The trade deadline has arrived, and the deals are coming in faster than anyone can type them up. But here’s where we try to keep pace, serving up Fantasy Baseball reactions while linking to longer-form analysis where applicable.
The most recent trades are at the top, but some of the biggest in the closing minutes involved Kris Bryant going to the Giants and Javier Baez going to the Mets. Read on for more …
Richard Rodriguez traded to Braves for Bryse Wilson
In a deal that was agreed to with only four minutes left, the Braves scooped up the Pirates closer and will presumably make him the setup man to left-hander Will Smith. Because it’s a lefty/righty situation, it’s possible Brian Snitker plays the matchups, but he tends to prefer more defined roles. Between the two, Rodriguez has the better ERA, but Smith has the better underlying numbers and the bigger contract.
Back in Pittsburgh, David Bednar becomes the most attractive of the closer newcomers, provided the rookie has the role all to himself. He had been the eighth-inning guy already and clearly has the best numbers of anyone left in that bullpen.
Kris Bryant traded to Giants
Oracle Park doesn’t play as poorly for hitters as it once did, but it’s still a downgrade in venue for Bryant, who has already found the going pretty tough since the end of May. The 18 home runs he does have this year would be only 15 if he played every game in San Francisco, according to Statast’s “expected home runs by park” metric, and because his swing is geared for fly balls, I also worry that his batting average might suffer in a bigger park. Worst case is he drops a tier in the third base rankings.
Meanwhile, there may be a logjam in the Giants outfield once Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt return from injuries. Bryant will obviously have a spot, likely in left field in place of Alex Dickerson, but Lamonte Wade may not.
Jorge Soler traded to Braves
It looked like the Braves had remade their outfield already with the acquisitions of Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall. But Rosario isn’t healthy at the moment, and well, better to have too many than too few. Because none of them is a natural center fielder, it’s possible Guillermo Heredia still factors into the mix. Soler will hopefully get extensive playing time, especially with him having homered seven times in his past 14 games. The numbers bely his skill set. He’s still 91st percentile for average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, and his strikeout rate is back down to where it was during his 48-homer 2019.
Andrew Heaney to Yankees
For a pitcher who already struggles with home runs, a move to Yankee Stadium seems like a disaster in the making. It’s true that throwing left-handed might make Heaney a little less vulnerable to the short porch in right field, but he still may not be long for the rotation with Luis Severino gearing up to return. The big winner here is prospect Reid Detmers, the team’s first-round pick from a year ago who will be making his debut Saturday. He has picked up a couple miles per hour on his fastball in his first year as a professional and has been missing bats aplenty as a result, compiling a 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 15.9 K/9 between Double- and Triple-A.
Joakim Soria traded to Blue Jays
It’s a smaller deal, of course, but worth pointing out just because it brings clarity to the Diamondbacks bullpen. Soria had been handling the closer role for most of July, though not particularly well. Clippard recently made his season debut after sitting out with a shoulder injury and recorded his first save Wednesday. He’s a better fit for the role anyway, having compiled a 2.86 ERA and 0.86 WHIP the previous two years.
Hansel Robles traded to Red Sox
Again, this is a smaller-scale move from a Fantasy Baseball prospective, but given the importance of saves and who’s getting them, it’s worth pointing out that Robles no longer is. He had gotten to be a pretty scary choice for them anyway, even with co-closer Taylor Rogers recently going down with a sprained finger. Tyler Duffey — who was much more effective in 2019 and 2020, it’s worth noting — becomes the logical choice to fill in, though it may only be for a matter of weeks.
Myles Straw traded to Indians
Straw hasn’t had much Fantasy value even as a full-timer, and that probably doesn’t change now that he’s joining a much weaker lineup. But he has a better chance of batting in the upper third of that lineup and might have more clearance to steal bases. More interesting is how the Astros fill the void in center field. GM James Click says Chas McCormick has earned a shot, and the right-handed hitter does have good splits against right-handed pitchers. But he also has an excessive strikeout rate and may not last long with Jake Meyers also getting the call. Meyers isn’t considered a top prospect, but the 25-year-old has impressed at Triple-A this year, batting .343 with 16 homers, 10 steals and a 1.006 OPS.
A lot of angles to this deal. Seeing as he’s a 33-year-old with a mediocre track record, it’s probably no surprise that Gibson has been one of the biggest overachievers by xFIP (4.15) this year. And if his past three starts are any indication, the regression may have already begun. Though he is and always has been a ground-ball pitcher, this venue change can only hurt him even if his win potential is improved with the Phillies. His stock was trending down anyway and probably continues to.
Kennedy is no lockdown closer, but he’s gotten the job done this year, which is more than can be said for anyone in the Phillies bullpen. The coincidentally named Ranger Suarez has helped to stabilize things of late, but he probably goes back to a multi-inning relief role. As for who replaces Kennedy in Texas, 33-year-old Spencer Patton has looked interesting as a newcomer to the setup role, but the save chances may be too few and far between for them to settle on any one guy.
Howard is a recently graduated prospect who has mostly struggled in the majors so far, bouncing between roles and showing inconsistent velocity, but he’s just a year removed from a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 11.9 K/9 in the minors. A change of scenery figures to do him some good. For what it’s worth, the Phillies also got a pretty good pitching prospect, Hans Crouse, in the deal.
Starting pitcher Trevor Williams will join Baez in New York, which might give Tylor Megill and/or Rich Hill a shorter stay in the rotation. But the big get here is of course Baez, who comes over in exchange for Pete Crow-Armstrong, a toolsy prospect who stands out mostly for his defense. Baez was himself once the toolsy prospect who ascended to near-MVP heights, but his stock has taken a hit the past couple years. His output doesn’t figure to change much in his new home — big power, some speed, horrendous plate discipline — but his position may when Francisco Lindor returns from a strained oblique in a month. J.D. Davis is officially on notice.
Craig Kimbrel traded to White Sox for Nick Madrigal
What a mess this deal creates. So few closers have been as bankable as Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks this year, and now one will be swallowed up by the other. Actually, it’s worse than that:
Does that mean a true 50/50 split, or does one occasionally steal save chances from the other? They’re both right-handers, so it’s not even clear what the rationale for a split role would be. My guess is that Kimbrel gets the majority of the save chances since the closer role is the only one he’s ever known, but the White Sox did just sign Hendriks to a big-money deal this offseason. Oy.
My first guess to inherit save chances for the Cubs is Dan Winkler, but he doesn’t have staying power in the role. Dillon Maples might get a look once he’s recovered from a blister, and Rowan Wick is also gearing up to return from the IL. It could be murky for a while.
Duvall goes back to the organization he left this offseason, so we already have a pretty good idea how he’ll fare with the Braves. As has been true for most Marlins hitters since loanDepot Park opened years ago, his numbers have been much better on the road, where he’s hit .259 with an .877 OPS compared to .199 with a .629 OPS at home. But there’s no way Duvall can surprise us, really, at age 32. He’ll hit for power and struggle on base. I suppose it’s possible he’ll play less than every day since none of he, Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson are natural center fielders, but my suspicion is the Braves will just accept a defensive hit.
Eddie Rosario traded to Braves
The Braves have remade their entire outfield in the span of just two weeks. It’s logical that Rosario, with his .685 OPS, wouldn’t command much in the trade, but what use would a down-and-out team have for 34-year-old Pablo Sandoval, who was all Cleveland got back? Rosario has typically been more of an .800-OPS guy — a solid hitter who’s lacking in on-base skills — and did perform closer to that in his most-recent 28 games. He’s out presently with an abdominal strain, but he was bound to improve whenever he returned. Going to the Braves doesn’t change that.
Jose Berrios traded to Blue Jays for Austin Martin, Simeon Woods Richardson
Berrios has been a steady, if unspectacular, pitcher for several years now, never quite achieving his best-case scenario but avoiding his worst-case scenario as well. Moving to the AL East, with all its hitter’s parks, could spell trouble for him, and the Blue Jays paid a big price to get him. For my complete analysis, of the deal, click here.
The most curious aspect of this deal is that the Red Sox have no opening in the outfield nor at DH, which presumably leaves Schwarber to learn first base on the fly. He won’t be thrown to fire right away since he’s still recovering from a hamstring strain and is likely weeks away from returning. It’s true that Fenway Park isn’t the most inviting for left-handed power hitters, but the bigger determinant as to how good Schwarber will be is whether he comes back as hot he was when he went down, homering 16 times in his final 21 games.
The rich get richer in what figures to be the biggest deal of the deadline, which could crowd some useful players out of both the Dodgers rotation and starting lineup. Meanwhile, top prospects Gray and Ruiz could get a chance to contribute right away. For a full breakdown of this trade and all its implications, click here.
Rizzo was a huge disappointment last year and hasn’t been much better this year, which might lead you to believe he’s already declining at age 31. But if there’s any venue that’s likely to set him straight, it’s Yankee Stadium. Sure, you could say that about any left-handed slugger who goes there — short porch in right field and all — but Rizzo’s swing seems particularly well suited for it, as evidenced by Statcast’s “expected home runs by park” metric. It says he’d have 23 home runs if he played all his games at Yankee Stadium as opposed to the 14 he actually has. He still strikes out at the same low rate he always has and is making harder contact than ever this year. Don’t rule out a New York rejuvenation.
Rizzo’s acquisition could leave Luke Voit, who’s soon to return from a bruised knee, without a place to play unless the Yankees are willing to shift Joey Gallo to center field and Giancarlo Stanton to left field full-time, freeing up the DH spot. Then again, Voit himself has been rumored to be dealt.
The Kendall Graveman trade seemed to free up the closer role for Paul Sewald, whose K/9 compares to that of Craig Kimbrel’s and Aroldis Chapman’s this year, but then the Mariners went and acquired Castillo, who GM Jerry Dipoto says could get the bulk of the save chances. Manager Scott Servais has been known to flip his eighth- and ninth-inning guys when the situation calls for it, so both Sewald and Castillo should probably be rostered now.
What it means for the Rays bullpen is anybody’s guess. Peter Fairbanks would have been a logical pick to close if he hadn’t just gone on the IL with shoulder inflammation. Former closer Nick Anderson is nearing a return from an elbow injury, but you shouldn’t expect manager Kevin Cash to commit to any one closer right away, if at all.
We heard recently from Royals GM Dayton Moore that Danny Duffy is expected to miss 3-4 more weeks with a flexor strain, an injury that’s landed him on the IL for the second time this year. He was having a nice season before then, enjoying a spike in velocity and all that goes with it. It’s unclear what role he’ll have when he returns — or if he’ll even have enough time to stretch out as a starter. Because the Dodgers ended up acquiring Max Scherzer later in the day, though, my suspicion is that Duffy will return as a multi-inning reliever.
Hernandez used to be a contact-first hitter who would get on base at a high rate and contribute a moderate number of steals, but he’s sold out hard for power this year. The net result is comparable in points leagues, but it makes him less interesting in standard 5×5 scoring. This move doesn’t really change anything for him. He’s in a slightly better lineup and a slightly smaller park, but it’s nothing transformative. It will be interesting to see what happens to him next year, though, when Nick Madrigal is ready to go. The White Sox could decline his option.
Brad Hand had fallen on hard times with the Nationals in the days leading up to this trade, which seemed like a long time coming given that his swinging-strike rate has cratered this year. Where it is now would be bad for a starting pitcher, much less a late-inning reliever. With Hand aboard, my guess is that manager Charlie Montoyo will now play matchups in the ninth inning but mostly stick with the right-handed Jordan Romano, who has better numbers and has settled nicely into the closer role already.
As for the Nationals, they also moved setup man Daniel Hudson in a trade with the Padres, which leaves them with no clear heir to the closer role. Kyle Finnegan got the first save chance Thursday, but they’ll probably try out an assortment of relievers, none of them particularly interesting.
Garcia was barely hanging on to the closer role for the Marlins and of course has no shot at it with the Astros, who already have an All-Star closer in Ryan Pressly and also recently acquired Kendall Graveman. The bigger question for Fantasy Baseballers is what happens in the Marlins bullpen, and my suspicion is that veteran Dylan Floro, who had been the eighth-inning guy, gets the first crack at closing even though rookie Anthony Bender looks best suited for the role with a 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 11.4 K/9.
Joey Gallo traded to Yankees
The Yankees love their mashers, and Gallo is certainly that. Getting him out of a miserable Rangers lineup can only help his run and RBI totals, but he’s having a pretty typical season otherwise. I don’t know that he’ll benefit so much from the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium given that his home runs leave little doubt off the bat, but Statcast’s “expected home runs by park” metric says he’d have four more there, which isn’t nothing. For what it’s worth, the Rangers got a great package of prospects back, headlined by two of my favorite pickups in dynasty leagues this year, infielder Ezequiel Duran and pitcher Glenn Otto.
The Marlins pulled off a shocking trade for the second time in three trade deadlines. Marte is only signed through this year and wasn’t even the biggest bat on the market, and yet they got back Luzardo, who was arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball heading into last year. Luzardo has had his struggles this year, both in the majors and at Triple-A, but had a strong rookie showing last year. For a full breakdown from Chris Towers, click here.
Escobar has enjoyed a rebound season after basically disappearing last year. He’s a one-dimensional hitter, but American Family Field in Milwaukee is a venue that rewards that one dimension more than Arizona’s Chase Field does. Of course, the trade does leave one of Luis Urias and Kolten Wong without a place to play, and both had emerged as interesting Fantasy contributors this year, albeit not as useful as Escobar.
It would seem Graveman’s time as a closer has ended before it really got started, seeing as Ryan Pressly has been so effective in the ninth inning for the Astros this year. Unless your league rewards holds, Graveman is probably safe to drop. Toro was the main player going back to the Mariners, a curious move given their contending status and lack of opening at third base. He did make a start at second base Wednesday, though, and might get an extended look here. He’s on a bit of a power binge but is more oriented for contact and isn’t a viable a mixed-league contributor as of now.
Batting near the top of the Padres lineup certainly counts for more than batting near the top of the Pirates lineup, but the tradeoff for Frazier is that he now has more competition for playing time. Between his versatility and Jake Cronenworth’s, the Padres could use Frazier’s acquisition to fade underachievers like Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, but Frazier himself is a bit of an overachiever and may well fade down the stretch. For a complete breakdown from Chris Towers, click here.
The Rays have more to play for than the Twins do at this point, so it make sense that the 41-year-old Cruz would change hands in the final year of his contract. The return was surprisingly strong, headlined by Ryan, a 25-year-old pitching prospect with some sinister numbers the past two seasons. He’s unconventional in that his only standout pitch is a deceptive fastball with a high spin rate, which could mean he winds up in the bullpen, but he’ll get a chance to start first. This trade all but guarantees it.