The 2022 fantasy baseball season is nearing the Major League Baseball All Star Break. That also means we’re drawing closer and closer to MLB’s Trade Deadline. A lot of times when I’m trying to think about which catcher I want to focus on, there are players currently hitting very well or those that are advancing into a prime situation for fantasy baseball. A few weeks ago I touched on Christian Bethancourt of the Oakland Athletics. Heading into the second full week of July 2022, I’ll be previewing Christian Bethancourt of the Tampa Bay Rays. With full disclosure, I acknowledge that I didn’t have the greatest read on Oakland’s trade market. I thought Sean Murphy was a bigger trade chip, and he still may be. However, over the weekend Christian Bethancourt was dealt from Oakland to Tampa Bay. I liked Bethancourt’s fantasy outlook in deeper leagues prior to the deal. Now I’m growing with more intrigue at Bethancourt’s fantasy baseball value with the move to Tampa Bay in 12-team formats. So join me on this excursion to justifying Tampa’s new acquisition because he is easily available in almost every league’s fantasy baseball waiver wire.
Since we last took a look at Bethancourt, he’s posted a slash line of .250/.351/.281 but only in ten games. Yes, as much as I may have hyped him up in deeper leagues, he’s barely put together an enjoyable slash line that has only included one extra base hit. Truth be told, this is a good deal for both organizations. Oakland signed Bethancourt to a minor league deal and was able to deal him for a pair of prospects. The enthusiasm and excitement was shared by Dallas Braden (an Oakland Athletics legend in his own right) on Twitter over the weekend.
Tampa has some uncertainty as to when Mike Zunino could return so they made the deal to bring in Bethancourt amidst a Wild Card push. In case you’ve forgotten, the hard contact profile for Bethancourt checks out and is alive and well.
The average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, barrel percentage, and blah blah blah. It all checks out! While it’s only translated to four home runs and four stolen bases there is an area for growth with Tampa. With Zunino out for the foreseeable future, the Rays were searching for a more consistent option to plug into the lineup at the catcher position. Francisco Mejía and René Pinto are fine options, but Mejia can be utilized at DH and Bethancourt does exhibit slightly better plate discipline than the other two.
The Bethancourt move to Tampa Bay isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it does signal that he could be in line for a more regular role considering he appeared in just ten games in the last three weeks with Oakland. Tampa has a history of making the most out of their acquisitions, regardless of cost, so there’s some hope for Bethancourt after all.
Taking Bethancourt out of RingCentral Coliseum could lead to big things. For starters, Bethancourt struggled hitting at home for the A’s with a .179/.264/.269 slash line compared to .308/.330/.484 on the road. To another degree his wRC+ in Oakland was just 64 while it was 131 on the road. By all accounts, Bethancourt should look forward to hitting anywhere other than the Bay Area while he’s with the Rays.
This isn’t a massive trade acquisition for either team. It’s an opportunity for Oakland to maybe capitalize on a prospect or two that they acquired for a player who was not part of the long-term future. And for Tampa it allows them to make another postseason run with a player that costs them a Happy Meal.
The Rays close out the first half of the season with a seven-game home stand this week. They have four games against the Red Sox and three against the Orioles. In some form or fashion, both teams are either in the playoff mix or are surging into the Wild Card hunt so the Rays are actively looking to apply useful bats into their lineup so I do expect Bethancourt to have an immediate role this week and he’s once again a player worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues.
Related MLB Links:
- Previous Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Targets
- 2022 MLB Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report
- 2022 MLB Injury Report
- Fantasy Baseball Daily Round Ups
- Fantasy Baseball Closer Reports