2019 Fantasy Baseball: Trade Deadline Primer– Relief Pitchers
The trade deadline is six days away. For regular baseball fans this is the most exciting day on the baseball calendar. For fantasy baseball fans it is not quite as significant, but there are always players that will see their fortunes change one way or another around that time. Contenders and pretenders are always in a state of flux around this time. Names listed are based purely on speculation. We are focusing on teams well out of the wild cad race, but we will see some guys move on teams that are still competing. We will try to find a likely home for each player in addition to talking about possible fantasy impacts on their potential move.
Edwin Diaz– New York Mets
Numbers: 1-6. 4.91 ERA, 22 SV, 61 K, 1.424 WHIP
Who didn’t see this coming? Apparently, the Mets. History has clearly shown that pitchers that get used as heavily as Diaz did in 2018 usually struggle the next season. Acquiring Diaz would probably be more about the future than it would be 2019. It would be the kind of move a forward thinking organization would make. There are a few of those out there that could hope that a change of scenary would work for Diaz. He has a 3.50 FIP, so it hasn’t been all bad. A trade almost certainly would limit his save opportunities, but his other numbers would likely improve across the board.
Best Fit: Oakland Athletics
Jake Diekman– Kansas City Royals
Numbers: 0-6, 4.75 ERA, 0 SV, 63 K, 1.344 WHIP
There is no crazier time than the deadline. If you look at Diekman’s numbers and even when you inclide his 3.36 FIP it’s hard to figure out what the fuss is about. Still, he’s a lefty and playoff teams love to add an extra lefty for the playoffs. With the Giants suddenly being competitive it looks like Will Smith and Tony Watson might be off the board. Diekman isn’t a late inning relief candidate, but if you are looking for someone that can be more than a LOOGY he might be the guy.
Best Fit: Philadelphia Phillies
Roenis Elias– Seattle Mariners
Numbers: 2-2, 4.70 ERA, 13 SV, 43 K, 1.295 WHIP
Someone has to close games in Seattle and if it isn’t Elias it will end up being someone else. He really isn’t even as good as Diekman, but he has those saves, so some contender will throw a prospect or two Seattle’s way to make their bullpen seem deeper. In fantasy terms, Elias is only viable if he stays in Seattle. Even then, he’s a fringy guy that could serve as someone’s third or fourth closer.
Best Fit: Washington Nationals
Ken Giles– Toronto Blue Jays
Numbers: 2-2. 1.59 ERA, 14 SV, 58 K, 1.088 WHIP
There are guys in every sport that look like Giles. In basketball, it is the guy that averages 20 points on a 20 win team. In football, it is the quarterback that racks up huge numbers because he’s always playing catch up. In baseball, it is the closer on the bad team. Giles has done that in two different spots. He was a closer on a good team and couldn’t hold down the job. He probably would be better off being a setup man on a good team, but someone will pull the trigger and make him their closer.
Best Fit: Minnesota Twins
Shane Greene– Detroit Tigers
Numbers: 0-2, 1.22 ERA, 22 SV, 41 K, 0.865 WHIP
The man has a 3.73 FIP. The Tigers are holding their breath and hoping someone gives them a good prospect or two for this guy. As long as teams know what they are getting it makes perfect sense. He closed games for the Tigers in 2018 too, so he can do the job, but he is much better cast as a middle reliever on a good team. Still, he is obviously hot and if you can get another couple of months of this you might be able to get to the next level.
Best Fit: Washington Nationals
Keone Kela– Pittsburgh Pirates
Numbers: 1-0, 4.26 ERA, 0 SV, 12 K, 1.263 WHIP
Kela is coming off a suspension following an incident with another member of the Pirates organization. That follows an IL stint that has sidelined him most of the season. Kela has electric stuff and always has. He almost held down the closer’s job in Texas before being dealt to the Pirates. He seems like the perfect buy low candidate for an organization looking for bullpen depth.
Best Fit: Tampa Bay Rays
Ian Kennedy– Kansas City Royals
Numbers: 0-2, 3.40 ERA, 19 SV, 52 K, 1.252 WHIP
Give him some credit for redefining himself as a reliever. It’s happened before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. The problem for the Royals is that he is being paid like a starter. So, they will have to eat a good portion of his salary. As things usually go, the more you eat the more you get back. There are a few teams that could use a pitcher like him that could both close and go multiple innings.
Best Fit: St. Louis Cardinals
Sergio Romo– Miami Marlins
Numbers: 2-0, 3.58 ERA, 17 SV, 33 K, 1.221 WHIP
Romo has been around forever and has done it all. That’s both good and bad. In terms of experience you won’t find anyone better and he will serve in any role you ask. Unfortunately, as the K numbers indicate, he doesn’t have electric stuff anymore. Still, you could do a lot worse in the sixth or seventh inning of a tough game. In fantasy terms, like Elias, he is only viable if he stays in Miami.
Best Fit: Los Angeles Dodgers
Felipe Vazquez– Pittsburgh Pirates
Numbers: 2-1, 1.91 ERA, 21 SV, 66 K, 1.087 WHIP
I tend to have a negative attitude towards relievers. It’s nothing personal, but their performance is way too volatile to throw a bunch of prospects at a guy in July. Vasquez is the main exception. He has nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings and has pitched an elite level for several years now. He is also under contract through 2023. The Pirates need a king ransom to give this guy up. Did I mention he’s left-handed?
Best Fit: Minnesota Twins
Kirby Yates– San Diego Padres
Numbers: 0-2, 1.05 ERA, 31 SV, 70 K, 0.814 WHIP
Yates is the Diaz of 2019. That presents two distinct problems/opportunities for the Padres. First, you can’t sell any higher right now. Secondly, a dominant closer on a last place team is kind of like installing a Bose stereo system in a 1974 Chevy Chevelle. They dealt Brad Hand when he was at his peak and got an elite catching prospect out of the deal. They could get a similar haul for Yates and set themselves up beautifully for 2020 and beyond.
Best Fit: Atlanta Braves