We got ourselves some MLB breaking news here on this Friday afternoon, as the San Francisco Giants acquired Robbie Ray from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani. Back in 2021 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Robbie Ray won the American League Cy Young, and after some slight regression in 2022, he was limited to just one start in 2023. The veteran southpaw underwent Tommy John surgery in late April, so he should be back on the mound for the Giants sometime in the summer months most likely. Haniger will head back to Seattle, where he spent the 2017-2022 seasons, and his last two campaigns have been loaded with injuries to say the least. DeSclafani pitched just under 100 innings last year, but a right elbow flexor strain cut his season short. Ray is the big name for fantasy here, so what does this offseason trade mean for fantasy baseball drafts and fantasy baseball ADP? Let’s dive in!
I mentioned above that Ray regressed a bit in 2022 following his Cy Young campaign in 2021, but he was still solid that year, posting a sub-3.00 BB/9, 3.71 ERA and 1.19 WHIP that year. For the 2024 season, he’s going to be returning from Tommy John surgery, which comes with its own nuances, but it’s hard to ignore that he’s going to a well-documented pitcher’s park that could help mitigate some of his home run concerns from his fly ball heavy arsenal. Ray will miss a lot of bats, which is something he’s done for the majority of his career, but over the last couple of seasons in particular, his fly ball rate has skyrocketed, though it did come down a bit in 2021, and 2022, albeit well above the MLB average.
We can’t really glean much from Ray’s 2023 season, since it was just one start, but he’s an older pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery, so there will be some rust through his first handful of starts. However, I love the move to Oracle Park, as the home run park factor is well below that of T-Mobile Park (even if the overall park factor is higher for Oracle). A healthy Ray in Oracle could be really, really intriguing for fantasy purposes.
On the other hand, Haniger will head back to Seattle where he had the most productive years of his career, a la 2018 and 2021. Haniger has struggled to stay healthy the past couple of years, so while his days of providing a handful of stolen bases are long past him, the hope is that a return to a familiar scene will do him well. Over the past two seasons he’s missed time due to an oblique strain, forearm fracture, and back strain, so the move to Seattle certainly won’t fix durability concerns. While it’s been hard for Haniger to stay on the field and establish a rhythm, his batted ball metrics have remained solid the last two seasons, as he’s continued to make a ton of hard contact and put the ball in the air. However, his contact rate has trended down the last couple of seasons overall, while he’s left the zone more, meaning his strikeout rate may reside in the upper twenties moving forward, rather than the lower twenties like it was earlier in his career. There’s still pop in Haniger’s bat, I’m sure of that, but durability has been a major concern the last half decade (sans 2021). Additionally, in OBP leagues, you have to knock Haniger down a few notches, as he hasn’t posted an OBP north of .320 since 2018!
Lastly, DeSclafani had a bit of a resurgence in San Francisco in 2023. After pitching just 19 innings in 2022, the veteran right-hander posted a 4.88 ERA and 1.25 WHIP across 99.2 IP last year. Specifically as a starter, he posted a 4.72 ERA, 19.4 K%, and 1.21 WHIP, and he should have an opportunity to compete for the fifth starter spot in Seattle. His usage of his slider has increased each of the last four years, so it will be interesting if Seattle can make any tweaks to DeSclafani’s arsenal or pitch mix to have him pitch closer to his 2021 form.
All of these guys were basically free in drafts, and while there might be some slight movement to each of their respective average draft positions, the same concerns still follow them, regardless of what jersey they wear:
- Robbie Ray: How/when does he return from Tommy John surgery?
- Mitch Haniger: Can he stay healthy this year?
- Anthony DeSclafani: What’s his role going to be, and where does his velocity sit?
I’m most intrigued by Ray and Haniger from this deal from a fantasy perspective, as a healthy Ray in San Francisco could be really interesting. He’s an ideal stash for fantasy baseball managers, as he could provide a big boost to your team in the second half. As for Haniger, when healthy, his batted ball metrics are impressive, as highlighted by his 81st percentile xSLG, 82nd percentile barrel rate, and 73rd percentile hard hit rate in his monstrous 2021 season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ADP for Ray and Haniger move up slightly in the coming days, but no massive shifts by any means.