TRADE NUMBER ONE
David Price has a 6.75 ERA through seven starts. He hasn’t posted an ERA over 3.50 since his full-season debut in 2009. So, yes, as I’ve written multiple times this year, Price is a wonderful buy-low candidate. He’s missing bats at a career-high rate. His inflated ERA is largely due to a .373 BABIP, which way higher than his career .288 norm, and a 54.2 percent strand rate. Neither of those latter two things are going to last. Stress out about his velocity readings and his career-low ground-ball rate all you want. The positive results are coming… so go ahead and acquire him in any and all fantasy leagues.
That doesn’t necessarily make Team A the winner, though, as they certainly gave up a couple of useful pieces in the deal. Ross owns a 2.29 ERA, and despite his pedestrian 19 percent strikeout rate, his double-digit swinging-strike rate suggests that more strikeouts could be around the corner. Welington Castillo, on the other hand, hit 19 homers a year ago and already has seven this year; hell, he’s been the number-one fantasy catcher this year with 15 runs scored and 19 RBI to go with a .317/.360/.577 slash line. The problem: His batted-ball profile is the same as normal and that .361 BABIP will plummet soon enough.
In the end, Joe Ross has a 103 cFIP and a 4.31 DRA, both of which scream for major regression from now through the end of the season. The right-hander may prove to be a guy who can outpitch his peripherals, but that’s going to be a tough bet to make without any kind of major-league track record. If you want to be generous, you could label him a mid-rotation fantasy starter. As far as Welington Castillo is concerned, well, he’s Welington Castillo. He’s a fringe top-10 catcher with some power upside.
So a fringe mid-rotation fantasy starter and a fringe top-10 fantasy catcher for a potential ace? Yeah, I think Team A did quite well for himself or herself.
The Verdict: Team A wins.
TRADE NUMBER TWO
I like Noah Syndergaard. He throws a-hundo and owns a 63 cFIP, meaning he’s expected to be 37 percent better than the league’s average going forward. That’s really good. I mean, that’s f—ing phenomenal. The problem with this sort of deal, though, is that Price is far better than he’s being treated in this deal and Kenta Maeda is more than a flash in the pan. This is a potential top-10 fantasy starter plus a legitimate mid-rotation fantasy starter for a top-10 fantasy starter. The upgrade from Price to Syndergaard is simply not worth Maeda—even in a shallower league.
There are mitigating factors in these types of deals, though, assuming that this is a single-season re-draft league. Pitching can be discovered easily on the waiver wire in shallower leagues, especially if it’s a more casual league that lacks true #fantasyexperts. In that way, the price of a mid-rotation starter can almost be treated as a throwaway piece in such a deal because they’re a dime-a-dozen.
Of course, I think Maeda could be a top-30 fantasy starter this year, given his ratio potential and his projected run support, so I still believe that Team B overpaid for what should ultimately prove to be a marginal upgrade.
The Verdict: Team A wins.
TRADE NUMBER THREE
In this move, Team A clearly needed to acquire some pitching help, especially a Proven Closer™ because it cost them the no. 1 fantasy catcher in the league. I don’t see too much that’s meaningful in regards to Brandon Crawford in single-season leagues, as he’s a top-15 fantasy shortstop with little upside, while Sean Doolittle is relatively useless in single-season leagues. Most leagues don’t have deep enough benches to warrant wasting a roster spot on Doolittle at this point. He’s not close to resuming closing duties in Oakland.
Thus, we’re looking at Archer + Latos + Cishek for Posey and flotsam. We can probably throw Latos into the flotsam mix, if we’re being honest. His 3.40 ERA looks attractive and he has name recognition, but he’s only struck out 19 batters in 39 2/3 innings and his 5.00 DRA indicates that he’s pitched rather poorly. I wouldn’t be leveraging assets to acquire Latos in any league, outside of the deepest AL-onlies, so he’s unimportant to me in this deal.
So we’re really looking at Posey for Archer + Cishek. In order to be worth the only five-star catcher in fantasy baseball, Archer will have to be a bona fide stud and Cishek will have to maintain his closer role all year. There’s no reason to doubt the latter piece, as Cishek owns a 0.98 ERA with a 31.4 percent strikeout rate, but Archer’s status remains up in the air.
Archer has a 4.57 ERA with an eye-popping 11.22 K/9 and a BABIP far above his career norm. Those appear to be harbingers for a positive future; however, it’s unclear what the actual upside for Archer is. He’s never posted an ERA below 3.22, which would disqualify him from being a potential fantasy ace, except he was already a top-15 fantasy starter a year ago thanks to his gaudy innings totals and his 252 strikeouts—and he’s already on pace to eclipse this 2015 whiff rates.
The Rays’ right-hander has made a habit of falling behind hitters this year. His first-pitch strike percentage a year ago was 64.1 percent. That has fallen to just 51.8 percent in 2016. That means more pitches, more stress, and more hitter-friendly counts. Thus, the numbers do seem to suggest that Archer is fundamentally dealing with command issues, not just random fluctuation. That makes him feel a bit more volatile of an asset than I’d otherwise like to bank a trade including Buster Posey.
Here’s the thing about Posey: The catching position is awful, and Posey is essentially the Clayton Kershaw of catchers—meaning, the return has to be Kershaw-esque. Archer + Cishek wouldn’t be enough to acquire Kershaw in a million years, and if you’ll excuse the metaphor, it’s not enough to acquire Posey, either.
The Verdict: Team B wins.
Thank you for reading
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