MLB Shortened Season Strategy: Trade Deadline Fallout
Greg Jewett takes a look at how the shortened season is impacting statistical trends and how the fallout of the trade deadline has made an impact.
Entering game play on Tuesday, each team will have finished at least half of their season, except the Cardinals. With the only trade deadline in the rear view mirror, teams may not add to their roster for the postseason outside of its own 60-man pool adding intrigue to the rest of this sprint. Due to so many trades being consummated, rosters and fantasy effects will be explored by team, along with keeping tabs on playoff odds along with how many teams remain when trying to target players on the waiver wire or in trades in redraft leagues. Please note, the playoff odds will be from Fangraphs prior to the deadline entering game play on Monday.
American League East
Tampa Bay Rays: 99.9 percent playoff odds, 24 games remaining
New York Yankees: 98.7 percent playoff odds, 27 games remaining
Toronto Blue Jays: 74.2 percent playoff odds, 27 games remaining
Baltimore Orioles: 3 percent playoff odds, 26 games remaining
Boston Red Sox: 3 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Limited by payroll and a deep 60-man roster despite the litany of injuries to its pitching staff, Tampa Bay chose to remain fairly quiet at the trade deadline. They moved José Martínez to the Cubs for a player to be named later (PTBNL) or cash considerations. After designating Anthony Banda for assignment, a similar move for him to San Francisco freeing up a spot on the roster for Cody Reed , picked up from the Reds.
As for the Yankees, fans will be disappointed once again at the deadline with no major moves hoping for stars returning from injury to boost their run to the playoffs. However, how the rest of the season evolves hinges on getting Aaron Judge , Giancarlo Stanton , Gleyber Torres and James Paxton .
Toronto pushed its chips in sensing blood in the water and no longer focused on getting one of the extra playoff spots, but a secured spot if they finish second in the division. Here’s a nice summation of their moves:
#BlueJays adds ahead of deadline:— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 31, 2020
DH Daniel Vogelbach acquired for cash
RHP Taijuan Walker for PTBNL
LHP Robbie Ray and $300K for LHP Travis Bergen
INF Jonthan Villar for PTBNL (Griffin Conine per @craigmish)
RHP Ross Stripling for 2 PTBNL
Jonathan Villar provides insurance for Bo Bichette and arrives leading the MLB in stolen bases with nine. Hitting in Buffalo should enhance his power along with improving his average and counting statistics in a deep lineup. But Villar owners lose games played which takes away from precious numbers this season losing a potential five games played due to his trade. Taijuan Walker fired six shutout innings in his debut and looks to provide stability to a rotation in need of innings filled. This also explains the arrivals of Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling . Ignoring their 2020 starts, each comes with some risk but also some upside depending on how they adjust to their new surroundings.
Boston shed some salary turning Mitch Moreland into two prospects (Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario) and this move allowed for the promotion of Bobby Dalbec who homered in his first start on Sunday. In a smaller move, the Red Sox also flipped Bobby Osich to the Cubs for a PTBNL and Kevin Pillar to Colorado for the same along with international slot money.
Not too much on the Orioles front other than Cole Sulser being removed from the closer role and Baltimore sending reliever Miguel Castro to the Mets plus Mychal Givens going to the Rockies. Givens yielded two prospects in return (Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra).
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: 98.2 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Cleveland Indians: 98.8 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Minnesota Twins: 95 percent playoff odds, 24 games remaining
Detroit Tigers: 23.1 percent playoff odds, 28 games remaining
Kansas City Royals: 3.1 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Relying on its roster as constructed, the White Sox only added Jarrod Dyson for defense and some speed off the bench. They feel like Mike Kopech represents hope for the future in the rotation and will also turn a rookie loose the rest of the way:
Hahn said Dunning has staked his claim to a spot in the rotation— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) August 31, 2020
Cleveland on the other hand, shook things up moving outcast Mike Clevinger to San Diego in a nine player blockbuster:
Source: Deal is Clevinger, Greg Allen and PTBN to Padres; Quantrill, Arias, Cantillo, Hedges, Naylor and Miller to Indians.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 31, 2020
Naylor hit .220/.268/.348 in Petco Park but his slash lines jumped to .280/.354/.452 on the road.
Can Cleveland hit the jackpot twice taking on a power hitting corner outfielder from San Diego like teammate Franmil Reyes ? Along with Clevinger leaving, this tidbit raised some eyebrows:
Zach Plesac will take Mike Clevinger's spot in the rotation and pitch tomorrow night.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) August 31, 2020
Plesac returns from the minor league site with a chance to win his teammates' trust back after the trade. It remains to be seen if he can carry over his strong start, but Plesac with a 1.29 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 24:3 K:BB and 0.67 WHIP through his first 21 innings this season.
Like the White Sox, Minnesota also remained quiet at the deadline with hopes, like the Yankees, the roster gets a boost internally:
3 p.m. CT on Trade Deadline day has come and gone. No #MNTwins deals, I've heard.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) August 31, 2020
Reminder of all the guys that could/should still come back:
Plus, some good news on two injured Twins:
Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson were scheduled to play 5-7 innings in St. Paul today. Rocco said both are doing "very well" and there could be conversations "really soon" on their timeline to rejoin the Twins.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) August 31, 2020
Kansas City moved Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres for Edward Olivares and a PTBNL. An injury to Ian Kennedy prevented them from dealing the reliever on an expiring contract and not receiving a good enough offer on Greg Holland , kept him as well. It’s tough to believe with all the high octane arms in the bullpen Holland will get the next save chance, but Mike Matheny prefers guys with experience in save situations.
American League West
Oakland A’s: 99.9 percent playoff odds, 26 games remaining
Houston Astros: 99.2 percent playoff odds, 27 games remaining
Seattle Mariners: 1.3 percent playoff odds, 23 games remaining
Texas Rangers: 1.2 percent playoff odds, 27 games remaining
Los Angeles Angels: 1.1 percent playoff odds, 24 games remaining
Leading the West by 2.5 games, Oakland added to the roster prior to the deadline acquiring Mike Minor from divisional foe Texas along with flipping Franklin Barreto for Tommy La Stella to bolster the lineup. Minor struggled this season but his shutout performance against the Dodgers added to his allure along with his ability as a starter or a reliever. Add in the pending return of A.J. Puk and the two southpaws could create a strong tandem in the rotation. As for La Stella’s last 128 contests, it yields 68 runs, 20 home runs, 59 RBI and a .285/.350/.473 slash line.
It’s surprising to see the Astros not address any needs in the bullpen or rotation, but seeing they can coast into second place in this division might have determined their course. Jose Urquidy may return to the staff soon and if Alex Bregman overcomes his injury, the lineup also gets a boost.
Seattle held a fire sale with the Padres shopping twice. First, they dealt Austin Nola along with relievers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla for an intriguing return. Andres Muñoz represents the closer of the future although he will be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. They also received Taylor Trammell adding to an already stacked upside outfield of the future, catcher Luis Torrens and infielder Ty France . In limited action this season, France owns a .309/.377/.491 slash with two home runs and 10 RBI in 61 plate appearances. During round two, Seattle sent Taylor Williams to San Diego right as the trade deadline expired.
Texas moved Minor to the A’s as listed above but failed to trade Joey Gallo or Lance Lynn . They also put Rafael Montero and Joely Rodríguez out there with not a strong enough return for their liking. A team in transition, this deadline may not define its future but a change in course could ensue this off-season.
Not only did Seattle trade a catcher to the Padres, the Angels also dealt Jason Castro to San Diego for reliever Gerardo Reyes . Reyes appeared in 27 games for the Padres last year, going 4-0 and recording 38 strikeouts in 26 innings of work after making his Major League debut April 12, 2019 at Arizona. His 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings rate ranked 10th in the National League (min. 25 IP). Additionally, in 34 games for Triple-A El Paso, he went 4-2 with a 3.57 ERA (45.1 IP – 18 ER) with 61 strikeouts and 20 walks. They held Dylan Bundy with eyes on the future but time keeps running out on making the most of Mike Trout ’s prime.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: 96.4 percent playoff odds, 26 games remaining
Miami Marlins: 29.4 percent playoff odds, 30 games remaining
Philadelphia Phillies: 66.6 percent playoff odds, 30 games remaining
New York Mets: 45.6 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Washington Nationals: 15.9 percent playoff odds, 28 games remaining
Atlanta kicked the tires on most of the starting pitcher market but only added Tommy Milone from Baltimore in a minor move for two prospects. Milone’s first outing did not go well but the Braves hope he pitches towards his 3.90 SIERA and continues his 33:4 K:BB trend so far this season.
The main reason why Villar was dealt, is that Isan Díaz has returned to the club. Awaiting MLB joint committee reinstatement in Jupiter. Will take over as starter at 2B. Díaz opted out in July. He is back.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) August 31, 2020
Getting Isan Díaz back, pending MLB approval allowed them to move the pending free agent Villar while the Marlins received prospect Griffin Conine (son of Jeff Conine) in return. In acquiring Marte, Miami sends starter Caleb Smith along with prospects Humberto Mejía and Julio Frias. Needing production in the outfield, Marte’s blend of power and speed should play well. Marte arrives in Miami slashing .311/.384/.443 with two home runs and five stolen bases. Fantasy players with Marte on the roster should celebrate since he gains about five games on his season. He’s already played in 33 with Arizona and joins a team with 30 games remaining.
Here’s Mare’s fly ball and line drive spray chart with Miami as the backdrop and note they moved in the fences in right-center field:
Making their big move ahead of the deadline to shore up the rotation, Philadelphia added one more veteran arm to their high leverage options picking up David Phelps from the Brewers for three pitching prospects. Phelps joins Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree in order to make a push for the playoffs.
Seemingly quiet at the deadline, the Mets will hope their rotation takes shape with Seth Lugo in it and Edwin Díaz can return to his former All Star form as a closer. In two small moves, the Mets traded for Robinson Chirinos and Todd Frazier from Texas along with reliever Miguel Castro . Washington also stayed out of the fray at the deadline despite being the defending champions. Ravaged by injuries and players underperforming not named Juan Soto or Trea Turner , this seemed like a smart move by the Nationals.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: 96.9 percent playoff odds, 26 games remaining
St. Louis Cardinals: 60.6 percent playoff odds, 34 games remaining
Milwaukee Brewers: 52.3 percent playoff odds, 26 games remaining
Cincinnati Reds: 48.1 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Pittsburgh Pirates: 0.4 percent playoff odds, 28 games remaining
In a division with four teams holding playoff aspirations, this group remained eerily quiet at the deadline with the exception of some ancillary pieces in the bullpen and subtle moves by the Reds near the end of it. Chicago added much needed left-handed help to its relievers getting Andrew Chafin from Arizona and John Osich from Boston. The Cubs also added José Martínez to help the lineup when facing left-handed pitching taking advantage of the universal designated hitter rule. Plus, near the end of the deadline, traded for Cameron Maybin of the Tigers giving up a prospect. Maybin replaces Albert Almora Jr. on the active roster and gives the team a strong veteran locker room presence along with another bat to shore up the lineup against southpaws.
St. Louis stood pat armed with more games remaining on the schedule than any team and hoping its bevy of arms can withstand the upcoming amount of doubleheaders in the weeks ahead as September arrives. Their roster will take shape when Ryan Helsley comes off the COVID-19 injured list and the pending return of Carlos Martínez.
As noted above, the Brewers held on to Josh Hader moving only David Phelps due to the emergence of Freddy Peralta in the bullpen. But, can this team hit enough to make the playoffs for a third straight season?
Seeing a chance for the postseason, Cincinnati made subtle moves trading for Brian Goodwin of the Angels who plays strong defense at any spot in the outfield. He probably takes at-bats away from a struggling Shogo Akiyama who may shift to a late innings pinch runner or defensive replacement for Jesse Winker . Cincinnati also added Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley to an underperforming bullpen. With some positive migration to the mean and even more depth putting Bradley in high leverage with Lucas Sims , Raisel Iglesias and Amir Garrett , the Reds could make a push for second place in the division. Plus, fantasy owners should take note of a return of playing time for this outfielder:
#Reds move: The Reds recalled OF Aristides Aquino and optioned to the alternate training site RHP Joel Kuhnel.— John Fay (@johnfayman) August 31, 2020
Pittsburgh did not shed any of its veterans like many thought. Losing key trade chip Keone Kela to an elbow injury affected how the team handled the deadline. Trading Jarrod Dyson early for international trade slot money makes sense. Good news, Ke’Bryan Hayes will join the active roster when games resume for the Pirates. They’ve yet to say how he will be used, but with Colin Moran back from injury, either Moran or Bell can be the designated hitter allowing Hayes to enter the lineup at third base.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers: 100 percent playoff odds, 24 games remaining
San Diego Padres: 98.1 percent playoff odds, 23 games remaining
Colorado Rockies: 40.2 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
San Francisco Giants: 39.4 percent playoff odds, 24 games remaining
Arizona Diamondbacks: 10 percent playoff odds, 25 games remaining
Living up the name of the Wild West, this division proved to be the most active courtesy of the aggressiveness displayed by A.J. Preller of San Diego. Still atop the league in the standings and in terms of playoff odds, Los Angeles made its big move in the off-season trading for Mookie Betts and signing him to a long term deal. On Monday, the Dodgers traded Ross Stripling to the Blue Jays paving the way for Tory Gonsolin to remain in the rotation the rest of the season.
As for San Diego, this tweet displays many of its moves revamping the roster for the stretch run but still misses one player added as the deadline expired:
The Padres’ tally ...— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) August 31, 2020
C Austin Nola
C Jason Castro
1B/DH Mitch Moreland
RP Trevor Rosenthal
RP Austin Adams
RP Dan Altavilla
SP Mike Clevinger
All in less than 48 hours.
Not listed above, the Padres also added Mariners closer Taylor Williams to the mix in the bullpen. Williams was 1-1 with 19 strikeouts over 14 outings holding left-handed hitters to a .222 batting average against. But the big addition of Mike Clevinger remains the centerpiece of the team’s trades ahead of the deadline. He owns the second best ERA in the American League dating to the start of the 2017 season trailing only Justin Verlander . A fresh start for Clevinger allows him to reset this season and moving to San Diego can only enhance the production of a player nicknamed “Sunshine”, right?
As important as acquiring Clevinger will be, for fantasy his value could be tied to when he makes his first start for the Padres. If he makes his first start on Wednesday, his schedule projects the following starts:
9/2 at the Angels
9/7 home versus the Rockies
9/12 versus San Francisco
9/19 at Seattle
9/26 at San Francisco
However, if there’s a delay with his intake results and Clevinger’s first start gets pushed to Friday, his opponents faced get a steep upgrade:
9/4 at Oakland
9/9 home versus Colorado
9/14 against the Dodgers
9/20 at Seattle
9/22 at San Francisco
Mitch Moreland adds more thump to a team called “Slam Diego” this year averaging a home run every 8.9 at-bats and an RBI every 3.4 in them. Here’s his fly ball and line drive spray chart from the last three years with Petco Park as the overlay:
Jason Castro and Austin Nola will share the catching duties but need to familiarize themselves with the staff. Nola remains an under the radar fantasy asset at catcher hitting .302 with a .902 on-base plus slugging percentage, five home runs and 19 RBI this season. Bolstering the bullpen also should give San Diego a chance for a deep run in the postseason acquiring Trevor Rosenthal , getting Drew Pomeranz back from the injured list and the arms added from Seattle.
Colorado decided to make smaller additions but not sell at the deadline. They picked up Mychal Givens for their high leverage bridge in late innings. Givens provides the team with a second pitcher who can log more than three outs with Carlos Estévez . Long known for taking at-bats from younger players, the Rockies also traded for Kevin Pillar in the midst of a strong season with Boston. He’s been raking against southpaws and in home games for the Red Sox, so a move to Coors Field should keep him relevant in fantasy:
Pillar’s hit .380/.415/.660 in home contests with Boston including two home runs and 19 runs plus RBI.
In a surprise move, the Giants remained quiet at the deadline keeping Kevin Gausman and Tony Watson despite their pending free agency. This may signal the team hopes to contend for the playoffs. Arizona waved the white flag trading closer Archie Bradley to the Reds for Josh VanMeter and Stuart Fairchild. They also moved Andrew Chafin to the Cubs opening spots in their bullpen. It’s likely Junior Guerra gets first chance to close with eyes on Taylor Widener and Kevin Ginkel over the last month, stay tuned. Biggest part of their trades, Marte headed to Miami for Caleb Smith (should take Robbie Ray ’s spot in the rotation), Humberto Mejía and prospect Julio Frias. Three-fifths of the Diamondbacks opening day rotation next year could be former Marlins: Zac Gallen, Smith and Meijia.
This wraps up the very busy trade deadline which lacked blockbusters but included many deals to help teams not thought to be contenders, possibly quality for the expanded play-offs. Mine the information tangible to your fantasy roster and make the tough decisions based on games remaining while chasing down statistics to make a dent in the standings. There’s less than a month to play, so strap in for the wild ride to the finish.
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