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May 26, 2016

The Fantasy Verdict

Gattis and Catcher Eligibility

by J.P. Breen

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TRADE NUMBER ONE

Team A gets Lorenzo Cain and Sonny Gray.
Team B gets Nomar Mazara and Tyler Chatwood.
(Submitted by @bdobbs23.)

This trade came prior to Gray landing on the 15-day DL with a back injury, and I’m not interested in penalizing Team A for acquiring a player who later got hurt. That must be kept in mind in this analysis.

Ultimately, this trade swapped a couple players with established track records and disappointing starts (in Gray and Cain) for a couple players with a bit of helium. In my mind, Mazara and Cain are both top-30 fantasy outfielders. Mazara is the better hitter, but Cain will offer 20-plus stolen bases this year. It’s a push for me.

The question is whether Sonny Gray is broken or whether Tyler Chatwood is “for real.”

I don’t see anything that suggests Gray wasn’t struggling with standard short-sample variance. His velocity hasn’t dropped significantly. His strikeout rate isn’t vastly different. The culprit for Gray’s lack of success has been a .318 BABIP, which is far above his .273 career norm, and a ballooning walk rate. His 10.8 percent walk rate is well above his career average of eight percent. There’s just too much track record here to think that Gray has fallen off a cliff, especially when the velocity remains solid.

I actually like Tyler Chatwood more than most, as I dig extreme ground-ball pitchers who aren’t prototypical, big innings eaters. But he’s still a guy who strikes out 15.5 percent of the batters he faces and pitches in Coors. That means he’s wholly reliant on wins and his ratios to be valuable in fantasy at all, and his 1.22 WHIP isn’t going to cut it.

I take Gray over Chatwood by a lot, even with the injury, which easily gives this to Team A for me.

The Verdict: Team A wins.

TRADE NUMBER TWO

Team A gets Carlos Correa and Jake Arrieta.
Team B gets Paul Goldschmidt, David Robertson, Santiago Casilla, Ian Desmond, and Jerad Eickhoff.
(Submitted by Corey S. via email.)

Corey shared with me that this is a single-season points league, and he’s looking to completely revitalize his roster. I don’t think this is too complicated of a trade. Both Correa and Goldschmidt are first-round fantasy talents, so no shame swapping those two. That means Arrieta is being shipped to Team B for Robertson, Casilla, Desmond, and Eickhoff… and even with giving up an ace in Arrieta, that’s too much value in a points league to leave off the table.

Sometimes, it’s worth trading premium pieces for bulk. This is one of them. Easy stuff here.

The Verdict: Team B wins.

TRADE NUMBER THREE

Team A gets Steven Souza.
Team B gets Evan Gattis.
(Submitted by @grimoran189.)

Souza has been decent this year, hitting .273/.329/.494 with nine homers and two steals, but he has massive question marks that depress his value. Can he tone down the strikeout rate enough to play everyday? Can he hit righties enough to be an everyday player?

The 27-year-old endeared himself to fantasy owners when he hit 18 homers and stole 26 bases with a .350 batting average in Triple-A. Scouting reports hinted that his swing could be exposed at the big-league level, and that’s certainly been the case. He’s striking out 34.1 percent of the time. Furthermore, all of his value is tied up in hitting .349/.378/.628 against lefties, and it’s not a huge benefit in keeper leagues (such as this one) to potentially be a platoon guy who has the short-end of the platoon.

Gattis isn’t much better, striking out 28.8 percent of the time and hitting .361/.410/.639 against lefties. They’re the same type of player, more or less, except Gattis could profile as a catcher next year in most fantasy formats. The owner in this fantasy league informed me that Gattis must catch 20 games this season, and given the serious struggles for Jason Castro, I think that’s very attainable for Gattis.

And given the absolute dumpster fire the catcher position has been these days, I think it’s reasonable to gamble on Gattis having catcher eligibility in 2017. After all, that’s Gattis’ only real path to regular playing time, and I don’t think Souza is more than a platoon outfielder, and the Rays aren’t ones to ignore stark platoon splits for very long. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Souza get his playing time severely curtailed as the season continues.

I don’t really like either player at all, but I guess I’ll take the catcher eligibility.

The Verdict: Team B wins.

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

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Team Chemistry: Diagno... (05/25)
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