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Fantasy Baseball MLB trade deadline winners and losers

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The 2021 MLB Trade Deadline provided one of the most memorable and action-packed weeks in the “events” history. All 30 clubs in the league made at least one transaction while some of the games’ major stars were shipped off to new teams. 

This major shakeup will change the landscape not only of the MLB pennant races but in fantasy leagues of every format. Each transaction brought with it the potential to dramatically change a player’s value by either vacating a valuable position or propelling someone into a more attractive environment (or vice versa).

Let’s take a look at the biggest “winners” and “losers” of the trade deadline, in terms of fantasy value, to see who took on the largest swing between positive and negative.

Winners: Hitters

Adam Frazier was one of the early players moved during trade deadline week, but one who may have taken of the largest bump in value. The contact-heavy 29-year-old is batting .320/.383/.441 with four home runs, 28 doubles, and 60 runs this season. Frazier was able to achieve most of this while batting near the top of one of the worst offenses in the league, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now the all-star has the opportunity to bat leadoff for one of the premier lineups in the National League batting in front of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado on a daily basis. The upgrade is obvious but amazing, making Adam Frazier and his fantasy managers huge winners.

The New York Yankees made large strides to move away from their right-handed heavy lineup by acquiring left-handed sluggers Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. Both hitters stand to see an increase in value in their new southpaw friendly stadium, but it’s Rizzo who may stand to gain the largest bump. The veteran first baseman has been stagnant in the power department this season, driving in 15 home runs over 326 at-bats. This is not exactly anything to panic about, Rizzo’s expected total would rise to 23 had he been playing in Yankee Stadium all season. 

rizzo chart
rizzo chart

The right-field porch is going to be friendly to both Gallo and Rizzo for the rest of the season, but Gallo does not exactly need much help in that area.

Cesar Hernandez was handed a ticket out of Cleveland in order to join the juggernaut White Sox in Chicago. The 31-year-old, and his career-high 18 home runs, now finds himself batting second in one of the highest-scoring lineups in the league behind Tim Anderson and behind reigning MVP Jose Abreu. Hernandez’s power outbreak may seem suspect to some, but with a career-low ground ball rate and career-high fly ball rate, this is not that hard to believe. The infielder carries an expected batting average nearly 20 points higher than his actual while posting the highest barrel rate of his career. Believe in Cesar and believe in his new lineup. (chart below from Roster Resource)

cws lineup
cws lineup

The void that Hernandez left behind in Cleveland may be an opening for a preseason sleeper, Andres Gimenez. While the soon-to-be Guardians may have initially called up Owen Miller to fill the infield vacancy, it was only due to Gimenez being in the middle of securing permanent residency in the United States. This was a requirement to make the team’s road trip to Toronto. Once the team returns home on August 6, expect Cleveland to make the change and promote their 22-year-old prospect. Gimenez is batting .274/.335/.492 for Triple-A Columbus and has recently homered in six consecutive games. If you are in need of a bit of speed in your fantasy lineup, be sure to stash Andres Gimenez.

Keibert Ruiz is a potential winner at the trade deadline after being acquired by Washington in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade, but you may not want to get too excited. The Nationals have a clear need at the major league level for a catcher after trading Yan Gomes, along with almost every other player, but reports have stated newly acquired prospects Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz may be sent to Triple-A. 

The 23-year-old has nothing left to prove at the minor league level, slashing .311/.381/.571 over 231 plate appearances with 16 home runs this season, but immediate playing time in the majors seems to be up in the air. However, this landing spot should secure a path to that goal much sooner than in Los Angeles. 

keibert hr
keibert hr

Losers: Hitters

While we are on the subject of the Nationals, let’s talk about Juan Soto. You know, the only player the Nationals failed to trade aside from Ryan Zimmerman. The 22-year-old superstar is going to shine no matter what environment he is in, but after Washington traded away Tre Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, and Yan Gomes, the lineup looks awfully bare. Opposing pitchers had very little incentive to throw Soto a fastball, or even pitch him at all with Alcides Escobar and Luis Garcia acting as his lineup protection.

The Braves decided to add three different outfielders before the trade deadline in order to fill the void left by Ronald Acuna Jr in the form of Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario. This being after Atlanta already acquired left-handed Joc Peterson earlier in the month. Now, while there is nothing wrong with having a little depth, there is a major loss in fantasy value coming for two of these hitters. Reports seem to indicate that Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall and going to be part of a platoon in left field. This is a situation worth monitoring, but there are simply not enough at-bats to go around without someone losing value.

Winners: Starting Pitching

The Angels sent southpaw Andrew Heaney to the Bronx before the trade deadline, but he is not the starting pitcher that has seen a sudden jump in value. That would be Angels prospect Reid Detmers. The 22-year-old was drafted tenth overall in the 2020 draft and is listed as the Angels’ number two prospect by MLB Pipeline. The left-hander has a solid four-pitch mix that is lead by his standout curveball. Detmers is being promoted on Sunday to make his major league debut and will join the Los Angeles six-man rotation. 

The other “winner” at starting pitcher is somewhat cloudy, just like it was for his teammate Keibert Ruiz. Josiah Gray was traded to the Nationals, along with Ruiz, as part of the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner trade. Gray had made his major league debut earlier in July and has now struck out 13 batters over eight frames. 

gray k
gray k

Washington currently fields a three-man rotation of Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, and Erik Feede with the loss of Steven Strasburg and Max Scherzer, so Gray seemed to be an obvious candidate to be installed for the rest of the season. It remains to be seen what the Nationals will do, but it seems inevitable that the 23-year-old will be up in the major league rotation sooner rather than later.

Losers: Starting Pitching

The only real “loser” at the trade deadline in the starting pitching department was Danny Duffy. This may seem a bit crazy to some of you since the Dodgers are an obvious upgrade over the Royals. The problem is, it’s the Dodgers. Once Duffy returns, who is still going to be sidelined for weeks, he is very likely to be tossed into the Los Angeles bullpen rather than the rotation. 

The veteran southpaw has already proved to be a successful option out of the bullpen and he would be competing with David Price and Tony Gonsolin if he were to start. It’s an uphill climb at best and fantasy irrelevance at worst. 

Winners: Closers

There are a lot of moving parts here, so this section is going to act more like a list than a series of paragraphs:

Tampa Bay is always a confusing bullpen to navigate and that has been made more difficult with recent injures. The Rays now find themselves with a new group of possible candidates following the trade of Diego Castillo. The front-runner would seem to be right-hander Andrew Kittredge, but Matt Wisler and Jeffery Springs seem like logical options as well as close to returning Nick Anderson. The bottom line here is that when it comes to the Tampa Bay bullpen, no one wins.

Ian Kennedy is on his way to the City of Brotherly Love and Joely Rodriguez has been sent to the Bronx, leaving the closer’s role wide open for Spencer Patton. The 33-year-old boasts a 3.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 17 innings with 24 punchouts. Although it’s possible that southpaw Brett Martin may see a few save opportunities.

Tyler Clippard, yeah Tyler Clippard, has found himself as the lead candidate to grab saves in Arizona after Jokim Soria was sent packing to Toronto. There is nothing special to see here and probably even fewer save chances, but beggars can’t be choosers and the veteran gets a massive boost in value.

The Cubs moved closer Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox, which we will talk about soon, leaving the door wide open for a returning Rowan Wick. The right-hander has been out for the entire season with a left oblique strain but is due to return very soon. Wick may face competition from Rex Brothers and Dan Winkler, but the cream always rises to the top. 

wick k
wick k

Dylan Floro is likely to take over as the Marlins closer, for now, after Yimi Garcia was shipped off to Houston to set up for Ryan Pressly. Just be careful, as Anthony Bender lurks.

After Richard Rodriguez was traded to the Braves, David Bednar moves into the driver’s seat in Pittsbrugh for save opportunities and is one of the more exciting arms to take over this weekend. The right-hander boasts a 31.4 percent strikeout rate and,194 average against. 

bednar k
bednar k

Finally, the last “winner” among closers is Nationals’ Kyle Finnegan. The 29-year-old needed both Brad Hand (Toronto) and Daniel Husdon (Padres) to get traded for an opportunity, but that is exactly what happened. Finnegan has not exactly been lights out this season, posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over 42 innings, but he is the best suited for the job at the moment. 

Losers: Closers

Let’s start off with the biggest headache in fantasy. Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks. Why did this happen? White Sox fans no doubt love it, but in fantasy baseball, this is the exact opposite of ideal. Rumors suggest that the two dominant relievers may alternate save opportunities, while some suggest that Henriks has been a setup man before and would therefore be the best option for eighth. As far as “losers,” this might hit the Liam side harder, but in the end, both sides are likely to feel the pain. 

Richard Rodriguez certainly has the ability to close for the Braves but is firmly behind Will Smith and Chris Martin. It may be depressing, but many of the names on this list are croppable in formats without holds. Although it may be worth waiting to see how things develop. 

Ranger Suarez has performed well in his temporary stint as the Phillies closer, but that is all likely to go away following the acquisition of veteran Ina Kennedy. Granted, this seems like a situation that is far from certain, so if you are desperate you may want to wait on this one for a bit, but regardless, this is certainly a setback for Ranger.

Kendall Graveman (Seattle) and Yimi Garcia (Marlins) were both removed from their closing position with their former team and tossed into ta startup role for the Astros behind Ryan Pressly. Ufnrotunaley, both Graveman and Garcia are droppable in standard formats.

Finally, Brad Hand is a big loser from the trade deadline after losing his primary closing gig with the Nationals are being thrown into a probable committee with Jordan Romano with the Blue Jays. It’s possible that it may not be as bad as it seems considering Toronto is likely to see far more save opportunities, but there is also the chance that Hand is reverted into modified LOOGY role where he takes care of left-handed hitters that come up late in the game.