Monday, September 25, 2023

Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline Tracker: Josh Hader dealt to Brewers; park change could benefit Trey Mancini

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and we could see a flurry of activity just before the clock strikes 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Here’s where we’ll break down all the most notable moves from a Fantasy Baseball perspective.

Christian Vazquez traded to Astros

The Astros have gone the defensive route at catcher the past couple years with Martin Maldonado and won’t lose much in that regard with Vazquez. They will get a boost in offense, though. Vazquez has rebounded from a down year to become the eighth-best catcher in both major scoring formats. Perhaps more interesting than his involvement in this deal is prospect Enmanuel Valdez going back the other way. The 5-foot-9 utility player has been surprisingly productive between Double- and Triple-A this year, slashing .327/.410/.606 with 21 homers in 327 at-bats. His small stature and lack of defensive home keep him low on traditional rank lists, but he could surprise in Fantasy if he gets a chance to fill in for an injured Trevor Story at second base.

Tommy Pham traded to Red Sox

Though he certainly hasn’t lived up to his 91st percentile average exit velocity or 84th percentile hard-hit rate, Pham has made strong enough contributions across the board to rank 40th among outfielders in Head-to-Head points leagues and 35th in Rotisserie. You might presume his home venue has something to do with it, but Pham has only slightly better numbers at Great American Ball Park than on the road. He might make out better at Fenway Park, its odd configuration known for boosting hitters’ BABIPs, but most likely, his value stays right about the same. Meanwhile, his departure gives players like Nick Senzel and Jake Fraley an easier path to at-bats, but there isn’t some potential standout waiting in the wings.

Trey Mancini traded to Astros

This seemingly low-key deal could actually have an impact in Fantasy given how consequential the park change is for Mancini’s swing in particular. He pulls the ball in the air more than the average hitter (about 25 percent of time, according to FanGraphs), which would normally be a good indicator for power, but the Orioles of course moved their left field fences way back this year. Minute Maid Park, meanwhile, is most known for its short porch in left field. The venues couldn’t be farther apart for that stretch of outfield fence — we’re talking dozens of feet — and fittingly, Statcast suggests Mancini would have more than twice as many home runs, 22 overall, if he had played all his games in Houston this year. 

He won’t play all his games in Houston even now, it’s worth noting, but he’ll play enough that he could be a top-40 outfielder moving forward.

Frankie Montas traded to Yankees

Stock up for Montas, of course, who goes from the team with the worst record in the AL to the one with the best. As good as the rest of his stat line looks, it’s his 4-9 record that’s made him only the 52nd-best starting pitcher in points leagues and the 46th-best in 5×5. It might be 9-4 if he had been with the Yankees from the get-go, and I’d expect him to be a top-25 starting pitcher moving forward. Of course, there’s also the matter of him going from one of the best pitcher’s parks to one of the worst, but that’s not going to impact him as much as his 5.01 road ERA would have you believe. For a full explanation why as well as a breakdown of the prospects (namely Ken Waldichuk) going the other way, click here.

Josh Hader traded to Padres for Taylor Rogers, prospects

Hader will continue to do his thing, just for a new team. The Padres are just as much in contention as the Brewers, so he remains as prolific of a saves source as always. The bigger question is who closes now for the Brewers. Rogers seems like the easy choice, but the Padres had just removed him from the role after an ugly month of July in which he allowed 10 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings. So the better bet might be Devin Williams, long thought to be a closer in waiting with his Airbender changeup (h/t @PitchingNinja) and career 14.7 K/9.

Because Rogers throws lefty and Williams righty, it could become a platoon of sorts, but the Brewers will want to make sure Rogers is right before they go that route. We should all be rooting for Williams to claim the role outright. He has top-three closer potential.

To make up the talent gap between the two lefties, the Brewers also got Esteury Ruiz, Dinelson Lamet and prospect Robert Gasser. The most interesting of these names for Fantasy purposes is Ruiz, who put up monster numbers in the minors prior to his promotion just before the All-Star break, highlighted by 60 stolen bases in 77 games. He hadn’t done much with the big club, and was in fact optioned right away by the Brewers. He could eventually claim the starting center field job from Tyrone Taylor, though.

Luis Castillo traded to Mariners

Castillo will enjoy a significant park upgrade with this move, which you could argue makes less of a difference for a pitcher who consistently ranks among the top five in ground-ball rate. But Castillo has faded his sinker in recent weeks for more four-seamers — a change that has yielded positive results overall, with his K/9 going from 7.8 before May 31, when he first ramped up the four-seam use, to 10.1. Still, it has made him less ground ball-oriented, and relatedly, he has a 3.64 ERA at home this year compared to 2.09 on the road. So what does that mean, practically speaking? Probably that we should treat Castillo like a top-20 starting pitcher in Fantasy again. For a more complete breakdown of this deal, click here.

David Peralta traded to Rays

Peralta had already lost his grip on an everyday role with the Diamondbacks, and that certainly won’t change with a team like the Rays. He is, after all, batting .268 with an .823 OPS against righties compared to .114 with a .462 OPS against lefties, which at least gives him some utility in daily five-outfielder leagues. His acquisition means Josh Lowe is back in the minors, not that the former top prospect was contributing anything worthwhile. It also helps clear the path for Diamondbacks prospect Corbin Carroll, however remote his chance of debuting this year are.

Andrew Benintendi traded to Yankees

This trade probably means the Yankees are giving up on Joey Gallo as more than a spot starter, and things could tighten up even more once Giancarlo Stanton returns from his bout with Achilles tendinitis. So far, though, Benintendi looks like an everyday part of the lineup, having already made a start against a lefty since coming over. He’s been serviceable in Fantasy this year because of his high batting average, but it’s been an even more hollow one than in years past. It’s possible he makes more of an effort to pull the ball now, taking aim for the short porch in right field, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that.

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