The MLB trade deadline is on its way and that means players will be on the move. Fantasy Baseball values are about to change and we want to stay ahead of things. To kick off each week of the season, I'll be reaching out to Fantasy Baseball Today's Chris Towers, Scott White and Frank Stampfl to ask them a few big questions that can hopefully help lead to actionable advice. If you are reading this and have specific questions you'd love to see Chris, Scott and Frank answer, please DM me @DanSchneierNFL. And remember that if you don't like any of the answers, I'm just the messenger, and you know what they say about the messenger.
We're rolling with a theme for this week and here it is: The trade deadline.
- Scott: Minimally, I would guess. Frazier has indeed been a useful Fantasy contributor this year, which is something we could never say before. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers have been so disappointing that starting them has been a net negative even in 15-team leagues. Between Jake Cronenworth's and Frazier's own versatility, the Padres now have the means to platoon Hosmer and Myers in some manner, thus not impacting Frazier's playing time. Of course, it's still possible Frazier regresses to the point he's no longer so useful either, his success is built on an outlier batting average.
- Chris: Not much at all. I wrote about the trade here, but Frazier is likely to lose some playing time with the trade to the Padres, leaving him as a pretty fringe-y Fantasy starter once his BABIP normalizes. Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer seem like the biggest threats to lose playing time with the Padres, but again, they are so fringe-y that there really isn't that much of an impact here.
- Frank: I think the biggest impact is on the playing time of both Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers. After breakout campaigns in the shortened 2020, both seem to have regressed back to their norm. As for Frazier, he should still be counted on for batting average, though his counting stats could take a hit. Frazier was leading off for the Pirates and I just don't see that being the case in San Diego. It also wouldn't surprise me if he sat once per week now given all of the Padres' depth.
2. Whit Merrifield is rumored to be on the move to Seattle and if that were to come to fruition how would it impact his Fantasy value and everyone else's around him?
- Scott: The first thing I'd wonder is Bobby Witt was coming up to claim the second base job he nearly won in spring training. The top prospect seems more prepared for the role now after catching fire at Double-A and sustaining it so far at Triple-A. Dylan Moore would likely drop out of the Mariners lineup, which would be a net gain for everyone. As for Merrifield's value, it probably wouldn't change much. He has always hit well at T-Mobile Park and is already accustomed to a pitcher-friendly venue in Kansas City. The Mariners seem pretty comfortable letting their base-stealers run, too.
- Chris: On the Royals side, this potential trade might just create room for Bobby Witt Jr. to make his much-anticipated debut. There's no guarantee of that, but the 21-year-old hasn't seemed overwhelmed by the upper minors at either stop so far this season, and he could slot into a spot near the top of the Royals lineup relatively seamlessly. As for the Mariners, it's always nice when you can get an upgrade at the top of the lineup, and Merrifield would certainly be that. I'm not sure there's much of an impact beyond that, and I'm not even sure this would be an upgrade for Merrifield -- the Mariners have actually scored fewer runs than the Royals.
- Frank: I don't think it would change much for Whit Merrifield. Maybe he doesn't run as much with the Mariners. As for the Royals, this would likely mean less RBI opportunities for Carlos Santana, Andrew Benintendi, and Salvador Perez. What it also means is that Bobby Witt would likely get the call. Between two levels in the minors, Witt is batting .303 with 18 home runs and 15 steals. He could be a huge impact bat down the stretch if Merrifield is traded.
3. What trade deadline rumor would you most want to see come true?
- Scott: I've been scooping up Ryan Tepera in every league where saves are scarce, so I'm pretty invested in Craig Kimbrel being dealt at this point. Perhaps I should be thinking on a grander scale with this question, but I'm just looking out for numero uno. Of course, it could backfire even if Kimbrel is traded. Tepera may well go with him or be moved in a separate deal. Maybe the Cubs go the closer-by-committee route once Kimbrel is gone or try out someone like Dillon Maples instead. The line of succession for a closer isn't so straightforward these days.
- Chris: As both a Marlins fan and someone who wants to see Byron Buxton succeed, Buxton-to-Miami would be at the top of my list. But it's not just for selfish reasons. I think Buxton and the Twins would benefit from a mutual parting of the ways, given how snake-bitten his time with the team was, and I think Miami could be an ideal fit for Buxton's Fantasy appeal. After all, Starling Marte has 26 steals in just 90 games since joining the Marlins, his best 162-game pace since 2017.
- Frank: Craig Kimbrel to the Phillies. I have a lot invested in Kimbrel this season and he would be the unquestioned closer in Philadelphia. I get nervous when I hear rumors of Kimbrel to the Astros or Red Sox because, as great as he is, I'm not 100% certain he would be the closer on those teams. While Ranger Suarez has filled in nicely with the Phillies, Kimbrel would take over the closer duties there.
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4. Which player is in desperate need of a scenery change at the trade deadline?
- Scott: Nothing will unlock a pitcher's potential better than a move out of Coors Field, so it stands to reason that two of the only ones to eke out Fantasy relevance there, German Marquez and Jon Gray, could be out-and-out studs elsewhere. Jon Heyman has reported that Marquez is off limits, but it's possible the Rockies are simply negotiating through the media. Gray, meanwhile, has never looked better than since he returned from a strained flexor in late June. His home/away splits actually haven't been so lopsided during his career, but getting more movement on his pitches and better results on batted balls could only be a good thing.
- Chris: I think it's probably Kris Bryant, whose season got off to such a good start before following the Cubs pattern to a miserable June. He's been much better since July, but given the combination of Bryant's impending free agency, the Cubs struggles, and the potential lingering resentment from Bryant's service time manipulation shenanigans -- he filed a grievance, after all! -- I have to think Bryant would be energized by the possibility of going to a contender.
- Frank: Kris Bryant. Since the start of June, Bryant is batting .181 with a .601 OPS. He's dealt with some nagging injuries but I'm sure the constant trade rumors haven't helped. Plus, Bryant and the Chicago Cubs have been on rocky terms ever since they manipulated his service time years ago. While it would be weird to see him in a new uniform, I think it would be the best thing for Bryant at this point.
5. Which player's value would be hurt the most if he is dealt before the deadline?
- Scott: Technically, any reliever traded out of the closer role would lose the most value, at least in leagues that use traditional scoring, but let's go with Trevor Story here. Just as pitchers benefit from leaving Coors Field, hitters suffer, and Story in particular is a career .242 hitter with a .747 OPS on the road. Those numbers wouldn't completely translate at his new home, but as we've seen from Nolan Arenado this year, Story might lose a standard deviation of production. Granted, he's already been a disappointment this year, but I would expect him to bounce back in a big way if he stays with the Rockies.
- Chris: It's probably every current closer who isn't Craig Kimbrel, since most of them would likely slide into a setup or middle relief role upon a trade. Among non-closers, it's gotta be Trevor Story, who seems likely to lose the benefits of Coors Field's offense-inflated nature. Story should still be a must-start Fantasy option no matter where he ends up, but he would obviously lose something from any trade.
- Frank: Trevor Story. In Story's career, he's batting .302 with a .971 OPS in Coors Field. On the road, he's batting just .242 with a .746 OPS. No, I don't think he'll just become a sub-.750 OPS hitter but I do think he would take a hit. Look at Nolan Arenado. While with the Rockies, Arenado was a career .293 hitter with an .890 OPS. This season he's batting .261 with an .818 OPS. Those are solid numbers but not what we've come to expect from him. I think Story would likely take a similar dip in overall production.