I honestly don’t remember a more active trade deadline day, in terms of both quantity of deals and the quality of the players involved. Here are my fantasy-angled thoughts on the fantasy-noteworthy trades of this July 31st.
Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes traded to A’s for Yoenis Cespedes
As if Lester’s 2014 season hasn’t been impressive enough, this is about as favorable of a situation as his fantasy owners could have hoped for. He moves from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly park and from a Red Sox team that ranks 25th in the Majors in runs scored to an Athletics club that is the highest scoring team in the Majors. If Oakland doesn’t at least make the World Series this year, I don’t know when they ever will. As for Cespedes, his fantasy outlook at worst stays the same (inferior lineup in Boston) but probably improves with his move to a cozier park for power hitters. Gomes remains strictly an AL-only option.
David Price traded to Tigers, Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin traded to Rays, Austin Jackson traded to Mariners
Wow. That A’s-Tigers ALCS will be fun to watch! Check out the Tigers rotation now. Price was already a fantasy ace prior to this move. Now, he’s a legit top-5 SP. Like Lester, he will benefit from increased run support and a more favorable home ballpark. I’m still a fan of Smyly but this isn’t great news for him. Maybe he’s now closer to Pitch or Ditch than grad. I don’t see Jackson’s value changing much here. Franklin’s future remains promising but he’s likely to stay in the Minors for the time being.
John Lackey traded to Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly
Pitching in the Senior Circuit for the first time in his career, Lackey makes for a nice pickup in NL-only leagues for next week. Following a shaky stretch that began in late-June and continued into the early part of this month, he’s been very sharp over his last three starts (20 IP, 14 H, 5 ER). When it comes to Craig, what’s happened? This is a guy who was coming off back-to-back seasons of at least a .307 AVG and 92 RBI and didn’t last past the 10th round in most 12-team mixed league drafts this spring. And unlike in years past, he’s stayed healthy this season. A change of scenery could be just what he needs. If he’s on the waiver wire in your 12-team mixed league, taking a flier on him could pay off. Kelly was having a disappointing season with the Cardinals. Chances are he’ll continue to have a disappointing season as a member of the Red Sox. Outside of deep AL-only leagues, I wouldn’t bother.
Tommy Milone traded to Twins for Sam Fuld
Milone has become a popular Pitch or Ditch option over the past few years for starts at home, and although his fantasy appeal takes a hit due to the downgraded supporting lineup, Target Field is another pitcher-friendly park. In deeper mixed leagues, Milone still carries some value as a Pitch or Ditch guy. Fuld is a better real-life player than fantasy player and doesn’t figure to get a whole lot of playing time in Oakland’s outfield. But his stolen base production keeps him at least somewhat relevant in deeper AL-only leagues.
Asdrubal Cabrera traded to Nationals
Heading into the season, I liked Cabrera as an underrated fantasy shortstop who was primed to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 and approach 20 homers while swiping 15 bags and scoring 80-plus runs. As it turns out, 80-plus runs is the only one of those milestones that is in reach. In fact, Asdrubal’s final stat line this season will probably look a lot like last year’s line, with the exception of the increased runs total. By now, it’s obvious that his 25 HR/17 SB showing in 2011 was more of a fluke than last year’s performance. Cabrera is expected to take over as Washington’s starting second baseman. The playing time situation could get interesting if/when Ryan Zimmerman returns, but it’s entirely possible that the Nats simply decide to shut him down. And no, I don’t see Danny Espinosa as a legitimate threat to Asdrubal’s playing time. Cabrera’s fantasy stock remains roughly the same, as a low-end starting SS and quality MI in deeper mixed leagues. He’s an attractive waiver wire add in NL-only leagues though, as it’s especially hard to find middle infielders with his type of power potential in a non-mixed format.
Stephen Drew traded to Yankees
Not much to say about this one. Drew will slot in as the Yankees’ everyday second baseman now that Brian Roberts has been designated for assignment, and although he’s shown some improvement at the plate of late, his season numbers are still awful. Drew is barely worth a roster spot in any mixed league.
Martin Prado traded to Yankees
I like this move a lot for the Yankees. Prado’s offensive production this year has not been up to par with what he’s done in the past, but his track record suggests that he could easily improve, particularly in the batting average department. He can also play a multitude of different positions, which adds to his fantasy appeal for AL-only leaguers. For now, he’s not guaranteed everyday at-bats, but he will play enough to be a worthy pickup in a non-mixed.
Elias @ W. Chen – I like what I’ve seen from Chen of late.
Williams @ House
Morales @ Verlander
Capuano @ Ranaudo
Shoemaker @ Hellickson
Darnell @ Sale
Happ @ McHugh
Guthrie @ Gray
R. Hernandez @ Fister
Vogelsong @ Niese – Vogelsong has a 5.44 ERA on the road.
Latos @ Turner
Peralta @ Wainwright – Peralta’s 3.56 season ERA skewed by one 9 ER outing.
Volquez @ Nuno
Hendricks @ Ryu
Minor @ Stults
Danks @ Smyly – Smyly had 11 K’s last time out. Is it OK to use him now?
Skaggs @ Norris
Young @ McAllister
Correia @ Ventura
Hutchison @ Cosart – Good arms but bad matchups.
P. Hernandez @ Arrieta
Miller @ Despaigne
Lee @ G. Gonzalez
Cueto @ Koehler – Koehler is tough at home and the Reds are not great offensively.
Locke @ Collmenter – Blue-plate special; both have some appeal if categories allow.
Teheran @ Kershaw – Stay up late, kids.
Gallardo @ Price
Hammel @ Keuchel – risk/reward here depends on your standings. Both are regressing hard right now.
Richards @ Gausman
King Felix @ Kluber – King plus Kluber = K’s!
Noesi @ Scherzer
Buehrle @ Workman
Kuroda @ Lewis
Hughes @ Duffy
Kendrick @ Wheeler
Miley @ Simon
Roark @ Hand – Hand is a sneaky good gamble in deeper leagues.
Morton @ Lincecum
B. Anderson @ T. Wood – Wood also a good blue-plate option vs. depleted Rockies.
A. Wood @ Greinke
Kelly @ Hahn – keep in mind, Hahn has about 60 innings left.
Weaver @ Tillman
Iwakuma @ Bauer
Quintana @ An. Sanchez
Stroman @ R. De La Rosa – rematch!
Garza @ Cobb
McCarthy @ Martinez – McCarthy is on a roll and the Rangers, er, are not
Gibson @ Shields
Samardzija @ Feldman
Cahill @ Leake – I’m keeping an eye on both though
Hamels @ Gee – FYI, Hamels’ 4.38 career ERA vs. the Mets is his worst vs any NL club
Strasburg @ Alvarez
J. De La Rosa @ Jackson
Harang @ Beckett
Lynn @ T. Ross
Liriano @ Hudson
***ZACH SAYS “I’d absolutely pitch Alvarez, who is coming off a strong outing against the Braves. The Nats are a tough lineup, but as long as you’re not expecting too many strikeouts, you’ll be happy with what you get from him going forward. Agree on rest.”
Trevor Bauer (vs. SEA, vs. TEX)
It took awhile, but Bauer is finally starting to live up to those great expectations. Yeah, the WHIP could use improvement, but he’s allowed three runs or less in each of his last six starts, and you gotta love the strikeouts. The Mariners rank next to last in the AL in both runs scored and batting average, the Rangers are no better than a mid-pack offense and Bauer’s ERA at home this year is 2.82. That’s good enough for me.
Aaron Harang (@LAD, @SD)
I’ve been doubting Harang all year, and I’m still not completely convinced that he will remain a viable option in 12-team mixed leagues through the end of the season. But for now, you can’t argue with the results, particularly the recent results, which have included six straight quality starts. The @LAD matchup might seem tough on paper, but the Dodgers offense has been mediocre at best in the month of July, ranking in the bottom half of the NL in runs and batting average and dead last in the Senior Circuit in homers. As for the @SD matchup, the Padres have scored the fewest runs in the Majors this year, and it’s not even close.
Chris Tillman (vs. LAA, vs. SEA)
After suffering through a brutal month of May (5.68 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), Tillman has rebounded nicely, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP since the beginning of June. The vs. LAA matchup is a little scary, but the good news is that Tillman has been a far better pitcher at home (2.89 ERA) than on the road (4.68 ERA) this year. As for the vs. SEA matchup, there’s nothing scary about that one.
Nathan Eovaldi (vs. WAS, vs. CIN)
Heading into the season, I really liked Eovaldi as an undervalued pitcher, and things could not have gone much better in April (2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). It’s been downhill since, however, and he’s allowed a combined 13 runs over his last two starts. I still haven’t given up on him, and I still think he deserves a roster spot in deeper mixed leagues, but you’re better off benching him for now. By the way, the Nationals lead the NL in runs scored in the month of July.
Francisco Liriano (@SF, @ARI)
Liriano has done a great job over his last two starts (12 IP, 1 ER, 12 K), and I might soon start to be a believer. But not yet. The strikeouts are nice, but the 4.79 BB/9 is disturbing, and with Liriano, there’s always the risk of a disaster outing. The days of the Giants being an offense to pick on are over, and the Diamondbacks rank in the top-5 of the NL in runs scored, home runs and batting average at home. I need to see more from Liriano before I can feel comfortable pitching him, even in a two-start week.
David Phelps (@TEX, @BOS)
Having allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last five starts , Phelps has emerged onto the mixed league radar. And he probably deserves an immediate pickup in deeper mixed formats. But next week is not a good time to use him. Although the Rangers and Red Sox haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard this season, Rangers Ballpark and Fenway Park are two tough places to pitch, and Phelps’ ERA on the road is more than two runs higher than his ERA at home. Don’t forget about him in the coming weeks, but for next week, I’m playing it safe and ditching.
Hutchison @ Greene – I don’t fully trust either.
Norris @ Young – Norris not a bad gamble in deeper leagues though.
McAllister @ Guthrie
Sale @ Gibson – Gibson very erratic of late.
Koehler @ Cosart – Koehler has five quality starts in his last six outings.
Lackey @ Hellickson – Lackey appears back on track. Keep an eye on Hellickson.
Gray @ Tepesch
Verlander @ Shoemaker – Riding it out with Verlander.
Miller @ Arrieta – Not completely giving up on Miller though.
G. Gonzalez @ Cueto
Collmenter @ Lee – Collmenter an intriguing deep mixed/NL-only league option.
Niese @ Peralta – Peralta 14 IP, 1 ER since disaster outing vs. PHI.
Despaigne @ Teheran – All aboard the Despaigne bandwagon!
Locke @ Matzek – Playing it safe with Locke at Coors.
Kershaw @ Vogelsong – Not a great matchup for Vogelsong but he does have a 3.04 ERA at home.
Happ @ Whitley
Peavy @ Archer – Peavy has a 5.87 ERA on the road and Rays hitting has improved.
Salazar @ B. Chen – Nice matchup for Salazar, who pitched pretty well in his return on Tuesday.
Carroll @ Pino
Turner @ McHugh – McHugh is fading.
Porcello @ Santiago – Santiago worth monitoring going forward but this matchup is too tough.
M. Gonzalez @ Elias – Gonzalez has been dominant over his last three starts (1.90 ERA, 0.93 WHIP).
Kazmir @ Mikolas
Fister @ Latos
Nuno @ R. Hernandez
deGrom @ Nelson – Nelson worth a shot here.
Wainwright @ Hendricks
Volquez @ Morales
Stults @ Minor
Ryu @ Petit
Dickey @ Buchholz – Could be 2-1 or 10-9. No thanks.
Lohse @ Odorizzi – Tough matchup for Odorizzi but he’s earned it.
Phelps @ Darvish – I’m a fan of Phelps, but not here.
Chavez @ Oberholtzer – Chavez hasn’t been as sharp lately, but the K’s are still there.
Lane @ Big Erv
C. Anderson @ Bailey – Homer has been a lot better lately.
Burnett @ Colon
Zimmermann @ Eovaldi – I’m quickly losing confidence in Eovaldi.
Flande @ Wada
Worley @ Bumgarner – Worley a borderline call but in a 12-team mixed, I’ll take the conservative route.
Buehrle @ Kuroda – I’m off the Buehrle train
Lester @ Price – last start with their current teams for both??
Hammel @ Williams – good matchup for Hammel to rebound
Tomlin @ Ventura
Danks @ Correia – Danks has 10 starts this year with 0-2 runs but four with 6+ runs!
Hand @ Keuchel – Keuchel 33 hits in his last 16.0 IP
Smyly @ Skaggs – I guess I’m a lot more bullish on Smyly than the 411 community J
Gausman @ King Felix
Kelly @ T. Wood
Miley @ Kendrick
Roark @ Simon
Hahn @ A. Wood
Wheeler @ Gallardo
Morton @ B. Anderson – playing it safe on Charlie in Coors
Greinke @ Lincecum
R. De La Rosa @ Stroman – good matchup of talented young arms
Lewis @ McCarthy – McCarthy is revitalized since returning his cutter
Feldman @ Samardzija
Kluber @ Duffy
Noesi @ Hughes
Scherzer @ Richards – yes please!
W. Chen @ Iwakuma
Hudson @ Hamels
Alvarez @ Harang – Alvarez was too good for too long to jump ship yet
T. Ross @ Jackson
Gee @ Garza
With the unofficial second half of the season underway, it’s a perfect time for an updated Pitch or Ditch category chart.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the chart, this is something we started doing a few years ago (special shout out to longtime 411 fan Big Barry for the framework of the idea) to help guide you not only in your Pitch or Ditch decisions but also in knowing whether or not dropping a certain pitcher would be a mistake.
We’ve divided all of the current starting rotation pitchers into five groups: Aces, Grads, PoD, DTM and Indifferent.
Aces: Fairly straightforward. Elite starting pitchers with the track record to prove it.
Grads: Not ace-caliber but also not worth dropping under any circumstances. Grads should always be started, regardless of the matchup.
PoD: These pitchers do not quite deserve a permanent roster spot but should be picked up and started in favorable matchups. If their next matchup is not so favorable, feel free to drop them. Some PoD guys could earn Grad status if they string together several consecutive strong outings.
DTM: An old 411 acronym for “dead to me”, DTM pitchers are guys that we might have once liked but have repeatedly let us down to the point where we’ve had enough of them. It takes a lot to become DTM, but once you become DTM, it’s very tough to escape that category!
Indifferent: Pitchers who are just not that good and should not be rostered.
***Note that this chart is geared towards standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Here are the changes we’ve made since our last version from early-June.
Lester grad to ace
Teheran grad to ace
Quintana PoD to grad
Arrieta PoD to grad
Simon PoD to grad
Lincecum PoD to grad
Alvarez PoD to grad
Smyly PoD to grad
Porcello PoD to grad
Bailey PoD to grad
Buehrle grad to PoD
Peralta grad to PoD
Haren grad to PoD
Whitley PoD to indifferent
Lewis PoD to indifferent
And as always, feel free to comment below.