The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline is always incredibly exciting, as playoff contenders are acquiring pieces to help their second half run, while sellers are looking to acquire as many prospects to build for the future. This trade deadline is no different, as we could see pretty big names on the move, most notably Max Scherzer, Lucas Giolito, Marcus Stroman, Cody Bellinger, and others that rank favorably on many fantasy baseball rankings. Most, if not all of these MLB trades are going to have an impact on your fantasy baseball team, making August 1 a very, very significant date. Outside of some of the game's biggest stars, we could see some of the top MLB prospects changing organizations at the deadline. In the Fantasy Baseball MLB Trade Deadline Tracker here at Fantasy Alarm, we have you covered with all of the major moves at the deadline and how they impact your fantasy baseball team. What players gained fantasy baseball stock? Who are some of the biggest losers at the MLB Trade Deadline? Who are the fantasy baseball waiver wire adds that gain fantasy value and playing time by way of a trade? All of that and more will be covered here in our MLB Trade Deadline Tracker.
UPDATED: 8/1 @ 7:37pm ET
Miami Marlins Trade Garrett Cooper to San Diego Padres
If you could guarantee a season of full health for Cooper, he’d flirt with 30 home runs, and that’s not an exaggeration. He’s swatted 13 home runs this season in 82 games, and would mark the fourth time in five years that he’s posted a slugging percentage of at least .426. However, the problem is that he’s played in over 100 games just twice in his entire career. His walks are down and strikeouts are up this year, which isn’t ideal, and he’s not getting any younger, so I doubt the durability questions will drop at this juncture. Cooper has punished left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .348 average and .871 OPS, so maybe he finds himself serving as the first baseman or DH against southpaws for this team? In the 11 games leading up to the trade, he had a putrid 33.3 percent strikeout rate, and with the Marlins making other moves, they deemed him expendable. They also sent Sean Reynolds to San Diego, a former two-way player who has since been relegated to the mound only, and for good reason. He could develop into a formidable middle reliever for the Padres.
Ryan Weathers heads back to Miami in this deal, and he could serve as a swing starter for the club. The Marlins have a good rotation, but in a pinch, they can use him as a starter, or let him come out in long relief. He’s primarily worked as a starter for his career, but Miami doesn’t really need another regular starter. They have Sandy Alcantara, Braxton Garrett, Johnny Cueto, Jesus Luzardo, and then Eury Perez if they want to bring him back up. Could they use Weathers as their fifth starter to try to buy time for Perez? Sure. That seems in play, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he operates in a relief capacity to help with innings if needed.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper’s role is going to be up in the air for a bit in San Diego, but if he stays healthy, he’s an intriguing piece of the puzzle there for them, especially against lefties. I fear that they stick him in a platoon, and then Cooper is relegated to our DFS lineups when on the best side of his splits. No other fantasy impact in this deal.
Kansas City Royals Trade Scott Barlow to the San Diego Padres
Scott Barlow’s overall statline is misleading, as his 5.35 ERA is far from the whole story. He has a 3.83 xERA, 3.63 FIP, and he’s 13-of-16 on save chances. His 26.7 percent strikeout rate is sufficient, though the increase in walks has been a bit problematic. Barlow has done an exceptional job at minimizing hard contact, and while lefties have been a problem for him this year, he’s allowed just a .186 average and .240 wOBA against right-handed pitching.
The Royals get back Jesus Rios and Henry Williams in this deal, and despite the struggles that the latter has endured after undergoing Tommy John surgery, there’s potential with him. He missed all of 2022 after posting a 3.65 ERA in eight games at Duke in 2021, and through his first 12 starts in Single-A, walks have been a problem, and he’s been hit around the yard a bit. However, he’s still just 21, and was a third round pick in the 2022 draft. Rios has yet to find his footing in the minors, and a lack of strikeouts paired with an excess of walks have hurt him thus far. The right-hander is just 21 years old, so the Royals are playing the long game with him.
Fantasy Spin: Carlos Hernandez is the biggest winner here, as he should see save chances in Kansas City. Barlow will go to the Padres where he won’t see many save chances, so his fantasy value takes quite a hit. I can’t say it enough, but Hernandez is the big winner here, and if you need saves with some strikeouts, Hernandez is your guy.
New York Mets Trade Tommy Pham to Arizona Diamondbacks
With the way Pham had been playing, it made sense for the Mets to trade him as they are tearing down, adding insult to injury for an underwhelming season. Since June 1, Pham is slashing .298/.367/.525 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, and six stolen bases! He’s been excellent! He’s hit righties for a better average this year, but he’s shown great power against lefties, something his new team should come to love when they get his name in the lineup card. He gets to go to a good park with good power alleys, but will he play everyday in Arizona? That’s the question.
The Mets received Jeremy Rodriguez in the deal, a 17-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic. He does have 12 stolen bases in just 36 games in the Dominican Summer League this year, but his growth and potential is a complete wild card at this point. I mean, he’s only 17, but with the Mets rebuilding for the future, you take the chance on a wild card like Rodriguez, and hope for the best.
Fantasy Spin: The Arizona outfield was left-handed dominant, with the sole righty that played being Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Jr., who is struggling immensely. Given the fact that Gurriel and Pham are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of performance since June 1, Gurriel seems destined for a bench role, while Pham plays the de facto fourth outfielder role, but potential DH for the team as well. This is an upgrade for Pham in terms of his home park and supporting cast, under the assumption that he continues to get everyday at bats, or close to it.
Since leaving Tampa Bay, Yarbrough has been serviceable for the Royals, filling in as a swing starter. For fantasy purposes, however, the impact has been a bit less. While his ERA is fine (4.24), and his 1.20 WHIP is quite good, his dearth of strikeouts is killer to fantasy teams. He likely acts as the team’s seventh starter, unless they decide to move Michael Grove out of the rotation, but his biggest contributions to the team will be as a swing starter and long reliever. To Yarbrough’s credit, he’s always been pretty good about limiting hard contact, and showing impressive command.
The Royals got back infielders Devin Mann and Derlin Figueroa in this deal. Mann is a nice get for the Royals, as he’s been a .300+ average guy with double-digit home runs at the Triple-A level. Yes, he gets the PCL bump, but the power has been there at each stop for him, so it’s not completely because of that. On the other hand, Figueroa is a 19-year-old infielder that has struggled a bit over the last two years, and his saving grace this year has been his 16.8 walk rate boosting his OBP to .372. He’s a dart throw at this point.
Fantasy Spin: Mann is a name to know in the future, but not for 2023. Yarbrough could be an interesting streamer with the Dodgers backing him, but his path to regular starts is blocked, as Los Angeles has seven viable starters, and that’s not including the injured Clayton Kershaw.
Castro is a young second baseman whose name is a bit bigger than his stat line suggests. He’s slashing just .228/.317/.355 with six home runs and one stolen base across 78 games. However, the key thing to note here is that he’s hit .290 with a .906 OPS, .247 ISO, and .383 wOBA against left-handed pitching this season. The Phillies are about league average in terms of wOBA and wRC+ against left-handed pitching, but Castro can help them out in that department.
It’s actually quite impressive that Bailey Falter is 0-7 in eight appearances this year in the bigs, posting a 5.13 ERA and 1.44 WHIP this season. On the expected statistics front, he ranks in the 11th and 14th percentile in xBA and xSLG respectively, and while he boasts great command, he has a 2nd percentile whiff rate. There’s no swing and miss in his game, and outside of his slider, he has nothing behind his fastball.
Fantasy Spin: Castro figures to be a part-time player in Philly, with the majority of his at-bats coming against lefties. Falter has faltered this year, and has no fantasy impact except if you’re looking to stream bats against him if Pittsburgh gives him a spot start or adds him to the rotation.
New York Yankees Trade For Spencer Howard and Keynan Middleton From Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox
Yes, these are two different deals but they don't move the needle much so we're combining them. Thanks to the lackluster starting pitching of the Yankees this year, they now need depth in the bullpen and that's where Middleton comes in. Though it's not much help. Middleton is a high-strikeout, high-walk-rate, high-ratio reliever from the Chicago White Sox whose advanced numbers don't really swing anything in his favor.
Spencer Howard was once, a while ago and briefly, a top pitching prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies before being unable to get anyone out in the majors. He then went to Texas for a fresh start and actually got worse. Over 38 games, 115 innings, in the majors, Howard has a 7.20 ERA. Not great Bob. It didn't cost the Yankees anything but in fairness, it shouldn't have. With just how much the Yankees' starters, aside from Gerrit Cole, have struggled there's not a lot of hope that they can sort out Howard going forward, certainly not in a way that will help them this year.
Fantasy Spin: There's no fantasy value here in either of the trades, at least not immediately. Perhaps, perhaps, the Yankees can sort out Howard and make him usable at some point next year but that's next year's problem.
Baltimore Orioles Trade For Jack Flaherty From St. Louis Cardinals
Going into the Trade Deadline it was pretty well known that the Orioles were a team that was in need of a starting pitcher. Whether that be a guy under control or a rental was yet to be determined but either way they needed an arm. They got that arm in Jack Flaherty, the righty on an expiring contract in St. Louis. Now, let's not treat this trade like the Orioles got a bona fide help in the rotation compared to some of the other options who were available or rumored to be. Flaherty comes with baggage in the form of injuries that kept him to just 114 innings combined between 2021-22. There's also the fact that he's been iffy this year over his 20 starts and 109.2 innings with a 4.43 ERA and a FIP, xFIP, and SIERA to match. The strikeouts have been lower this year and the walks have been a lot higher. All of this doesn't exactly say lockdown starter for a playoff run. Perhaps the Orioles can help fix him and switch up the pitch mix to make him more effective but that's a big IF. Granted, Flaherty came at a far lower cost than other starters like Dylan Cease, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Justin Verlander but you get what you pay for.
The main return for the Cardinals was Cesar Prieto, a 24-year-old Triple-A 3B/SS. His main trait is his 60-grade Hit tool but there's not much else to speak of. He's consistently hit over .300 in the 200 games of the minors he's played in but has just a total of 17 homers and 12 steals in that time. He fits the ballplayer-type the Cardinals like who can play a few different spots in the infield.
Fantasy Spin: IF Flaherty can get back to anything close to his 2018-19 run or heck, even the pre-injury 2021 stats it's a nice add for the Orioles but if not, he's simply pitching like a fifth starter now heading to a tougher division for pitching, outside of his home park. Tread carefully with this move even with the good home park to pitch in.
Cleveland Guardians Trade Josh Bell To Miami Marlins
It was a big day for the Miami offensive turnover, which they needed. After getting Jake Burger the Marlins solidified the other corner infield spot with Josh Bell from Cleveland. It's been a down first half of the year for Bell who's slashing .233/.318/.383 with 11 homers, 48 RBI, and 26 R. The BABIP, K%, BB%, and wOBA are close to where they were in 2021 with Washington which suggests it was just the group sluggish offense in Cleveland that drove his counting stats down. The addition of the switch-hitting power bat should really add depth to Miami's lineup down the stretch.
In return for Bell, the Cleveland Guardians received Jean Segura and SS prospect Khalil Watson. While they immediately released Segura, the addition of Watson to an already deep system is an interesting one. Coming out of high school Watson was known as an electric bat with a decent Hit tool and above-average Power and plus Speed. However, in pro baseball his K-rate has been the story. At Class-A in 2022 he struck out 35.5 of the time in 83 games and this year at High-A it's still at 28-percent over 56 games. Going to a system like Cleveland should raise his stock with a good development track record with young bats.
Fantasy Spin: Josh Bell will continue to get full-time at-bats in Miami and the pitcher-friendly confines might help raise his average a bit with the XBH alleys in Miami. He's also used to hitting in the NL East having spent a year plus in D.C.
Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Austin Hedges to Texas Rangers
Hedges doesn’t provide much with the bat at all, as he’s a career .189 hitter and he hasn’t hit above the Mendoza line since 2018 when he posted a career best .231 batting average. However, the Texas Rangers don’t necessarily need more offense, and Hedges is an excellent defensive catcher. With Jonah Heim currently on the IL, Hedges was a very wise move for Texas. Like many moves we see at the deadline, this one is far more impactful in reality than in fantasy.
Fantasy Spin: Texas pitchers will love throwing to Hedges when they get the chance, and as if it was any question, Endy Rodriguez is the primary catcher for the Pirates the rest of the way.
Chicago White Sox Trade Jake Burger to Miami Marlins
Miami needed to get a bat in the worst way, and grabbing Burger is a very cost effective move for the Marlins. Despite his .214 average and .279 OBP, he has immense raw power, as highlighted by his .527 SLG, .313 ISO, and 25 home runs in just 294 ABs this year. While the majority of his power to his pull side, like it is most, he has shown pretty good pop to all parts of the field, including hitting seven home runs to center field, and five the opposite way. It’s a park downgrade for Burger, but he has such raw power, that even the spacious confines of Miami’s stadium won’t be able to contain him.
Jake Eder heads back to the White Sox in this deal, and the 24-year-old southpaw is Matt Selz’s No. 189 ranked prospect, including the 50th pitcher overall, and No. 6 in the Marlins system. Miami’s higher-end prospects are mainly pitchers, so they could deal from a place of strength here. Selz has Eder’s ETA as 2023, so there’s a chance we see him by season’s end for the White Sox. However, given that he had Tommy John and missed all of 2022, they may want to play it safe with him, and hold out until 2024. Eder boasts excellent velocity from the left-hand side with a smooth delivery, and three pitches in his arsenal. He has front-end starter potential.
Fantasy Spin: While Eder is a name to note for 2024 most likely, and health willing, Burger heads to Miami and I’ll say his fantasy value remains rather neutral. He gets a bit of a downgrade in terms of his home park, but his division actually boasts some hitter friendly parks, which will help offset the loss from his home park. It’s a good enough supporting cast in Miami, so I’m not concerned there. Zach Remillard and Elvis Andrus should see more at-bats with the opening in the lineup, but neither carry much fantasy relevance.
Chafin is a quality southpaw that will help out this Milwaukee bullpen. Prior to the trade, Chafin had racked up a career-best 12.84 K/9 this season, with eight saves, 12 holds, and a 3.13 FIP across 43 appearances. He generates a healthy number of swings outside of the zone, and he’ll be a much needed addition to a right-handed heavy Milwaukee bullpen. Milwaukee was about league average in terms of bullpen production against left-handed hitters, but that figures to improve with the addition of Chafin. While lefties have hit him a bit this year surprisingly, the southpaw can get out lefties, and serve as another quality bullpen arm with ninth inning experience.
Arizona gets back Peter Strzelecki in the deal for Chafin, a 28-year-old right-hander with a 4.54 ERA, 3.81 FIP, and23.7 percent strikeout rate across 35.2 IP with the Brewers this season. Arizona didn’t exactly need another right-handed arm out of the pen, but they can send him to the Triple-A affiliate if need be, much like Milwaukee did this year. Should there be an injury, he’s an arm with major league experience ready to step in.
Fantasy Spin: Chafin may get a save opportunity here and there, but Devin Williams is the clear-cut ninth inning man. He’s going to another contending team, though I’d say Arizona is better than Milwaukee, but if your league values holds, thanks to his elevated strikeout rate, he can still remain valuable in these types of leagues. I’m not running out to add him immediately, but if you already owned him, it’s about a net-neutral, because he wasn’t going to get many saves chances anymore in Arizona with the team adding Paul Sewald at the deadline.
Detroit Tigers Trade RHP Michael Lorenzen To Philadelphia Phillies
It's been a career year for Michael Lorenzen from making the All-Star game for the AL to the numbers he's been putting up for the Detroit Tigers. Over 18 starts, 105.2 innings, he's posted a solid 3.58 ERA (3.88 FIP) with an 83:27 K:BB ratio. When you add in a career-low walk rate and near-career-low HR/9 the numbers are even better. There are a few things to be concerned about though. Firstly, he's moving to the NL East and smaller ballparks with better overall offenses. Secondly, where does he fit in the rotation? The Phillies have a five-man rotation already so do they roll with a six-man staff or is a guy like Christopher Sanchez get kicked out? Initially they'll roll with a six-man staff and then sort it out. The smaller parks though is a tad concerning with Lorenzen giving up a career-high Fly Ball rate and Hard Hit % right now. That's fine in cavernous Detroit but not in small park Philadelphia or facing the Atlanta Braves' lineup.
In return for Lorenzen, the Detroit Tigers are getting Hao-Yu Lee. Lee is a 20-year-old second base prospect with solid hit and power tools that are about average on the 20-80 scale and speed that's a tick below-average. Over 155 minor league games he's slashed .285/.379/.432 with 15 homers and 28 steals, 91 R, and 87 RBI. He profiles as a utility bat in the majors when all are said and done.
Fantasy Spin: For those with Michael Lorenzen on their fantasy rosters he is likely to continue starting games and now for a team hunting for a playoff spot. The thing to be concerned with is a rising home run rate and ERA due to the smaller parks and better offenses.
Houston Astros Trade For Justin Verlander
The biggest name on the mound available at the Trade Deadline has been traded back to his former team. After four months in blue and orange, Justin Verlander is headed back to Houston to anchor their rotation for the World Series push they're making once more. He may have been dinged up earlier in the year but he's back healthy and going back to a place he dominated at, to the point where he won the AL Cy Young for Houston last year. The ERA is still solid at 3.15 but the strikeout rates and walk rates aren't as good as they have been in the past few years, but he is 40 at this point.
In return, the New York Mets receive the Astros' top prospect and their third-ranked prospects (based on Fantasy Alarm's MLB Prospect Rankings) but only one of them is a top-100 player. Drew Gilbert, the Astros' first-round pick last year is the top prospect headed back to the Mets. He's a toolsy outfielder who profiles as a .280 hitter with a 25-25 combo of power and speed and very good defense. Ryan Clifford is the second prospect heading to the Mets in the deal. Also an outfielder, the lefty-hitting 20-year-old has an average Hit tool with above-average Power and fringy Speed. AS he gets older it's likely that the speed slows and the power shows up more with him profiling as a .270 hitter with 25 HR power and a handful of steals a year. The routes he takes to balls are solid but not spectacular. He's likely a corner outfielder or a first baseman when all is said and done.
Fantasy Spin: It's almost as if the Mets paid Justin Verlander to do his season warm-up before sending him to the Astros. The numbers should improve down the stretch going back to Houston with his favorite catcher in place. Verlander is still an SP1 for fantasy baseball and an improving one which doesn't really happen that much in fantasy in the second half from an ace. For dynasty players Drew Gilbert is the better player to watch as he develops but he's likely not up until mid-2024 depending on the Mets' roster. Ryn Clifford is a mid-2025-type prospect.
On Monday night the Blue Jays had a scare with All-Star Bo Bichette coming out of the game after stepping oddly rounding first base. On Tuesday the Blue Jays found a potential depth replacement for Bichette and the struggling Cavan Biggio – Paul DeJong. It's been a while since DeJong has really been an impact bat though. We have to go all the way back to 2019 for a season with more than 20 homers and his fWAR in that year (3.7) is .4 wins better than 2020-2023 combined (3.3 fWAR). That being said, he's having a decent 2023 campaign so far. Over 81 games, 306 PA, DeJong is slashing .233/.297/.412 with 13 HR, 38 R, 32 RBI, and four steals all at shortstop. The average may not be great but it does equal his mark in 159 games in 2019 while his .289 BABIP this year equals his 2018 mark when he hit .241. Let's not get things confused though, all he is for the Blue Jays is an insurance bat up the middle who may take over at second base for the struggling Cavan Biggio.
The Cardinals got back a 24-year-old reliever who's in High-A in 2023 after being a 13th-round draft pick in 2021. It's not much of a return but DeJong is basically a low-value rental considering Toronto isn't going to pick up his $12 million club option for 2024 nor the $15 million club option for 2025.
Fantasy Spin: If you're a Cavan Biggio owner the time to be worried is now as DeJong, while limited, does have some experience at the Keystone previously. If you're a DeJong owner the hope is that switching to the hitter-friendly, minus Camden Yards, AL East will bring back a bit of pop to his game while improving the counting stats as well. That's about all the hope we can have for this move.
Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rich Hill and Ji-Man Choi to the San Diego Padres
The Padres wanted another capable arm in the rotation, and they [somewhat] get that with Hill. At the ripe age of 43, Hill has put forth a 7-10 record across 22 starts for the Pirates, posting a 4.76 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. He's allowed a lot of hard contact this year and a lot of contact overall (84.1 Contact%), but he's stayed healthy for Pittsburgh, which was a pretty big question for him. July has arguable been his worst month of the season to date, so that's not overly encouraging, but Petco Park plays much more pitcher friendly than PNC Park does. Ji-Man Choi also heads to the Padres in this deal, though he can't be trusted to be anything more than a bench bat. His .205 average is putrid, his 35.5 percent strikeout rate is even worse, and what the heck happened to the walks? He had posted a double-digit walk rate every single year of his career, and now in 2023, he's put for a 2.6 percent walk rate! He's swinging way more than ever before, and things couldn't have gone worse for the 32-year-old first baseman.
The Pirates get back a couple of names in this deal, with Jackson Wolf likely being the one to know. The 24-year-old starter posted a 4.08 ERA across 18 starts at Double-A this season with a very encouraging 23.6 percent K-BB rate. He's really refined his command as he's advanced through the ranks, and he made his debut in a spot start back on July 22 against the Detroit Tigers. The southpaw flashed a three-pitch mix with a mid-90s fastball. Estuar Suero is a 17-year-old outfielder who the Pirates will be taking a chance on, in the hopes that he continues to fill out his projectable frame. It's hard to look too much into his numbers, as he's played just 82 minor league games, and once again, he's just 17! Alfonso Rivas also heads to Pittsburgh, and the knock on him was a lack of power for a corner infielder. Well, he's played 127 games at the big league level, and has just four home runs and a .323 SLG.
Fantasy Spin: Hill gets a bump to his fantasy value, thanks to a better home park and supporting cast, but he's by no means a must-add in formats at this juncture. At the end of the day, he's still Rich Hill, just wearing a different jersey. Ji-Man Choi is a depth bat for the Padres. Wolf is in an intriguing name, and the lanky southpaw could have some fantasy relevant starts, but it depends if Pittsburgh brings him up to the big league rotation. Rivas could be an interesting add in NL-only formats if the Pirates give him everyday at bats, and it is a park upgrade for him. However, again, he doesn't have a driving stat or offensive profile that figures to help many fantasy managers.
Atlanta Braves Trade for Brad Hand from Colorado Rockies
Hand has logged a 4.54 ERA and 10.35 K/9 with the Rockies across 40 appearances this year, but what's important for Atlanta is that he's kryptonite for left-handed hitters. This year, lefties are hitting just .143 against him, and the veteran southpaw has logged a 33.9 percent strikeout rate against left-handed hitters. Getting out of Coors Field is a win for Hand, and his past experience as a closer will be helpful for Atlanta, even though his numbers in the postseason aren't all that glamorous.
The Rockies get back Alec Barger, a 25-year-old right-hander who just reached Double-A this year. One could argue that Barger has gotten better at each level, and through 30 appearances at Double-A this season, he's recorded five saves, a 3.29 ERA, and 11.27 K/9. The command can be a little hit and miss, but there's potential for growth with Barger, even if he doesn't carry elite prospect pedigree.
Fantasy Spin: Hand won't close in Atlanta, so fantasy managers shouldn't be rushing to grab him for saves. It's status quo in the Colorado bullpen with Hand's departure, and Barger has no fantasy value in 2023.
Tampa Bay Rays Trade for Adrian Sampson and Manuel Rodriguez from Chicago Cubs
Adrian Sampson and Manuel Rodriguez will head to Tampa Bay in this deal, and the former has allowed a 10.17 ERA through 23 innings at Triple-A this season, showing no signs of control (13% walk rate). Sampson did have a really strong close to the 2022 season, so the Rays may be trying to catch lightning in a bottle with him. Rodriguez had four saves in 14 appearances for the Cubs last season, but that 5.27 K/9 was a far from cry from some of the double-digit numbers he posted in numerous stops throughout the minor league ranks.
Josh Roberson has two-plus pitches and heads back to Chicago in this deal, but his below-average grade for his command has certainly reared its ugly head, as he has a combined 47 walks in 69.2 IP over the last two seasons between AA and AAA. He’s flashed some swing-and-miss stuff, which is certainly enticing, but he’s already at 27 with no major league experience yet, and profiles as a middle reliever in the bigs.
Fantasy Spin: There’s no real fantasy impact with this move.
Kansas City Royals Trade for Tucker Davidson
After primarily working as a starter for the majority of his career, a rough 2022 seemed to be the icing on the cake, thrusting Davidson into a relief role this year. As a reliever, his numbers at first glance aren’t much better, though his peripherals indicate he’s been better than the raw numbers suggest. His strikeout rate is up from last year and he’s posted a respectable 11.1 SwStr%. He’s switched his pitch mix up a bit, relying heavily on his slider and four-seamer, and then mixing in a sweeper every now and again. Some of his expected statistics are a bit alarming, but at 27-years-old, the Royals could, in theory, move him back to a starter if they want to see him in that capacity. The Angels accepted cash considerations in exchange for the southpaw Davidson.
Fantasy Spin: No real fantasy impact with this move.
Arizona Diamondbacks Trade for Jace Peterson from Oakland Athletics
A little bit of pop, some speed, and an above-average defender who can play multiple positions? Seems smart on Arizona’s end as they are ensuring they have enough depth to make a run at things in the National League. Peterson doesn’t figure to play everyday, though his numbers this year and for his entire career see him hit righties better, so he could be in the mix more often than some may think, regardless of where it is defensively. In the nine games prior to the trade, he slashed .333/.448/.458 with a 17.2 percent walk rate, .403 wOBA, and 166 wRC+, and his defensive versatility will give Arizona plenty of runway when writing the lineup for the day. Peterson gets a massive park upgrade, but his batted ball metrics don’t exactly lend itself to much power production, even in a better home park.
Chad Patrick heads to Oakland, and while his strikeouts have dropped and his ERA has climbed with each advanced level in the minors, there’s still a lot to like. He’s primarily worked as a starter in the minors, and there is some reliever potential with him, but he’s got a great slider and he peppers the strike zone. Walks have never been a major issue for him, consistently hovering around nine percent, and he’s coming off a strong July where he posted a 3.49 ERA and a 25:5 K/BB ratio across 28.1 innings (5 starts). He’s a lower-tier prospect, with a range of outcomes from a middle-to-long relief guy, to back-end starter.
Fantasy Spin: If injuries were to occur that thrusted Peterson into a guaranteed full-time role, there could be some fantasy appeal with him in NL-only formats. However, the hope for Arizona is that they can leave him in a reserve utility role. With regular playing time in an improved park, Peterson could provide some cheap pop and speed if all goes well. Patrick has no fantasy value in 2024.
Kansas City Royals Trade Jose Cuas from Kansas City Royals
Cuas, a 29-year-old righty has posted a quality 27.1 percent strikeout across 41.2 innings this year, not to mention a 4.54 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 4.25 xFIP, and 40.9 percent ground ball rate. He’s posted a healthy 13.3 percent swinging strike rate, and now has 79.1 innings in the majors under his belt. Cuas has displayed reverse splits this year, as right-handers have given him fits, to the tune of a .320 BAA, .485 SLG, and .372 wOBA. This year, the majority of his innings have come in low leverage situations, but how much of that is because the Royals aren’t good, or that they didn’t yet trust him for the biggest spots? Cuas better keep the ball on the ground on those days in Wrigley when the wind is blowing out, because it’s a sizable park downgrade for him against right-handed power in terms of home run potential.
Kansas City gets young outfielder Nelson Velasquez in return, a right-handed hitter that could provide fantasy managers with some power and a little bit of speed at his ceiling, but the questions surrounding his batting average are prevalent. While he did hit .289 in 204 ABs at Double-A, that mark dropped to .241 thus far at the Triple-A level. His raw power grades out pretty well, especially for his frame, but through 214 career at-bats at the big league level, he’s already shown a 30 percent or higher strikeout rate against both lefties and righties individually! The Royals get a nice young outfielder and given the state of affairs of Kansas City, they should give the former fifth round pick some run in the bigs by season’s end.
Fantasy Spin: Cuas won’t be closing in Chicago, so he doesn’t have any relevance in fantasy circles. The Royals don’t have a packed lineup, I get it, but in deeper formats, keep an eye on Velasquez. While he likely heads to Triple-A after the deal, it would behoove the team to bring him up by season's end to get a look at him. If that occurs, while he may hurt your batting average and OBP a bit, there’s some raw power with Velasquez that could lead to some home runs.
Cincinnati Reds Trade for Sam Moll from Seattle Mariners
Moll is a 31-year-old southpaw who hasn’t quite been able to replicate his success from last year. However, there’s a lot to actually like, as his .340 BABIP hasn’t done him any favors, and his FIP, and xFIP are both better than what they were last year when he posted a 2.91 ERA across 53 appearances. He’s pacing for a career high strikeout rate and has done an excellent job keeping the ball in the stadium, largely in part due to his ability to limit hard contact and keep the ball on the ground (52 GB%). Moll has been brutal on left-handed hitters, so his niche in the Cincinnati pen is going to be handling mostly lefties when the opportunity arises.
Don’t sleep on Seattle’s return here, as there’s a lot of potential with Boyle. He’s displayed big time strikeout rates in the minors, thanks to excellent movement on his pitches. Sometimes, it seems like he’s throwing a frisbee up there! However, with that comes some control issues. At Single-A and above, he’s posted a strikeout rate of at least 26 percent at each stop, but also a walk rate of at least 19 percent. There’s a lot to like, and if they can harness his command, watch out, because whether he remains starting or moves to the pen, the strikeout upside is immense.
Fantasy Spin: Moll won’t be closing games for Cincinnati, or at least he doesn’t figure to be, so he’ll remain a relative non-factor in fantasy formats outside of deeper NL-only setups that value holds. Seattle fans probably won’t see Boyle until 2024 at the earliest, and that may even be pushing it, as the massive 23-year-old right-hander has just 110 innings at Double-A under his belt, and he has to figure out his control.
The best bat on the trade market has been dealt. Jeimer Candelario, in the midst of a resurgent 2023 season, is headed back to the team he started his pro baseball journey with – the Chicago Cubs. Over 99 games for the Washington Nationals, Candelario is slashing .258/.342/.481 with 16 HR, 57 R, 53 RBI, and six steals while playing a great defensive third base. Washington signed him to a one-year deal this offseason and has now flipped that one-year signing into two prospects.
The Cubs needed a left-handed bat with contact and power for the middle of their order and that get that in Candelario. He was previously a prospect with the Cubs prior to getting dealt in the Nick Castellanos trade with Detroit as he was blocked at third by Kris Bryant. Now that he's back on the North Side, he will take over the hot corner from the poor-hitting Patrick Wisdom and likely slot in 5th or 6th in the Cubs order on a full-time basis.
In return for Candelario, the Nationals received two prospects – LHP DJ Herz and SS Kevin Made. Herz, a 22-year-old pitcher at Double-A, is a hard arm to peg. If he can sort out the control (5.94 BB/9 in 59.0 IP in 2023) there is a shot he's a backend starter with solid strikeout stuff. If not, he's a lefty out of the pen who isn't likely to be a high-leverage arm. One more catch is that he's Rule 5 Eligible at the end of the year meaning the Nationals have to add him to their 40-man roster to protect him. The other prospect, Kevin Made, a 20-year-old shortstop, is a prototypical throwback middle infielder. He should hit for average Hit tool and above-average Speed with a smooth, plus Field tool. The Power leaves something to be desired and he may never be a full-time starter in the majors but more of a defensive-minded bench bat.
Fantasy Spin: This is an improvement for Candelario who should continue his approach just fine in the Windy City while having more protection in the lineup around him. That should help his counting stats continue to improve as well with guys like Cody Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, and Dansby Swanson around him. As for what the Nationals do at third base going forward, Jake Alu is likely their starter with spurts played by Ildemaro Vargas as well. That's a big drop off in production from Candelario and those with Lane Thomas likely want him traded at this point to keep his value up the rest of the season.
San Francisco Giants Trade for AJ Pollock from Seattle Mariners
The oft-injured veteran will head to the Giants in this deal, marking his fourth team since the start of the 2021 season (Dodgers, White Sox, Mariners, Giants). Unlike past years, when he’s been healthy, Pollock hasn’t been good this season. His .173 average is horrible, his strikeout rate is back north of 20 percent for the first time since 2020, and his barrel and hard hit rates are trending the wrong direction. His expected statistics say he should be hitting .204 instead of .173, and slugging .349 instead of .323, but even those numbers are not great. He’s also been bad against lefties, which has been his bread-and-butter over the years, seeing as he has a career .838 OPS, .235 ISO, and .354 wOBA against southpaws. The Giants have the second-worst wOBA against left-handed pitching this season, so the hope is that Pollock can stay healthy, and get back to his old ways of punishing southpaws. Giants also get Mark Mathias in the deal. Seattle is getting a player to be named later.
Fantasy Spin: There’s no real fantasy value to be had here. If Pollock can get healthy, DFS players may like getting his name in the lineup against southpaws, but he shouldn’t be an everyday player in the San Francisco outfield.
New York Mets Trade Mark Canha to Milwaukee Brewers
Canha’s posted a .245/.343/.381 slash line through 89 games this year with six home runs and seven stolen bases. A double-digit walk rate is his saving grace for fantasy managers who play in OBP formats, and most of his numbers are eerily similar to his expected statistics. He’s flirting with a career high ground ball rate, and he makes a lot of soft contact. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, he’s been better against righties than lefties, which should allow him to fit right in with his new team! In terms of his park, he gets a slight upgrade, as Milwaukee is more friendly to right-handed power than Citi Field.
Justin Jarvis heads to the Mets, and his promotion to Triple-A has not gone well in the early going. We’ll cut him some slack, as it’s been just three starts, and prior to that, he was excellent at Double-A, posting a 3.33 ERA, 28.6 K%, and 8.2 BB%. Jarvis profiles as a back of the rotation starter, and while he doesn’t have one pitch that stands out as elite, he has a steady arsenal of multiple pitches that could lend itself to a solid strikeout rate with further refinement and development.
Fantasy Spin: Canha will be in the outfield and DH rotation for Milwaukee, and Canha’s emergence will force the likes of Sal Frelick, Owen Miller, and others to ensure they hit to earn, and keep, their at-bats. Canha gets a slight bump to his fantasy value, largely due to the park upgrade, and Mets fans could see Jarvis as soon as 2024.
Arizona Diamondbacks Trade for Paul Sewald from Seattle Mariners
Arizona is ready to make a run of things here, and Sewald is a high-quality arm to add to the pen. He was 21-for-24 in save chances for Seattle with a 35.5 percent strikeout rate and 2.93 ERA across 43 innings of work this season. The right-hander has 52 saves and a 2.88 ERA over the last three seasons, and the hope is that he’ll solidify the Arizona pen. This season, the Diamondbacks have the seventh-worst ERA amongst its bullpen in high leverage situations, not to mention the third-lowest LOB%.
Josh Rojas isn’t having the best season, but he has great versatility and across the 2021-2022 seasons, he hit .266 with 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases over 264 games. Rojas figures to factor into the second base equation for Seattle, as well as other places. As Dominic Canzone progressed through the minors, his power came along quite nicely. In 159 career games at the Triple-A level, he’s swatted 32 home runs with 16 stolen bases and a sub-20% strikeout rate. He got a handful of at-bats for Arizona this season, but his .237/.293/.368 slash isn’t indicative of his true potential. While Rojas will help now, and Canzone could be in the mix now and later, the long play will be here with Ryan Bliss, a former second round pick. Bliss has been running with reckless abandon in the minors, going 30-for-38 in stolen base attempts in Double-A this year. The Diamondbacks moved him up pretty quickly, so within two years, he’s already reached Triple-A. His early struggles at Triple-A likely push his MLB debut until 2024, but there’s some tools here to get excited about, though he’s far from flawless.
Fantasy Spin: Paul Sewald will go to a contender and should immediately step in as the ninth inning man. Rather than going closer by committee with the gaggle of arms they have now, just hand the keys over to Sewald and let him do what he does best. This is a nice bump to his fantasy value. In Seattle, Andres Munoz figures to see the majority of save chances and should be added to fantasy teams immediately, though Matt Brash could be a dark horse for saves down the stretch. The needle doesn’t really move for Rojas.
Tampa Bay Rays Trade for Aaron Civale from Cleveland Guardians
With numerous notable names on the injured list, the Rays were going to be in the market for an arm, and they found their match in Aaron Civale. At 28-years-old, Civale is having a career year, posting a 2.34 ERA (3.67 xERA) across 13 starts this season. He missed some time in April and March, but has come back and healthy, and has been exceptional for the Guardians. He has a 1.45 ERA over his last six starts, posting a 25:7 K/BB ratio during that stretch. Fantasy managers will [rightfully] gripe about his dearth of strikeouts, and that does take away from some of his fantasy appeal. Leaving the American League Central in favor of the American League East is far from an upgrade, but we have to trust the Rays, right? Their track record speaks for itself. Civale does seem due for some regression, as he's drastically outperforming his expected numbers, but it's tough to deny what he's done so far this season. Additionally, Civale isn't a free agent until after the 2025 season, so he's under team control for a couple of seasons.
Let's not make any haste about it. Cleveland did very well getting Kyle Manzardo back for a right-hander who prior to this year had a 4.08 ERA and 1.33 HR/9 through 353 career innings. Manzardo is #7 in Matt Selz's prospect rankings, and was Selz's #2 ranked prospect for the Rays. While Manzardo may not have the light tower power of a prototypical corner infielder, but his quantity of contact should allow him to develop and mature in the power department. Despite the knock on him for the lack of big time power, he posted a .576 SLG in 30 games at Double-A last season, and this year in Triple-A, he's sporting a .442 SLG across 73 games. His BABIP has tanked in Triple-A, and his strikeout rate has jumped to 20+ percent for the first time during his career in the minors, but he boasts solid plate discipline, and should be far better than what he is showing in Triple-A this year. The Guardians needed some corner infielder prospects, especially at first base, so they did very well in this return.
Fantasy Spin: What Civale gains in an offense backing him, he loses value in the division to which he'll now pitch. The hope will be that Tampa Bay can tweak his pitch mix to unlock some more strikeouts, to help fantasy managers in the department where Civale lacks the most. The Guardians could bring Manzardo up this year, but if they have questions about his numbers here in 2023 at Triple-A, they can leave him in the minors the rest of the way, and then give him a chance to win the first base or DH job next year if they see fit. Should the Guardians give him some at-bats down the stretch, he's worth picking up, as his offensive profile is pretty enticing, especially if the power develops.
C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk Traded from Colorado Rockies To Los Angeles Angels
The Angels said they were going to go in for a playoff berth this year and they continue to prove that with more moves. This time they're bringing back a former home grown bat and some outfield help. C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk are headed from Coors Field to Angel Stadium to try and help Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani make the playoffs and in the case of Cron, he's coming back home. He was drafted, developed, and played originally for the Angels. Both bats are rentals but are capable of making impacts down the stretch to be sure.
C.J. Cron, the first baseman and DH, is hitting a solid .259/.300/.473 with 11 homers, 32 RBI, and 31 runs in the first half of the season in Colorado. As far as switching to L.A. from Colorado, the home run rates at Angel Stadium are pretty similar to Coors Field so those being worried about power dropping off shouldn't be. With the injuries to Brandon Drury, Gio Urshela, and the untested Trey Cabbage it was clear that L.A. had a hole at first base and in the middle of the order. Cron will fill that on an everyday basis.
We all saw the ugly scene in Toronto with Taylor Ward getting hit in the face with an Alek Manoah pitch; now he's out the rest of the year with a facial fracture. With the injuries piling up in the outfield, Randal Grichuk is a great fit to take over a corner outfield spot and a middle-of-the-order spot in the starting lineup. While Grichuk has only played 63 games this year, he's slashing .312/.367/.502 with eight home runs, 40 R, 27 RBI, and two steals. Whether the slash line will stick is to be determined based on BABIP, wOBA, and xwOBA being inflated but if the K-rate and BB-rate, both the best of his career, stay maybe so will the slash line.
In return for the two rental bats, the Colorado Rockies get two prospects they need – starting pitchers. Jake Madden and Mason Albright are the two prospects headed to the Rockies' system and there's a lot of upside with them. Madden was a fourth-round pick in 2022 with a 98-mph sinking fastball and above-average slider being the main offerings. Albright is a 20-year-old lefty who's working on some mechanic issues but is showing progress. If he can keep developing, there is hope he's a middle-of-the-order starter with decent strikeout stuff whereas Madden is either a high-strikeout reliever or frontline starter depending on control issues.
Fantasy Spin: There's not much of a change for either Cron or Grichuk with this trade given how hitter-friendly Angel Stadium is, being right up there with Coors Field. The at-bats will remain full-time for both as both are filling holes that are already in the Angels' lineup. Both prospects are wait-and-see guys to see how they develop for the
Kansas City Royals Trade Nicky Lopez to the Atlanta Braves
Lopez is a contact first kind of guy at the dish who figures to be a bit of an anomaly in this powerhouse Atlanta lineup. However, he’s above-average defensively and has a little speed, making him a nice depth piece for Atlanta, as they can play him at second, short, or third in a pinch. Through 67 games this year, he’s slashing .210/.322/.280 with 18 runs scored and four stolen bases. For what it’s worth, he’s only two years removed from a season in which he hit an even .300 and went 22-for-23 on the base paths.
The Royals get back Taylor Hearn, who Atlanta just traded for a handful of days ago. Hearn can get lefties out, but he doesn’t figure to play a prominent role for the Royals the rest of the way, and especially not for fantasy managers.
Fantasy Spin: Honestly, there’s not much to say here. Lopez is a bench player for the Braves, and Hearn is a non-factor in the Kansas City pen.
Texas Rangers Trade for Jordan Montgomery from St. Louis Cardinals
Max Scherzer yesterday, Jordan Montgomery today. Montgomery has been pretty reliable for St. Louis this year, and especially of late. While he has a 3.42 ERA on the season, if you only look since June 1, he has a 2.37 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 22 percent strikeout rate. He’ll stay in a relatively pitcher-friendly park and get a sizable boost with the offense behind him. With the way he’s been pitching of late, he’ll finally get to tack some wins onto his overall stat line, which should benefit fantasy managers greatly. Chris Stratton also heads to Texas in this deal, and he’s primarily been used in low leverage situations this season. He has some closing experience in his eight-year career, and he’s posted a 3.29 ERA and 11.20 K/9 over his last 13.2 IP.
Thomas Saggese will head back to St. Louis in this deal, and while none of his tools necessarily jump off the page, he’s a max effort kind of player that the team and fans will come to love. He doesn’t have great speed, but he has great instincts on the base paths, posting at least a 78 percent success rate in each stop at the minors. The name Cardinals fans want to know here is Tekoah Roby. He’s young, boasts mid-to-upper 90s velocity, and a 70 grade curveball. His strikeout numbers have been very good throughout the minors, and while his 5.05 ERA doesn’t look all that dazzling this year, hone in on the 3.85 FIP and 3.91 xFIP. Last but not least, King is a 28-year-old southpaw who has big league experience, but hasn’t shown an ability to miss bats. However, he induces a ton of ground balls.
Fantasy Spin: Montgomery gets to go play for a contender in a good park for him with an even better offense. That’s a sizable win if you ask me! The Cardinals are taking on some risk with Roby, who has had issues with his arm, but if he can overcome the health issues, he could develop into a very good pitcher at the big league level, and a future name to note for fantasy purposes. Saggese figures to be a better player in reality than fantasy.
Toronto Blue Jays Trade for Jordan Hicks from St. Louis Cardinals
Jordan Hicks, the hard-throwing righty who has a triple-digits fastball that makes radar guns light up like the Fourth of July. However, this is the first year where he’s finally displayed elite strikeout numbers. His secondary pitches, mainly his sweeper and slider, have been generating a ton of whiffs this year, coming in at the 82nd percentile on the season overall. With Jordan Romano heading to the IL, the Blue Jays act quickly to add Hicks and his 28 career saves (8 in 2023) to the pen. Once St. Louis couldn’t lock up Hicks on a multi-year deal, he was destined to get moved.
St. Louis gets back a couple of right-handers in Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse. In his second year at Double-A, Kloffenstein is having his best run yet, posting a 3.24 ERA and 10.62 K/9 across 89 innings. He’s still just 22 years old, and has a large frame with an above-average slider. Robberse just might end up being one of those guys who is better in reality than in fantasy. He’s yet to show big time strikeout numbers in the minors, though that doesn’t mean he can’t develop that as he progresses through the ranks. He’s still just 21-years-old and what he lacks in overall velocity he makes up for with good extension.
Fantasy Spin: Hicks could see some saves while Romano is on the shelf, and going to a winning club certainly behooves him. Giovanny Gallegos should get the lion’s share of the saves with Hicks heading up north. Kloffenstein and Robberse could get their call to the bigs as early as 2024.
New York Mets Trade Max Scherzer To Texas Rangers
A few days after David Robertson was sent out of Queens – a move that made Max Scherzer request a trade – Scherzer too is out the door. The ace right-hander has been sent to the Texas Rangers following a day of back-and-forth reports as to whether the trade would or wouldn't happen. The Rangers have needed an ace since losing another former Mets' starter, Jacob deGrom, to Tommy John surgery earlier in the season. They have that ace now for the home stretch and trying to clinch their first AL West title in quite some time.
Max Scherzer's first year in New York, 2022, went pretty well, aside from the injuries as he pitched to a 2.29 ERA in 145.1 innings and 23 starts. The K-rate and BB-rate were what you'd expect them to be for an ace of Scherzer's caliber. However, 2023, like the rest of the Mets', has been a different story. Over 19 starts so far, Scherzer is sporting a 4.01 ERA with the rest of the advanced numbers showing he's around that as well. His K-rate has dropped while the BB-rate has jumped and the HR/9 rate is more than twice what it was a year ago. That might spell trouble for Scherzer in the AL West down the stretch with balls carrying in Texas and Houston this time of year and the Angels looming too. This isn't the first time we've seen the righty dealt at the deadline either as he went from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deadline deal in 2021 and his stint in L.A. was spectacular. If it's a motivated Scherzer the Rangers are getting, there's little doubt he could be back to his old self, however, there is cause for concern with that thinking.
In return for Scherzer, the Texas Rangers are giving up Luisangel Acuna, who I have ranked 32nd overall in my latest Top-400 MLB Prospect Rankings and the third-best Rangers' prospect. If that last name sounds familiar to you, he is in fact the younger brother of Ronald Acuna Jr. It's quite a get of a prospect for the Mets, though there are some questions to sort out here for the long-term. The 21-year-old shortstop reached Double-A Frisco a year ago for 37 games and has thus far played 84 games from them this year. In those 84 games, he's slashing .315/.377/.453 with seven homers, 68 R, 51 RBI, and 42 steals. Those 42 steals makes it three-straight seasons of 40 or more stolen bases in the minors for Acuna and he's hit double-digit homers in the last two years as well. Acuna's skillset is a nice blend of Power (55-grade) and Speed (60-grade) much like his older brother though with a slightly worse Hit (45-grade) tool. The first question that arises is what happens in the middle infield for the Mets? They have Jeff McNeil, who could move to left field, and Francisco Lindor locked up through 2027 and 2031 respectively. Meanwhile, there's still Ronny Mauricio at Triple-A who also plays shortstop and second base. Sure Acuna is athletic enough to change positions and perhaps they move him to center field, but it is murky right now as to how it shakes out.
Fantasy Spin: Max Scherzer's value in going to Texas doesn't really change. He's still an SP1 the rest of the way but perhaps gets more chances at wins with how dominant the Rangers' offense is. Outside of the wins it's hard to see a case to be made that this move changes his outlook more than that. As for what to expect from Luisangel Acuna moving to New York, he's still on the same development path he'd have been in Texas and it's quite possible the position change would've happened in Texas as well with Corey Seager and Marcus Siemen locking down the middle infield for a while to come.
You can never have enough bullpen depth when it matters most, and Houston knows it. They are only about league average in terms of ERA from their bullpen and Houston knows that Graveman can be darn good when the lights are brightest, as seen by his sparkling 1.64 ERA across nine appearances in the 2021 postseason. He has a 3.48 ERA so far this season, but he got off to a horrible start, before rebounding for really good months in May and June. July hasn’t been the kindest to him, but the peripherals suggest he’s been a bit unlucky. Houston will need to corral his command, as he’s on pace to post the worst walk rate of his career.
The Chicago fire sale continues! That’s now five pitchers the team has moved this deadline, and this marks the second young catcher they have acquired in exchange for one of its big league arms. When looking at the White Sox farm system, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they’ve been targeting younger backstops. Lee is a power backstop, in that he can hit for plus power and he has a big time arm, but strikeouts started to rear its ugly head at more advanced levels, as well as during a cup of coffee stint in the bigs last season. The tools are there, as he’s amassed 30 home runs and 24 stolen bases over the last two seasons (172 G) at Triple-A, but it doesn't come without large concerns.
Fantasy Spin: Ryan Pressly dominates the save market in Houston, so Graveman’s fantasy value is going to take a significant hit if your league doesn’t value holds. He’ll serve as one of the team’s primary setup men, but he won’t see but a spare save chance the rest of the way, barring injuries in the Houston pen. Once Lee gets healthy, he theoretically could see some big league action, but he’d just be a dart throw at best given the aforementioned concerns. Again, he’s pretty athletic and toolsy, but there’s a lot of swing-and-miss in his game at this juncture. A closer is a closer is a closer, even on a bad team. However, Chicago is performing a fire sale, and likely won’t be in line to win many games down the stretch. Furthermore, this seems very much like a closer by committee, but the one that is most intriguing if given a larger opportunity is Gregory Santos, the 23-year-old righty.
Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly Traded from Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers
After being excellent from 2019-2022 as a member of the Rangers and White Sox, Lynn has been abysmal in 2023. The veteran workhorse has a 6.47 ERA, 2.11 HR/9 and 1.46 WHIP across 21 starts this season. A .328 BABIP hasn't helped him whatsoever, but there should be slight optimism when looking at his peripherals and expected stats (4.82 xERA, 5.22 FIP, and 4.02 xFIP). Lynn has been abused by left-handed hitters this season, and the Dodgers are going to need to sprinkle some of that magic to turn things around for Lynn, who has a 6.67 ERA and 2.73 HR/9 over his last five starts. Oh, for the record, that includes a start where he had seven shutout innings against Toronto. Fortunately, the Dodgers do have a good track record with pitchers, for the most part, and Lynn will have a good offense backing him in the second half.
Kelly's ERA has ballooned since leaving the Dodgers after the 2021 season, but the strikeouts remain well over one per inning, and his expected ERA is right on par with where it was back in 2021. His velocity is still excellent, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Dodgers tweak his arsenal a bit just to try to get as much as they can out of him. He won't be closing games for the team, but his electric right arm will help provide some depth in the bullpen.
As the Chicago fire sale continues, they get back Nick Nastrini and Jordan Leasure from the Dodgers system. Nastrini is Matt Selz's 255th ranked prospect in baseball, and number 16 overall in the Dodgers system. Nastrini has been in Double-A each of the last two years, posting an ERA just above four with well over one strikeout per inning. His command can be a bit shaky at times, and he's by no means a ground ball pitcher, but Chicago has a lot to work with here, as he's just 23-years-old and he's moved up pretty quickly all things considered. Leasure was a 14th round draft pick back in the 2021 Amateur draft and he could be serve as a future closer if things go right. Across 84.1 IP over the last two years at the Double-A level, Leasure has double-digit saves, and a total of 119 strikeouts. The White Sox also got back Trayce Thompson in this deal, who has been on the injured list since early June.
Fantasy Spin: A change of scenery and being with the Dodgers should benefit Lynn, and the Dodgers are banking on a return to form for him. The nostalgic vibes figure to be high with Kelly, but from a fantasy perspective, he's no more than a high strikeout setup man who should get some holds from here on out. I would say that fantasy managers should be optimistic about Lynn heading to Los Angeles, and treat it as a slight bump to his overall fantasy value, but seeing as he's been putrid this year, temper expectations at the beginning. There's no notable impact here on the White Sox side of things, as Thompson won't be back for another week or so, and the prospects likely won't be up until 2024 at the earliest.
New York Mets Trade David Robertson to Miami Marlins
The Marlins are going to need to get some bats at some point, but I’ll never fault a team for bolstering the bullpen. The Marlins have now added two righties with closing experience at the deadline, with Robertson likely stepping into save chances early on, given A.J. Puk’s recent struggles. Along with a 2.05 ERA and 9.82 K/9, Robertson has four wins, 14 saves, and seven holds across 40 appearances this season. He’s a tried-and-true veteran with a 2.78 ERA and 10.52 K/9 across 45.1 postseason innings for his career. The strikeout rate being a down a bit this year can be attributed to more contact being made against him, but he still has a healthy 33.8 O-Swing% and 13.1 SwStr%. Dating back to June 10th, covering 16.2 innings of work, despite a pedestrian 13:6 K/BB ratio, Robertson has five saves, two holds, and a 2.16 ERA.
In exchange for the 38-year-old reliever, the Mets received Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez from the Marlins, an 18-year-old infielder and a 19-year-old catcher respectively. Vargas has posted a .283/.457/.442 slash line in 33 games in the Florida Complex League (FCL) this year, not to mention eight stolen bases and more walks than strikeouts. Spanning 72 games in the FCL over the last two years, Hernandez has five home runs, five stolen bases and an impressive 27:32 K/BB ratio, however, as he ages, expect the team to put some weight on him, as he’s listed at just 155 pounds. He’ll need to add a bit to that frame, but there’s still plenty of development and maturation to be had. Vargas and Hernandez rank 18th and 21st in the Mets' system respectively, per MLB.com's prospect rankings
Fantasy Spin: Robertson is going to get save chances for the Marlins. A.J. Puk has been unreliable of late, and this addition now gives the Marlins two options (Robertson and Tanner Scott) who have proven to be more steady than Puk, at least in recent weeks. The Marlins don’t score a ton of runs, meaning they’ll be playing in a lot of close games in a pitcher-friendly park. Robertson may get a slight bump in value, but he’ll continue getting save chances, that’s for sure. The prospects the Mets received won’t impact the big league club for years, and Adam Ottavino seems to be the next man up for saves in New York, with Brooks Raley likely in the mix, too.
Milwaukee Brewers Trade for Pittsburgh Pirates' Carlos Santana
At 37 years young, Santana has put forth a .235/.321/.412 slash line through 94 games. His .412 slugging percentage would be his highest since his 34-homer season with Cleveland in 2019, despite the fact that his 5.7 percent barrel rate is well below his career norms. The switch-hitting veteran has hit lefties at a slightly better clip, but his power production has come more frequently against right-handed pitching (.423 SLG, .190 ISO). At the first base position this year, the Brewers have the lowest OBP and wRC+ in Major League Baseball. The Brewers are hoping that the confines of its home stadium, which plays a bit more favorably for left-handed power than PNC Park, will help Santana and the Brewers down the stretch. In exchange for Santana, the Pirates get Jhonny Severino, an 18-year-old shortstop with just a handful of minor league games under his belt.
Fantasy Spin: Santana goes to a better park for left-handed power, which is the bigger news item here as Santana's power production has largely come against right-handed pitching this season. The numbers have picked up since June 1, and his return complicates things a bit once Rowdy Tellez returns from the injured list. Owen Miller will go back to moving all around the field, and when Santana doesn't play first, he figures to serve as the DH for the team. At the end of day, Santana might get a slight upgrade in terms of park factors and the lineup around him, but outside of deeper mixed formats or NL-only setups, it's not all that noteworthy from a fantasy perspective.
Lucas Giolito Traded from Chicago White Sox to Los Angeles Angels
In a stunning turn-around, the Los Angeles Angels have turned into buyers ahead of the Trade Deadline and have made their first move – acquiring both RHPs Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the Chicago White Sox. Just hours after they said they were keeping Shohei Ohtani and making a playoff push, that push began. Say what you will about Giolito over the last few years, and we can say plenty, he's turned it around – somewhat – in 2023. Over his 21 starts, 121 innings, the big righty has posted a 3.79 ERA with all of his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA marks between 4.08 and 4.46. The strikeout rates remain solid at 9.74 K/9 and 25.8-percent K% but there's been an uptick in HR/9 as well as his hard-hit rate, leading to a career-high in FB% at over 46-percent. Giolito is from southern California so maybe returning home and pitching next to Shohei Ohtani will boost his morale, but Angel Stadium isn't the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball, not by a longshot.
In addition to Giolito, the Angels secured some bullpen depth with Reynaldo Lopez coming over as well. Though it's hard to say how much “depth” a guy with his numbers brings. The strikeouts are good (11.14 / 9 IP) but nothing else is. He's already walked twice as many batters this year as all of last year in 23 fewer innings and he's allowed SEVEN times the number of homers (7-to-1) in 2023 as he did in 2022. Not great to say the least. Maybe a change of scenery will help but if he was giving up homers in the AL Central, just imagine what the AL West, ahem Texas and Houston, will do to him.
For the Chicago White Sox return, they poached a couple of good prospects from the Angels' farm system in catcher Edgar Quero and LHP Ky Bush. Quero is one of the Angels' top prospects as a young, 20-year-old, switch-hitting catcher who was blocked by Logan O'Hoppe in the majors and Bush is a solid southpaw with nice strikeout upside but one who gets hit more than he should.
Fantasy Spin: Giolito is clearly the headliner of this trade and he should slot in nicely into the middle of the Angels' rotation going forward. Can he return to the low-3.00s ERA he'd been at a couple of years ago? Maybe, but it's going to take some work and we'll have to watch out for homers continuing to happen. Lopez's fantasy value has been nil since the season started and it will remain that way. For those in dynasty leagues, Quero is an interesting pick up who's starting to crack my top-100 prospects list and is now no longer blocked in Chicago. Bush is a wait and see prospect given the track record, or shoddy track record shall we say, of Chicago developing pitching to their fullest potential.
Amed Rosario, a former New York Met, has been dealt in a trade again, this time to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rosario's 2023 season has certainly been disappointing in some respects with a lower slash line this year than previous seasons in Cleveland and some of the counting stats being subpar as well. It's tough to sort out exactly why things didn't go his way for the Guardians this year with a .265/.306/.369 triple slash, three HR, 51 R, 40 RBI, and nine steals in 94 games. The peripheral numbers are pretty in line with the last two years in terms of K%, BB%, BABIP, wOBA, Hard Hit %, and the rest of his batted ball profile. While the steals and counting stats have been pacing to match the last few years, it's the drop in power we've really noticed.
Noah Syndergaard, a former New York Met (see the trend), is the return to Cleveland in this deal. That's certainly an interesting return to say the least. Thor has been out since June 7th with a finger ailment and has been making rehab starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City recently. However, that's the only good news here. In his 12 starts for the Dodgers this year, over 55.1 innings, he's allowed five or more earned runs five times including each of his last three outings. We all knew he wasn't the strikeout guy he came up as, but he's striking out batters at even lower clip this year compared to last. Even though Syndergaard is walking fewer guys, he's making up for it with more than twice the HR/9 this year than last. For those that don't like the rate stat, Syndergaard has given up 12 HR in 55.1 innings this year compared to 14 in 134 innings in 2022. That's not great Bob. Perhaps the Guardians think they can fix him or the homers won't be an issue in the AL Central, but that's still an interesting return.
Fantasy Spin: Prior to the trade, Miguel Rojas was the starting shortstop in L.A. and the nine-hole hitter given his propensity to be a lost at-bat nearly every time he came to the plate. With Amed Rosario now headed to L.A., expect him to remain a starting shortstop who gets a boost in the surrounding lineup and home park to increase his numbers. For those in NL-only leagues, he figures to be a nice high-average, solid-speed add for middle infield. As for the Thor side of the deal, we simply have to wait and see how he comes back from the finger issue and if Cleveland can get him righted. Perhaps facing easier offenses down the stretch might help the ratios but there's not much, if any, gain here for Syndergaard.
Miami Marlins Trade for Jorge Lopez from Minnesota Twins
Dylan Floro is no spring chicken at 32 years old, but he’s been pitching the best in his entire career the past few years. His 4.54 ERA this season may not be that enticing, but what about that 3.37 xERA, 2.78 FIP, and 3.06 xFIP? What about the fact that he’s pacing for a career-best strikeout rate and a sub-3.5 percent barrel rate? He converted seven of nine save chances for the Marlins this season while registering nine holds and three wins. He’s been struggling a bit of late, posting a 6.30 ERA over his last 10 innings, but hey, he has a 1.88 FIP and 2.69 xFIP during that stretch, not to mention an insane .472 BABIP. Minnesota is hoping to get things a bit more even-keeled for the right-hander, though it doesn't figure to happen that often in the ninth inning.
Jorge Lopez gets dealt again at the deadline, this time heading to Miami where he figures to be in the mix in the later innings. He spent some time on the injured list earlier this month due to some mental health issues, but the results haven’t been all that encouraging upon his return. That magical run in Baltimore in 2022 seems to be the outlier here, as his numbers have been drastically worse since going to Minnesota, and the strikeouts have completely dissipated. He’s getting a fair number of swings out of the zone, and his 9.2 percent swinging strike rate isn’t half bad, but a 92.5 percent zone contact rate and 80.3 percent contact rate overall won’t cut it.
Fantasy Spin: A.J. Puk is holding onto the closer title by the slimmest of margins, and Tanner Scott now has reduced competition for ninth-inning work. If Puk has another bad outing or two, we may not be far from seeing Scott pitch the ninth inning. I know Skip Schumacher gave a vote of confidence to Puk a few days back, but Puk has two losses and an 11.37 ERA over his last seven appearances. On the other hand, Floro goes to Minnesota, where Jhoan Duran is the locked-in closer without question. Neither Lopez or Floro have been pitching all that great this year from a statistical perspective, at least enough to be owned in many fantasy formats, so the biggest winner from a fantasy standpoint just might be a reliever not traded in this deal (Tanner Scott).
Update (7/28): The Marlins adding David Robertson makes Scott's path to saves a bit tougher. With Robertson's pedigree and experience, he figures to get the bulk of the save chances down the stretch for the Marlins. That doesn't mean Scott won't get a save chance here and there, but Robertson figures to get the majority of those opportunities.
Los Angeles Dodgers Trade for Kike Hernandez from Boston Red Sox
Aside from his first year in Boston and the prolific run he had in the playoffs, it’s all folklore with Hernandez. After going bonkers in the 2021 postseason, Hernandez has been a .222 hitter with a .274 wOBA across 179 games in 2022 and 2023. Hernandez’s calling card has been hitting left-handed pitching, but he has just a .652 OPS and .078 ISO against southpaws in 2023. The Dodgers are hoping to capture a little magic from years past with Hernandez, and his positional flexibility will allow the team to fill a couple of backup spots with just one player. Also, in July, he’s slashing just .179/.220/.179 with a 24.4 percent strikeout rate. He’ll likely find the lineup against lefties, but he won’t be the everyday player like he was in Boston to date.
Boston received two right-handers, Nick Robertson and Justin Hagenman, from Dodgers in exchange for Hernandez. In 10.1 big league innings this year, Robertson’s 11.32 K/9 and 3.19 FIP are a bit overshadowed by his 6.10 ERA. At just 25, he boasts a solid frame (6’6” 265 lbs) and Boston will now get him into their system. Hagenman is 26-years-old and has spent the past two seasons with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, and he’s been quite good this year, posting a 2.78 ERA, 9.82 K/9, and 1.80 BB/9 across 55 innings of work. He seems destined for a relief role if he joins the big league club, but he has made a handful of starts in each of the past two seasons.
Fantasy Spin: Hernandez is moving to a better lineup, but he’s going to lose out on at-bats, as there is no reason for the Dodgers to play him and his 55 wRC+ against righties when they have plenty of others who hit righties well. Hernandez will be on the small side of a platoon in Los Angeles, with the majority of his at-bats coming against southpaws.
Atlanta Braves Trade for Pierce Johnson and Taylor Hearn from Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers Respectively
Pierce Johnson may have a 6.00 ERA on the year, but his 4.50 xERA, 4.57 FIP, and 3.98 xFIP look far more palatable on the surface. His home numbers have inflated his overall stat line, largely his HR/9 mark, and when only pitching on the road this year, he has a 4.11 ERA, 0.59 HR/9, and 38.7 percent strikeout rate. Yes, that is far, far better. For fantasy managers, those who were rostering Pierce Johnson will take a bit of a hit, because he goes from the closer for the Rockies, to a setup man for the Braves. If your fantasy league doesn’t value holds in any capacity, Johnson’s fantasy value plummets drastically, as Raisel Iglesias isn’t relinquishing the closer role anytime soon. However, if your league does value holds, Johnson leaving Coors Field is a big positive for him, and he should get plenty of opportunities to pitch with a lead in the later innings down the stretch.
Colorado received Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon in the deal, both of whom rank outside of the top 400 in Matt Selz’s prospect rankings. After serving as a starter in 2021, Vodnik has been much improved over the last two seasons as a reliever, posting a 103:44 K/BB ratio over 75.1 IP between 2022 and 2023. Gordon hasn’t been having the best 2023, and has especially struggled at Triple-A (1-4 with a 8.28 ERA). However, he throws a ton of strikes, and this is the first year where walks have been a major issue for him.
The Braves also added Taylor Hearn, who has been brutal at the Major League level this year, posting a 10.29 ERA across seven innings of work. He’s been much better in the minors, and he figures to serve as a low-leverage reliever for the Braves down the stretch. For his career, Hearn has held lefties to a mere .226 average and .304 wOBA, so Hearn figures to be a low-leverage lefty specialist when he’s with the big league club. In exchange, the Rangers received a little change in their pocket (AKA cash considerations).
Fantasy Spin: As mentioned above, unless your league values holds, Johnson's fantasy value takes a hit, as he goes from the closer in Colorado to a setup man in Atlanta. If your league does value holds in any manner, what he loses in saves he should make up for in holds. Hearn has next to no fantasy value. In Colorado, Justin Lawrence seems to gain/secure the most fantasy value, with Daniel Bard likely being the next man up.
Baltimore Orioles Trade for Shintaro Fujinami from Oakland Athletics
This move may not make a ton of headlines, but it was a great move by Baltimore. Fujinami had a rough start to the year when operating as a starter, but as the year has gone on, and he’s moved to the pen, he’s been far more effective. His 5.94 ERA as reliever this year may not look all that great, but his 1.44 WHIP and 26.7 percent strikeout rate as a reliever looks much better. Since June 1, he has a 4.29 ERA, 3.43 BB/9, and 9.43 K/9, while generating a 44.6 percent ground ball rate, thanks to increased usage with his splitter. So, why was this such a sneaky move? Baltimore needed another arm in the pen to help lessen the workload on some of its main guys. Fujinami threw 80+ innings in Japan in 2020, 2021, and 2022, and he’s currently sitting at 51 on the year. However, Felix Bautista, Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe, and Bryan Baker currently sit at 49, 48.2, 34.2 and 40.1 innings respectively. Bautista’s 65.2 innings last year was the first time since 2017 he threw more than 50 innings in a season. Including time in the minors, Cano is at 51.2 innings on the year, and his previous career high is around 70 innings in the minors in 2021. Coulombe only logged 14 innings last year between the majors and minors, and threw 54.2 innings in 2021. Baker didn’t pitch in 2020, and logged a career high 69.2 innings last season. Baltimore needs arms in the pen, even if only to try to help preserve their best arms over the course of the second half.
Oakland received Easton Lucas in this deal, a 26-year-old southpaw who has a career 3.98 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in the minors. Lucas dominated in a relief role at Double-A this year, but the results haven’t quite been the same at Triple-A (4.61 ERA, 5.93 BB/9, 2.63 HR/9).
Fantasy Spin: Fujinami wasn't closing in Oakland, and he won't be closing in Baltimore, but pitching for a better team opens the door for more holds, if your league values that category. Baltimore should be able to work a little magic with him, like they've done with other closers, so as long as Fujinami can harness the command, like he has of late, he could provide a nice bump to your team's strikeouts.