2017 Fantasy Baseball: MLB Deadline Update July 31, 2017
It’s deadline day. As people who cover baseball, there is no more exciting time than the last few days before the deadline. The Winter Meetings are exciting for some (especially the writers that get to go) but nothing competes with the drama of checking the transactions right before the clock goes out. Often times, news oozes out after the 3 PM deadline. We will break everything down in the order that occurs. We start from the news that broke late last night.
This one was seemingly in the works for weeks. For the Cubs it made entirely too much sense not to do it. They needed another strong arm for the bullpen, but getting Avila was just as much as a coup. Willson Contreras has had a strong campaign behind the dish, but they had been struggling at the backup spot since jettisoning Miguel Montero. Avila carries in an .869 OPS on the season in over 200 plate appearances. He has a career mark around .750. That might not blow anyone’s skirt up, but it gives the Cubs that much more depth and guarantees they won’t drive Contreras into the ground.
Wilson might charitably be called gilding the lily. He has 13 saves with the Tigers, but will be used in a 7th or 8th inning role in Chicago. Since they have taken over the division lead, they can focus more towards setting things up for October. Wilson joins Brian Duensing, Carl Edwards, Pedro Strop, and Koji Uehara to form one of the deepest pens in the sport. All have ERAs 3.34 and lower. This doesn’t even mention closer Wade Davis.
This deal doesn’t help either player in fantasy terms. Wilson will not get any save opportunities in Chicago and Avila will almost certainly get fewer plate appearances. Still, Wilson is worth owning as a strong middle reliever that can help your ratios. If you are in a holds league he should still be a prominent member of your pitching staff.
Boston Red Sox Acquire RP Addison Reed
The arms race in the American League just got more interesting. The Red Sox added Reed to their bullpen and gave up three young pitchers in the process. The Mets angle is more interesting given that they just acquired A.J. Ramos. They are walking the tight rope between competing now and planning for the future. Reed will be a free agent after the season, so they wanted to get something for him in the meantime. As for the Sox, Reed will likely settle into the 8th inning role and allow the other relievers to be used in more flexible circumstances.
Again, we see a situation where those 19 saves are completely useless now. Reed will likely not get any 9th inning opportunities, but just like Wilson should serve as a nice middle relief option for ratios and holds in leagues that count those.
Arizona Diamondbacks Acquire IF Adam Rosales
This isn’t a big trade by any estimation. The Dbacks had sudden depth issues when Chris Owings went down with a broken finger and Ketel Marte lost his mother in a car accident. Rosales can play every infield position and has had over 200 plate appearances this season with the Athletics. Mind you, they haven’t been good plate appearances, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Houston Astros Acquire SP/RP Francisco Liriano
If anyone owns Liriano at this point they are in a really bad way. He has pitched to a cool 5.88 ERA this season in the Blue Jays rotation. Going the other way in the deal is reserve outfielder Nori Aoki. The secret sauce here is that lefties are hitting .230 off of Liriano this year with an OPS against of about .600. Aoki had become a fifth outfielder in Houston with the improvement of Jake Marisnick at the plate. Derek Fisher also became a prominent player this year as well.
Minimal if any unless you want to take a shot with Liriano in relief.
Milwaukee Brewers Acquire RP Jeremy Jeffress
All that is old is new again. Almost exactly one year after trading for Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy, both of those players are gone from Texas as they appear to be embarking on a rebuild. Jeffress served as the Brewers closer last year but ended the year in rehab following a DUI arrest. He has a 5.31 ERA this season, but the Brewers are betting on a change of scenary correction. Jeffress marks the second significant reliever to join the Brewers this week.
Jeffress is an deep waiver claim possibility if you think he will return to career norms. He has a 3.31 career ERA and had three brilliant campaigns in a row between 2014 and 2016.
New York Yankees Acquire SP Sonny Gray
This one might just be the headliner of the day. When you throw in the fact that the Yankees also got Jaime Garcia you can see that they are making the boldest moves of the trade deadline season. Gray has a sub 2.00 ERA in his last six starts and could give the Yankees a nice playoff starter to accompany the likes of Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. They managed to avoid trading their top three prospects, but the Athletics still go three good prospects out of the deal.
Gray was pitching in front of the worst fielding team in the American League and for the team with the worst record. Both of those facts should point to improvement in some categories, but his home run rate should probably go up.
Cleveland Indians Acquire RP Joe Smith
Interestingly enough, not only has Smith pitched for Cleveland, but he has been more effective than many of the bigger names on the trade block. He has a 3-0 record and a 3.28 ERA in 35 innings. His FIP is even more impressive at 2.31. The Indians don’t need much at the end of the game, but Smith gives them more depth in middle relief.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Watson began the season as the Buc’s closer but quickly lost that job when he seemed to melt down. Since moving out of the closer’s role he has stabalized some, but is nothing particularly special. The Dodgers don’t need special. They need competent. Watson will couple with Cingrani to add considerable left handed depth in the Dodgers bullpen.
Of course, this buries the lead. Just before the deadline, the Dodgers swung a deal with the Rangers to get all-star starter Yu Darvish. Darvish will anchor the Dodgers’ rotation until Clayton Kershaw returns from the disabled list and will add to a playoff rotation that already features Rich Hill and Alex Wood. Darvish has struggled of late, but they hope the change of leagues and the move to a contender will return him to his dominant form.
Darvish moves from one of the worst pitcher’s parks in baseball to one of the best. He also gets to face the pitcher two or three times a game, so he should improve considerably over what he was doing. Watson and Cingrani are mediocre at this point.
Arizona Diamondbacks Acquire RP David Hernandez
Hernandez has been perfectly mediocre over the last eight seasons, but has been more effective since moving to relief. He has had a brilliant season in Los Angeles and is one of the many reasons why they had stayed in the wild card race while Mike Trout was injured. The Angels decided to surrender anyway and the Dbacks are happy to add his 1-0 record with 2.23 ERA to their bullpen. His FIP is even lower, so maybe this one will stick.
Hernandez has flown under the radar, but maybe he shouldn’t have. He could help a team looking to improve on their ratios and maybe add some holds.
Washington Nationals Acquire RP Brandon Kintzler
A team with a bad bullpen a couple of weeks ago has just added their third prominent reliever in two weeks. Kintzler has 28 saves with the Twins and likely will move into the closer’s role when he moves to the Nationals. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson were nice additions, but neither was a prominent closer. Kintzler hasn’t done it for long, but he has been wildly successful this season in that role and gives the Nationals one of the deeper pens in the National League.
The Twins turned into sellers overnight and managed to get rid of two prime trade targets today. Kintzler will be a closer for a contender, but he already was a closer on a contender, so that value doesn’t change much.