This is a project I started a couple of weeks ago, and with the help of some of kind BP’s readers in the comments section, I think we’ve developed a quality structure to this series. In short: You send me some of your recent fantasy trades on Twitter, and I lay down the definitive judgment as to who won and who lost. No tying. Bud Selig ain’t presiding in this fantasy court of law. I am.
This court has been called to order.
TRADE NUMBER ONE
Team A receives Jacob deGrom and Dexter Fowler.
(Submitted by @kolinhsmith.)
This allows us to talk about the early-season fantasy darling, Trevor Story, who has eight homers, three doubles, and two triples already this year. He’s the number-four fantasy shortstop and benefits from playing the majority of his games in the hitter’s haven known as Coors Field. What nobody wants to talk about, though, is that Story is only hitting .207/.288/.431 after his first four games of the campaign—yeah, first four games. As such, the Rockies’ shortstop is striking out 36.5 percent of the time and has red flags surrounding his hit tool that are the deepest shade of crimson.
Still, Team B isn’t going away empty handed. Trea Turner is mashing the ball in Triple-A, compiling a .357/.430/.529 slash line with two homers and six stolen bases. He’s a better long-term prospect than Story and should be getting everyday at-bats in Washington by this summer. I wrote about Turner this offseason, heaping praise upon the youngster, so I love this part of the acquisition. And Lucas Giolito is the best pitching prospect in the game, which is no small piece to this trade. I’m just worried that he won’t see meaningful big-league innings until May 2017, and in a non-dynasty keeper league, that negatively impacts his value.
I suspect Team A was able to acquire Jacob deGrom due to concerns about his velocity and his health. Despite that, deGrom has struck out nine batters in 11 2/3 innings and has only allowed a pair of earned runs. He’s remained effective, and it’s important to remember that velocity decline is only devastating when it becomes ineffective velocity. That’s clearly not the case here. The fact that this is a keeper league, too, makes the injury concerns surrounding deGrom a little less salient—especially since two of the three players going to Team B won’t be immediate contributors anyway.
A lot of this deal hinges on the value of Dexter Fowler for me. I wrote last week that I believe in his power outburst, and he’s ready to out-produce Trevor Story throughout the remainder of the season. He’s a good bet to steal 20-plus bases and may threaten the 20-home-run plateau with 100 runs. That’s crazy good in fantasy leagues, and he’s even more valuable in OBP leagues.
As much as I love Giolito and Turner, I think Team A is getting the better value in a traditional keeper league. I don’t like most of my value probably waiting until May 2017 when I’m giving up a top-20 pitcher. I’m higher on Fowler than most, too, which tips the scales to Team A.
The Verdict: Team A wins.
TRADE NUMBER TWO
Team A receives Randal Grichuk.
Team B receives Roberto Osuna.
(Submitted by @ColossusOfClout.)
Fascinating trade. It involves an exciting, young closer in Roberto Osuna, who’s easily a top-10 option at the position, possibly more. He has a 2.89 ERA with a 0.75 WHIP and over a strikeout per inning. The right-hander helps in every category, save wins and he could even get lucky there, too.
It’s Osuna for Randal Grichuk, who is hitting .219/.311/.438 with three homers and two stolen bases. He did smash 17 homers a year ago in only 350 plate appearances, though, so I imagine the assumption here is that he’s that guy and not the guy who has struggled through the first few weeks of the season. It’s working on the assumption that Grichuk has meaningful upside.
In other words, it’s a high-end closer for a mediocre outfielder with a solid amount of upside. It’s a position that’s traditionally devalued in fantasy due to its volatility for an everyday bat with some intriguing power. It’s a referendum on whether closers should be flipped for tangible assets before they have a chance to underperform or lose their jobs due to trades (i.e. Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller, respectively).
Here’s the thing that’s difficult to comprehend: There were 17 fantasy relievers ranked inside the top-100 overall players in ESPN leagues a year ago, compared to just 31 outfielders. Obviously, specific league context matters and we shouldn’t take that as gospel; however, it does illustrate that the old “relievers aren’t real assets” maxim is overstated and perhaps misleading. I’m not sure Grichuk can become a top-50 fantasy outfielder in 2016. I’m very confident that Osuna can be a top-10 reliever. I’m giving the nod to Team B.
The Verdict: Team B wins.
TRADE NUMBER THREE
(Submitted by @BeansieARamp.)
This trade comes just after Kevin Gausman struck out seven batters in five debut innings for the Baltimore Orioles. He looked nasty, throwing mid- to upper-90s with better command to both sides of the plate than he’d shown in previous years. To further illustrate the quality of his stuff, he had a 12.1 percent swinging-strike rate. It was the kind of performance that made Gausman Believers beam with pride and Gausman Deniers wonder how he lucked into such a dominant performance.
So, for me, as a card-carrying member of the Gausman Believers, this is a pretty easy decision to make. Eugenio Suarez is actually the no. 1-rated fantasy shortstop through Monday’s games—which feels really weird to type—and even if he won’t continue playing this well, he’s a decent mid-tier option at the position. In other words, Gausman is the prize, but Suarez is more than a throw-in.
Team B is receiving a rejuvenated Starlin Castro and a newly minted closer in Colome. The Rays’ closer has been filthy through his first 8 1/3 innings, striking out 9.72 batters per nine innings and posting a 1.08 ERA. He’s throwing in the mid-90s with a ruthless slider that has gained over a mile per hour since a year ago. He owns a 13.3 percent swinging-strike rate through the first three weeks of the season, too. All very good things.
The problem is that Colome isn’t guaranteed to retain the closer’s role once Brad Boxberger returns from the disabled list. Although Colome hasn’t done anything to lose the role, Boxberger has always been the presumed closer for the Rays. It’s more likely than it was that Colome retains his closer duties; however, I’m not about to bank on that fact and give up the best player in the deal in Kevin Gausman.
This is no contest for me. Team A is getting the better value in this deal, even if Team B’s end-product could look quite good if Colome works in the ninth inning all year. Too much bust potential to give up the best player.
The Verdict: Team A wins.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now