Trade Deadline: Five biggest winners and losers for Fantasy Baseball include Sonny Gray, Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy

After a mostly quiet 36 hours leading up to it, the trade deadline did finally offer some drama, with the Yankees and Dodgers each swinging a deal for an ace in the final hour.

But Fantasy Baseball was feeling the effects well before then. Quite simply, the trade deadline took a wrecking ball to our relief pitcher rankings, toppling what had been weeks of stability at the most volatile position in Fantasy.

Changes are coming in Minnesota, Detroit, Miami and the Mets' side of New York -- changes almost certainly for the worse. 

Where do Fantasy owners turn now for saves, and what do we make of Yu Darvish's and Sonny Gray's new surroundings? I give you my five biggest winners and losers from the trade deadline, at least as far as Fantasy Baseball is concerned.

Note: How early must a trade be completed to qualify as a "deadline deal?" For the purposes of this piece, Friday. Any trades made prior to then -- Jose Quintana to the Cubs, Lucas Duda to the Rays, etc. -- weren't considered for Winners and Losers.

Five biggest winners
Shane Greene Detroit RP

Among the newcomers to the closer role, none is more exciting than Shane Greene, in part because he has the sort of skill set that translates well to the role -- having compiled a 2.74 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings by way of a 97-mph fastball -- and part because, even now that the dust has settled, the Tigers are still a competent major-league team capable of giving him regular opportunities. It's true they've called up Joe Jimenez, their projected closer of the future, but after he put together a 12.46 ERA in five April appearances, he's not a threat just yet.

Other winners among closers: A.J. Ramos, Brad Ziegler, either Taylor Rogers or Matt Belisle, potentially Brandon Kintzler

Any change of scenery figured to do Jonathan Lucroy some good. His career-low strikeout rate suggests his skills haven't completely diminished, and you have to wonder how his season might have unfolded if Robinson Chirinos wasn't so hot at the start of the year, dividing the playing time. And of course, we'll have to see how much the Rockies end up playing Lucroy, but there is no environment that could resuscitate his value like that one, and his contact rate gives him a better chance than most. It's not like you can do much better at catcher.
Derek Fisher Houston LF
No, Derek Fisher wasn't involved in any trade Monday, but the one remaining threat to his playing time, Norichika Aoki, was, getting shipped to Toronto in the Francisco Liriano deal. Granted, Fisher might have pushed him aside anyway, but with George Springer sidelined by a quad injury, it wasn't so clear just how entrenched the rookie was. Now it is, making his .318 batting average, 21 homers, 16 steals and .967 OPS at Triple-A Fresno cause for excitement. 
Sonny Gray N.Y. Yankees SP
Sonny Gray is the more obvious beneficiary among the big starting pitcher acquisitions, going from a bottom-feeder to the first-place Yankees, a team with a mighty offense and perhaps (through recent acquisitions) an even mightier bullpen. Yeah, the move from Oakland to New York is a notable park downgrade, but for a pitcher with extreme ground-ball tendencies, it doesn't matter nearly as much as the improved win potential. Gray might be a top-20 starting pitcher in Fantasy Baseball the rest of the way.
Brad Hand San Diego RP
After the Padres moved Brandon Maurer in the Trevor Cahill deal, the general sentiment was "enjoy it while it lasts, Brad Hand owners." Well, it looks like it'll last the rest of the season. Hand has several more years of team control, so the Padres weren't budging from their asking price, which was something in the neighborhood of what Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman commanded at this time a year ago. It's hard to argue he's not a top-flight lefty, given his 2.00 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings this year, and now he'll get an extended look in the closer role.

Other winners (non-closers): Melky Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario, Robinson Chirinos, Yu Darvish (see Chris Towers' write-up), Jaime Garcia, Teoscar Hernandez, Dominic Smith

Five biggest loser
Justin Wilson Chi. Cubs RP

Shane Greene is only a winner because Justin Wilson is a loser, having been shipped to Chicago to set up for Wade Davis, and it's a bigger loss than even Addison Reed to the Red Sox because Reed's stay in the role was always meant to be temporary. Wilson had a curiously low number of save chances as Tigers closer, but his 2.68 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings show he was perfectly up to the task. There's a chance he takes over for Davis next season since he has an additional year of team control.

Other losers among closers: Reed, potentially Sean Doolittle

Jordan Montgomery N.Y. Yankees SP
Jordan Montgomery looked like he might be on the way out anyway, having compiled a 6.52 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in his past four starts, but it took two acquisitions -- both Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia -- for the Yankees to have the rotation depth to remove him. At 24, he's still a big part of their future, his recent struggles overshadowing the 15th-best swinging strike rate in all of baseball.
Alex Avila Chi. Cubs C
Yes, Alex Avila had hit just .158 (9 for 57) with a .448 OPS in June and was losing more and more at-bats to James McCann as a result, but the quality of his contact -- what would be the highest hard-contact rate and the lowest soft-contact rate, according to FanGraphs, if he had the at-bats to qualify -- was still out of this world, giving him a boatload of potential at the weakest position in Fantasy. His potential hardly compares to that of Willson Contreras, though, so Avila is back to being purely a backup with the Cubs.
Kenta Maeda L.A. Dodgers SP
Kenta Maeda won't feel the effects of the Yu Darvish trade right away, but keep in mind Clayton Kershaw (strained back) and Brandon McCarthy (blister) are both on the DL with relatively minor injuries. Maeda has been the odd man out at times already this season, and even though he has pitched well since shifting back to the rotation in late June, he has only once exceeded five innings in his five starts. It's like the Dodgers have refused to stretch him, which tells you how much they value having him in the rotation. His days as a starter are numbered.
Jorge Bonifacio Kansas City RF
Jorge Bonifacio wasn't exactly a standout at the deep outfield position, striking out at a rate that limits his ceiling, but he had been a nice find for the Royals, providing the sort of consistent power that made him a nifty fifth-outfielder type in Rotisserie leagues. With the acquisition of Melky Cabrera, Bonifacio will be forced to split his time with Brandon Moss. And seeing as Moss is the one who bats left-handed, you can imagine how that split will play out.

Other losers (non-closers): Francisco Liriano, Tom Murphy

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories