Fantasy Baseball Today

Looking ahead at trade deadline winners & losers

By Chris Towers | CBSSports.com

Could the Cardinals move top prospect Oscar Taveras? It could help his Fantasy value. (USATSI)
Could the Cardinals move top prospect Oscar Taveras? It could help his Fantasy value. (USATSI)

The trade deadline tends to be a time of near-constant panic in baseball circles, and Fantasy Baseball players aren't excused from the madness. Though some years end with few big names changing addresses, this year's deadline -- 4 p.m. Thursday -- looks to have the potential for huge ramifications around the league.

With the deadline less than 24 hours away, everyone from former All-Stars to current Cy Young candidates to blue chip prospects have been named in trade rumors. We even had one fallen All-Star move Thursday, in the form of a trade which sent injured pitcher Justin Masterson to the Cardinals.

Fantasy baseball owners will obviously want to keep a close eye on the most trusted reporters in the game for the next 24-plus hours, and our analysis will obviously help you as well. Before the big dominoes start falling, however, here is a look at some possible trade scenarios, and who would be the Fantasy winners and losers.

Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (For now)

Taveras is one of the most hyped prospects in baseball, though you wouldn't know it by his time in the majors. The Cardinals have kept Taveras up all through the month of July, but haven't been able to find consistent playing time for him while dealing with a crowded outfield. He also hasn't exactly forced the team's hand, hitting just .236/.263/.273 in 92 at-bats overall.

Still, a month and a half of poor hitting in the majors hasn't done much to take the shine off Taveras' star, as he is still considered one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball. He has been mentioned in trade rumors, and that would almost certainly be the best thing for Taveras' Fantasy value.

The Cardinals have been forced to juggle his playing time, but any team acquiring Taveras would almost certainly be doing so with the intention of getting him into the lineup for the last two months of the season. Playing without the expectations of a playoff race and freed from the pressure of knowing he has to fight with established veterans for every at-bat, Taveras could take flight following a potential trade.

Verdict: Winner

Joaquin Benoit, RP, Padres (For now)

The Padres already moved one closer when they sent Huston Street to the Angels last week, and Benoit looks to be the next. Though there is no guarantee he will be dealt by Thursday, it seems like an obvious move for a team with nowhere to go this season.

Unfortunately, Benoit may not move into a better situation than he is in right now. The teams that have been linked to the 36-year-old all have established closers in house, and it is hard to see any team pushing a setup man into a closing role during the heat of the stretch run. Though Benoit did have 24 saves for the Tigers last year, he has limited experience in that role overall, and would likely be acquired to play a supporting role in a contender's bullpen, not a starring one.

Benoit is a lockdown reliever whose ownership in CBSSports.com leagues has jumped up to 42 percent since he became the closer. If he moves on to a contender, that number should rightly plummet.

Verdict: Loser

Ian Kennedy, SP, Padres (For now)

Though it seems like a long shot at this point, the Padres are still bouncing around the idea of moving Kennedy. The 29-year-old is in danger of being a deadline-day participant for the second straight year, with the Yankees mentioned as one possible landing spot.

Kennedy could be both hurt and helped by a potential move, for fairly obvious reasons. Kennedy has the misfortune of pitching for a team that struggles to score -- hence the 8-and-9 record -- but also gets the benefit of pitching half his games at Petco Park. Thus, though his 3.66 ERA looks helpful -- and is for Fantasy purposes -- he actually rates out as a below-average pitcher overall, given how much Petco dilutes scoring.

The Padres seem happy with keeping Kennedy, who still has one season of team control left before he can become a free agent. That would be good for his run prevention numbers, as his hard-hit fly balls die at the warning track when they would land in the seats in other parks. Still, a move to a contender would bring more chances to win, so a non-trade isn't all good news.

Verdict: Winner/Loser

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