Fantasy Baseball: Deadline Day!

Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is looming this afternoon and baseball fans and fantasy owners alike are anxious to see what moves will come down as contenders aim to re-tool for their stretch run. For fantasy fans, deadline day is like many other, there are some slight opportunities to gain or lose value and keeping an eye on situations that open up opportunity can really help down the stretch.

That is unless of course you are an AL/NL-only player in which case the trade deadline can be a high-anxiety affair. Movement across leagues is not typically an issue for mixed-league players–though we always love to see AL pitchers heading to the NL–but single-league owners now the hurt of losing a Matt Garza or surprisingly solid Alfonso Soriano. On the flip side, those of you hoarding your FAAB budgets in these types of leagues will now need to sort through the deals to find the right targets.

We’re gonna kick off with some quick thoughts on the movement already in the books over the past several days and check back later as we’ll keep updating later in the day as more news develops.

New Faces, New Places

Matt Garza to Texas/Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm to Chicago

  • So far, so good for Garza in Texas. in his first two starts he’s allowed just three earned runs in 14.1 innings pitched while posting a 11:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. We like Garza to maintain value in his new environment, though an ERA in the mid-3s and a slighty diminished K-rate can be expected. In the first four years of his career in the American League, Garza posted a 7.1 K/9 rate. Over the past few season in Chicago, that rate has jumped to 8.5 K/9.
  • Olt is the biggest name coming back to the Cubbies, but we can’t help conjure images of Justin Smoak hype spinning out of control after he tore up Texas-league pitching time and time again only to prove a mediocre MLB talent at-best. It is possible that Edwards, however, will make this deal a positive one for Chicago long-term.

Jake Peavy to Boston/Jose Iglesias to Detroit/Avisail Garcia, Francellis Montas, Jeffrey Wendelken and Cleuluis Rondon to Chicago

  • Peavy is likely to be the biggest name moved this week and despite constant health issues and some inconsistent performance since recently returning from the disabled list, the track record of success is there for Peavy to play a critical role in Boston’s chase for a division championship. this season, in 80 innings pitched, Peavy has posted the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career (4.16 K/BB) and despite an ERA north of 4.00, he has posted an xFIP of 3.68. So long as he stays healthy, Peavy has  fine shot to return top-30 value over the final two months of the season. Even before the trade, he made it on to our Second Half Breakouts list.
  • Iglesias move to Detroit to take over for the soon-to-be-suspended Jhonny Peralta and while he’s been hitting a solid .330/.376/.409 this season, his sub-.700 OPS in the minors leaves us little confidence that the offensive production can hold. Detroit will lose a little something in the lineup, for certain, but clearly have the bats to make up for Peralta’s absence. If he is handed a 50-game ban in the coming weeks, Jhonny will presumably be ready to return in time for Detroit’s playoff run. Fantasy owners relying on Iglesias should take solace in the fact the he’ll continue to see at-bats for the balance of the regular season, but they should simultaneously question just how valuable a bat he can be moving given the minor-league numbers and strongly consider other options.
  • The jury is out on the White Sox haul in all of this movement, though Garcia is an enticing talent who, despite a few too many strikeouts, has nice upside to be an everyday contributor in the short term

Jose Veras to Detroit/Danry Vasquez to Houston

  • Veras has put up a very solid 2.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 44 inning pitched so far this year while converting 19-0f-22 save chances. unfortunately, Joaquin Benoit has locked down the closer role in Detorit lately and is yet to blow a save for the Tigers since taking over the big chair. Veras remains the next man up and may snare a random save or two when the Tigers are aiming to give Benoit a day of rest. Still, in standard leagues, it’s time to move on from Veras as a reliable option for saves.
  • An interesting committee will form in Houston to replace Veras with Jose Cisneros, Hector Ambriz and Wesley Wright all potentially in the mix for save opportunities. Cisneros is the man to own in our opinion and offers the best “closer stuff”. He gets strikeouts and at this point, is the only reliever in that pen with an ERA under 4.30. While the Astros may not generate a ton of save opportunities we will remind you that Veras racked up 19 saves so far this season, a useful total for fantasy owners in all leagues.

 Ian Kennedy to San Diego/Joe Thatcher to Arizona

  • The DBacks pulled the plug on Ian Kennedy just a year and a half removed from garnering serious Cy Young consideration. The team desire (and needs) bullpen depth, however, to make a stretch run so we can’t fault them for making the move. Thatcher immediately becomes the Diamondbacks most reliable reliever, putting up a 2.10 ERA and 1.07 WHIP so far this season. Brad Ziegler is currently working as the closer in Arizona this season, though the team has had significant trouble filling that role, so a potential avenue to saves may be there down the road.
  • Perhaps you wonder why the Diamondbacks were so ready to just ship a formerly reliable starter for a reliever? Well the DBacks do boast one of the richest stable of pitching prospects in the league, with Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley checking in among the most exciting young arms in the majors.
  • The final takeaway here is on Kennedy, whom has given up 46 home runs in his last 54 starts… not good. The move to San Diego stands to increase his value just a bit due to park factors alone. Still, he’ll have to get to the bottom of an increasing walk rate and diminished strikeout rate if we are ever to expect to see Kennedy threaten 20 wins again. Perhaps this will be the wake up call that Kennedy needs to get his career back on track. There really aren’t many better places for a starting pitcher to go, so there is optimism here. Does this move return him to the top-30 among starting pitchers? In a word: no.

More to come as the news breaks!

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