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Tyler Mahle Traded to the Twins - Fantasy Baseball Impact

On a trade deadline day with surprise moves big and small, one of the most predictable was that the Cincinnati Reds traded away Tyler Mahle.

On Tuesday, he was traded from the Reds to the Minnesota Twins for three prospects: infielder Spencer Steer, left-hander Steve Hajjar, and infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

Mahle has had several seasons of success in Cincinnati, despite the difficulties that his home ballpark presented him. Let’s take a look at what the trade means for Mahle, the Reds, the Twins, and fantasy managers.

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Tyler Mahle in 2022

Tyler Mahle entered 2022 off of a strong 2021 (180 IP, 13 W, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 210 K). On the surface, these numbers may not have stood out as a potential fantasy target for 2022 drafts, but a closer inspection told a different tale. Unsurprisingly, Mahle had significant home/road splits in his time in Cincinnati. Since the start of 2020, he has a 2.92 ERA at home and a 4.83 ERA on the road. Part of the appeal of drafting Mahle in 2022 came from the possibility that he would be traded.

So far in 2022, Mahle has 104 IP, 5 W, 4.40 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 114 K. He was sidelined for about three weeks in July with a shoulder strain, but has returned strong. In two starts since returning from the injured list, he has surrendered 5 ER in 12.0 IP and has 12 K with only 3 BB. He features a 94 mph fastball that he pairs with a splitter, slider, and cutter. In 2021, he increased his GB%, which is helpful in GABP, but his flyball tendencies returned in 2022. The change in ballpark should be very beneficial for Mahle. According to Statcast park factors, he is moving from the second-most hitter-friendly ballpark for hitters to the seventh-most pitcher-friendly one.

 

Twins Impact

After several seasons of underwhelming moves at the trade deadline, the Twins finally made a big splash by trading for an impact starting pitcher to add to their rotation. The Twins began 2022 with a rotation of promising but risky starting pitchers: Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack. These pitchers have been either solid but unspectacular (Gray, Archer, Ryan) or outright disappointing (Ober, Bundy, Paddack). The Twins' starting pitchers currently have a 4.16 ERA, which ranks 18th in the MLB.

In addition to looking for better performance from their pitching, the Twins starters have all spent time on the IL this season. Mahle is no exception, having spent time on the IL in July with a right shoulder strain, but he has been mostly healthy throughout his career. Mahle gives the Twins additional depth for their playoff run, especially since neither the White Sox nor the Guardians made any significant improvements. Mahle also improves the Twins’ potential starting playoff rotation.

 

Reds Impact

As expected, the Reds traded away their two top starting pitchers, Luis Castillo and Mahle. Both have years remaining on their contracts, so that helped to get a little bit more in return. The Reds seemed to be in a playoff contention window in 2020 but decided to do a soft rebuild instead. The decision to rebuild seemed curious at the time, but the return that they’ve gotten in trades has quieted the critics.

Spencer Steer, 24, is the highest-rated prospect of the group and is likely to be the first one that the Reds will see in the majors since he’s already at the Triple-A level. James Anderson from Rotowire has rated Steer as his #119 fantasy prospect. In 83 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season, he has a combined 20 home runs with 62 RBIs and 23 doubles.

Steve Hajjar turns 22 on August 7th and was Minnesota’s second-round draft pick in 2021. Ranked as Rotowire’s #363 fantasy prospect, Hajjar has posted a 3.18 ERA in 13 starts this season – all but one at Single-A Ft. Myers – and racked up 73 strikeouts and just 28 hits allowed over 45 1/3 innings.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 22, brings a powerful bat to the table. Rated as the #70 prospect by Rotowire, the right-handed batter has amassed 25 homers with 85 RBI and 25 doubles in a combined 87 games between High-A and Double-A this season.

 

Conclusion

This seems to be a win-win-win trade for all parties involved: the Reds, the Twins, and Mahle himself. It’s also a win for Mahle’s fantasy managers. The move to a better ballpark and to a team in playoff contention could help Mahle return to his 2021 form, possibly even better.



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