Fantasy Baseball: Manny Machado trade could block some of Dodgers' moving parts
The Manny Machado is a big win for the Dodgers, but it'll eventually come at the expense of others' playing time. Scott White looks at an increasingly crowded infield and outfield.
The most notable of those is Yusniel Diaz, who I happen to like because he has more walks than strikeouts at Double-A this year. But he hasn't been a fixture in top 100 lists and has a questionable power profile in an era when power is basically a requirement. He's hardly can't-miss, in other words.
There's something to like about almost all of the prospects the Orioles got back. Dean Kremer has had huge strikeout numbers in a notoriously hitter-friendly league. Rylan Bannon, albeit in that same league, has popped a bunch of homers with a high on-base percentage. Zach Pop shows potential as a late-inning reliever and, failing that, can take solace in having one of the most '90s names in existence.
But they're more pieces than assets at this stage of the games — names that you now know to look up in deeper dynasty leagues but ones you can't be sure you'll ever hear again, apart from Diaz. It was a quantity-over-quality trade, which is to be expected for a rental, even an MVP-caliber one, in 2018.
But then, the Dodgers know a thing or two about quantity. Their seemingly endless parade of prospects put them in a better position than most clubs to make such a deal. And they've made quantity their calling card at the major-league level as well, which is why this trade is kind of a bummer from a Fantasy perspective.
Don't get me wrong: It's not so bad for Machado owners (disregarding those that play in AL-only leagues, of course). True, Camden Yards is a great place to hit, and the 26-year-old's numbers have been better there than on the road the past two years. Go back to 2016 and 2015, though, and the gap is much smaller. The batted-ball profile doesn't look like one that's park-dependent, and besides, Dodger Stadium isn't quite the pitcher's paradise it's often made out to be.
But hey, it's a division full of pitcher's parks, so maybe his underlying production will suffer a little. It's more likely than the other way around. But the increase in RBI and run-scoring opportunities now that he's out of that dreadful Orioles lineup I have to think will make up for it.
Nope, I'm not sweating the move for Machado. It's what he means for the rest of the Dodgers lineup that concerns me.
For now, everyone has a place to play. Machado pushes Chris Taylor to second base, which pushes Max Muncy to first base, where he's more comfortable, which pushes Cody Bellinger to center field, where he can at least hold his own. It works for now. But Yasiel Puig is only sidelined by a Grade 1 oblique strain. He could be back by the start of August, and then somebody's out who deserves to be in.
Who exactly? Well, it won't be Machado. I'd bet against Muncy and Bellinger. But Puig himself? Joc Pederson, who finally looks to have figured things out after getting flattened by strikeouts early in his career? Chris Taylor, whose batting average hasn't held up after last year's breakout? Justin Turner, if he's still searching for his power stroke by that point? The guy's 33, you know.
I get it. I'm probably making too much of something that's liable to sort itself out. Life, in the immortal words of Ian Malcolm, finds a way. Anyone else could get hurt between now and then, and besides, it's 2018. And this is the Dodgers. They're all going to play.
It's just a question of how exactly they divvy up the playing time. Does Taylor go back to playing center field full-time as originally planned? That would seemingly be bad news for Puig and Pederson, unless Matt Kemp finally goes down like we've all been expecting. But it would also mean Muncy plays primarily second base, which seems like an unpalatable move defensively. Stick Taylor at second, then, and Bellinger has to move to center. Either way, Puig and Pederson suffer.
Those two I feel like are the most at risk, with the Dodgers potentially playing the hot hand when push comes to shove. Taylor would appear to be relatively safe just because he's so handy defensively, but any slippage in playing time could put a real dent in his value. It's not like he's a categories hog. His value mostly comes from batting high in the lineup as often as he does. And then there's Turner, who if his bat doesn't come around over the next month may find himself serving as more of a veteran presence on the bench.
The worst-case scenario would be if three of these guys end up sitting a couple times a week as opposed to just one taking the brunt of it. But it could certainly play out that way, and if it does, your particular moving part may soon be on the outs with you.
Unless his name is Machado, Muncy or Bellinger, I wouldn't get too cozy with anyone in Dodger blue.
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