The 2014 MLB Trade Deadline was everything that baseball fans wanted it to be– busy. Trade after trade, and, luckily, big name after big name. But monitoring trades in fantasy baseball is a bit different than in other sports. For instance, some folks play in NL and AL-only leagues, so if a player changes leagues, it could either help or potentially kill your fantasy squad.
Such is life, I guess.
Anyway, with the deadline in the books and familiar faces in new places, let’s take a look at some of the fantasy winners and how their value will change for the rest of the 2014 campaign.
Yoenis Cespedes to Boston, Jon Lester to Oakland
The first big trade of the day saw the A’s surprisingly trade one of their best players in Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox, in exchange for yet another ace, Jon Lester. The Athletics are shoring up their rotation, en route to the playoffs. I think both major pieces of this deal are winners for fantasy purposes.
To start, Lester will gain terrific run support, as the Athletics lead the majors in runs scored (535) and are arguably the most prolific offense in baseball. He’ll also see a much more spacious ballpark than that of Fenway. Lester was already the number 13 pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater, so this move to one of the best teams in baseball only cements his status as a top-15 arm for the rest of the season. He’ll continue to be a tremendous second-tier pitcher the rest of the way. Thus far, Lester is sixth in the AL in strikeouts (149), fifth in ERA (2.59), 10th in WHIP (1.12) and 9th in innings pitched (143).
As for Cespedes, I like the move for him, too. He goes from a pitcher-friendly park in Oakland to Fenway, where he can improve on his power, as well as batting average. If he can go the opposite way, we may see a nice power surge from Cespedes, thanks to Fenway’s short left field fence. It’ll be interesting to see if he alters his swing a bit for some additional power, but he, too, should see an uptick in value. Currently the number 25 outfielder on the Player Rater, look for Cespedes to serve as a top-20 option the rest of the way. This move will also help guys like Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick get everyday work, while someone like Stephen Vogt will also see an increase in value as the primary platoon option in the lineup.
David Price to the Tigers, Austin Jackson to the Mariners, Drew Smyly to the Rays
Well, the Tigers are cheating, no?
After acquiring ace, David Price, Detroit now has the last three AL MVP winners (Cabrera x2, Verlander) and the last three Cy Young winers (Scherzer, Price, Verlander) on the same roster. Price was already one of the best pitchers in baseball, so it’s hard to say his value rises too much, but it is worth noting that he has a much better offense around him, as Detroit is averaging 4.67 runs per game, compared to Tampa Bay’s 3.8. Enjoy the added run support, Price owners.
Meanwhile, don’t sleep on Drew Smyly, who heads to a more pitcher-friendly park, as Tropicana is currently averaging 0.804 homers per game, the 26th-most in the majors. Also, the Rays clearly have been successful in developing plenty of young arms (Price, Moore, Shields), so this could be a good move for Smyly to get out from the shadows of the aces in Detroit and establish himself in this league.
Yankees acquire Martin Prado from Diamondbacks
Normally, a player going to Yankee stadium would excite me for fantasy purposes. The venue is averaging 1.56 home runs per game this season, easily the most in baseball. They have those very favorable measurements, but I’d temper expectations a bit with Prado. First of all, he’ll face an entire new set of pitching in the American League, and let’s not forget, this guy isn’t really a power hitter. He has just five home runs this year, and his career high for a season is just 15. This year, his isolated power is down to 0.99, his lowest since 2007. He’s not getting under the ball a ton, either, sporting a fly-ball percentage of just 26.6 percent, the lowest of his career. Prado should be better in Yankee Stadium, but don’t expect a sudden power surge.
For the D-Backs, look for Andy Marte to handle third base duties, with perhaps a sprinkle of Didi Gregorious at times. Marte homered last night against the Pirates.