Trade Deadline Musings
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.