Oh boy are the Athletics going for broke but make no mistake, this was about money (isn't it always that way for the A's?). Lester will be a free agent after the year and he won't be back with the A's. Cespedes is signed through the 2015 season but there was little chance the A's could have re-signed him.
The Athletics starting rotation: Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray are a dynamite top-4. The 5th spot will be filled by one of the following: Jason Hammel, Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez (most likely one of the first two).
Lester moves to one of the best pitchers parks, if not the best, in the AL. He's in the midst of his best season eve with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.38 K/9 mark and 2.01 BB/9 rate. Problem? All of those marks, every one, are the best totals he's every posted. This is his 10th season by the way. Can he continue to roll along at that rate? SIERA (3.01) and xFIP (3.03) suggest it's possible since both of those marks would also be career bests (they are each more than half a run below his career levels). Lester shouldn't skip much of a beat in Oakland. For those looking ahead to the playoffs, this is from ESPN Stats Info: Lowest ERA in World Series history (starting pitcher, min. 20 IP): Jon Lester, 0.43, Harry Brecheen, 0.67, Claude Osteen, 0.86 and Babe Ruth, 0.87
Cespedes is a hell of a power hitter with has 17 homers, 67 RBIs, 62 runs scored for the Athletics in 101 games. He's also always hurt, has stolen only three bases, and is batting just .256. He's not going to run more in Boston. His average is barely league average. His OBP is just .303. None of that is impressive. There's also this. Look at the home run spray chart for Cespedes in 2014. A couple of the home runs he hit this season wouldn't have been big flies in Boston, but the majority of his balls fly so deep that the park doesn't matter. The power will continue, Fenway will certainly help after he's been stuck in Oakland's pitchers park, but the lack of average and thefts may continue as well muting his fantasy value (it's fair to posit an increase with his batting average, at least a tad, cause of his new home park).
Gomes was an Athletic in 2012. He will platoon with Sam Fuld was the A's also acquired. Gomes will mash lefties like he always does, but this move figures to cut his value a bit. He's an AL-only option. Ditto Fuld who will continue to run and provide a wee bit of AL-only value. Stephen Vogt appears to be the real winner as there might be more time for him with Cespedes out of the mix.
THE BLOCKBUSTER, PART II
Tigers Receive: David Price
Price doesn't see his value change at all. When you're an elite arm, you are elite. Period. With the other arms that join him in the Tigers rotation – Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez – he will have little pressure to be a difference maker, even though he is. Price is 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 9.97 K/9 an a superb 8.22 K/BB ratio this season. Elite. Period. Move on. Great addition for the Tigers. Wow, what a staff.
Franklin has 416 career big league at-bats and he's hit a mere .214 with a .291 OBP and .358 SLG. He's also hit a 12 homers and stolen one base. Just not impressive. However, teams all around the league were in on Franklin as many in baseball are still very high on his outlook moving forward. Franklin is batting .294 with nine homers and nine steals in 75 at Triple-A. Short term it's hard to know how he fits in to the scene with the Rays. Yunel Escobar is currently at short, and Ben Zobrist at second most days, so we may not get much from Franklin in 2014.
Smyly has a very bright future, despite the indecision that the Tigers have shown with him the last couple of years. A lefty with good stuff, Smyly has a 3.93 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season with just under eight strikeouts per nine innings. He's never going to be an elite big league hurler, but he could settle in as a #3 starter, or at worst #4 starter, in the big leagues. The move to Tampa sends him to a nice pitching environment, with little pressure. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had lots of success. A nice addition in mixed leagues right now if he's on waivers.
Adames is such a youngster than noted baseball demigod Ken Rosenthal wasn't even sure how to pronounce his name on air. According to MLBPipeline.com Adames was the Tigers 3rd ranked prospect. An elite defender, he makes solid contact at the plate but has little power. The 18 year old from the Dominican Republic is batting just .269 with six homers, six steals an a .774 OPS in 98 games at Low-A ball. He's years away from making his big league debut. Don't send me a question about him, even if you're in a dynasty league.
Jackson is a very good player who has struggled in 2014. Everyone knows I love the guy. He will never be an elite player, but he can run, never gets hurt, and plays solid defense. Jackson has hit .277 for his career, but he can better that mark (he's hit .290+ twice). In each of the last four seasons he scored at least 90 runs. This year the Tigers dropped him down to a run producing spot. It didn't work. He's hit only four homer and stolen only nine bases. However, as a leadoff man he's predictably performed well (.327 with 18 runs in 26 games). Provided the Mariners keep him in that spot they just got a heck of a player. Jackson plays every day in the Mariners outfield. He will be joined by the following: Dustin Ackley, James Jones, Michael Saunders, Chris Denorfia and Corey Hart. A jumbled mess. Boy what a mess (don't forget they added Kendrys Morales to the mix, and he figures to play most days at first or DH meaning either Hart or Logan Morrison likely won't be in the lineup on a daily basis).
Lackey is in the midst of a 2014 season that is a direct copy of his 2013 bounce back effort for the Red Sox. Lackey's numbers follow.
2013: 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.65 K/9, 1.90 BB/9
2014: 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.60 K/9, 2.10 BB/9
For a guy who posted a 6.41 ERA in 2011 and then missed all of 2012 working his way back from surgery, Lackey's recovery over his last 50 starts is pretty remarkable. He's been particularly locked in the past three starts as he's allowed a total of five earned runs (he had allowed a whopping 16 in his previous three outings). A move out of the AL to the NL certainly helps Lackey, as does getting out of Fenway Park. If he can just hold steady, and as I noted he's pretty much done so over his last 50 outings, the Cardinals added a nice arm to the party. Lackey, in essence, takes over the starting spot vacated by the injured Michael Wacha, that is if Justin Masterson didn't do that already. The Cardinals have a strong pitching staff, that when healthy, might be the best in the NL: Adam Wainwright, Justin Masterson, John Lackey, Lance Lynn and then... Wacha or Shelby Miller. Pretty strong ain't it? Lackey's value gets a slight boost in mixed leagues and obviously if you need arm help in the NL he's one heck of an add an worth spending pretty much all of your FAAB that you have left.
Craig is a nice bat that has obviously underperformed this season. A career .291 batter who blew past 90 runs batted in the past two years despite just 119 and 134 games played. This season he's hit .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 367 at-bats. The biggest problem this year is two-fold. First, his 2.32 GB/FB ratio is stupid high. His career mark is 1.52. His ground ball rate, about 45 percent coming into the season, is 56.5 percent this season. Clearly his swing is off. That can also be seen in the 19.2 percent line drive rate (career 22.8). Second, his BABIP is lacking. The last three years that mark has been .344, .334 and .368. This season it's at .281. If you miss out on Cespedes in an AL-only FAAB bidding war settling for Craig might end up being a nice parting gift. Allen should do well in Boston.
Kelly stinks. He's got a big arm and gets grounders. The end. Continue to be amazed that so many seem to think that he's something he isn't. Kelly has a career 6.06 K/9 mark. That's not good. His career BB/9 rate is 3.05. That's league average. As I noted he's a big ground ball ram – 51.8 percent for his career – but the lack of strikeouts and a move to the American League pretty much blasts his mixed league outlook out of the water. AL-only leaguers can bid moderately on Kelly, but don't expect him to impress the rest of the way.
Fuld is a nice bit piece. He's hitting .263 with a .356 OBP this season, but that's about as good as this guy can do (to be fair, he's hitting .330 with a .411 OBP since June 22 so he's certainly hot). He does bring speed though, he's swiped 13 bags this season. He's barely worth something in AL-only leagues, and this deal doesn't change that. The A's outfield figures to look like this (health willing): Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt (Billy Burns is around too if they want a speed element). They also have Kyle Blanks, Gomes and Fuld in reserve. Not a bad group of options, though the shared playing time situation torpedoes their fantasy values in mixed leagues.
Milone moves from one good yard to pitch in to another good yard to pitch in with the Twins. In 80 career outings he has a 3.84 ERA an a 1.21 WHIP. Those are very solid numbers. He's also a soft tosser with a 6.51 K/9 mark. He just doesn't miss many bats. He does a good job of avoiding the free pass, his 2.02 BB/9 mark is borderline elite, but the homer will continue to be the issue. His career 1.21 HR/9 mark is high, and remember, he had been pitching in Oakland, a park that certainly favors pitchers and keeping the ball in the yard. Has a chance to enter the Twins rotation immediately though, so he shouldn't be on waivers in any AL-only league moving forward.
Brewers Receive: Gerardo Parra
D'backs Receive: OF Mitch Haniger, LHP Anthony Banda
"The addition of Parra gives us a veteran player who helps to balance our lineup and also brings Gold Glove defense." said Brewers' GM Doug Melvin. Parra is a strong baseball player. He's won multiple Gold Gloves and is a hell of a defender. However, he's not a great fantasy option. He's batting .311 over his last 61 at-bats, but even that run has only pushed his batting average up to .259 (career .274). He's never hit more than 10 homers or driven in more than 60 runs. He's also scored 60 runs just once. He does steal a few bases, double-digits the last three years, but he has only five this season. The Brewers outfield is now crowded though. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez play daily of course, meaning Khris Davis and Parra will battle for PT as well. This move likely means that both Davis and Parra see their mixed league value significantly reduced. Davis has hit only .232 against righties this season so it remains to be seen how much playing time he will cede to Parra who has hit .271 against righties, albeit with less pop. In a corresponding move, Logan Schafer was sent to Triple-A.
The D'backs are looking to the future.
Haniger was a first round selection in 2012. The 6'2”, 215 lbs righty has an obviously bright future. Has already worked his way back from a knee injury, and he's not exactly a base stealing threat, but he can hit. The numbers don't show it yet – his slash line is .263/.340/.426 – but that hides what seems to be a bat that could play a corner outfield spot with decent pop, and if he continues to keep the strikeouts in check, he could be a .280-20 type of batter in the future.
Banda is a 20 year old lefty who was drafted in the 10th round in 2012. Through 48 outings, including 32 starts, he's sporting a 4.40 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and has 171 Ks in 186 innings. He's yet to throw a pitch above A-ball.
Mariners Receive: Chris Denorfia
Padres Receive: Abraham Almonte, RHP Stephen Kohlscheen
Denorfia is a career .275 batter. Too bad he's hitting only .242 this season. However, his line drive rate is currently slightly above his career mark, and his .301 BABIP is only .015 points below his career mark. Therefore, an increase in batting average is indicated. However, he's best used in a platoon. A career .257 hitter versus righties, Denorfia dominates lefties with a .301 average and .367 OBP over 858 plate appearances against the portsiders. He has little power, he's averaged just 10 homers per 500 at-bats for his career, so there's not much to see there. He does swipe a bag here and there, at least 11 steals the past three seasons and eight this year, so that's a nice little boost for his fantasy value. Hard to see him carving out mixed league value with the Mariners, but he's a strong depth target in AL-only leagues, one that should steal a few bags without hurting your batting average. The biggest loser is likely Endy Chavez. Oh well, there goes his AL-only value.
Almonte had a big spring this season but predictably stopped hitting. Through 178 big league at-bats he's hit .225 with three homers and four steals. He's also struck out 61 times, an unacceptable total for a player with no power. He's hit .267 with six homers and seven steals in 72 games at Triple-A this season. He might get some playing time though in San Diego with Denorfia dealt and Cameron Maybin serving a suspension. A boring NL-only addition though an intriguing long term add.
Kohlscheen stands 6'6” and weighs 235. Already 25 years old, and I'm not typing that name again, SK is a reliever who could thrive in San Diego. Through 330.2 minor league innings he has 361 punchouts leading to a solid 3.01 K/BB ratio. Still, at his age, and with five years of professional experience under his belt, this guy is clearly an “arm talent” that had yet to impress enough to get a shot in the big leagues.
Red Sox Receive: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
Orioles Receive: Andrew Miller
At one time looked at as a potentially elite starter Miller, who was was taken 6th overall in the 2006 Draft, has really found himself in the bullpen. Have you noticed? Probably not since he wasn't getting save chances. Check out the rather amazing numbers he's posted since the start of the 2012 season: 2.78 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 13.34 K/9 over 113.1 innings. Those are ELITE numbers. As a middle reliever he doesn't have much value outside of AL-only leagues, but man will be he one heck of a weapon for the Orioles.
Rodriguez was a top-5 prospect with the Sox (he was inside the top-70 prospects in baseball coming into the year according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com), and he started the 2014 season at just 21 years of age. Eduardo is a “pitcher” who lacks elite stuff, though his yacker is an impressive pitch. The lefty has yet to throw a pitch above Double-A, and thus far the numbers aren't overly impressive (3.45 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.46 K/BB ratio over 87 appearances). Profiles as a #3 starter in the big leagues when he's fully developed. A nice long term add for the Sox, no doubt about that.
Does the addition of ACab mean that Ryan Zimmerman's injury is more serious than we've been led to believe? Worth pondering after this move even with Zimmerman being slotted into the outfield and not third base of late. The Nats will roll with Anthony Rendon at third, Ian Desmond at shortstop and Cabrera at second. Danny Espinosa loses all his value with the addition of Cabrera. The Nationals get Cabrera, a very solid if unspectacular performer. How solid? Check out his preseason Player Profile. Cabrera has gone out and put up a season that is very much in line with expectations (.246-9-40-54-7). He should continue along at the same pace with the Nats. If he does indeed play daily as it appears he will, he's a superb middle infield addition in NL-only leagues and he maintains his value in mixed leagues.
Walters is a mid-level prospect, albeit one that is physically imposing for a shortstop. Last season he finally flashed his power bat going deep 29 times in 134 games at Triple-A but he was a bit of a swing or miss option. In 487 at-bats he had an unsightly 134 strikeouts, but more concerning might have been the fact that he walked only 20 times. Awful. The result was a pathetic .286 OBP. This season he's improved in all aspects, other than the strikeouts, as he's hit .300 with 15 homers and 20 walks in 60 games at Triple-A (62 strikeouts). Long term think J.J. Hardy type of production... the version that used to hit home runs.
Drew just hasn't hit this year – at all. In 39 games he's hit .176 with a .583 OPS. Guess that hold out really paid off eh Stephen? The Yankees get a guy who can play shortstop for them upon the retirement of Derek Jeter, if they chose to resign Drew long term. Jeter obviously wont lost playing time down the stretch, just not gonna happen, but that doesn't mean that Drew wont supplant Brian Roberts at second base. Roberts hasn't hit either thus far (.237-5-21-40-7), and the 36 year old has been just blah. Reports suggest that Roberts will be designated for assignment.
Johnson can play everywhere all over the field (27 games at first, one at second, 41 at third, four in the outfield). His bat this year is MIA though. Johnson is batting .219 with a .677 OPS. He's also hit a mere six homers with two steals.
Yankees Receive: Martin Prado
Receive: C Peter O'Brien
Yankees are doing whatever they can to make the playoffs in Jeter's last season. On a small scale for once though. Jeter stays at shortstop. Looks like Drew will play second. They dealt for Chase Headley to play third base. That would seem to mean that Prado will have to play in the outfield. Brett Gardner will play daily, he's out of control right now, and you know Jacoby Ellsbury will be in there daily as well. That leaves Prado and Ichiro Suzuki to battle for playing time if we assume that Carlos Beltran fills the DH role. According to @AceballStats on Twitter, here are Prado's numbers the past 162 games: .285/.332/.403 with 72 R, 34 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 83 RBI, & 2 SB. Not overly exciting, but pretty damn solid. I expect Prado to play nearly every day, and with his positional flexibility he becomes a near elite option to add off waivers in AL-only leagues at this point of the season.
O'Brien won't play over Miguel Montero in 2014, but he's the owner of an impressive power bat. The 24 year old blasted 19 homers in 30 games at High-A ball before moving on to Double-A where he's blasted 23 homers in 72 games. Yeah, moon tower power. He's whiffed more than once a game, and he's walked only 20 times all year so he needs some refinement, and his defense is by no means special, but the power is legit.
Cosart throws hard (93.7 mph, the 11th hardest in baseball according to Pitch f/x data), and he joins the Marlins who have the hardest throwing staff in baseball. Cosart also gets a ton of grounders with a 56 percent ground ball rate through 30 career starts (he owns a 2.20 GB/FB ratio too). However, he doesn't strike anyone out (5.51 per nine for his career) and he walks far too many (4.39 per nine). A great arm, an I love the grounders, oh and the move to Miami is a plus, but all of that doesn't paint him as someone to target in mixed leagues for the remainder of the 2014 fantasy baseball season. The results just aren't there.
Hernandez is 5'11”, 175 lbs, and he was born in Toa Baja (seriously). Yet to turn 23 years old, Kike has appeared in 67 games at Triple-A this season hitting .337 with a .887 OPS. He's only hit eight homers and stolen six bags, but he never misses the ball (just 25 Ks) and has a good understanding of the strike zone.
Wates is a 25 year old who was a 3rd round selection in 2010. He's a career .303 hitter in the minors, and he can run a fair deal (he's got 31 steals in 74 games at Triple-A this season). No power to speak of and profiles as more of a 4th outfielder than a starter.
Moran is an upper level prospect who was ranked inside the top-75 in all of baseball according to the big three sources. The 6th selection in the 2013 Draft, the 21 year old has appeared in 131 professional games. In that time he's batting .295 with a .346 OBP. He's only hit nine homers while stealing two bases, but at 6'4”, 215 lbs, he clearly has a build that is suggestive of significant power output. He should have a long and productive career, potentially one with a trip to a few All-Star games.
Marisnick has been a top-75 prospect in all of baseball each of the past three years. The outfielder has some power and can steal a base, there's no doubt about that (he has 16 homers and 24 steals in just 89 games in Triple-A). The 23 year old had hit just .178 with a .382 OPS over 157 big league at-bats, but he's about ready for someone to give him a shot at playing time. If the Astros commit to that, and there's certainly a chance it happens, Marisnick becomes a very interesting add in AL-only leagues. I mean, who is the left fielder for this team, Robbie Grossman or L.J. Hoes? Come on.
Russell is a nice lefty add for the Braves. He has no fantasy value at all. In 44 outings this season he's only thrown 33.1 innings as a purely matchup play.
Bonifacio will likely play all over the place, and he's a free agent after the season. The Braves have Tommy La Stella at second, and he's performed well. They have Andrelton Simmons at short, and he's not going anywhere. Chris Johnson is finally hitting at third base. In the outfield they've got Upton/Upton/Heyward. Clearly there is no spot in the daily lineup for Bonifacio, but he'll see work here and there, and will steal bases. Not a good option in mixed leagues though.
Caratini was a 2nd round selection in 2013. The 20 year old is a switch hitter with a nice line drive stroke. Still looking to develop some lift in his swing, he's only hit six homers in 145 minor league games (87 at Single-A this year), but he's hit .283, has a .377 OBP and doesn't strike out wildly with 108 punchouts.
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Chintan - I've heard nothing yet about Lindor being called up. Aviles will take over at SS, and the Indians also added Walters in a trade today, and he's a shortstop.
Does Cabrera's departure make Lindor a mixed league pickup option? Is there any doubt in him being called up? I'm only interested in SB, runs, and average because I'm punting power stats.
Robert Bloomberg - Certainly not a deal I would have done. Not even close. Yeah, waiting for the rankings until tomm would have clearly shown I'm not in favor of that deal.
Ray, Should I quit fantasy baseball-I just traded Wainwright and Latos for Bumgarner (and his two starts this week) and Gallardo. I should have waited until your rankings came out. Feels like a terrible deal for me. Thanks.
Robert Bloomberg - Taveras is still not hitting. This should help, at least he will play consistently. See - http://www.fantasyalarm.com/articles/flowers/18606/player-profile-oscar-taveras/
Randy Mangolt - For me, Burns has zero mixed league value. He's an AL-only option. He may not even be on the roster when the club is healthy.
Ray, Where does Billy Burns fit in? Does he have any fantasy value in a 12 team roto league? I need the steals. I have him as well as Cespedes. Thank you
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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