This week’s Deep League Report features the big-name guys who switched leagues during the last 24 hours prior to the trading deadline alongside the players normally featured in this space: utility players, swingmen, and marginal prospects. Let’s get going.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He nearly appeared in last week’s Deep League Report but had to be removed when he vetoed the trade to Cleveland. After last week’s column was submitted, the Brewers traded Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers in a deal that Lucroy couldn’t veto since the Rangers were not listed in his limited no-trade clause. He’s easily one of the top three catchers in the majors in fantasy, and he’s instantly the best roto catcher in the American League. Blow most if not all of budget on him. You won’t have a better player to put that FAAB into for the rest of the year in AL-only leagues.
He’s new to the AL and he’s about to add shortstop eligibility to his resume. Matt Duffy is currently in the minors rehabbing an injury but he should be back in the majors within a week. Traded to the Rays for Matt Moore, the 25-year-old should be starting at shortstop the rest of the way. That means he’ll be eligible at both shortstop and third base this season and next season for those of you in keeper leagues. He was having a down year this year, hitting only .253 with four home runs and eight stolen bases, but those numbers should improve slightly as his batted ball luck regresses to his career mean. Those numbers will also play better as shortstop than they do at third base, and he was no slouch at third base last year. Bid confidently.
After struggling mightily in the first half this year to the tune of a .234 batting average, a .270 on-base percentage, no home runs and 14 stolen bases, Oakland sent Billy Burns down to Triple-A. Since then, the A’s traded the 26-year-old outfielder to the Royals, an organization that’s likely to be more receptive to his high-contact, low-walk-rate, base-stealing profile. Barring an injury to one of the outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart, he won’t be an everyday player, but he should still have the opportunity to rack up some stolen bases playing once or twice a week and pinch-running a few more times each week. If you need steals, he’s worth a few FAAB dollars.
The Matt Moore trade opened a spot in the Rays rotation for Matt Andriese. The 26-year-old has been excellent in Tampa so far this year, posting a 2.72 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP while splitting time between starting and relieving. His 57 strikeouts in 76 innings indicate that he doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff and doesn’t figure to help you make a significant move in that category. If you’re short on starters, though, he’ll provide innings and good rate stats in a home park that’s conducive to pitching. Just watch out for those road starts in Toronto and Boston.
Filling in for the injured Danny Salazar, Mike Clevinger is getting his second stint as a starter in Cleveland. He hasn’t been great so far in the majors, with a 6.97 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP in 20.7 innings with 17 strikeouts. In a much bigger sample of 93 innings in Triple-A, the 25-year-old fared much better, putting up a 3.00 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with 97 strikeouts and only 35 walks. Salazar isn’t expected to be on the DL for long, so Clevinger will probably only be starting for a few weeks. If you need strikeouts, he’s one of the better options likely to be available in deep AL-only leagues.
The enigmatic lefty is having a season to forget, posting a 5.34 ERA with a 1.61 WHIP. He’s still striking out more than a batter per inning as he has throughout his career, but his control has escaped him. His BB/9 ballooned to 5,34 this year, frustrating Pirates fans and roto owners alike. The strikeout stuff is still there, though, so if he can start throwing more strikes, watch out. He’s had extended periods with atrocious walk rates in the past and found a way to bring those walk rates down to a reasonable range, so there’s hope that he can do it again, even without the help of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. And for what it’s worth, the 32-year-old’s first start for the Blue Jays was a good one: six innings, three runs (two earned), seven hits, five strikeouts, and only two walks. Don’t go near Liriano if you’re in a tight race in ERA and WHIP, but bid a few bucks if you’re going all out for strikeouts and willing to take on some rate stat risk.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
The Jonathan Lucroy trade has left Martin Maldonado as the starting catcher in Milwaukee. He hasn’t done much at the plate this year, hitting .192 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .323 slugging percentage. While that on-base percentage looks fairly good, roto owners should note that fourteen of the twenty walks propping it up came while the 29-year-old was batting eighth, making them less of a testament to his plate discipline and more of an acknowledgement that the next batter due up was the Brewers’ pitcher. His bat might be shaky, but it’ll be getting the starter’s share of plate appearances for the rest of the season, and that matters in deep NL-only leagues, especially two catcher ones.
His power output isn’t anywhere near its 32-homer peak from 2012, but that doesn’t mean Josh Reddick can’t help your team. While his power is down, his contact rate is up. Prior to 2015, Reddick’s lowest strikeout percentage was sixteen percent. Last season and this season, he has posted marks of thirteen percent or lower, helping to bring his batting average back up over .270 each season for the first time since 2011. He’s a decent bet to steal three or four bases the rest of the way while hitting 3-4 home runs and hitting for a decent average. The 29-year-old can still draw a base on balls, too, as he’s sporting a walk rate around ten percent this year. Add a few bucks to your bid on Reddick if you’re in an OBP league.
Like Martin Maldonado, Enrique Hernandez hasn’t hit much so far this year. His .200/.306/.376 line doesn’t inspire much confidence. The Dodgers love his defensive versatility, though, which buys him extra plate appearances and gives roto owners a boatload of positional flexibility. And unlike Maldonado, the walks boosting Hernandez’ on-base percentage weren’t racked up while he batted eighth. Bid a buck or two on the 24-year-old in deep NL-only leagues and add a dollar to your bid in OBP leagues.
I love Matt Moore, and I loved him coming into this season. He wasn’t great through in the first half of the season but was excellent in July, posting a 2.41 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 33 2/3 innings. Now in San Francisco, Moore’s numbers should benefit from the less robust offensive environment in the NL and the opportunity to face opposing pitchers a few times a game. And unlike most pitchers changing leagues at the deadline this year, Moore still has a lot of upside given his age (27), prospect pedigree, and the fact that he returned from Tommy John surgery roughly a year ago. Place a big bid; he’s the best starting pitcher you’ll see in the player pool in deep NL-only leagues for the rest of the year.
The Pirates have given pitching coach Ray Searage his next reclamation project, and that project’s name is Ivan Nova. After struggling with the Yankees through the deadline, mostly due to his stratospheric home run rate, New York decided to part ways with the 29-year-old. He’s far from a sure thing, so don’t spend much, but PNC Park, Searage, and the move to the senior circuit make Nova an attractive gamble.
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