Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline Recap: Updating Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Tommy Pham and other deals
The trading has been fast and furious so far, and Fantasy owners are struggling to keep up. Our Scott White sums up some of the more notable deals, most recently the Roberto Osuna swap.
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The trade deadline has come and gone, and there were a couple of massive deals on the level of the Manny Machado coup that went down during the All-Star break. You can read about them here:
More impressive than the stature of the deals, though, was the volume of them. Here's how we'd sum up some of the medium-sized ones for Fantasy purposes:
Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers
Just when you thought the Brewers had were done bolstering their infield with the Mike Moustakas trade, they went made the last big deal before the bell sounded Tuesday, acquiring a second baseman with an All-Star profile who has been blistering hot in July, batting .360 (36 for 100) with nine homers and a 1.056 OPS. The problem? Second base is supposed to belong to Travis Shaw, the third baseman displaced by Moustakas.
Schoop obviously makes for a more natural defender there, but Shaw's bat is arguably even more valuable than Moustakas'. Could Schoop take over at shortstop, a position he played for much of his minor-league career and occasionally during his major-league career? It'd be bad news for Brewers pitchers but the best-case scenario for Shaw owners.
Kevin Gausman to the Braves
If the move out of the AL East is expected to work wonders for Chris Archer, you have to figure the same will be true for Gausman, who has a 3.13 ERA in 12 starts outside of that division this season. It's a division of hitter-friendly parks while the NL East is full of pitcher's parks aside from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. With high-90s heat and a wicked splitter, the 27-year-old is thought to have a high ceiling and looked like he might be reaching it over his final 19 starts last season, putting together a 3.39 ERA, 1.21 and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Maybe a move to a pitcher-friendlier division and league will finally push him over the top.
Wilson Ramos to the Phillies
Though sidelined since the All-Star break with a strained hamstring, Ramos is just about ready to return and will find himself in the thick of a pennant race when he does. He goes from one of the least favorable parks for hitters to one of the most favorable — a luxury he hasn't had at any point in his career — and considering he was already one of the few plus hitters at the position, ranking third in Head-to-Head points per game, his owners shouldn't be any less than enthralled with the move. No one will miss Jorge Alfaro, really, despite all of his supposed upside.
Tommy Pham to the Rays
It's been a tough season for Pham, who has battled a mechanical flaw in his swing that has seen him struggle to the tune of a .210/.276/.319 line over his last 60 starts. That slide made it easier for the Cardinals to justify moving on from him, and both sides are probably better off for it.
Pham gets a fresh start with the Rays, who take a chance on an uber-talented hitter who seems to believe he knows how to fix his slump. If he can, he's obviously a dynamic player, as he proved in hitting .306 with 23 homers and 25 steals in just 128 games a year ago. Even in a down season, Pham has 14 homers and 10 steals in 98 games, with the upside to break out in the second half. He'll play every day in Tampa, and a change of scenery just may do him good.
For the Cardinals, this move is probably more about clearing up space than it is about the prospects received, at least in the short term. Fantasy players will want to keep an eye on Harrison Bader, who has homered six times and stolen nine bases in 223 plate appearances this season. There's too much swing-and-miss and not enough pop to foresee a Fantasy star in his profile, but he's an intriguing power-speed combo for category-based leagues for the rest of the season. I'm more intrigued by Tyler O'Neill, expected to be called up in the aftermath of the trade. He's a power-speed prospect of his own, with contact issues of his own, but he's more extreme in pretty much every way. That means there's more risk, sure, but the upside is higher – he's hit 57 homers in 191 career Triple-A games. If he gets an everyday role, O'Neill has the potential to be a Fantasy difference maker.
In return for Pham, the Cardinals acquired a trio of prospects in Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera, and Roel Ramirez. None of them ranked among the Rays' top prospects entering the season, but scouts like Williams and Cabrera enough. Cabrera has struggled in Double-A, with a 4.12 ERA, but his 9.8 K/9 hints at upside, even if it might end up in the 'pen in the long term. Williams has struggled as well in Triple-A, hitting .258 with a .689 OPA, but he's just one year removed from a breakout at Double-A, and has enough raw power to develop into someone to keep an eye on. Neither has much Fantasy value outside of a deep Dynasty league.
Keone Kela to the Pirates, Jake Diekman to the Diamondbacks
The Rangers shipped their closer to the Pirates in the wee hours Tuesday and then dealt their replacement closer to the Diamondbacks later that afternoon. It all adds up to 24-year-old Jose Leclerc stepping into the closer role, and he seems well-equipped for it, compiling a 2.27 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Of the newcomers to the role at the deadline, he's the most appealing. Presumably, Kela is out of the running for saves now, apart from a fill-in opportunity here or there. Felipe Vazquez has a fixed price long-term and has done fine in the role for the Pirates.
Ian Kinsler to the Red Sox
Eduardo Nunez has been a liability at the plate this year, to the point he had been losing at-bats to the woefully uninspiring Brock Holt. Of course, Nunez himself was only supposed to be a fill-in for Dustin Pedroia, but now the Red Sox need someone better. Kinsler should be that, his batting average held back by an impossibly low BABIP. His strikeout rate is as low as ever, so it doesn't seem like his bat has slowed down. A change of scenery could only do him some good.
Adam Duvall to the Braves
This trade would seem to ruin Duvall's Fantasy value seeing as the Braves don't exactly have an opening for him, and while it's not a huge loss given the kind of year he was having, he does have 15 homers to his name. If Duvall does have an opening, it's in place of Ender Inciarte against lefties, with Ronald Acuna shifting over to center field. It's not so good for Inciarte, who's a valued steals source and has actually hit lefties well in his career. Not this year, though.
Lance Lynn to the Yankees
You may hear talk about how much "better" Lynn has been lately, and he does have a respectable 3.74 ERA over his past 12 starts. But he has still walked a batter every other inning during that stretch for a 1.40 WHIP, so it stands to reason he'd be the sixth wheel in the Yankees starting five. Sonny Gray is officially on notice, though.
Roberto Osuna to the Astros, Ken Giles to the Blue Jays
An exchange of two relievers with baggage (albeit one's a bit more troublesome than the other's), the Astros are acquiring the more reliable reliever in Osuna, who should take to the closer role in a way Giles never did, re-emerging as a top-10 Fantasy reliever. Of course, that won't happen until Aug. 5, when he completes his suspension for allegedly assaulting a woman.
Ken Giles should actually come out ahead in this. His demons are more of an on-the-field variety — i.e., repeated meltdowns from a guy who, by all accounts, has closer-caliber stuff. He has spent the past couple weeks at Triple-A, but considering the Blue Jays have been swapping out Tyler Clippard and Ryan Tepera as the mood strikes them, struggling to find a replacement for Osuna, you have to think Giles will get a crack sooner or later. That ship had pretty much sailed in Houston, perhaps unfairly seeing as he has a 2.28 FIP and is a perfect 12 for 12 in save opportunities this year.
Hector Rondon, who has actually done a respectable job as the Astros closer over the past two months, is the big loser. He had his own meltdown in a non-save chance last time out, elevating his ERA by nearly a full run, which perhaps contributed to the Astros pulling the trigger. He likely has only a week more in the role.
Mike Moustakas to the Brewers, Travis Shaw to second base
Probably the most notable of the non-Machado deals, Mike Moustakas finally escapes an environment that's bad for hitters in general and especially bad for one like him, whose swing is geared entirely for power with high pull and fly-ball percentages. This year hasn't been so bad -- 11 home runs on the road vs. nine at home -- but last year, it was 24 on the road vs. 14 at home, and for his career, it's 80 vs. 59. Miller Park, in contrast, is one of the most homer-friendly parks in baseball and especially for left-handed hitters. Plus, Moustakas is out of that dreadful Royals lineup that had delivered him just 23 RBI and 17 runs since the start of June.
Travis Shaw is expected to shift to second base, a position he hasn't played so far in the majors, and that's a little scary for his job security. But at his best, I feel like his bat's still better than Moustakas', so I doubt the Brewers made this trade with any thoughts of removing him from the lineup. The added eligibility will of course boost his value.
Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies
It's bad news for Scott Kingery, the rookie who got everyone buzzing this spring with a power-speed profile and shiny long-term deal but hasn't offered much of anything positive in his first major-league season. It may be bad news for Phillies pitchers since Cabrera is considered a liability at shortstop. And even though he's going to a better park and better lineup, it's also bad news for Cabrera since it sounds like he won't be playing every day.
"When he's not playing, I think he'll be a very dangerous bat off the bench," general manager Matt Klentak told MLB.com. "He's an excellent roster fit for this current group of Phillies, and notably, I think, his positional flexibility puts us in a position where we can continue to let our young players play. This acquisition doesn't relegate any of our young players to a full-time bench role, and I think that is important, too."
Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks
Even with Jake Lamb going back on the DL with a shoulder injury, Escobar faces more interference in Arizona than he did in Minnesota, what with Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings moving in and out of the lineup. Esocbar's shortstop eligibility will keep him usable in mixed leagues, but he has slowed his roll over the past six weeks anyway, batting .252 (37 for 147) with three homers and a .760 OPS.
Cole Hamels to the Cubs
Cole Hamels has gotten back on track with swing-and-misses this year after noticeably declining last year, and we may see the other numbers follow suit now that he's out of Texas, which has been far and away the most hitter-friendly environment this year (even more so than Coors Field). Hamels is living proof, having compiled a 6.41 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.4 home runs per nine at home compared to 2.93, 1.23, 9.9 and 1.1 on the road.
J.A. Happ to the Yankees
Yankee Stadium is, of course, a not-so-friendly place to pitch, but the same goes for Rogers Centre, as evidenced by Happ's 5.22 ERA at home compared to 2.60 on the road this year. Him being a lefty, he doesn't have to worry as much about left-handed sluggers exploiting the short porch in right field against him (he has allowed just two homers to lefties all year). And there's no comparing the supporting casts, to say nothing of the fact Happ no longer has to face the Yankees, so I have a hard time seeing this deal as anything but good news for him.
Joakim Soria to the Brewers
Clearly, Soria isn't a closer anymore after piling up 16 saves for the White Sox. So who takes his place? Officially, it's a committee — and I don't doubt Nate Jones will factor if he ever makes it back from a strained muscle in his arm — but left-hander Jace Fry, he of the 2.29 FIP thanks in part to his 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings, is the front-runner.
Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox
We're still trying to get to the bottom of whether Eovaldi's improved strikeout-to-walk ratio is a product of a small sample size or a genuine breakthrough (him emphasizing a new cutter lends credence to the latter). Also hard to say whether the upgrade in supporting cast is neutralized by the downgrade in venue, so we'll say he breaks even for now. Keep an eye on the Rays' return, Jalen Beeks, who was a disaster in two appearances for the Red Sox but has a 2.89 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings at Triple-A (thanks largely to a new cutter of his own).
Zach Britton to the Yankees
Zach Britton obviously won't see saves anymore on a team with now five closer-caliber relievers (the most notable of them being Aroldis Chapman), so his stock falls precipitously. Taking his place was Brad Brach before he himself got traded. Mychal Givens would make sense, but it's a particularly unsettled ninth-inning situation for a particularly bad team — not a good combination for Fantasy purposes.
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