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Surplus to Requirements - Minor Trades and Fantasy Implications

For fantasy baseball owners the trading deadline is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the hope is that players move into better spots on better teams, or at the very least, do not move to worse spots. On the other hand, trades lead to changes, and changes are not always good for players. Closers move to set-up roles, and backups move into starting roles quicker at this points in the season than any other time.  As baseball fans it is exciting, but as owners, perhaps not so much.

So then, what should owners watch for? In most of the big moves, the Zach Britton and Brad Hand trades, the fantasy implications are apparent. What about those minor moves?  The surplus to requirement trades, where a non-contender is trying to get something before losing a piece for nothing?  Those get a bit tricky.

Today’s article looks at two of those moves, with Seung Hwan Oh moving to Colorado and Martin Maldonado moving to Houston to show owners what they should do. First, there is a focus on the major leaguers, and then moving to the prospects going in the deal, the hope is to offer coverage to all types of leagues. Settle in and get those waiver claims ready to go.    

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On the Move

Seung Hwan Oh to Colorado

The 2018 Rockies planned to be one of the top bullpens in the game, with the offseason additions of Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw, to add to the return of Jake McGee. To date, the Colorado bullpen is second-to-last in the bigs with a 5.26 bullpen ERA. Davis has been good even with a 4.50 ERA and has posted 28 saves and 10.07 K/9 to date. Shaw has been a disappointment with a 6.98 ERA to date, but some of that it tied to sample size and the Coors effect.

So, the new additions have been hit and miss, meaning those moves have not had the desired effect so far. Even with the bullpen issues, the Rockies are still only 1.5 games back in the West and NL Wild Card. If the Rockies can keep playing as well as they have over the past few weeks, this is a team that just might lose another Wild Card game in October.

To help them get there, the Rockies have announced the addition of Oh to the bullpen, and the price is a bit more than expected. First, on Oh. While not the 2016 Rolaids Relief candidate anymore, the 2018 version of the “Final Boss” looks much better than the 2017 version. To date, with Toronto, he has appeared in 48 games posting a 2.68 ERA and 10.53 K/9. Some thought he would be the closer with Roberto Osuna’s absence, but to date, Oh only has two saves. Expect that to be his role in Colorado as well, as Davis is not going to leave the closer role anytime soon.

Oh is a fantasy option in deep leagues, but with the Coors factor, the line should regress, even if still good for real-life ball.  To be more specific, Oh should be the seventh inning guy until Shaw gets everything figured out.  From there? It's up to Bud Black.  

What did the Jays get in return for the former closer? First, Chad Spanberger, the first baseman known for power more than anything is the key piece going back. In fact, he appeared on last week’s “Stat Scouting” piece highlighting lower level hitters to stash, and to see him move was a surprise. Spanbeger fits best in Coors with the bat, and while Toronto is no pitchers park, this seems to be a move that hurts him regarding playing time and park factors. Power, power, and more power, this should play in Toronto and adds to the depth at the position for the Jays. If this trade had happened last week, he would not have been the first base pick in the article, if that helps owners with context.   

The other piece is Forest Wall, a former 2014 first-round pick of Colorado. While perhaps not meeting his prospect ceiling to date, there are encouraging signs to the profile. Although he has slowed since getting the promotion to Double-A, his numbers to start the season at Modesto are worth highlighting. In 47 games at Modesto, Wall was slashing .305/.382/.453, three homers and 20 steals. This seems like another significant loss for the Rockies even with the depressed stats at Hartford, as that speed plays, and the other offensive numbers should make him a regular in center at Coors.  With the second base background and the hope that he sticks in the outfield, this could be an Adam Frazier type with more speed.  

BALLER MOVE: Oh to Colorado hurts his owners if they expected him to be a closer at some points, and if you are in dynasty leagues, these are prospects with good chances at being MLB starters in a few years.  Sell Oh and buy the prospects. 


Martin Maldonado to Houston

In all fairness, unless owners were playing in two-catcher or AL-only leagues, Maldonado was not on many radars this season. Unless they read the AL-only picks on this site, as he has made plenty of appearances there. Even after the trade, he looks to be the defensive replacement or at best a regular backup catcher. In Los Angeles, he was the starter, so it will be a step down in roles for him with this move. This means that the expectation is Max Stassi holds the starting role until Brian McCann returns from the DL. He has been the default starter, but this adds a bit of security to the depth at the position.

At the same time, the best Houston fantasy catcher is Even Gattis, who does not even play catcher, so this is a weird move in how it affects fantasy owners. That being said, the risk is that Stassi loses some playing time, and with his offensive production so far, he has emerged as one of the breakout catching options to date. The Astros would not make this trade just to sit him on the bench, so owners should watch lineups for the next week or so. 

For the Angels this means that Jose Briceno will take over the starting role behind the plate, and this is another mixed bag concerning fantasy options. To date, in 18 games with the Angels in 2018, Briceno is slashing .261/.277/.413 with two homers. Not blowing the cover off the ball, but from a catcher that average and slug offer good upside. The hedge to the profile is that in the minors he was never an offensive threat with averages in the .220-.240 range most of his career. That being said, the starting role has value, and owners who are looking for a short-term dart should take a look.

Patrick Sandoval, the player, going back to the Angels, looks to be a steal for this team based on production to date. While only an 11th round pick in 2015, Sandoval has gotten better with every step up the minor league ladder. This season, split between A and High-A ball, Sandoval has started a total of 13 games out of 19 total appearances. His ERA at High-A is 2.74 with a FIP of 2.37, which is even better than the starting ERA, one level lower, which was 2.49. The K rate is good at 10.17 K/9 at the most recent stop, and the walk rate is only 1.57 BB/9. Regarding flipping a defensive catcher, this looks to be a good add for Billy Eppler. For fantasy owners in deep leagues, this is a good addition as there is a path to the majors in Los Angeles that was not there in Houston.   

BALLER MOVE: move on from Maldonado, keep Stassi, and in dynasty leagues add Sandoval.


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