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Trevor Bauer Trade - Fantasy Implications from the Deadline Deal

The Cleveland Indians have again made the most significant trade of the MLB deadline. Pending a formal announcement, Cleveland dealt Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes head to Cleveland, and top-20 prospect Taylor Trammell is headed to San Diego. Also in the deal are prospects Scott Moss, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova who all head to Cleveland. While there is still time for another deal to take the title, as it currently stands, this is the trade that will define the 2019 MLB deadline.

While the trade will have clear implications on the playoff race and future years, fantasy owners are wondering what this deal does for their current rosters. To help owners, each player in the deal is evaluated on their fantasy implications moving forward. With impact in American, National, and mixed league formats, these types of trades have rippled across the fantasy community. In fact, the major pieces in the deal are all set for a dip in fantasy value due to the immediate changes in team and park context.

Read along to see what moves owners need to make, or what players to target due to this deal. Trade deadlines in fantasy might not get the media coverage; they are as key for a pennant race.

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Stock Up


Franmil Reyes (OF, CLE)

The biggest knock on Reyes to this point in his career has been his glove. Rated as a below-average defender, and lacking the accuracy with the big arm to make up for the lack of range, Reyes is best suited to a designated hitter role. This means that a move to the American League is ideal. Even more, while a torrid defender, this is not a scenario where the team can only play him at DH. Instead, he becomes a player that can start in the field and be replaced by Jordan Luplow or Mike Freeman late in games for defensive purposes. For a team needing a right-handed bat, and with the defenders to cover the loss, Reyes could not have landed in a better spot.

The other bonus for Reyes is the power that he has already shown. In 99 games, Reyes has 27 homers with a .536 SLG. While Petco Park is easier on right-handed power, as opposed to sapping most of the lefty mashers, Reyes is still in for a better hitting environment. To date, Petro is 17th in the league with a .939 home run factor, while Progressive Park, Reyes’s new home, has a 1.13 factor. This means that even with some platoon risk, Reyes is in a better hitter’s park, and should see a boost in his total power numbers. Cleveland is buying a top 5% of the league Hard Hit%, exit velocity, and xSLG, so this could have a more significant impact than the current media narrative suggests.


Logan Allen (SP, CLE)

If there is one thing that Cleveland has excelled at over the past decade, it has been pitcher development. Cory Kluber was one of the first in a line of arms that were added on the cheap and saw their real value far outshine their prospect hype. Add Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, and yes, even Trevor Bauer to that list. Even more, Cleveland has been uniquely capable with pitchers who can flash elite command and pitch-mix but lack the elite velocity to churn a roster. This description fits Allen like a glove.

On Allen, the stock is up due to a direct pathway to playing time. If he can pitch with Cleveland this year, expect him to, but if not, he enters 2020 spring training with a chance to earn a spot in the rotation. While there might have been stability with the Padres and that fleet of young arms, Allen might be lost in the shuffle of Chris Paddack, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, and the waves of arms down in the lower minors. Without the velocity, Allen is more likely to be a starter in Cleveland, or at least; there is less depth to fight for playing time. Expect the current development path to keep up, and with Cleveland, if there is more to unlock, owners can trust this front office.


Victor Nova (SS, CLE)

Nova is the wildcard in this deal, as he is only 19 at the time of the agreement. Playing in his second professional season with the Padres Arizona Summer League squad, Nova does not appear on any prospect lists or reports at the time of the deal. Without much public information, Nova is a lottery ticket with as much upside as Cleveland can squeeze out. This year has seen Nova make marked improvements at the plate, with a .330/.421/.451 slash after a .197/.370/.291 line last year. No power with only one homer so far, Nova has stolen seven bags in nine total tries this year.

While there is little known about Nova, if there is a team that can develop young infielders, it is Cleveland. Along with the command-centric pitching approach, infielders with athleticism and a hit tool fit well into the Cleveland machine. Even more, with the team expected to lose Francisco Lindor in a few years, there is a stop to play on this infield. In San Diego, there was no chance to break in, or at the very least, playing time in five years is a plus for Nova in this move. For dynasty league owners, Nova will be a cheap add with some upside, and worth the dart if owners can wait for four or five years for any return.


Stock Down


Trevor Bauer (SP, CIN)

Before diving into the park factors, team context, and all the data stuff about this move, with Bauer, owners need to start off the field. Highly rated out of UCLA, and selected third overall by Arizona, the only thing that held Bauer back was the team’s willingness to let Bauer “Bauer.” Yes, “Bauer,” as a verb.

Bauer needs to control his off the field routine, and his throwing sessions, and all the rest. This is not some insider news, but fairly public from Cleveland. This means offseason work at Driveline, the pregame ritual, and all the rest. While Cincinnati wants Bauer and is willing to work with him, the Cleveland situation was unique. The team has learned how to handle outbursts, as evidenced by the reaction from the team and manager to the latest incident. This means that any move should raise red flags, and owners will have to see if the manager and pitching coaches let Bauer “Bauer.”

On the field, owners should also have concerns about Bauer moving forward. The main issue for Bauer this year has been the long ball, as he has allowed 22 bombs in 156 innings. Opposing hitters are also hitting the ball a mile-per-hour harder, and have added four points to the launch angle. When Great American has a 1.125 home run factor, compared to Progressive’s 1.13, the park will not help Bauer. Add in that Bauer will have to face better teams in the National League as opposed to the American League Central, there is only a risk the power numbers continue to rise. Still a top fantasy arm, Bauer will never be the ace that many expected entering this year.


Taylor Trammell (OF, SD)

The most significant prospect piece in this deal, Trammell has a bit of a mixed reputation in fantasy baseball. While a definite asset, concerns about the hit tool and personality have caused his fantasy profile to slip a bit. The good news for Trammell owners is that there is no longer a block in center field with Nick Senzel to hold him back, but Manuel Margot has been playing much better this year. With Reyes also leaving, there is a spot open in this outfield so Trammell could break camp with the team next year. San Diego also does not care about service time, as they have been willing to play their rookies a ton this year. This means he could be up quicker than he would have been with the Reds and that only helps with development.

The reason that the stock is down overall is the park fit with his power. Right now, scouts grade his future power tool at a 50, which is average for the league. While there are concerns he even gets to that, the power was already going to be secondary in the profile. Add in Petco Park, with the lefty swing of Trammell, and there is little to no boost in that power base. Also, when he is only hitting .236 in his first year at Double-A, this move seems to be an overpay for a player slipping in the rankings. Owners should sell while there is still some hype to deal. Trammell was already a falling prospect and is now entering a tougher environment.


Yasiel Puig (OF, CLE)

While news of a looming suspension might limit what Puig can do in the short term, or the rest of the year, owners should expect much of the same offensive value when he is allowed to play. The downside comes from the fact that Great American is a better hitters park when compared to Progressive. Currently, Progressive is the 19th ranked park for run factor with 0.978, and Great American is 10th at 1.076. This means that Puig might lose some of the park boost, but is still a solid hitter nonetheless.

To date, Puig has put together a disappointing campaign. While he is slashing .255/.302/.475, these numbers are all down from career norms, and last year more specifically. The good news is that he has 22 homers so far, after only hitting 23 all of last year. The difference for Puig has been hitting at the heart of the team. As opposed to this time in Los Angeles, when he was a supporting piece. Entering a roster with Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Reyes, and Carlos Santana, Puig is back to a supporting role. This move will not kill his value but hurts what has been a stable, but steady campaign for the Cuban slugger. Puig might be a better player when he is carrying the team, and might ironically lose some value when he is part of a machine. Still a player to own the rest of the way, this move does not seem to help his fantasy value for 2019.


Scott Moss (SP, CLE)

Added to the move as a part of the roster crunch, Moss will be Rule-5 eligible this winter, meaning that Cleveland will need to add him to the 40-man roster. Still some ways from the Bigs, Moss has the approach to factor in the bullpen sooner than later. A lefty with middling velocity, Moss has three pitches he can throw for strikes. The fastball is the most significant tool, with the velocity rising from 88 at the time of the draft, to 92-93 entering this year. With the added speed, Moss moves from a bullpen arm to a starting option in this system, but still lacks the ceiling to project in the rotation.

The slider and changeup are critical for the overall profile, as both pitches currently sit at a 50 grade. Without the off-speed support, the fastball alone is not enough for Moss to handle the Majors. The good news is that he has 123 Ks in 102 innings this year, so the stuff is beginning to translate. While the WHIP was up to 1.38 from 1.33 last year, the overall approach is still proving useful. A reliever in the long term, the stock is down since Cleveland loves these types of arms in their bullpen. If he starts, an SP5 model, but in the bullpen, could be an elite arm. It all depends on the secondary stuff.

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