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The Braves Trade Evan Gattis to the Astros
I honestly did not think the Braves would trade Evan Gattis despite all the rumors to the contrary. I knew the Braves were re-building but I thought the opportunity to get Gattis full time at-bats in left field would actually be appealing to the Braves. Now I am forced to believe they did not ever intend to keep Gattis when they could trade him for a package of prospects while his value to another team was still high due to his years of control and massive power potential.
There is a tendency among the sabermetric crowd to look down on players that do not draw walks and produce high on-base percentages. But Gattis was about average at getting on base in 2014 and when he finds a regular role in the Astros lineup and receives everyday at-bats his on-base percentage is likely to rise based on his extreme power and the tendency of most pitchers to avoid it. In a full season with say 550 at-bats, Gattis could easily hit 30-plus homeruns. Left field in Minute Maid Park is not huge and probably the perfect place for the kind of outfielder Gattis is (a bat without a position). He could also see time at first base assuming the Astros send Singleton back to the minors. Whatever spot he lands in I expect to see him in the lineup everyday. Gattis is a 20 dollar player for me and probably gets a few dollars more than that in most leagues since El Oso Blanco is both popular and powerful.
In return for Gattis the Braves receive three prospects. Right-handed starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and third baseman Rio Ruiz were both top ten prospects for the Astros and will move into the Braves much improved top ten prospects. Foltynewicz has front-line starter stuff including a high 90's fastball and a plus curve but needs to improve his control before he can front a rotation. He is essentially ready for the major leagues right now.
Rio Ruiz is a highly disciplined and skilled hitter at third base. He has not tapped into his homerun power yet but at worst is probably a 15 homer/35 double sort of guy with a high batting average. He should debut in Double-A this season and maybe get a cup of coffee in the majors in 2016. He could very well be the starting third baseman when the Braves move into their new park in 2017.
Andrew Thurman struggled in A-ball this year but has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter in a few years. Thurman is definitely the lottery ticket the Astros threw into the deal.
The Tampa Bay Rays Trade Ben Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics
The Rays, Athletics and Braves have all made lots of similar deals this season - trading away some of their best and most popular players for greater depth at both the major league and minor league level. And yet all three teams have held on to very good and deep rotations and seem to plan on fielding competitive teams.
At this point Ben Zobrist looks like the starting second baseman for the A's. This could obviously change as GM Billy Beane has made move after move in a record-setting offseason of transactions(nine trades, 27 players and counting). Zobrist should have an above average batting average with 10-plus homers and 10-plus stolen bases. He had a short run of 20-plus homer seasons but those days seem to be past. I expect that no matter what his position he will bat near the top of the A's lineup and score a ton of runs. Zobrist is a 20 dollar player the last few seasons and I think he has another few seasons at that level.
The Rays Side of the Deal
The Rays received catcher/designated hitter John Jaso (who they developed and traded not so long ago), the A's number one prospect - shortstop Daniel Robertson, and center field prospect Boog Powell. Jaso is recovering from a spat of injuries in 2014 including a concussion. He is a decent hitter when healthy but not a impact player for fantasy purposes. Robertson is the real target of the trade from the Rays perspective, he should be an above average hitter at shortstop with decent power and a few stolen bases. Powell gets on base but that is probably his only real skill.
Jaso is probably worth a buck or two in an only league. The concussion problems make him a risk I would rather avoid. The Rays will probably use him mostly as a DH and very rarely behind the plate. I would definitely use a minor league pick on Robertson but while he is a nice prospect he is not a stud, sure-thing type. Powell I would not bother with unless it was a deep Dynasty League and there was just no one with speed or power left to draft.
The Rays recently signed Asdrubal Cabrera which confused many watchers since the Rays did in fact have Zobrist, Escobar and Nick Franklin in their middle infield competition. It makes a lot more sense now. The Rays have confirmed that Cabrera will be their starting shortstop and Nick Franklin the second baseman. I would definitely invest a few bucks in Nick Franklin.
Did the Nationals Add a Second Baseman or a Shortstop?
The A's were forced to take Yunel Escobar in the Zobrist deal and the A's immediately traded him to the Washington Nationals for top tier set-up man Tyler Clippard. The Nationals can use Escobar at second base which has been a problem for them. But Escobar was not good last season and I feel certain that the Nats will allow Dan Uggla (now recovered from his oculomotor dysfunction) and Dan Espinosa to compete for the job.There were some hints that Escobar dogged it on defense but there is no real way to substantiate those kind of claims but it is telling that one of the better defense shortstops rated as one of the worst in 2014. The Nationals own his rights for the next three seasons and rumors of Ian Desmond being on his way out of town are rampant. I seriously doubt that Washington would move Desmond as long as they are contending but I was wrong about Gattis, so... I would probably spend in the high single digits for Escobar's bat if I missed out on the higher ceiling options.
The Athletics Bullpen Looks Really Good
Tyler Clippard is one of my favorite players and I've owned him almost every season of his career. He gets an elite level of innings and strikeouts for a reliever. His durability is a major part of his value. He allows a ton of fly balls, a good percentage of them are of the infield variety but playing in the Oakland football stadium with their great defensive outfielders could allow Clippard to be at his very best. Clippard has been worth 10-12 dollars even without getting more than the occasional save.
The San Francisco Giants Signed OF Nori Aoki
Nori Aoki is a quality player. He gets on base, he plays good defense, he contributes on the bases and he hits for average. Fantasy owners will not like the lack of power but just like the San Francisco Giants, you take your production where you can get it. Aoki has been a 20 dollar player the last few years and I see no reason that would not continue in San Francisco.
The Giants are More Saber-Savy Than They Let On
The Padres Jose Valverde to Minor League Deal
Jose Valverde throws the ball hard but has not been a very good closer. He pitched for the Mets in 2014 but was not very good and was eventually released. I assume he is just depth for the Padres bullpen which is already pretty good. Not worth an investment for fantasy purposes.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Close to Agreement with Korean SS Jung-ho Kang
This is an interesting move for the Pirates. We have very little idea what we can expect from Jung-ho Kang in MLB. The KBO is definitely a hitter's league. Some compare it to the California League. Still, Kang's numbers are far above the league's average level and that does bode well for his statistics in MLB. My hunch is he would be a slightly above average major league hitter. If he can stay at shortstop that is a fantasy asset if he gets the at-bats, which is another big question. It looks like he will begin the season as a utility player getting frequent at-bats at multiple positions. Neal Huntington specifically mentioned third base which has to make you worry about Josh Harrison a bit. Still the supposed bench role should keep his price low. I'd gamble a few bucks on him.
The Angels and Braves Swap Prospects
The Angels acquired third base prospect Kyle Kubitza as depth at third base to protect them from David Freese's impending free agency and their lack of a reasonable option in the farm system. In return the Braves get 17-year old Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez has a lot of upside potential but is probably several years from having a major league impact. I would not go out of my way to acquire either player at this point but both are probably worth minor league picks.
The White Sox Sign Emilio Bonafacio
Emilio Bonafacio was signed to act as a super utility player. He should get something close to regular starter at-bats but will play multiple positions over the course of the season. Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson will still battle for the second base job. As the article linked suggests their leash just got a bit shorter. Bonafacio should receive in the neighborhood of 400 at-bats and hit for an average batting average (.250-.260) with 25-30 stolen bases. The power will not make much impact, though he does have some pop in his bat. He is a 10-15 dollar player most seasons and that is a safe place to draft him.
The Reds Acquire Marlon Byrd
The Cincinnati Reds completed the last trade of the 2014 season when they sent minor league starter Ben Lively to the Philadelphia Phillies for veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and half of his 2015 salary. Marlon Byrd took a losing time to become a productive major leaguer and never actually became the big star he was once projected to be. But Byrd kept working at it and has been a solid role player for several teams and even earned full-time at-bats the last few years.
Great American Ball Park is a good hitting environment for right-handed power just not as good as Citizens Bank Park according to StatCorner.com park factors. However, if Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips are healthy and Devin Mesoraco continues his development at the plate, the Reds have the far superior lineup. Byrd's primary selling point is 20-homer power. His speed has evaporated and while he is not a disaster at the bat, his batting average is not likely to be a major asset, expect something around the major league average or slightly better and you won't go wrong. Byrd has been a 20 dollar player in three of the last five seasons. I think he has another good year in him playing for the Reds. He is 37-years old so a decline can be expected but his work ethic and conditioning are at such a high level that I do not expect a sudden cliff this coming season. I would feel comfortable bidding in the 15-20 area.
It has little relevancy to fantasy baseball but I thought this quote from Reds manager Bryan Price said a lot about the Reds and how their management team thinks: (From Mark Sheldon)
“It’s one of those things that just stand out,” Price said. “What the intangibles are beyond the productivity in a particular role. Those to me are always on display for guys who never shut it down. There are a lot of guys that can play hard when things are going well and swinging the bat well or pitching well. There’s a certain energy that emanates from that player. The guys that stand out as true professionals are the guys that continue to play at that high of a level of intensity and aggressiveness and effort when they’re not playing well or their team is not winning consistently. I always noticed that about Marlon that it didn’t matter the circumstances. He played the game hard and he played it the right way.”This move pretty much guarantees that the Reds top prospect Jesse Winker will spend most of 2015 in the minors. It could even delay his full season debut until 2017 if Byrd has enough at-bats to earn the one-year vesting option on his contract.
What Happened to Joey Votto's Power?
The Philadelphia Phillies add another advanced pitching prospect. Ben Lively pitched at Double-A in 2014 and could impact the Phillies at some point in 2015. He uses four solid slightly above average pitches headlined by the fastball and the slider. He complements his deep arsenal of pitches with very good control. He has a deceptive delivery that allowed him to finish this season second in the minor leagues in strikeouts with 171 in just 151 innings pitched. Scouts label him a mid-rotation starter but he may beat that projection. In his pro career Lively has thrown 192 innings with a 2.58 ERA and 227 strikeouts. He is more finesse than power but I really like this kid. I would invest a minor league pick on him. He reminds me of Doug Fister in a way.
The Phillies have been slow to part with their pricey veterans but they have done a very good job getting back quality prospects that should be able to help them sooner than later.If they manage to get similar returns for Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard (I don't see either moving until close to the trade deadline, as they need to build up some faith in their remaining skills) Ben Revere and closer Jon Papelbon, you can make a case for holding onto Cole Hamels.
In a couple of years without guessing on the return for their other players, this could look like the core of a team close to contention again:
SS J.P. Crawford
3B Maikel Franco
LF Domonic Brown
CF Roman Quinn
SP Cole Hamels
SP Aaron Nola
SP Ben Lively
SP Tom Windle
RP Joely Rodriguez
RP Ben Giles
The Phillies just need to draft better and maybe make better contract decisions. Johnny Almaraz, the new scouting director who did similar work for the Braves and Rangers should help with the draft aspect of the re-build. The Phillies have enough financial resources that there is no reason they can't rebuild in a fashion similar to the Boston Red Sox who have gone through a rebuilding of sorts over the last few years without ever completely giving up on playing competitive baseball.
Pat Gillick as the interim CEO should (and I believe already does) have an impact on many of GM Ruben Amaro's decisions. I do not believe the Phillies would be committing to the re-build without Gillick's influence.For a few years at least the Phillies need to concentrate on players they can acquire without sacrificing picks or financial flexibility. They should spend as much as possible on international amateur talent - acquiring prospects in bulk rather than going too nuts on any prospect in particular. They should only lay out major cash for players that are going to be part of their long term plans.
But the Phillies should also use some of that financial advantage to sign as many veteran major leaguers as possible to one or two year deals. Then take a page from the Cubs book and trade those veterans at the trade deadline if they are not in spitting distance of a playoff spot. This has the dual benefit of putting at least an interesting team on the field to keep attendance and television ratings from plummeting while also giving them players they can continue to move to build young minor league depth. Even now they could sign players such as Emilio Bonafacio, Everth Cabrera, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Young, Brian Wilson or Joe Thatcher. Any of these guys could be had on a relatively cheap one-year contract and have value to a contender at the deadline. Add the possible return for their remaining veterans to this idea and the Phillies minor league depth could explode very quickly.
The Rockies Sign Catcher Nick Hundley
Michael McKendry can hit a little and if he ever earned even half of a starting role he would qualify as a sleeper in my book. He is strong in traditional catcher defense but he is a below average pitch framer.I have no interest in Nick Hundley for fantasy purposes but you can probably do worse as a one dollar catcher...probably.
10 Questions for the Colorado Rockies
OLD NEWS: the rest of this is mostly links to coverage of stuff so old I no loner feel like writing about it and some writing about the Padres. Most of this will be covered in the team previews I have been working on and which should debut soon.
The Yankees Trade Veterans Prado and Phelps for Youth
Thinking Positive On Nathan Eovaldi
The Yankees Trade Manny Banuelos to the Braves
How Chasen Shreve Got His Groove Back
Who is Chasen Shreve?
The Yankees Also Traded Shawn Kelley to the Padres
The Yankees Unusual Off-Season
The Cubs Sign Chris Denorfia
The Dodgers Sign Starter Brett Anderson
The Royals Sign Edison Volquez
The Marlins Trade Casey McGehee to the Giants
The Royals Trade Johnny Giavotella to the Los Angeles Angels
I have always liked Johnny Giavotella and felt he never received a real opportunity to show what he could do in the majors. Stupid Ned Yost... (/Homer Voice)
Gavin Floyd Signs With the Cleveland Indians
After Tommy John Surgery robbed him of his 2013 season Gavin Floyd came back very successfully with the Atlanta Braves in 2014. He looks like a clear member of the rotation to me. His potential 10 million dollar deal has six million in incentives added to a four million dollar base. For the Indians this is a lot of money. They obviously liked what they saw from him in Atlanta, a lot, since they already had 6-7 intriguing rotation candidates. He looked like a slightly better than average starting pitcher in nine 2014 starts, inducing ground balls at a nice rate with a decent strikeout rate. Yep, he was doing well until breaking a bone in his elbow and validating his injury prone label. Surgery was performed soon after and most reports indicate he should have a normal offseason and come into Spring Training like everyone else. He will be worth more in a AL-only league but he still smells like an endgame buy to me. Even if you think he came back from TJS better than ever, the consistent injury history should reduce his price to the 1-5 dollar area. If he manages to stay healthy there is potential profit at that price range.
The Pirates Sign Corey Hart
Hart has been an excellent player when healthy but he has not been healthy the last couple of seasons. The Pirates are making a good buy-low decision while adding insurance at first base should Pedro Alvarez prove less than worthy of full-time at-bats. Hart should play against most lefty starters in any case.
The San Diego PadresThe Padres Acquire 2013 ROY Wil Myers
The Tampa Bay Rays received catcher Rene Rivera, right-hander Burch Smith and first base prospect Jake Bauers from San Diego and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and minor league left-hander Travis Ott from Washington in return for Myers, catcher Ryan Hanigan and minor league pitchers Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes.The Nationals received pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later, widely believed to be shortstop Trea Turner, the Padres’ first pick in last June’s draft.
The Padres GM A.J. Preller is taking a page out of Fantasy Baseball for Sharks and zigging when they zag.With so many teams looking at the Royals pitching and defense as the model for the new low offense era, Preller is sacrificing defense in the name of brutal, overwhelming amounts of power and hopefully that leads to a ton of runs scored. That said, I think the talk of how awful the Padres defense will be is being overstated.
Matt Kemp is not a good center fielder but he has had seasons where he appeared to be at least tolerable. He had one year where by the numbers he was actually a fair center fielder. In right field, where he is projected to play for the Padres, Kemp has been a tolerable outfielder. I think with time he will actually be a good right fielder. I think you have to give Kemp the benefit of the doubt for his defense in 2014 (which was rated as truly horrid) as he was clearly getting his legs under him after knocking off a couple of years of rust. If you check out the link on his name above you'll see that he was horrible in center, bad in left field and not great in right field. But if you think about it this mirrors his progression throughout the season with the bat as well. He finished the season as almost passable in right field as his bat was cranking as you would expect from the former MVP. With another normal offseason I think the bat will justify the slightly below average or better defense.
Will Myers came through the minors as first a catcher and then transitioned to outfielder to rush his bat to the major leagues. In his short career so far he has been just okay in the outfield, mostly in right field. He has the youngest and freshest leagues so it makes some sense that he would be the one to move to center field. He is excited by it judging by interviews I've seen since the trade. I would love to see the Padres move him to first base and let one of the real center fielders man the position but they do not listen to me. But for fantasy owners the big question is about the bat. The wrist injury pretty clearly had an impact and those types of injuries can impact a player's hitting even after being judged healthy. I happen to think he will bounce back just fine. In the minors he showed he could make adjustments and hit for average and power. I do not think we have seen the best of Myers just yet. That said, he does hit too many ground balls to expect a big power surge and moving to Petco Park is not going to help. He is still quite young and I would bid cautiously in the 15-18 dollar area, maybe a few bucks more in a keeper league.
The Padres Also Trade Prospects For Atlanta's Justin Upton
In return the Braves receive a haul of prospects: left-handed starting pitcher Max Fried, infielders Jace Peterson and Dustin Peterson (no relation), and outfielder Mallex Smith. The Braves also send minor league pitcher Aaron Northcraft to the Padres, and receive an international bonus slot, valued at $182,300, from San Diego. The Padres get another power hitter in Upton.
Justin Upton increased his hard contact last season and looks like he could mash 30-plus homers easily in most parks That seems tough to do in Petco but I still think he will hit 25-plus homers. He has been a mid-20's player in dollar value. I like him in that area again. I think it is risky to bid 30-plus when he is moving to Petco park this season.
The Braves Trade and Receive a Younger Version of Anthony Varvaro
The Padres Also Acquire All-Star Catcher Derrek Norris
Who is Josh Phegley?
Then the Padres Flipped Ryan Hannigan to Boston for Will Middlebrooks
The Red Sox Trade Their Top Prospects A Lot
The Padres Trade Seth Smith to the Mariners
Spin Rates Indicate Sleeper Value for Maurer
But David Ross Decided on the Cubs
Other Articles of Interest to Fantasy Owners
Building A New Starting Pitcher Ranking Stat
A Follow-up Post on Arsenal Score
Three Things The Red Sox Will Do For Rick Porcello
10 Breakout Pitcher Picks
10 Breakout Hitter Picks
Jon Niese Changing It Up
The 2016 HOF Class Features "The Kid"