The results from the trade deadline are sinking in for Fantasy players
The trade deadline for Major League Baseball has come and gone, and now that the smoke has cleared from a hectic flurry; which saw 13 deals go down, it’s time for the analysis to begin.
As I have been warning people for the better part of two months, this time of year is wrought with dangers and pitfalls for your Fantasy teams. If you play in a mono League and your player was traded to the other MLB league, it could be devastating for you. My main league is an AL-only Keeper League. I am currently in second place, behind by one point. The team in first place lost Manny Machado two weeks ago and Jonathan Schoop this week. The team directly behind me in third place lost Brian Dozier and Chris Archer; I like my chances going forward.
Aside from Machado, Schoop, and Dozier, many other players swapped leagues. The Orioles completely cleaned house and are in full-on rebuild mode, also trading Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day, and Brad Brach. A slew of relievers switched leagues, which has made the unpredictable and volatile saves category even more insane to predict. Jake Diekman, John Axford, Aaron Loup, Keone Kela, Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Joakim Soria, and Seung-Hwan Oh are all now on other teams in another league.
Hopefully, if you had any of those pitchers you had the wherewithal and foresight to also have pitchers like Mychel Givens (Orioles), Jose Leclerc and Alex Claudio (Rangers), Anthony Swarzak (Mets), Kirby Yates (Padres)…not many Mariano Riveras or Trevor Hoffmans in that bunch.
Usually a trade doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are ways to avoid getting caught at the trade deadline with a player being dealt. For instance, it wasn’t a secret that Manny Machado would most likely get traded before the deadline. After Machado was drafted in my league, I asked the owner why he would take the risk? He said that he knew the gamble, but because of those risks, was able to pick him up at a premium, ($32), and that there was a 50% chance he’d be traded to an American League team. To him, the reward outweighed the risk.
Cole Hamels and Wilson Ramos were two other players who were rumored to be traded away early in the season. Although Hamels wasn’t having a very good year for the Rangers, he was averaging a strikeout per inning. And the loss of Ramos’ offense could be devastating to a team. Two potential replacements for Ramos are either Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Rangers), who’s only owned in 19% of CBS leagues, or Mitch Garver (Twins), who’s owned in 18%.
Some other were downright head-scratchers. Tommy Pham getting traded to the Rays is a perfect example. He’s a late blooming, 30 year-old outfielder, with a nice mix of speed and power. Last season in only 444 at-bats, he was a 20/20 man, hitting 23 home runs and stealing 25 bases. He’s the type of player who would have been a great fit for the Yankees or Indians, but not a team in tear-down mode, like the Rays. That being said, he’ll be a sneaky player to target at next year’s draft. Right now you’ll have to do without him for awhile because of a broken foot. Some players can gain a larger profile by getting dealt, and some can suddenly gain more playing time. Look for Harrison Bader to be the main recipient of Pham going to the AL. He’s only 24 years old, and has a similar skill set to Pham, with 20/20 potential.
Another head-scratcher was the trade of Mike Moustakas from the Royals to the Brewers. The Brewers already have Travis Shaw and were obviously talking with the Orioles about Schoop…Moustakas seems to be overkill for a team in desperate need of another arm, not a bat. A winner of this trade could turn out to be Rosell Herrera of the Royals. He’s a 25 year-old speedster who plays both infield and outfield. He’s stolen as many as 36 bases in the minors.
A big loser in this deal could be Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia. At age 23, he has a lot more baseball left in him, yet he’s suddenly a man without a position. In his first full season in the majors last year, he hit 15 home runs to go with 14 steals, and a very respectable .277 AVG. This year has been a nightmare for the young shortstop. After starting the year slowly, he was shipped back to Triple-A to find his swing and has only been back with the big club since July 26th. It’s obvious he’s the odd man out in Milwaukee.
There were three trades made with players who remained in their same league, and whose values should jump considerably due to their change of scenery. Ian Kinsler was traded from the Angels to Red Sox; Nathan Eovaldi was traded from the Rays to the Red Sox, and J.A. Happ was traded from the Blue Jays to the Yankees. Kinsler is a dead pull hitter who should take advantage of the Green Monster, and will be rejuvenated in a pennant race. Eovaldi has had a nice year for himself, and should be a mainstay in the Sox rotation for the final two months of the season. He should generate victories pitching for the team with the most current wins in all of baseball.
Happ instantly moves to the heart of the Yankees pitching staff and like Eovaldi, should benefit from a change of scenery coming into a pennant race when he returns to action. Eovaldi and Happ each pitched stellar games in their initial outings for their new teams. The biggest loser is Sonny Gray, who was barely hanging on to a rotation spot. The addition of Happ, (along with Lance Lynn, from a deal with the Twins), relegated Gray to mop-up man in the bullpen.
There you have it: nearly 30 trades in July, with 13 on July 31st. Hopefully you listened to some of the advice I doled out about being cautious at this time of year. Don’t forget that although the trade deadline has passed, deals can still be made throughout August. Remember, the biggest and most pivotal deal last season happened last year in August: Justin Verlander to the Astros. Don’t be surprised if some other names still get dealt this month.
The most intriguing and biggest name would be Bryce Harper. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that Harper wasn’t going anywhere when rumors crept up that they may have been shopping him. The team has underperformed all season and is trying to stay in the playoff race. If a few more weeks go by and the team doesn’t get closer, or worse, fall further behind, Rizzo may change his tune. Harper would look terrific in Cleveland, Philadelphia, or Pinstripes down the stretch of a pennant race.
Even if you’re out of your own league’s playoff chase, with no chance of winning a title; stay engaged. It could affect the overall standings, and especially if you’re in a keeper league, you can pick up important chips to help you next season. Maybe you’ll grab the next Ronald Acuna, or Juan Soto.