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August 6, 2014

Dynasty Dynamics

Post-Deadline Prospect Value

by Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

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With one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory, we’ve all had a chance to opine on who won what trade, ask what the Rays were thinking, ogle the Oakland pitching staff and come to grips with Yoenis in Red Sox colors.

“WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN, THOUGH?”

Good point, capslock query. No, this is not going to be about steroids, even if that pesky issue is popping up again. Instead, we thought we’d provide you a twelve-pack of prospects who were either helped or hurt by their team’s trade deadline machinations (or lack thereof).

We were going to call it The B1G 10-pack but alas, we were two prospects short.

HELPED

Craig: Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals
I don’t like to repeat myself but sometimes analysis is so good that it just can’t be rendered any other way. To that end “playing time is important when it comes to fantasy value.” Sending Allen Craig to Boston (Ben’s note: shuddered at “Craig to Boston”) doesn’t change Taveras’ long-term trajectory, but it does drastically change the timetable. The trade un-muddies the waters in the St. Louis outfield, and does so with long-term repercussions, handing right field to the talent Taveras for years to come. The steady playing time should help Taveras’ development both in quality and speed, which will help him reach his peak value sooner than he otherwise would have.

Ben: Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
I’m usually the TINO member preaching caution when it comes to Lindor, but there’s no denying that he’s in a better spot moving forward now that Asdrubal Cabrera is a member of the Nationals. One of the best prospects in the game and a fine fantasy prospect in his own right, Lindor hit .278/.352/.389 in Double-A this season before a recent promotion to Columbus. It would not at all be surprising to see him reach Cleveland in short order, but even if the Indians play it conservatively with Lindor right now, I’d be downright shocked to see him still in the minors by June 2015, with April 2015 a more realistic ETA. He won’t be an elite option right away, but he’ll be fantasy-relevant in most leagues immediately.

Craig: Jake Thompson, SP, Texas Rangers
Going from Detroit to Texas as a home park isn’t generally a good thing, but getting a better chance to be a starting pitcher definitely is. Detroit’s rotation was (and remains) crowded at the time of trade that sent Thompson to Arlington, and Texas was (and remains) a big ol’ mess. All of 20 years old, Thompson isn’t going to come in a hurry just because he’s in Texas, but his path now contains fewer obstacles than it did a month ago. He’s got the arsenal to be a mid-rotation starter no matter where he arrives, and his slider gives him a major league quality out-pitch. He should be on the back end of top-100 fantasy lists come the end of the season.

Ben: Jake Marisnick, OF, Astros
One of the deadline’s more surprising deals also gives us one of the bigger upticks in dynasty value when it comes to Marisnick, who’s moving from Miami to Houston. With Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich in front of him, Marisnick was unlikely to see a ton of time in the immediate future as a Marlin. As an Astro, however, he’s a natural choice to join Dexter Fowler and George Springer in the outfield, and he’s positioned himself to see a full slate of plate appearances in 2015 should he remain healthy and productive. Marisnick’s prospect star has faded a bit over the past 18 months, but he’s still a 23-year-old outfielder who just put up above-average offensive numbers in Triple-A and has an intriguing power/speed combo. He won’t hit for a high average, but he can hit 12 homers and steal 25-plus bags in the majors next year.

Craig: Jarred Cosart, SP, Marlins
This isn’t advice to go out and make a speculative grab on Cosart, but more of an acknowledgement that if there is something that the Marlins do well aside from swaying politicians to build them a ballpark, it’s cultivate and acquire power arms. Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi are both hard throwers with little else to their arsenal, and yet both have found varying degrees of success in Miami. The ballpark is part of that, but so is Miami’s ability to nurture high-velocity hurlers. Cosart has a lot of aspects that point him toward an eventual bullpen role, but he might have a better chance of avoiding that destiny in Miami than anywhere else.

Ben: Nick Franklin, 2B, Rays
At first I thought we weren’t allowed to write about post-prospects, but then Craig showed complete and utter disregard for the established parameters of this piece by writing about Cosart, so Franklin falls to me. Ever since the long-foretold Chase Headley-to-New York trade of a few weeks back, Franklin-to-Tampa seemed like the most inevitable deal-in-waiting remaining. Fortunately, Franklin figures to be “freed” with the Rays in short order, as Tampa Bay has something called Cole Figueroa seeing semi-regular time at second base. Franklin’s hit .294/.392/.445 in 333 Triple-A PA this year, and there’s not a ton left for him to do in the minors. I expect him to be up in the following weeks and to have a full-time job in April 2015, and he could challenge for a top-15 fantasy 2B finish as soon as next year.

HURT

Ben: Mookie Betts, OF/2B, Red Sox
While the deadline hasn’t wrecked Betts’ long-term value, it was pretty easy to envision a scenario in which the Sox opened up playing time for the 21-year-old. Instead, we’re looking at a probable ETA of mid-2015 for when he can expect to see regular playing time in the majors. The Red Sox have Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Allen Craig all positioned to fight for time in the outfield next season. With David Ortiz at DH and Mike Napoli at first base, there won’t be extra PA for Craig and Nava to steal at those two spots. And Dustin Pedroia is stationed at second base through the year 3024, meaning Betts’ lone non-outfield positional possibility is gone as well. This makes Betts a pretty likely trade candidate this offseason if the Sox keep all of their veterans, though it’s certainly a possibility they’ll try to dump Victorino or demote Bradley instead.

Craig: Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
No news is generally good news, but not for Pederson. While it never seemed likely that the Dodgers would be able to unload one of their overpaid outfielders (which would only kind of create room for Pederson), that they didn’t means another year of toiling in the minors. Pederson is ready for an extended audition at the major league level, but roster composition means he’s only in line for a September call-up. It puts his ability to contribute in 2015 in jeopardy as well. If the Dodgers can’t move at least one of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, or Matt Kemp, Pederson has no where to play because it doesn’t make sense to use him as a backup. He’s still the moderate upside, close-to-the-majors contributor he was when the season started… which is basically the problem. His value is built into his immediacy and his immediacy isn’t… immediating. Hopefully better news comes this offseason.

Ben: Edwin Escobar, SP, Red Sox
Let’s take a left-hander with fringy stuff and move him from the NL West and one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly parks to the AL East and Fenway Park. Sad trombone noise. Escobar was a sexy name heading into the year thanks to the nice numbers he put him as a 21-year-old in Double-A last year. But this year he’s been hit around some in Triple-A, and many of the reports we’re seeing about his command and breaking pitches leave much to be desired. It’s true that Boston’s future rotation is less settled than San Francisco’s, but Escobar still faces considerable competition with the Sox: Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo are all likely ahead of him on the depth chart right now, and higher-upside arms like Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Barnes further muddle his future as a starter. The best-case scenario for dynasty leaguers would see Escobar moved to a better situation this offseason, as if he stays in Boston, he’s probably not a top-150 fantasy prospect.

Craig: Marco Gonzales, SP, Cardinals
While a 7.07 ERA over two starts did Gonzales in for 2014, though going from High-A to the majors in one season is still impressive. The Cardinals dual acquisitions of Justin Masterson and John Lackey certainly don’t help his chances of getting back to the majors though, and more to the point, Lackey’s presence in 2015 clouds the future for Gonzales. Joe Kelly’s departure does ease the congestion a bit, but Kelly was more easily transferred to the bullpen than is Lackey, so it’s a net negative. He’s still the same guy he was when he was called up in terms of ceiling and the like, but his chances of contributing next season now depends more on injury/poor performance of others than they do on anything within his control.

Ben: Robert Refsnyder, 2B, Yankees
I get why Yankees fans have been clamoring for Refsnyder for much of the past two months. Their favorite team was, on purpose, still playing The Ghost of Brian Roberts at second base who, with Derek Jeter, combined to give their middle infield the range of a cinderblock covered in led super-glued to the bottom of the ocean floor. Refsnyder hit .342/.385/.548 in Double-A this year before achieving a .297/.392/.479 line in Triple-A, and while he’s unheralded and his BABIPs are super high, he was becoming somewhat interesting nonetheless. Alas, with Stephen Drew and Martin Prado now on board in New York, it’s pretty unlikely we see Refsnyder at all save for some September at-bats. If you needed MI help in a deep-mixed or AL-only league, you may weep for your loss.

Craig: Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Padres
When it comes to a hit-only fantasy prospect in Anaheim, you tend to feel secure that their value can’t really decrease based on home park. Of course, then a guy like Lindsey gets moved to San Diego and you realize, it can always get worse. Lindsey isn’t much of a power hitter so there shouldn’t be a drastic effect on his output, though hitting in PETCO certainly doesn’t help. What hurt’s the most is being soooooo close is going from a lineup with a penchant for production to… the Padres lineup. While I’m normally not one to speculate on contextual stats and the resulting fantasy value, as someone who should see the majors by next year, it’s pertinent (and negative) information when it comes to Lindsey.

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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