how many fewer keepers I would be afforded next season. I decided I would like to draft in the top ten with heavy prejudice towards the top six selections.  As a result of this process, I ultimately ended up with pick number five by bidding away five keeper selections following this upcoming season.

The Rules

For a full list of the rules, check the Google Doc for the complete rules for Highlander Dynasty Invitational.

After the first season, I am allotted three Franchise Player tags. I can protect three players drafted in any round. Ideally, this is going to be most likely three of the first four players selected. Situationally I might make a trade that could affect this outcome or an unexpected breakout from a later draft pick. I can tag one player with the Fan Favorite designation whom I selected after round four.

My initial read and reaction to the rules for this competition are that with all of the various reassignment drafts and keeper rules, I would give preferential treatment to building a team that would potentially be more win-now, as opposed to one I might typically attempt to build. You can only completely protect a portion of your roster at any given time. To me, this means that some leverage is potentially taken away from players that are multiple years away from debuting.

The Draft

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I try to go into every Dynasty Baseball draft with the mentality of winning year two. In that mindset, I leave open the possibility of contending in year one.

In the first round of the Highlander Dynasty, I quickly determined the order of my queue. I settled on Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette. It basically went as I anticipated, leaving me very happy to select Bo Bichette.  He truly is the epitome of the type of player you want in a 5x5 Rotisserie League with batting average as a category.

I chose to begin the draft by attempting to build a solid foundation, selecting Spencer Torkelson and Alex Bregman in the next two rounds. Robbie Ray while potentially flawed is a strong base for innings and strikeouts. In a weekly format, I knew I would need at least one starting pitcher that could pitch deep into games.

Then I proceeded down the path of four more high-floor hitters with Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Dansby Swanson, and Max Muncy. Next, I used the following two picks to select a couple of my favorite Dynasty targets: starting pitchers on the verge of becoming household names in the Dodgers Dustin May and the Marlins Jesus Luzardo.

Per the constitution, we can roster two open-universe players and at this point of the draft, Most of the elite-tier of options had gone with Elijah Greene, Termarr Johnson, Dylan Crews, Chase Delauter, and Brooks Lee having been selected. I was happy to select Jace Jung who think provides a very high-floor-and-ceiling combination aside from perhaps a lack of speed. At this point in the draft though he feels like a great bet as a slugging infielder.

I was actually a little surprised to see Jacob Gonzalez last until the 36th round. Referring back to the constitution, we are able to designate one rising prospect that is exempt from realignment drafts that was either selected in the last five rounds of the startup draft or added via in-season FAAB. The Ole Miss sophomore recently slugged three home runs against Alabama after being named D1 Freshman Baseball player of the year. He would appear to be a strong candidate to go near the top of the 2024 draft alongside Dylan Crews.

My First Trade!

Assessing things again after the draft, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that I should try and be aggressive by making a trade early. I need stolen bases on offense and starting pitching beyond Robbie Ray, as I lack any proven top-end options for this season. I do like Jesus Luzardo and Dustin May a lot long term but it would be catastrophic to pencil them in as my numbers two and three SPs, especially with May currently working his way back from TJS.

With my team makeup being largely a lot of veteran hitters either in their prime or slightly past it, I decided that I didn't want to let myself get stuck in the middle of the standings. I chose to update my trade block a second time in an attempt to more clearly convey my intent to make a move. I had Jordan Rosenblum reach out to me first. We have had successful negotiations in the past in other dynasty leagues as Jordan is a great negotiator.

It would at first glance appear he might be more inclined to play for next season based on his current roster construction. I knew that we both value Spencer Torkelson highly, but I decided that I want to part with him because he carries the most trade value to another team. He has the most future-forward value to a team that is not currently being utilized this season.

Ultimately we were able to settle on a trade that I think made both of us uncomfortable, which is usually an indication that it might be fair. I received Carlos Rodon & Justin Verlander; in return, I sent away Spencer Torkelson.

League Trades

The very first trade of the season was an exciting one!

The most recent transaction involved  Drew Wheeler from The Next Pick Podcast sending draft darling Craig Kimbrel to the common denominator in every trade thus far: you guessed it, Jordan Rosenblum. Jordan in return sends some pitching depth to Drew. The starting pitchers Drew Smyly and Corey Kluber as well as RP Lou Trivino and finally prospect riser Richie Palacios.

Parting Thoughts

Thank you for joining me in Highlander Dynasty Invitational: Part 1. This season is going to be a blast to follow and I think it should be very competitive. I'm hoping to be one of the teams in contention this year after making a severe win-now trade. There are a couple of teams that are intent on competing in the future. I think most of the league is currently only a trade or two away from being near the top. Injuries will also play an important role this season I'm sure. Currently, nearly everyone receiving ABs is on a roster across the league. It has been a pleasure participating, and I'm just so happy that baseball is back!

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