Scroll through and look for the UPDATE indicator and keep in mind, there's more than one!
While the trade rumors have been circulating for some time, this morning’s deal that sent White Sox lefty Jose Quintana to the Cubs in exchange for four strong prospects, including highly-touted Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, should prove to be the catalyst that sparks general managers to…as my granddaddy used to say…shit or get off the pot. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31 and the waiver trade deadline comes August 31, but we’re likely to start seeing an increase in activity, both in trade activity and rumor speculation.
We’ll start keeping closer track of everything here as fantasy baseball owners are going to need to stay on their toes if they’re contending for a title this season. Yes, dynasty and keeper league owners will get their fill of prospects being passed around like baseball cards, but those who are in a win-now mentality, especially those in NL and AL-only leagues, are about to their teams either soar or crash-and-burn with each player who gets handed a new uniform to wear.
Cubs acquire LHP Jose Quintana from the White Sox for OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete
If you missed my analysis on Quintana this morning, you can find it here. Bottom line is that it’s a win for his fantasy owners. For those wondering about the prospects going back, Jimenez and Cease are two of the best, though neither will offer up and fantasy baseball value for this season.
Yankees acquire 1B Garrett Cooper from the Brewers for LHP Tyler Webb
As the Bronx Bombers look to make their playoff push, first base has been a nightmare for them this year. Greg Bird failed to pan out thanks to an ankle injury, they lost Dustin Fowler to a ruptured patella tendon, Tyler Austin’s hamstring injury is expected to have him out until at least mid-August and there seems to be little confidence in Ji-Man Choi who has his struggles with left-handed pitching. Cooper, a right-handed, 26-year old late-bloomer, took a serious step forward in the power department with 17 home runs and a .287 ISO over 320 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, just might turn out to be immediate help for the club.
For fantasy owners, though, I’m having a hard time believing. First off, I worry about the veracity of this power increase, especially with the Brewers Triple-A affiliate sitting in Colorado Springs in the PCL. Talk about a hitter-friendly environment. Yeesh. Can it carry over as a right-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium? I’m definitely skeptical. Not to mention, what’s clicked this year that never clicked at the lower levels of the minor leagues? His contact rates look similar to years past and his plate discipline is relatively the same. Did he just fill-out more, physically? I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’m not going to start throwing FAAB money at him when he eventually arrives.
As for Webb, he is likely to end up as a left-handed reliever in the Brewers bullpen come September when rosters expand. He’s had some struggles during the six innings he pitched for the Yankees, but his minor league track record is all about the strikeout and ground ball rate. They normally don’t go hand-in-hand as most groundballers pitch to a higher level of contact, but Webb posted a fantastic 34.1-percent strikeout rate and 15.67 K/BB over 33 innings at Triple-A. There will obviously be some pull-back, but the Brewers do like what they see.
Diamondbacks acquire OF J.D. Martinez from the Tigers for infielders Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King
Unless you're in an AL-only league and just lost Martinez for nothing, this has to be considered a HUGE win for fantasy owners. Arizona has been in need of another right-handed power bat and Martinez, who is slashing .305/.388/.630 with 16 home runs over just 57 games, gives them just that. The move from Comerica Park to the bandbox that is Chase Field is an extremely favorable shift in park factors and he now becomes lineup protection for Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb as opposed to a struggling Miguel Cabrera and againg Victor Martinez. In truth, there's really not much more to say as everything about this move tilts in Martinez' favor. You could try and split hairs and cite the difference in pitching between the AL and NL, but the soon-to-be 30-year old is hitting everything that comes his way.
The fallout in the Arizona outfield should be interesting. Right now Yasmany Tomas is on the disabled list, so David Peralta will likely shift over to left field with Martinez taking his usual spot in right. When Tomas comes back, the team needs to make a decision. They could go with a straight lefty/righty platoon between Tomas and Peralta, but Tomas actually struggles against left-handed pitching. Because Peralta hits both lefties and righties better, though without as much power, he could be the full-time choice. Should that happen, Tomas is an easy drop. His value would be completely diminished as a platoon-bat off the bench.
The players coming back to Detroit are pretty underwhelming. King is just 18 years old and struggling in the Arizona rookie league, Alcantara, just 21, is sitting in High-A with a lot to work on before he ascends through the system and the 22-year old Lugo is about as average as they come at the Double-A level. None of them will be taking the field in Motown anytime soon. The real question here is whether Martinez becomes a two-month rental or if the Diamondbacks are considering keeping him long-term. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season and will likely cost more than the $9.25M per he is currently receiving. Still, the D-Backs could opt to make a considerable investment should he help vault them to a playoff spot.
Yankees acquire 3B Todd Frazier, RHP David Robertson and RHP Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox for RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Blake Rutherford and OF Tito Polo.
Rumors were abundant that the Red Sox were actually close to a deal for Frazier, but the Yankees swooped in and managed to get a deal done that not only landed the third base slugger, but also shore up the bullpen in a major way. As mentioned in the rumor section below on Tuesday, Frazier's fantasy value doesn't really change here as the park shift is more lateral with him being a right-handed hitter. Maybe he gets a slight bump given the lineup he's now going to be a part of, but that's really about it. A move to the Yankees isn't going to change his approach at the plate. For Robertson and Kahnle, it's actually a downgrade in fantasy value as Robertson now loses his closer status and Kahnle, who would have been in line for the closer's job in Chicago, is now bumped down the depth chart with regard to being next in-line for garnering save opportunities. Both can thrive in leagues which count holds, but that's about it.
For the White Sox, the main beneficiaries of this deal are Yoan Moncada and probably Anthony Swarzak. Moncada was immediately recalled from Triple-A and will slot in at third base the rest of the way. All of you who stashed him can wipe the drool from your chins and if he's available on your waiver wire, you may as well see about taking a shot on him if you've got an easily-droppable player on your roster. His 28.3-percent strikeout rate at Triple-A tells me you're going to have to deal with a low batting average and a world of whiffs still, but he does have a decent power/speed combo to offer. As for Swarzak, if the White Sox aren't thinking of using Clippard to close as he's been atrocious all year, he should be the guy to get saves early on. The club might give Jake Petricka a look when he comes off the DL, but that's not until the end of July, so there's still plenty of time for Swarzak to run with the job. There's also still a chance the White Sox continue flipping relievers, so keep the name Zack Burdi in the back of your mind. He's dealing with some command issues down at Triple-A still, but he's got great struff and a strong K-rate.
As for the prospects coming back, Rutherford is the centerpiece of the return. He is considered a consensus top-50 prospect and was the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He's currently slashing .281/.342/.391 with two home runs and nine stolen bases at Single-A and possesses plus-speed and good raw power. He's currently playing centerfield, but as he develops, he might be shifted over to one of the corners. Clippard was really just a throw-in to offset some money but might get a chance to close if he can prove he's actually not garbage, but he could also be flipped in another deal. Clarkin was the 33rd overall pick in the 2013 draft and both he and Polo are playing at High-A right now. Both are expected to join the White Sox Double-A team for the second half and while neither will contribute at the big league level this year, we should be hearing at least one of their names in the near-future.
Mariners acquire RHP David Phelps from the Marlins for OF Brayan Hernandez, RHP Brandon Miller, RHP Pablo Lopez, and RHP Lukas Schiraldi.
While this deal will certainly help the Mariners solidify their bullpen for the stretch run, there's not a whole lot here for fantasy owners, unless something bad happens to current closer Edwin Diaz. Phelps, who is sporting a 3.45 ERA and a 9.77 K/9, has been one of the more reliable relievers in the game over the last few seasons and has even been able to take the ball as a starter when his team is in need. Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto said Phelps may be able to take the ball as a starter in the future, but for this season, he'll work as a set-up man for Diaz upon his arrival. If you're in an AL-only league that scores holds, he should be grabbed immediately. As for the prospects coming back to the Marlins in this deal, there doesn't appear to be any imminent fantasy value for any of the players involved.
Cardinals acquire OF Tyler O'Neill from the Mariners in exchange for LHP Marco Gonzales
Just a small deal here and not much in the way of fantasy value as Gonzales is in his first full season recovering from Tommy John surgery and O'Neill, who is struggling with a .244/.328/.479 slash line in his first year at the Triple-A level, is now sitting in a farm system loaded with outfielders. Gonzales definitely has promise and his 2.78 ERA and 64:17 K:BB over 74.1 innings in the minors this season indicate that he is on the right track in his recovery, but unless the Mariners are thinking about giving him a shot in the bullpen when rosters expand in September, it seems unlikely he will be contributing for fantasy leagues.
Royals acquire RHPs Trevor Cahill and Brandon Maurer and LHP Ryan Buchter from the Padres in exchange for LHPs Matt Strahm and Travis Wood and INF Esteury Ruiz
This is one of those deals that does some really nice things in real life, but not a whole heck of a lot for fantasy owners. Cahill is having a fine season with his 3.69 ERA and 3.00 K/BB, but it's tough to see him maintain his current 27.4-percent strikeout rate moving back to the American League where he'll regularly face a DH once again. The good news is that I don't see a huge drop-off from where he is right now as that 56.8-percent ground ball rate plays well no matter where he's throwing. For the time being, Maurer loses his fantasy appeal as he is likely to set up for Kelvin Herrera. There's likely an outside chance he falls in line for saves should anything happen to Herrera, but with Joakim Soria also there, that outside chance is pretty remote.
From the Padres side, Strahm probably has the most appeal anmd moving to the NL should help him on the relief front. He was highly-touted entering this season and a dark horse to take over the closer's role in Kansas City once they announced he wouldn't make the rotation. He and Wood will pitch out of the pen. Ruiz is just 18 years old and in rookie ball, so he's more of a dart throw than anything at this point. The real question now is who is closing in San Diego with both Maurer and Buchter gone. The safe money is on Brad Hand at this point, though should the Padres need him as a more go-to-set-up man, they could use right-hander Kirby Yates. For now, put your claims in on Hand.
Twins acquire LHP Jaime Garcia, C Anthony Recker and cash from the Braves in exchange for RHP Huascar Ynoa
Another good for reality but not so much for fantasy as the only way you're even remotely trusting Garcia is if you're in an AL-only league and desperate to add a starter. Even then, it's a bit of a risk. He'll do his job for the Twins and eat some innings, but that current 4.30 ERA is about as good as it's going to get for him. Recker is strictly catcher insurance. On the Atlanta side, they get a nice prospect in Ynoa who is just 19-years old and has been with the Twins rookie team for three seasons. He's had some command issues, but he's still so young and raw that there's plenty of reason to believe he can continue his work in the Braves system and come out on top.
Brewers acquire RHP Anthony Swarzak from the White Sox in exchange for 3B/OF Ryan Cordell
Just a minor deal here but one that screws those who spent FAAB dollars picking up Swarzak as the new closer for the White Sox. He now goes to Milwaukee where he will work as a set-up man, once again, so he's back to being a limited asset for leagues that score for holds. As for Cordell, he's a good power/speed combo who could be ready for action in a year or two and could be a nice option once the Brewers are ready to move on from Travis Shaw. He may get a call-up once rosters expand but he's probably not looking at enough at-bats this year to make any sort of a difference in fantasy. Dynasty league owners should hold tight with him and see what the team does in the offseason.
Red Sox acquire SS/3B Eduardo Nunez from the Giants in exchange for RHPs Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos
Prior to the deal, the Red Sox were willing to give prospect Rafael Devers a chance to take over the third base job so long as he out-produced Devin Marrero. However, now that this deal was made, there's a good chance Devers finds himself back in Triple-A until rosters expand in September. The team originally said Nunez could fill more of a utility role, especially with Xander Bogaerts struggling and dealing with a recent illness, but a deal like this for a player like Nunez doesn't get done unless the team was looking to play him regularly at the hot corner. Raise your hand if you blew some of your FAAB budget on Devers ::raises hand:: It's a bit of a bummer, given the timing, but Nunez owners are probably a little happier with the change of uniforms. Boston ranks eighth overall with 62 stolen bases and they stay in the top-10 in stolen base attempts as well, so the hope is that they'll let Nunez run a little more and give fantasy owners a little speed boost. Neither Santos nor Anderson are going to be seen in the majors for some time. Anderson is currently pitching at High-A ball and has shown some nice command while Santos is a 17-year old in rookie ball right now. Both are longer-term prospects, so re-draft league owners need not apply.
MLB Trade Rumors
Texas Rangers entertaining offers for Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels
The Rangers have not yet declared whether they are buyers or sellers just yet. They may be 16.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West, but they are only three games out of the wild card spot, so it doesn’t hurt to at least listen to offers. Darvish is the more likely to be shipped off to someone as a rental as the 30-year old right-hander is a free agent at the end of the season. Now the strikeout rate is down, the walks are up and he’s got a 3.49 ERA on the season, but he did close out the first half with three strong starts over his last four against some stiff competition in the Yankees, Indians and Angels. His hiccups have been on the rough side (seven earned runs over 4.2 innings against Boston in that fourth outing), but in the right situation, he could be a beast.
As for Hamels, he comes with a $23.5M price tag in guaranteed money in 2018 and then there’s a $20M club option for 2019, so if the Rangers do find a taker, it’s going to need to be someone with uber-deep pockets and a willingness to ignore the massively-diminished strikeout rate and loss of velocity. His ground-ball rate has increased which has helped cut back on the home runs allowed, but given the price tag, not just his salary, but the Rangers potential asking price as well, he could be a tough sell. Oh yeah, and he’s got a partial no-trade clause that rules out 20 major league teams. He’s probably a better waiver deadline deal than non-waiver as that will eliminate a number of teams who would put in a potential claim.
While the Rangers have backed off and said they are not shopping Hamels at all, they have apparently been putting out feelers in order to gauge interest in Darvish. The Cubs have expressed interest, but nothing has come to fruition just yet. The Rangers rae still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot, so any return for Darvish will likely require some major league ready talent to help them down the stretch.
The Rangers are keeping everything pretty close to the vest right now, but there are no indications of any Darvish trades being imminent. The Dodgers had supposedly kicked the tires, but that's all we're hearing right now. Again, with the Rangers still in the hunt for the wild card, they're expecting major league-ready talent in return and few contenders looking to add Darvish really want to give that up right now.
Detroit Tigers shopping Justin Verlander
First the reports said the Tigers were shopping him and then they said they weren’t. Obviously no one they’ve spoken to is willing to pony up the team’s asking price and rather than lower their current price tag right now, they’ll pull back from the public eye for now and maybe re-visit closer to the deadline. It really looks like the Tigers missed their opportunity to deal the former Cy Young winner as last year’s numbers were a whole lot more attractive and this season’s 4.73 ERA and diminished strikeout rate make 2016 look like the aberration more than the norm. They were negotiating with the Cubs prior to the Quintana deal, so perhaps there are others who still believe.
While teams don't really appear to be kicking the tires on Verlander too much (see yesterday's column), there seems to be plenty of interest in reliever Justin Wilson. While he's currently closing for Detroit, the expectation is that every team interested in him (according to the Tigers, there are 10-12 teams interested), they see him as a set-up man rather than a closer. One team aggressively pursuing Wilson is the Milwaukee Brewers, so if you're in an AL or NL-only league, pay attention as you may lose or gain a player from the free agent pool.
While the talks for Verlander have seemingly dried up, the Tigers are now supposedly in talks with the Brewers for 2B and reliever Justin Wilson. Kinsler is struggling pretty hard this year, batting just .248 with only nine home runs, but the Brew Crew wants to upgrade its middle infield and since he only comes with a $4M price tag attached, he could prove to be a worthwhile asset. No word on how things shake out with Jonathan Villar and/or Orlando Arcia, but I can't see the team acquiring Kinsler to platoon him. For fantasy purposes with regard to Kinsler, the change of scenery and positive park shift definitely provide hope. As for Wilson, he's likely to end up working as a set-up man since Corey Knebel has been killing it as the ninth-inning man for the Brewers this year. This deal would likely mean more regular playing time for Dixon Machado at the keystone while the closer role could end up in Shane Greene's lap. Both Bruce Rondon and Alex Wilson could also get a look.
Baltimore Orioles listening to offers for Zach Britton
The Orioles have yet to say whether they’re even thinking about dealing Britton who still has one more year of arbitration eligibility in 2018, but it’s definitely something they’ll explore as they decide whether or not to make a playoff push. They’re only four games out of the wild card, but they’re also one of six teams within reach like that and actually on the outside layer of that bubble. While several teams have apparently inquired, the Dodgers seem to be the most vocal about their interest. The problem for fantasy owners, though, is that if he does go to the Dodgers, he is clearly the set-up man behind Kenley Jansen. If you’re in a league that scores holds, then it lessens the blow, but that’s probably not the desired landing spot for anyone. Watch the Orioles closely over the next two weeks. If they can’t gain ground in the wild card battle, they could start selling.
Kansas City Royals still deciding if they’re buyers or sellers
This is a tough one for the Royals as they sit just 1.5 games out of the wild card and just three games out of first in the seemingly wide open AL Central, but have a few impending free agents such as Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Jason Vargas. They’ve also been rumored to be shopping closer Kelvin Herrera who is still arbitration eligible next year, but would cost them serious closer-money, something they may not be willing to pay. The market is wide open for third basemen as teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are in need and the Yankees, who may have added Garrett Cooper, could still be in line for first base help. Vargas and Cain are likely to draw interest from numerous other teams. As for Herrera, the Nationals are still mulling it over but have been reluctant to pay the Royals’ asking price. Similar to the Orioles, the Royals should be watched very closely over the next two weeks as a drop from contention could mean a huge fire sale.
Guess today's trade with the Padres says they're buyers. Looks like everyone is likely to stay put for this run.
Chicago White Sox have more players to deal
While the Quintana trade was expected, the White Sox still havce a number of veterans they are willing to part with, most notably Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera. We could also discuss their entire pitching staff save for Carlos Rodon. There haven’t been many rumors swirling recently, but this first trade with the Cubs could be the lead domino in a long line of moves to come.
UPDATE (Officially a trade now):
After Frazier was a healthy scratch from Tuesday's lineup, the trade buzz grew much louder. The latest report from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is that the Yankees are close to acquiring not just the third base slugger, but also relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. While the fantasy value of Frazier may not really increase that much (lateral park shift, still swings and misses a ton), the value of Robertson would head right down the crapper for both Robertson and Kahnle. Not only would Robertson lose value as a set-up man, but Kahnle, who was likely next in line for the White Sox' closer job, would have virtually no shot at garnering save opportunities with the Yankees. Stay tuned for more, but if you're a Robertson owner or a Kahnle stasher, you could be headed for some serious disappointment.
You may have thought you were stylin' & profilin' having picked up Anthony Swarzak as the new closer for the White Sox, but there are reports from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports saying that Swarzak has been dealt to the Brewers. There's no official word as of yet, so we'll keep this locked down in Rumor Central, but it does sound like it's official. No word on who the Brewers are sending back or whether this could put the kibosh on the potential deal with the Tigers, so we'll just have to wait and see. NOTE: This is now an official deal as you can see above.
Toronto Blue Jays could deal impending free agents
The Jays are sitting in the same boat as the Royals right now as they are still just five games out of the wild card and have Francisco Liriano, Marco Estrada, Joe Smith and J.P. Howell as impending free agents. They’ve also discussed the possibility of dealing Steve Pearce and J.A. Happ, both of whom are signed through 2018. I have a tough time believing in anyone looking seriously at Liriano who has been a mess since leaving the Pirates, but Estrada still has good stuff and could make for a nice fit should he land somewhere with a much more pitcher-friendly ballpark. Happ too, though I would trust in Estrada more. The Jays are the most-likely to give up on the year than any other team we’ve mentioned here, so look for them to be a little more aggressive in talks closer to the deadline.
Colorado Rockies expressing interest in Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos
Who’d a thunk it, but if the playoffs started today, the Rockies would be in as a wild card. Believing they can remain in contention, the Rockies are inquiring about Ramos to help solidify their bullpen. Greg Holland has been absolutely amazing this year and both Jake McGee and Chris Rusin are having solid seasons, but the addition of Ramos would push an already good bullpen towards being a great bullpen. His 3.51 ERA is a little tough to take and as a flyball pitcher things could get dicey in Coors, but he’s still a guy who saved 72 games last year and struck out 160 over 134.1 innings. Of course, keep in mind that if he goes to the Rockies, he’s losing his closer status unless something tragic happens to Holland. At nine games out of the wild card and 10.5 behind the Nationals in the NL East, the Marlins are expected to start wheeling and dealing soon and Ramos will be a hot commodity.
In addition to the Rockies, the Rays are also expressing interest in Ramos. Incumbent closer Alex Colome hit a real rough patch in late June, but has now allowed just one run over his last six appearances and notched six saves in the process. Should Ramos land in Tampa, he will probably find himself in a set-up role. Similar to the situation with Phelps, he's only going to have initial fantasy value in AL-only leagues that score holds.
Minnesota Twins kicking the tires on Oakland A’s starter Sonny Gray and Miami Marlins righty Dan Straily
This rumor has been around for a little while now as the Twins sit just one game back in the wild card and just 2.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. Adding Gray or Straily would be nice for the Twins and adding them both would be huge, but considering the market for both starters, it’s doubtful the Twins land them both. Gray would seemingly retain his fantasy value with the move from Oakland to Minnesota, but Straily might be a different story. The strikeout rate has been rock-solid and the K/BB has been equally impressive. A move back to the AL (he was with both the A’s and Astros) might be an issue as he faces the DH once again and that K-rate could drop, diminishing his fantasy value. Both pitchers are expected to move, but there are quite a number of teams inquiring, so even the hope of a pitcher-friendly ballpark like Target Field may not even be in play.
While the Twins may be kicking the tires on Gray, the Yankees are starting to turn up the heat on a potential trade with the A's that could land them both Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso, who was, like Todd Frazier, was a healthy scratch from Tuesday's lineup. Gray would be a major boost to the Yankees rotation which just lost Michael Pineda to a partially-torn UCL and Alonso would be an outstanding upgrade at first. Gray's heavy ground ball rate should help negate most of the park shift issues moving over to yankee Stadium, while Alonso's left-handed bat and serious launch angle changes would gain a huge boost for fantasy owners. That short porch in right field is as tasty as it comes. With the Yankees also negotiating with the White Sox for Frazier and a pair of relievers, this seems like a much more likely deal than the rumors of them acquiring Lucas Duda and Addison Reed from the Mets. We'll continue to update as trades happen and rumors potentially come to fruition, but this is definitely something to get excited about if you own either player.
2nd UPDATE (7/21):
The Astros were said to be pursuing Gray, but a recent report says they've lessened their interest. The price tag A's GM Billy Beane has set is probably substantial and given the depth the Astros have with their starters, they probably want to keep what they deal away to a relative minimum. The Yankees are still in the hunt, as are the Twins. An interesting note I learned yesterday from my co-host Jim Bowden is that Beane and Yankees GM Brian Cashman have never made a deal together. It's unclear if that trend will continue this season, but it might help tilt things in the Twins favor. Yeah, we got that kind of inside information now. Boo-yaaaaah!
3rd UPDATE (7/24):
Add the Mariners and even the Braves into this mess. Billy Beane is doing a phenomenal job of creating a bidding war so it should be real interesting to see what kind of a haul he gets for Gray.
4th UPDATE (7/25)
While Billy Beane continues to toy with the other GMs in the league, it seems that Brian Cashman has stepped up his negotiating and a potential deal with the Yankees that includes Gray and Yonder Alonso seems to be gaining steam once again. The acquisition of ALonso could spell curtains for Chase Headley, though given Matt Holliday's penchant for the DL, they could work out of the DH spot as a tandem.