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Potential Risers/Fallers After the MLB Trade Deadline


The MLB Trade Deadline is one of the most exciting parts of the baseball season. Contenders get to bolster their rosters for the playoff push while rebuilding clubs get to add potential studs to their growing farm system. With players such Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Mike Moustakas and many others already moved, teams around the league have kicked the trade deadline off early.

While the deadline is used as an opportunity for clubs to improve their team in the present and future, it could have massive fantasy implications. If a player is going to get an opportunity to see more playing time, or perhaps lose the playing time he was receiving, owners need to be aware of what to do. A trade to an improved lineup could vastly increase a batter's value. In turn, a closer being traded to a team where he would no longer see saves would eliminate all fantasy value. Overall, the fantasy landscape should change dramatically following the July 31 deadline.

Below are five players who could see their value increase if moved into into the right situation, as well as five players who could become drop-worthy if dealt to the wrong team. A savvy owner might look to deal for players who could be on the up, while attempting to ship off talent who may no longer be valuable following the July 31 deadline. Keep in mind that none of these players are guaranteed to move, but have been speculated in trade talks leading up to the deadline.

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Most To Gain

Domingo Santana (MIL, OF)

Domingo Santana's name hasn't been on the rumor mill as much as it was over the winter. However, with Milwaukee already trading for Moustakas, perhaps they continue to deal in hopes of a deep playoff run. Santana has proven he could hit for power in the MLB. If he is able to see regular playing time, there's a chance he could be a massive boost for fantasy teams struggling in the home run category.

In 2017, Santana appeared in 151 games and hit .278 with 30 home runs, 85 RBI and 15 stolen bases. His 30 homers ranked among some of the league's best and clearly showed Santana's power potential. However, despite Santana's impressive 2017, the Brewers have used him sparingly in 2018, with the outfielder appearing in just 62 games.

While Santana did shine last year, it's hard to blame Milwaukee for his lack of usage. The team signed Lorenzo Cain and traded for Christian Yelich this offseason. The team also had players such as Ryan Braun and Eric Thames already on the roster. There's not much room for regular outfield playing time in Milwaukee. Outside of just the major league club, the Brewers have impressive outfield depth in their minor league system as well. Among the team's top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, 10 are outfielders. This includes players such as Corey Ray and Tristen Lutz.

Santana is not going to see regular starts anytime soon with the Brewers. If he were to be traded where he could play every day, there's a chance he would be able to unleash his prodigious power again. While he won't hit 30 home runs, there's a chance he would be able to hit double digits by season's end.

It's unclear if the Brewers have any plans to trade Santana. But he is buried in an extremely deep outfield depth chart. He has shown his power potential in the past and could be a steal off of the waiver wire if given an opportunity with the right team.

Chris Archer (TB, SP)

Of all the players available heading into the trade deadline, no player has gained as much attention as Tampa Bay Rays' starter Chris Archer. Reports have stated that the Rays are more likely to trade Archer than in years past, and while it's no guarantee he is moved, Archer would see a major boost by heading to a different team.

On the season, Archer has pitched to a 3-5 record with a 4.31 ERA and a 102/31 K/BB ratio. He holds a 9.6 SO/9 on the season, ranking tied for 17th in the league. Archer is also under team control until 2021, meaning any team acquiring him will have three extra years of control.

Archer's numbers haven't looked like that of a future ace, but he is one of the better strikeout pitchers in the game. If his career were to end tomorrow, Archer would finish ninth in MLB history with a career 9.7 K/9. While some of the blame is on him, pitching for the Rays certainly hasn't helped. Tampa Bay has finished higher than 20th in runs scored just once since 2013; the first year Archer saw 20+ starts. Playing in the AL East certainly hurts his potential as well. As pointed out by Jason Collette of Fangraphs, Archer has looked much better against non-AL East competition.

If Archer is able to get out of the East and face weaker competition, he could be a truly dominant strikeout pitcher. Even if he were to remain in the East but be traded to a much better team like the Yankees, his run support would improve greatly.

Archer has shown massive potential but hasn't truly had an opportunity to become an ace. A change of scenery could do wonders for his fantasy outlook.

Victor Robles (WSH, OF)

Outfielder Victor Robles currently ranks as the best prospect in the Washington Nationals' organization and the fifth-best prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline. Robles is a five-tool athlete who has the potential to be a future All-Star and MVP candidate in the future.

However, while Robles has all the potential in the world, he's currently blocked off in Washington's outfield. The team has four solid players in Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Juan Soto and Michael Taylor. Despite that potential, Robles doesn't necessarily have a spot on the major league roster.

Over five minor league seasons, Robles has hit .303 with 27 home runs, 148 RBI and 119 stolen bases. Robles projects as a top-of-the-order type player who should both score and produce runs for years to come. At just 21 years old, he's the type of young prospect to build a franchise around.

Reports have stated that the Nationals are more willing to move Robles than before. Washington has been the team most connected to Marlins' catcher J.T. Realmuto with Robles likely being the headliner in any deal. Whether it's for Realmuto or any player, Robles being moved into an opportunity where he could see regular MLB starts would greatly boost his fantasy value. He would become a must-own and would be a major asset in both the batting average and stolen base categories.

The Nationals have been deciding whether to buy or sell at the deadline, including superstar Bryce Harper. If they do buy and Robles is involved, there's a chance his rise to MLB stardom begins imminently.

Jacob deGrom (NYM, SP)

Despite talks of a deGrom trade dying down in recent weeks, perhaps no player would see a bigger fantasy boost with a change of scenery. It would take a huge package to pry deGrom from the Mets, but we saw Yu Darvish dealt to the Dodgers at the last minute in 2017. Perhaps New York's ace faces the same fate this season.

In 2018, deGrom has pitched to a 1.82 ERA and a 164/32 K/BB ratio with a 0.98 WHIP. His ERA ranks best in the MLB while his strikeouts rank seventh and his walks rank seventh among pitchers who have thrown at least 120 innings. deGrom's WHIP is fifth-best in the major leagues. While deGrom is having an amazing and borderline CY Young type season, his record remains just 5-6. deGrom has 10 no-decisions on the year, which is tied for third-most in the MLB. The Mets rank 28th in the MLB with just 407 runs scored. In games where deGrom starts, the Mets average just 3.52 runs, putting him 72nd in the MLB.

It's no secret that a change of scenery would do wonders for deGrom. Playing for a team that would give him ample run support would boost his record tenfold. He has an electric arsenal and has proven he could limit runs on his own, deGrom just needs help from his offense. It's still not a given that he is moved, but if deGrom were to be traded to an offensive team like the Yankees, his fantasy outlook would greatly improve as he would become undoubtedly a top-five option in all of fantasy.

Jose Martinez (STL, 1B)

Coming out of the All-Star break, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Jose Martinez sat for five straight games. Most of that had to do with interim manager Mike Shildt's approach on defense. While he did eventually return to the lineup, Martinez has sat out the last two with Jedd Gyorko returning from injury. As Matt Carpenter continues to shine and Shildt continues to use players such as Gyroko, Greg Garcia and Yairo Munoz over him, Martinez won't have an opportunity to produce every day.

If Martinez were to be traded to an American League team where he could function as the designated hitter on a regular basis, his fantasy value would skyrocket.

Martinez is hitting .294 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI and 36 runs scored in 98 games this season. His .294 average ranks second among first baseman in the MLB while his 13 home runs rank tied for 20th. He has already topped his career high in RBI and remains just two home runs and 12 runs away from setting personal bests.

Martinez may not be the best defensive first baseman, but he certainly provides a lot of offense. St. Louis may not give him an opportunity to start every day. If an American League team is willing to take a chance on him, there's a chance he could have 20+ home runs by the end of the season.

 

Most To Lose

Kirby Yates (SD, RP)

Following the Brad Hand trade, reliever Kirby Yates was immediately tasked with becoming the new closer in San Diego. He has taken that job in stride and has now become a trade piece of his own. However, with teams such as the Red Sox, who already have Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning, interested in Yates, the Padres reliever would fall back to a setup role, limiting his fantasy appeal.

Yates has pitched to a 1.60 ERA and a 50/11 K/BB ratio with three saves in 41 appearances this season. His ERA ranks 14th among relievers with at least 20 innings pitched. He also holds the 12th best WHIP among players in that category with a 0.89.

Outside of just his baseball performance, Yates is under team control until 2020 through arbitration. The two extra years of control should add appeal to his already shining resume.

After already trading their closer in Hand, it's unknown if San Diego would trade another in Yates. However, if he is moved, he should bring back a quality haul of prospects for the Padres and give a contender a solid late-inning reliever.

If dealt though, Yates would likely no longer have a ninth inning role and would therefore lose all fantasy value. Yates fantasy owners need to be aware of the trade possibility and subsequent decline in value. If moved, perhaps Craig Stammen could be next in line for saves in San Diego.

Matt Wieters/Spencer Kieboom (WSH, C)

Neither Matt Wieters nor Spencer Kieboom have been all that impressive in 2018. However, they're both currently seeing regular playing time as the only catchers on the roster. With the Nats reportedly interested in multiple catchers heading into the deadline both Wieters and Kieboom could be in danger of losing starts.

Wieters is the more name brand of the two back stops. Despite being a four time All-Star, Wieters has hit just .196 with three home runs and nine RBI over 35 games in 2018. Kieboom on the other hand has hit just .215 with five RBI and five runs scored in 27 games.

Overall, Washington's catchers rank last in the MLB in runs scored (27), hits (66), home runs (5), batting average (.185) and slugging percentage (.266). Clearly, catcher has not been a friendly position to the Nationals in 2018 with Wieters and Kieboom struggling.

Due to this, the Nats have been connected to both Realmuto and Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos. If the team were to acquire either. They would immediately slide in as the starter and see the majority of starts down the stretch.

Both Wieters and Kieboom aren't necessarily fantasy viable at the moment as they both have batting averages under .200. However, they both are seeing regular playing time and therefore at least have the opportunity to contribute. If Washington were to acquire Realmuto, Ramos or any other catcher, Wieters and Kieboom would lose the sliver of fantasy relevance they barely have.

Kyle Barraclough (MIA, RP)

Kyle Barraclough has put together a strong season in 2018. After working in middle relief last year, he has stepped up and worked as the team's closer this campaign. Despite the Marlins not being very good on the field, Barraclough has been one of the few bright spots and one of the most talked about names heading into the deadline.

Barraclough holds a 2.54 ERA and a 51/24 K/BB ratio with 10 saves in 2018. Outside of just season, Barraclough has looked strong his entire career, holding a 2.80 ERA and a 270/124 K/BB ratio. Miami's closer is also under team control until 2021 through arbitration, upping his appeal.

It's unknown if the Marlins will be willing to trade Barraclough, they have been stingy on deals in the past. However, the trade package they would receive could jump start a farm system in need of some firepower. In turn, any team acquiring Barraclough would get a young, controllable reliever who would give any contender a lethal back-end of the bullpen.

Unfortunately for Barraclough, if he is going to be moved, it would likely be to a team that already has an established closer. If that is the case, he would no longer see save opportunities and would lose his fantasy value.

Right now, it looks to be about a 50/50 chance on if Barraclough is moved prior to the deadline. If so, fantasy owners need to be aware that they'd be taking a hit in the saves department. Drew Steckenrider would be a player to add as he could be next in line for saves.

Keone Kela (TEX, RP)

Texas Rangers pitcher Keone Kela is another closer who could see his value tank with a trade. Unlike Yates and Barraclough however, it appears that the Rangers are pretty intent on moving Kela. He has definitely improved in 2018 and could bring back a decent haul to the Rangers.

In 38 games this season, Kela has pitched to a 3.44 ERA and a 44/14 K/BB ratio with 24 saves. Kela looked strong in middle relief last season, pitching to a 2.79 ERA and a 51/17 K/BB ratio over 38 1/2 innings.

Kela has already been connected to the Pittsburgh Pirates and is surely drawing interest from other teams around the league in need of bullpen help. He won't cost as much as Yates or Barraclough, making him perhaps a bigger target than the others. After already moving Cole Hamels, and reportedly putting franchise cornerstone Adrian Beltre on the block, the Rangers seem pretty committed to their fire sale, meaning there's a strong chance Kela is moved prior to the deadline.

Kela had just three saves prior to 2018, but has proven he can handle the closing role in a pinch. It seems like that he will be traded to a contender, losing both his save opportunities and fantasy value. If/when Kela is moved, Jake Diekman or Alex Claudio could step into the closer role and are worth speculative adds.

Update: Kela has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for two prospects

In the early morning on Tuesday, the Texas Rangers agreed to a deal sending Kela to the Pirates for two prospects. Kela will likely work in a setup role to established closer Felipe Vazquez. He will no longer see regular save chances and is therefore a drop candidate in all leagues that don't count holds.

Diekman or Claudio should step up in the ninth inning, although there's no guarantee they aren't moved prior to the deadline.

Dylan Bundy/Kevin Gausman (SP, BAL)

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman make it on the "most to lose" list for two specific reasons. For the most part, if they were traded to a team like the Yankees or Brewers, they would see an uptick in value. However, if they remain with the Orioles through the trade deadline, or are dealt to the Rockies as speculated, their value would take a hit.

Both Bundy and Kevin Gausman have had highs and lows in 2018.

Bundy has started 20 games this season and has pitched to a 7-9 record with a 4.53 ERA and a 123/35 K/BB ratio. The right-hander leads Baltimore in strikeouts, but has also given up a league leading 26 home runs. He has shown potential in the past and is on pace to break his season-best strikeout record, but Bundy hasn't been able to put together a season reminiscent of a second or third starter in his four-year career.

Gausman has started 21 games for the Orioles in 2018, holding a 5-8 record with a 4.43 ERA and a 104/32 K/BB ratio. Gausman is another player with impressive strikeout numbers over his career, but has struggled to limit the long ball with 21 home runs given up this season.

Gausman and Bundy are still young, 27 and 25 respectively, and could be players to build around. However, if they remain in Baltimore throughout the deadline their fantasy value will remain stagnant. They haven't been spectacular this season and are tough to trust in season-long leagues. Pitching for an offense that ranks 27th in the MLB in runs scored.

If either were to be traded, most scenarios would have them in the "most to gain" list. But if they were to be traded to the Rockies, both could struggle pitching in the daunted Coors Field. Rockies' pitchers hold the 13th best ERA with a 4.09 in away games. However, they drop all the way down to 28th with a 5.13 ERA in home games. Colorado's pitchers have seen Coors multiple times and still haven't been able to figure it out. If Bundy or Gausman are expected to shine during the second half of the season, playing in Colorado could hurt rather than help.

Neither Bundy or Gausman have been great in 2018, but they have both shown potential. If they were to be traded, a deal to an offensive team would greatly help their fantasy outlook. However, remaining in Baltimore or a deal to Colorado leads both of their values bleak for the remainder of the season.

 

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