The trade deadline is mere days away, and some big names will potentially be on the move.
But what makes headlines in real life isn't necessarily what matters most in Fantasy Baseball. Let's be honest: Max Scherzer's outlook isn't changing no matter where he winds up. The same goes for Joey Gallo and any of Cubs sluggers Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, apart from a couple outlier scenarios.
Some players, though, will see a rise or decline in Fantasy value as a result of the trade deadline, whether because they themselves are traded or one of their teammates are. My mission here is to identify 12 who could experience such a change in the coming days so that you can prepare yourself for the possibility, whatever that would entail.
Trevor Story SS
COL Colorado • #27 • Age: 28
It probably wouldn't surprise you that Trevor Story's career numbers away from Coors Field -- i.e., a .242 batting average and .746 OPS -- aren't so favorable. I don't point it out as if to say that's who he'd become with his new team, but it should serve as a reminder that Colorado's BABIP-inflating environment has helped to elevate his star. As with Nolan Arenado's move to the Cardinals, Story would stand to lose something like a standard deviation of production with some other team -- maybe less if that team is the Brewers or Reds, two rumored to be in pursuit. Granted, he has already performed below expectations this year, which is a complicating factor, but I'd expect him bounce back in a big way if he did stay.
Bobby Witt SS
KC Kansas City • #7 • Age: 21
Whit Merrifield is one of the bigger names rumored to be dealt, and if he is, the most notable aspect for our purposes would be the gaping hole he'd leave behind at second base. Top prospect Bobby Witt would fit nicely there, having come close to claiming the job in spring training (or so we were told). His first month at Double-A confirmed that he needed more development time, but he's been straight fire since then, which includes after his recent promotion to Triple-A. I'm not even sure Witt's arrival hinges on Merrifield's departure given that Merrifield is also an outfielder, but it couldn't hurt.
Jon Gray SP
COL Colorado • #55 • Age: 29
Just as leaving Coors Field is always a bad thing for hitters, it's a good thing for pitchers, and I'd argue the same is true for Jon Gray even though he has better numbers at home (4.44 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) than on the road (4.52 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) over his career. Given his enormous stature as a prospect and draft pick back in the day, I suspect that he had to sacrifice something in his adaptation to Coors Field that he can regain once he's moved on. Pitches get more movement at lower altitudes. Batted balls don't fall as easily in smaller outfields. There's only upside to him leaving, in other words, and the rewards will be even greater with him pitching as well as he is right now.
ATL Atlanta • #48 • Age: 31
Richard Rodriguez is one of those tweener relievers who's better than the average setup man but not quite what a contender would desire in a closer, especially given his decline in strikeout rate this year. Presumably, it's a contender that would trade for him, and presumably, that contender would have a superior choice for the ninth inning already, thus eliminating Rodriguez's contributions to the saves category, which is mainly what you want from a reliever in Fantasy. He has two more years of team control left, so it's not a given he's gone. But if he is, rookie David Bednar would be the favorite to take his place.
Ian Kennedy RP
PHI Philadelphia • #31 • Age: 36
Being signed just for this year, Ian Kennedy is an even surer bet to go than Rodriguez, and his move out of the closer role would be more of a certainty as well. He got the job just because the Rangers had nobody else to fill it and has handled it surprisingly well, but he doesn't have shutdown stuff, really, and is vulnerable to the long ball. What makes his case especially unfortunate is that there's no heir apparent in Texas, making a Orioles-style committee of nobodies the likely result of his departure. Newly minted setup man Spencer Patton might have a shot to grab the role, though.
MIA Miami • #24 • Age: 31
Of Jesus Aguilar's 17 home runs this year, you know how many have come at home? Two. That's not unusual for the sluggers who've passed through Miami since loanDepot Park opened. Christian Yelich's and J.T. Realmuto's splits were always dreadful there, too, which was a big reason why we liked Yelich so much for a breakout when he went to Milwaukee. What if Aguilar joins him there, as has been rumored? Hey, we already have some idea how it would play out. After all, Milwaukee is where Aguilar broke through with 35 homers and 108 RBI in 2018.
OAK Oakland • #2 • Age: 32
I could make the same argument for Adam Duvall that I do for Aguilar, seeing as his home/away splits are nearly as lopsided, but by now, we know Duvall's ceiling is firmly capped. Starling Marte, on the other hand, has ranked among the very best at his position before and certainly could again with the right landing spot. He has actually fared well enough at loanDepot Park, having always had good success on balls in play, but we know he's capable of hitting for more power. A smaller venue would only help in that regard. Plus, his batting average-first profile is the sort that shines brightest with a strong supporting cast.
Jose Berrios SP
TOR Toronto • #17 • Age: 27
Jose Berrios has been a quality starting pitcher basically from his first full year in the majors, but there have always been those who swear he should be better than he is and those who swear he should be worse. Pitching in a neutral environment like Target Field has probably helped to keep his numbers middle-of-the-road, flattening his home run rate even though he's not so good at putting the ball on the ground, and he does have a career 4.63 ERA on the road. You could see his stock moving up or down according to his new venue.
Brad Hand RP
NYM N.Y. Mets • #52 • Age: 31
There's a chance Brad Hand loses much of his value regardless of whether he's traded given that he's allowed seven earned runs over his past five appearances, his ERA swelling to 3.67. But if nothing else, these recent struggles confirm that he'll almost certainly be used in more of a setup capacity if he's moved to a contender. His swinging-strike rate is a pitiful 7.4 percent, almost half of what it was in his prime, so it's a wonder the results held for as long as they did. Daniel Hudson has been the Nationals' best reliever, and I'd be hyping him as a possible replacement if not for the fact that he, like Hand, is in the final year of his contract and, thus, liable to be moved as well.
Ryan Tepera RP
CHW Chi. White Sox • #51 • Age: 33
Ryan Tepera, like Hand and Hudson, is in the final year of contract, which perhaps makes him a more obvious trade candidate than Craig Kimbrel. But with Kimbrel being so sought-after during one of the all-time great closer seasons, I think it's a given he's dealt. Since he'll surely be the closer no matter where he lands, the more noteworthy aspect for Fantasy purposes is who takes his place, and I think Tepera -- with a 2.91 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 -- is just under the radar enough that he might stay put. If not, the role could instead go to someone like Dillon Maples -- which would be one of the all-time great closer names, by the way.
Jose Miranda 3B
MIN Minnesota • Age: 23
The cousin of Lin-Manuel Miranda (no lie!) is looking to make his own fame with the way he's played in the minors this year, batting .342 with 21 homers, a 1.015 OPS and just a 13.0 percent strikeout rate. He's been thoroughly tested at Triple-A specifically, batting .337 with eight homers and a 1.052 in 24 games at that level, and at age 23, the timing seems right. A Josh Donaldson trade would create a clear opening for him, but he's versatile enough that it may not even matter.
Joe Ryan SP
MIN Minnesota • #74 • Age: 25
Acquired mere days ago in the Nelson Cruz trade, Joe Ryan figures to get a fairer shake with the Twins than he would have with the Rays, who might have confined him to swingman purgatory for his first couple years in the majors. He's already 25 and has put together a 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 11.8 K/9 in Triple-A this year (after even better numbers across three levels two years ago), which would suggest he's more than ready for his first shot. He doesn't have many weapons beyond a deceptive fastball, but that was the knock on Freddy Peralta when he first came up, too.