By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
The Trade Deadline is a little over three weeks away, and the event carries more significance than usual this year. With Major League Baseball eliminating the possibility of August trades, fantasy gamers should see a plethora of deals in the coming weeks and then relative silence for the final two months.
Here are some of the most likely players to be on the move, along with the potential fantasy fallout.
Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
Bumgarner is perhaps the biggest name in the rumor mill, which is not surprising for someone who has logged some of the most memorable postseason performances in recent history. Gamers will be disappointed to know that the southpaw owns a 4.60 ERA when working away from his pitcher-friendly home park this year, but the adrenaline of a playoff push and better offensive support could breathe new life into MadBum.
Andrew Cashner, SP, Orioles
Most gamers would be shocked to know that Cashner has posted a 1.41 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP since the beginning of June. Already pitching well, the veteran could get a value surge by moving from the last-place Orioles to a contender, especially if his new team includes a pitcher-friendly venue and solid run support. Cashner is definitely someone to keep on the radar in shallow leagues.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays
Stroman and the Blue Jays both seem ready to move on from their up-and-down relationship, and the timing is great with the diminutive right-hander enjoying a solid season (3.18 ERA). His lack of whiffs (7.0 K/9 rate) will always keep him out of the top tier of starters, but the 28 year old would have more fantasy value if relocated to a contending team outside of the AL East.
Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets
Wheeler is my favorite name on this list, as his skills (3.66 FIP) have been much better than indicated by his 4.69 ERA. The Mets seem to be a sinking ship, and this pending free agent has the potential to jump overboard early by being traded in July. Beyond the good chance that Wheeler may soon experience positive luck regression, he could improve by becoming part of a team that plays solid defense.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays
Smoak has been smoking the baseball this year (sorry, I couldn’t resist), posting elite rates of hard contact (44.1 percent) and fly balls (45.7 percent). Unfortunately, his results (.217/.358/.418 slash line) aren’t good enough to create a strong market for a first baseman. Still, the Blue Jays will likely deal Smoak and open up DH opportunities for productive veterans Eric Sogard and Freddy Galvis, especially when the club promotes prospect Bo Bichette soon.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Royals
Hamilton and the Royals hold a mutual option for 2020, but those options are rarely picked up by both sides. Instead, Kansas City will likely get a small return from a contending team who could use Hamilton as a bench bat, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement. Gamers would love to see the Royals replace Hamilton by giving additional opportunities to fellow speedster Terrance Gore.
Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Tigers
Perhaps no player on this list could use a change of scenery more than Castellanos. The 27 year old pending free agent is mired in an unremarkable season (9 HR, 33 RBI) while trying to bring life to baseball’s worst lineup. The Tigers will almost certainly trade Castellanos away, making this the perfect time for gamers to buy low on him.
Ken Giles, RP, Blue Jays
Get ready, because the latter half of this article is going to be heavy on relievers. While starters and hitters are often the biggest acquisitions to real-life teams, the movement of closers creates new saves sources and has a massive impact on fantasy gamers. Giles won’t be a free agent until 2021, which will make him very valuable to a perennial contender. If the rebuilding Blue Jays deal their closer, they could turn to veteran Daniel Hudson (2.72 ERA) to handle the ninth inning.
Sergio Romo, RP, Marlins
One would have to believe that the Marlins would be fine with getting anything of value for Romo at the deadline. And the 36 year old is unlikely to collect saves for a contending team, as he has not been special (4.13 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) while working as Miami’s fireman. Nick Anderson (14.0 K/9 rate) looms as the most talented closer alternative on the rebuilding Marlins.
Will Smith, RP, Giants
A free agent after this season, Smith is almost certainly on the move. The 29 year old has pitched well this year (1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP), but his left-handed status and a handful of successful campaigns as a setup man muddy the waters regarding his next role. I expect veterans Tony Watson (3.38 ERA) and Sam Dyson (2.30 ERA) to be traded as well, meaning that Reyes Moronta (2.72 ERA) has the best odds of being the club’s next closer.
Alex Colome, RP, White Sox
Colome is under team control until the end of the 2020 season, but the rebuilding White Sox will likely move him to a contender. The 30 year old should wind up in a setup role on a better team, with Aaron Bummer (1.89 ERA) as the favorite to take over closing duties on the South Side.
Shane Greene, RP, Tigers
Greene is in the midst of a career year (1.09 ERA, 0.88 WHIP), making this the perfect time for Detroit to deal away a 30 year old who was a shaky stopper last season. There is no obvious ninth-inning replacement in the Motor City, but Joe Jimenez has been rumored as the heir apparent for multiple seasons.
Ian Kennedy, RP, Royals
With Kennedy emerging as a useful closer, the Royals are salvaging some value from a regrettable five-year contract. Kennedy won’t be the closer on a contending team, and unfortunately, I also don’t see a viable ninth-inning alternative in Kansas City.