The MLB trading season is starting to get down to brass tacks. Several big names have already changed hands, and by the time you read this, there very well may be another fantasy-relevant deal going down. We’ll discuss what’s already happened, then preview what’s still to come over the rest of the weekend, now.
Philadelphia acquires Hunter Pence.
The Phillies have been jonesin’ for a right-handed bat ever since Jayson Werth blackmailed the Nationals for $128 million. They were linked to virtually every hitter on the market, but they finally landed their guy with the acquisition Pence. While he’ll have to get over leaving the only team he’s ever known, Pence should be thrilled to be on a championship contender like Philadelphia. Pence has been a better hitter in Houston than on the road in his career, but he is sporting a .300/.339/.460 line at Citizens Bank Park. Moving into a much better lineup, he should also see run and RBI numbers rise, especially hitting fifth or sixth in the lineup.
Another upshot of the deal is that the Domonic Brown era has been put on hold, with the young outfielder being demoted to play everyday in Triple-A. Fantasy owners of Brown can drop him immediately. On the Astro side of things, Houston picked up some solid prospects in the deal, but it’ll be a surprise if any turn out better than Pence, who’s under Phillie control through 2013.
San Francisco acquires Carlos Beltran.
The Pence move can be seen as a direct response to the Giants’ acquisition of Beltran, thought of as the best bat on the market this trading season. The Mets held off dealing Beltran until they could secure a top prospect, which they did, landing pitcher Zach Wheeler from the Giants. New York had to include $4 million of Beltran’s contract to get Wheeler, but it’ll likely be worth it down the road. For Beltran, he joins a lineup that’s been lousy this year. He’s been fantastic at CitiField and mediocre on the road; he’s also been pretty average in his career hitting in San Francisco. Fantasy owners can’t be thrilled with the move, as a trade to a place like Texas or Philadelphia would have greatly improved Beltran’s stock. As it is, he may have taken a step back.
Toronto acquires Colby Rasmus.
St. Louis acquires Edwin Jackson.
Rasmus had been deemed a bit of a problem child in St. Louis and even at the rip age of 24 looked to be a classic “change of scenery” guy. Toronto heard the Cardinals coveted Jackson, so they swung a couple arms to the White Sox to add the soon-to-be free agent Jackson, then packaged him with Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski to get Rasmus from the Cardinals, along with three inconsequential pitchers. Get all that? The Blue Jays spent a good pitching prospect in Zach Stewart and a lot of relief arms to turn Corey Patterson into a potential franchise player in Rasmus. The Cardinals added a quality starter while completely re-hauling their bullpen, and they do have the OF depth to replace Rasmus, who hadn’t done much with the bat this year. We all know what Dave Duncan does to starting pitchers, and Jackson could easily become his next success story. Even if he walks, he’ll likely net the Cardinals a compensatory pick. Count this as a win for all three pro teams and all fantasy teams involved.
Cleveland acquires Kosuke Fukudome.
Fukudome has struggled to find any kind of fantasy value this year, and a trade to Cleveland sure isn’t going to be the catalyst that turns him into a fantasy force. It was a good move for the injury-ravaged Indians, who were stuck with a Michael Brantley-Ezequiel Carrera-Travis Buck outfield before the trade. Adding Fukudome may not be much on its own, but losing Buck is addition by subtraction. Of course, if you’re in an AL-only league, Fukudome is a must-add since he’ll get regular playing time for the rest of the year.
Those were the moves of the past few days. What more can we expect?
Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies have placed their ace on the block, but are demanding a king’s ransom to deal him, multiple top prospects from any team in on the bidding. Jimenez’s performance this season hasn’t quite matched that asking price, but since they do have control over Jimenez through 2014, they certainly needn’t feel compelled to move him. I’m surprised he’s available at all, and I don’t see Colorado making a trade unless someone capitulates to their high demands. Likelihood of deal: 20%.
Heath Bell and Mike Adams. The Padres are almost certain to move Bell, and the Rangers look like the most likely suitor. It’s going to cost Texas a top pitching prospect to get a deal done, though. The Cardinals still have interest, and I’d expect the Phillies to be out after trading for Pence. Adams seems less likely to be moved, as the Padres could certainly get a great package for him at the next trading deadline if they’re not bowled over this year. Likelihood of deal: Bell 80%, Adams 40%.
B.J. Upton. Upton now takes his spot as the best batter on the market, and with 16 HRs and 23 SBs this season, you’d figure the price would be pretty high. However, the Rays are reportedly asking for less than the Astros were in a Pence deal, so there’s a very realistic shot some team gets a deal done. With just a year left on his deal, Upton may garner a trade package in the Colby Rasmus area, a price a team like the Braves or Nationals should be more than happy to pay. My gut tells me he winds up in Washington for a package that includes Drew Storen. Likelihood of deal: 51%.
Hiroki Kuroda. The Japanese import has always been a particularly underrated starter, but plenty of teams have come knocking with the knowledge that he’s on the market. Problem is, Kuroda has a full no-trade clause and is reluctant to play on the East Coast. The Dodgers will likely have to hang on to him, though he does carry potential Type B compensation this offseason. Likelihood of deal: 10%
Michael Bourn. The Astros shipped out the popular pence, and Bourn could follow him right out the door. He’s the perfect fit for the Braves, who need both a centerfielder and a leadoff hitter. Bourn is under team control for one more year. His speed obviously plays with any team in fantasy. Likelihood of deal: 75%.
Other relevant fantasy names with a good chance at being dealt: Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Rafael Furcal, Josh Willingham, Ryan Ludwick, Erik Bedard, Doug Fister, Aaron Harang, Koji Uehara.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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