July 31, 2009
Every MLB deadline deal is important in the fantasy world, but some swaps are more important than others. The big-ticket deals get their own stand-alone posts: go here for the Victor Martinez(notes) breakdown, click here for the Jake Peavy(notes) story, stop by here for the Jarrod Washburn(notes) slant, and here's your spot for Orlando Cabrera(notes) talk. As for the other names coming and going on Friday (and the alternations to their fantasy value), they're lumped together in this one clean-up post.
• Nick Johnson(notes) to the Marlins: Johnson isn't a fantasy buzz player but he's still an on-base machine (.408 OBP) who makes Florida's lineup instantly better, assuming he can avoid the injury bug that's wrecked the majority of his career. The acquisition allows Jorge Cantu(notes) to slide back to third base while Emilio Bonifacio(notes) shifts to a more natural part-time role (look for him to play left field against southpaws, and get some utility at-bats in the infield, now and then). Johnson's fantasy value doesn't shoot through the roof (the Marlins have outscored the Nationals by a mere 11 runs) but he's probably worth a little more in Florida.
Washington's batting order cleans up nicely now that Johnson is gone; Adam Dunn(notes) mercifully shifts to first base and the Nats improve their defense by giving Willie Harris(notes) some regular run in left field (the versatile Harris offers some nifty utility in deeper mixed groups). Aaron Thompson, the left-handed pitcher the Nats scored in this deal, is a former first-round pick who's currently in Double-A (4.11 ERA, 1.4 WHIP).
• Scott Rolen(notes) to the Reds, Edwin Encarnacion(notes) to the Blue Jays: Rolen is a well-respected brand name who's got a pretty .320 average, but he's also 34, pricey ($11.5 million next year) and injury prone. I'm more intrigued by what the erratic Encarnacion might do now that he's finally liberated from an organization that never seemed to completely buy into him.
The Jays also score a couple of young pitchers in this deal, rookie reliever Josh Roenicke(notes) (2.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) and Triple-A swingman Zach Stewart. It will be interesting to see what Toronto does with Stewart; he was starting at Double-A earlier this year, then shifted to the bullpen when he climbed a level. Obviously the payoff would be greater if he can make it as a rotation guy.
• Adam LaRoche(notes) to the Braves, Casey Kotchman(notes) to the Red Sox: Here's a big bail out for LaRoche, who wasn't going to play much in Boston given all the corner and DH options the Red Sox have. He'll settle in as Atlanta's regular first sacker and do his normal thing – .270 average, respectable pop.
Kotchman is a solid glove man (though no better than Kevin Youkilis(notes)) and a decent pinch hitter off the bench for the Red Sox, but this shift takes a machete to his fantasy value. Boston's lineup is too deep for him to play regularly.
• Joe Beimel(notes) to the Rockies: From a professional standpoint, it's a good move for Beimel – he's heading to a winning team and a pennant race, and he's rescued from the National League's worst club. But he's got little chance of seeing save opportunies with the Rockies (something would have to happen to the letter-perfect Huston Street(notes)), and while Coors Field doesn't have the same teeth as yesteryear, it's still a risky place for a pitcher to make his living.
It's going to take a while before the Nationals get anything from the two minor league pitchers they landed in this deal. Triple-A right-hander Ryan Mattheus recently had surgery on his pitching elbow, and right-hander Robinson Fabian currently toils in A-Ball. As for the Washington bullpen without Beimel, keep an eye on Sean Burnett(notes), who has thrown the ball very well since joining the club in the Lastings Milledge(notes) deal.
• Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes) to the Yankees: I'm known as a Hairston Apologist in the fantasy industry, but this kills Junior's value for the balance of the year – the Reds were content to play Hairston a lot, but the Yankees won't need him nearly as much. Cincinnati gets Chase Weems in return, a 20-year old catcher in Single-A; come back in 2-3 years and we'll discuss.
And now, let's have a quick word about some of the players that didn't switch teams:
• Adrian Gonzalez(notes): The Red Sox danced on this one as long as they could. San Diego held too much leverage in the end. If you're in a mixer, you wanted Gonzalez to go somewhere, anywhere, far away from Petco; if you play NL-only and don't count carryover stats, you can exhale now.
• Roy Halladay(notes): J.P. Ricciardi stuck to his guns on this one and now he's left holding the bag. Maybe he'll be able to make it all work down the road, perhaps at the winter meetings or in a deal during the season next year, but I share the view of Yahoo's Jeff Passan: Ricciardi absolutely botched the Halladay Sweepstakes. The fans in the YYZ deserve better than this.