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Zobrist and Papelbon Trades Cause Fantasy Ripple Effect

RotoExperts Staff July 28, 2015 8:34PM EDT
Ben Zobrist Traded to the Kansas City Royals

Ben Zobrist is likely to play left field and bat leadoff for KC. Photo Credit: Scott U

Ben Zobrist is likely to play left field and bat leadoff for KC. Photo Credit: Scott U

The Kansas City Royals struck again, completing a trade with the Oakland A’s to acquire Ben Zobrist for a pair of minor league pitchers. Zobrist offers the Royals the same flexibility and production that Fantasy owners enjoy. He can play left field for Kansas City now, while regular left fielder Alex Gordon recuperates on the disabled list, then he can play second base when he returns, giving them much better production than current second baseman Omar Infante, who has struggled this season with a .230/.244/.316 line over 350 PA.

Zobrist’s Fantasy value won’t really rise or fall with the move but it is likely to change in terms of the counting stats produced. This season, Zobrist is slashing .268/.354/.447 over 271 PA. More often than not, Zobrist batted either third or fourth in Oakland’s lineup, a traditional power hitter slot that produces both runs and RBIs. The Royals may slot Zobrist in the leadoff spot to take advantage of his on base skills, which have produced a career OBP of .354. His RBI totals will take a hit, as he’ll have fewer opportunities to drive in runs, but he should also have more chances to score. Zobrist has stolen double-digit bases in each of the last seven seasons, but he has just one steal in two attempts this year. He may run more if he’s leading off for the Royals.

Related: Fantasy analysis of Rockies-Blue Jays trade

Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando have been platooning in left field while Alex Gordon has been sidelined. Dyson has 17 steals this season in 54 games played, though he’s batted .254 and doesn’t offer much power. Dyson will likely become the fourth outfielder and work off the bench. Orlando has batted .242 with four HRs and three SBs in 45 games played. He could be headed back to the minors once Zobrist reports to the team.

The minor league pitchers that went to the A’s in the deal are left-hander Seth Manaea and right-hander Seth Brooks. Both pitchers will report to the Oakland minor league system and are not expected to make an impact in Fantasy this season. Mark Canha could be the primary beneficiary of Zobrist’s departure, as he could become the everyday left fielder, at least until Coco Crisp returns. Crisp is on rehab assignment now and could be back as soon as next week. So don’t get too excited about Canha’s tenure as the sole left fielder lasting beyond that.

Jonathan Papelbon Traded to the Washington Nationals

The Phillies finally unloaded Jonathan Papelbon’s contract, trading the mercurial reliever to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Nick Pivetta. Papelbon has long indicated his unhappiness with Philadelphia but his contract made it difficult to move him. Reportedly, the Phillies are paying all but the prorated major league minimum of this year’s salary and Papelbon agreed to lower his salary for 2016 and accept some of the money on a deferred basis.

Papelbon’s Fantasy value increases with the move to a contender. The Nationals are atop the NL East with a record of 52-45 despite injuries to several of their starting players this season. In fact, the Nats have yet to field their projected lineup for this season, though Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman returned to the team shortly after the trade was announced. Papelbon should see plenty of save opportunities down the stretch, as he made it clear he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to go anywhere he wouldn’t be the closer.

Papelbon’s departure from Philadelphia opens the door for Ken Giles to take over the closer role for the Phillies. Giles has a 1.85 ERA and an 11.13 K/9 IP in 43 innings pitched this season. He was anointed the closer of the future over a year ago, and will now finally get his chance. Giles should be added in all Fantasy leagues in which he’s available.

Drew Storen, who’s been the Nationals’ closer since the season opened, has done a terrific job, but his owners will lose out on this deal. He’s amassed 29 saves in 31 chances with an ERA of 1.73 this season but will now be relegated to setup duties with Papelbon’s arrival. Storen’s Fantasy value plummets, except in leagues that use holds as a scoring category.

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