Fantasy Baseball Trade Reaction: Seven things to know about Yasiel Puig's move from the Dodgers to the Reds
The Dodgers have traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood to the Reds — a move with plenty of ramifications for both sides. Scott White does his best to sum them up.
Which is the sort of thing a team with their depth can afford to do. In fact, just the thought of them removing some of that clutter is cause for celebration in Fantasy because it means more at-bats for everyone left behind.
But they're still the Dodgers, and seeing as their mountain of redundancies has carried them all the way to the World Series the past two years, it's hard to imagine them entirely abandoning the approach. There's still plenty of offseason to go, after all.
We can only know what we know, though, and based on we presently know, here are the implications for everyone involved:
The Dodgers have clearer justification to pursue Bryce Harper
That's what MLB Twitter was buzzing about in the immediate aftermath of the deal, with a few dissenters pointing out that the luxury tax may still prohibit the Dodgers from doing so. But unless they're turning over everyday duty to both Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez, two players better suited for a platoon role, or are totally committed to giving rookie Alex Verdugo the right field job, they're going to bring in another bat. Maybe a second baseman would make more sense.
Verdugo finally has a path
Granted, it could close just as quickly as it could opened (see above), but the 22-year-old has been waiting two years to make a name for himself in the majors, having already proven to be one of the best pure hitters in the minors. With a high contact rate and all-fields approach, he shouldn't have much trouble holding down a regular job in the majors, but he has yet to demonstrate the sort of power that would make him a true standout in Fantasy. His hitting profile — polished, disciplined — is one that tends to maximize its potential in the majors, though.
There's no longer justification to sit Max Muncy
The 28-year-old went from Athletics castoff to best hitter on an NL Championship team last year, but there were times when it didn't seem like the Dodgers knew what they had with him, relegating him to a platoon role in the second half even though his numbers (.891 OPS) against lefties were strong in their own right. Yeah, he's limited defensively, but you may have heard the Dodgers just traded two-thirds of their outfield. Cody Bellinger now figures to be a fixture out there with Muncy settling in at first base, where he has top-five potential in Fantasy.
Jesse Winker's playing time isn't assured
On a day when the Rangers already sabotaged one of my sleeper picks for 2019, shipping Jurickson Profar's developing bat to the Athletics' pitching paradise, the Reds dealt an even more serious blow to Winker's outlook. True, Matt Kemp is 34, a defensive liability and probably undeserving of a full-time job at this point (which the Dodgers themselves concluded in the second half), but he was technically an All-Star last year and brings a name brand the Reds haven't had for a while.
Winker, meanwhile, demonstrated Joey Votto-like qualities in the weeks leading up to his season-ending shoulder surgery, batting .372 with six homers and a 1.058 OPS in his final 36 games. Maybe by the time WInker proves he's fully recovered, Kemp will have already burned out.
Yasiel Puig is back to being a focal point
After he initially took the league by storm as a 22-year-old in 2013, Puig's production dwindled, and the Dodgers have spent the last two years rehabilitating it to the point they could make this trade. It meant de-emphasizing his importance to the lineup, moving him down the order and giving him regular time off. Well, now he'll be front and center in the Reds lineup, which is mostly good news. Hitting coach Turner Ward, who helped rehabilitate Puig with the Dodgers, has since moved on to the Reds and should keep the 28-year-old on track. And now that he's in a smaller park with an organization that isn't known for being so risk averse, a 30-homer, 20-steal season could be in the offing.
Alex Wood breaks free
Like the Braves before them, the Dodgers never seemed like they knew what they were doing with Wood, an oddball hurler who relies on deception rather than stuff. But he's now the top option for the Reds, at least until Luis Castillo takes another step forward, which means his days of bouncing between the rotation and bullpen are over. He's no ace, but the frustrations for Fantasy surrounding him have always been role-, not performance-related, and his ground-ball tendencies will ensure Great American Ball Park doesn't get the better of him.
The Dodgers rotation offers new possibilities
Well ... sort of. Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda are all still there. But we know how the Dodgers operate, rotating arms to limit everyone's innings. Ryu and Hill figure to serve phantom DL stints at some point, and Maeda's contract still gives the Dodgers incentive to shift him to the bullpen in August. Ross Stripling and Julio Urias, who could both serve as No. 3s for most other teams, will have a chance to make sporadic contributions along the way. Wood's removal figures to make those chances a little less sporadic.
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