Aaron Hill | Arizona Diamondbacks | 2B
The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks connected on a challenge trade on Tuesday, swapping second basemen Hill and Kelly Johnson. Hill’s value doesn’t seem to change too much from the deal, but it looks like a net negative. He moves to the easier league, but the park change is significantly against him. Chase is often considered a hitter’s park, but it actually decreases right-handed power by about five percent. He was batting eighth for the Jays and moved up to seventh in his first game with the D’backs yesterday, but Arizona is a worse team offensively and have a pitcher in the bottom third of the lineup with him.
Kelly Johnson | Toronto Blue Jays | 2B
The second half of the challenge trade saw Johnson move to Toronto. The park change isn’t as drastic for lefties, but Johnson will still see a home-run boost of 10 percent. Johnson hadn’t had a real spot in the batting order since the second week of the month, batting anywhere from first to eighth. It appears as though he’ll bat leadoff for the Jays, though, which should provide ample scoring opportunities in a lineup with as much punch as Toronto. He didn’t play last night, but normal leadoff man Yunel Escobar was pushed back to second, and normal second-spot hitter Eric Thames was dropped to sixth. Mike McCoy played second and led off, which makes it seem as though KJ will take that spot when he’s ready to go for the Jays. Johnson gets a smallish value upgrade from this deal.
Gerardo Parra | Arizona Diamondbacks | 2B
With Johnson out in Arizona, the top of the order—where he resided for much of the year—is a bit less crowded (especially if trademate John McDonald starts taking playing time away from leadoff man Willie Bloomquist). Parra has batted second for the past two games and four of the last five he’s started. This makes Parra extremely underrated in NL-only leagues since he already contributes in three categories. He’s not exceptional in any one area, but with a solid blend of power and speed, a good batting average, and now a spot to score runs, he’s a guy who has a lot of value in deep leagues. The only problem is that he doesn’t play every day with Collin Cowgill around—a situation that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon—which limits his mixed league value.
Jake Fox | Baltimore Orioles | C/1B/OF
With Chris Davis injured (though it seems not out for the year) and the O’s giving up on Josh Bell for the time being, there’s a gaping hole at one of the corner infield positions. Baltimore currently seems to be planning on playing Ryan Adams at second and shifting Robert Andino to third, but it might make more sense to let Mark Reynolds play third and Fox play first. Kevin Goldstein ranked Adams as a two-star prospect before the season, noting he lacked much in the way of speed and defense, and while his bat shows a little promise, he also strikes out a lot, and it seems unlikely he’ll end up as a big-league regular. With Fox back on the 25-man roster and such a gaping hole, I wonder if manager Buck Showalter will consider getting him into the lineup more often. The 29-year-old Fox has never been able to prove himself at the major-league level, but he’s worth a flier in AL-only leagues. If he plays, he’ll at least offer power.
Frank Francisco | Toronto Blue Jays | RP
With Jon Rauch needing an emergency appendectomy and expected to miss several weeks, Francisco was finally given another shot at closing games. Or, at least, he would have been if the Jays had produced any in the first five days of Rauch’s absence. On the sixth day, while warming up for a save opp, Francisco experienced tightness in his shoulder. Casey Janssen ended up coming in and saving the game. Francisco has been cleared, so while Janssen might now be in the mix, I still have faith in Francisco. With low ownership rates (41% Yahoo!, 58% ESPN, 24% CBS), Francisco makes for an incredibly undervalued source of saves, especially since he should contribute in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. It’ll be interesting to see how the next save opp plays out, but I’m squarely in Frankie’s corner.