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July 30, 2013

The Stash List

Speculating on the Trade Deadline

by Bret Sayre

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It’s tough to avoid getting into the trade deadline spirit this time of year, and with less than 48 hours left until we actually know who has changed uniforms, speculation is in full swing. It seems like every hour or two there is a new name thrown into the fire. The Phillies are buyers and then they’re sellers and then they’re buyers again. The White Sox are looking to unload Jake Peavy and then they want to build around him “long-term”—but not if Zach Mortimer has anything to say about it. The rumors are endless and it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the smoke from the fire in the internet age.

So to avoid getting too deep into the actual names being thrown around (we’ll get into that with some of the players below), let’s take a step back and talk about the best way to speculate prior to the trade deadline. While there are certainly players whose fantasy value would increase greatly due to trades, whether it’s an eighth-inning arm who gets a shot to close or a fourth outfielder who gets a full-time job, the trick is to grab as many names as possible and keep your fingers crossed.

There are so many factors that go into whether a deadline deal happens, especially since the new CBA, which eliminated the draft-pick compensation for teams acquiring walk-year players, went into effect. Before that, it was much more of a given that soon-to-be free agents would get dealt prior to the deadline, but now the market for any player who might receive a qualifying offer gets muddled by the baseline value the team with the asset needs to receive before they even consider making a deal. And that’s not to mention the players with contracts expiring after the 2014 season, who can still be traded along with the rights to compensation during the off-season.

These changes have led to a quieter deadline as far as trades, but the amusing part is that the growth of the game and the power of social media amplifies all of the rumors. Today, there was actually a satirical report that surfaced on Twitter about the Angels having internal discussions on how to improve their team through a trade. That was literally all it said. And people ran with it like there was no tongue planted firmly in cheek.

If you have a few bench spots made up of replacement-level players, now is a good time to clear them for potentially above-replacement-level players—and as many of them as you can. And this is more applicable in deeper leagues, since the shallower you get, the fewer potential above replacement value players there will be. The value you’ll lose over the next day and a half is minimal compared to what you might gain over the rest of the season.

Without any further ado, here is The Stash List, version 15.0:

The Graduates: Mark Melancon (1), Christian Yelich (2), Tony Cingrani (3), Brandon Beachy (4), Alex Wood (7), Jarred Cosart (13)

1) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 8)

Right now there is no stronger combination of potential fantasy impact and realistic odds of promotion than in the 20-year old Boston infielder. While Jose Iglesias continues to scuffle in the majors and Will Middlebrooks continues to look unimpressive at Triple-A, the path is clear for Bogaerts to rightfully claim a spot on the left side of that infield. In fact, three of his last nine games have been spent at third base, after only two appearances there prior to July 21. Don’t be surprised to see him promoted at the beginning of August to help with Boston’s playoff push.

2) Pedro Strop, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 9)

Since there’s a zero-percent chance that the Cubs make Gregg a qualifying offer in the offseason, the odds of him being traded at the deadline are very high. And once he moves on, Strop will likely slide right into the ninth inning, where he will try to continue the good work he’s done over the last few weeks on the North Side. The Tilt-a-Whirl is now up to 10 2/3 scoreless innings with a 13-to-3 K:BB. And yes, I’m going to do my best to make that one stick.

3) Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (Last week: 5)

July has not been a kind month to Castellanos, and through Sunday’s games he was hitting .208/.241/.292 since the calendar flipped. To put that in proper perspective with his season, his .534 OPS in July is barely more than half of his 1.024 OPS from June. That promotion, which seemed like all but a certainty at the beginning of the month, is now much less certain, though he still is talented enough to turn this around quickly.

4) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 6)

Well, July 27 came and went without Martinez getting the ball; instead, Joe Kelly took the mound and actually pitched well. But, the more his name gets thrown around in trade rumors, the more likely it is that Martinez is pitching for someone else down the stretch. I remain a huge fan of his talent and think the potential opportunity is worth the cost of a roster spot.

5) Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 10)

At this point, Hamilton remains on the list just due to the impact he could have in September as a fourth outfielder and pinch runner. But this is where the divergence between head-to-head, points and roto leagues is most greatly magnified. This ranking is for roto formats, but if your league doesn’t use that type of scoring, Hamilton is as good as droppable in a redraft.

6) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 14)

With talk that Ian Kennedy is now on the trade block, Bradley is inching closer to being given a shot down the stretch. And frankly, with the way Kennedy was pitching, it has to be extremely tempting to just throw him into the fire and see what happens. If he gets the call, I like Bradley’s chances to miss bats right away, although he’s likely to see high walk totals as well.

7) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 11)

Taveras is nearly ready to begin running again, which should hopefully put him back in games within the next week or so. As long as he’s playing in games, there’s always a chance that he could be summoned to the major-league level, though the light continues to get dimmer on his value for 2013.

8) Joakim Soria, RHP, Texas Rangers (Last week: NR)

As crazy as it may sound, when it comes to closers and rumors, you have to take everything at least a little seriously. And the Joe Nathan rumors are out there. Soria has thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings since returning to the majors, but they are also the only 5 2/3 innings he’s thrown since 2011. Still, he remains the favorite for saves in Texas should the veteran right-hander get dealt.

9) Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics (Last week: 19)

Yes, it’s perfectly appropriate to be skeptical about Anderson given the starts and stops he’s had during his career, but at this point of the season, we’re mostly looking for potential—and Anderson certainly has that. It’s unlikely he’ll be back before the end of August, but we only have to go back to 2012 to see what he’s capable of in short bursts.

10) Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 23)

The Reds opening day left fielder is likely going to need his entire 20-day rehab window to get back into game shape after missing, well, everything since Opening Day. But a month and a half of Ludwick, could be enough to get seven or eight homers if he hits the ground running—along with a healthy number of runs batted in, hitting behind Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto, and company.

11) Brandon McCarthy, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: NR)

Friday will be the day McCarthy comes off the disabled list, taking Tyler Skaggs’ spot in the rotation. However, you’re going to want to be very careful about starting him in Boston. In fact, you probably shouldn’t do it at all. His second start lines up to be against the Mets, likely a much more charitable endeavor.

12) Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Last week: 16)

After being bumped down to Double-A for his start on July 17, Duffy returned to the Pacific Coast League this week with his best arguably his best start of the season, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings and striking out seven. If Ervin Santana is moved or Wade Davis’ one gem isn’t an indication of things to come, Duffy could have his next chance in short order.

13) Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres (Last week: NR)

Don’t forget about Maybin, even though it’s been a completely lost year for the 26-year-old center fielder. If he returns in the next week and a half, he could be a sleeper to steal double-digit bases the rest of the year. After all, he has stolen 66 bases in the last two seasons.

14) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (Last week: 17)

Yes, he’s now a home run shy of joining the 30-30 club in the minor leagues, and we’re not even finished with July. Once that happens, he’ll be the first player to do so entirely in the upper minors since Jacques Landry who hit 36 homers and stole 37 bases for Double-A Midland in 2001. Of course, he also struck out 184 times (and people think Springer has contact issues) and was in his age-27 season. He never reached the majors.

15) Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Last week: NR)

The two big questions with Salazar are whether there will be an opening in the Indians’ rotation for him and whether he can stay healthy enough to claim it if one arises. His stuff is major-league quality, but the fact that he’s thrown fewer than 450 innings in seven minor-league seasons (including barely over 100 in 2011 and 2012 combined) is a concern.

16) Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 12)

If Middlebrooks were hitting .256 with a home run every 21 plate appearances at the major-league level, the Red Sox would probably be pretty happy right about now. Unfortunately for them, that’s been his line since his demotion to Triple-A, where’s it’s strikingly less impressive. The signs of him falling behind Xander Bogaerts in the food chain are growing by the day.

17) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 20)

Pitcher A: 2.20 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 73 strikeouts
Pitcher B: 2.59 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 70 strikeouts

The only difference between Rosenthal and Aroldis Chapman is the saves. Edward Mujica isn’t on the wobbly chair, but if he were to get hurt, Rosenthal would be a potential top-five closer immediately.

18) Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (Last week: NR)

I wrote about Pillar in last week’s Free Agent Watch as a potential AL-only pickup, but any roster movement in Toronto could signal a tryout for the prospect who just keeps on hitting. He’s now at .320/.366/.481 with nine homers and 18 steals on the season.

19) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 24)

Still pitching very well in Triple-A. Still needs work on his secondary offerings. In that ballpark, he could survive right now, but will the Mariners push him if there’s an opening?

20) Kolten Wong, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: NR)

This is purely a bet that he’ll get traded before the deadline, clearing a path for him to get major league time. The Hawaii native been ready for most of the season, hitting .299 with eight homers and 17 steals (in 18 attempts), but it’s tough to find playing time when MVP candidate Matt Carpenter is in front of you. An organization change would alleviate that.

Honorable Mention: Michael Wacha, Jonathan Singleton, Sonny Gray, Brian Wilson, Travis d’Arnaud

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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