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DETROIT TIGERS
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Acquired RHP Shane Greene as part of a three-way trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks; sent LHP Robbie Ray and INF-S Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks. [12/5]

Is it fair to bemoan general managers for failing to realize the concept of sunk costs, then turn around and belittle those who do? Maybe, maybe not; either way, Dave Dombrowski's decision to trade another member of the return on Doug Fister compels us to ask the question—even if this particular swap should work out fine for the Tigers.

Last season was a year of firsts for Greene. He made his first Annual, pitched in his first big-league game, and earned his first on-site mention, right around the All-Star break. He'd earn more e-ink in the coming weeks, as he went on a month-long tear that resulted in a 2.93 ERA and 26 more strikeouts than walks in 30 August innings. Granted, Greene didn't finish the season as strong—a pair of six-run starts served as bookends to three solid outings—but it was an otherwise impressive rookie campaign from someone who, just three months earlier, had been a relative unknown.

As such, the biggest question facing Greene is the legitimacy of last season's performance. Those who see him as a back-end starter base their arguments around his power sinker, cutter, and slider, as well as his ability to command the ball at an appropriate level. Those less optimistic on his role focus on his lack of a changeup or eye-level-altering pitch, in addition to his platoon splits (lefties hit .281/.365/.400 against him). Both sides make legitimate points, although it's worth noting that Greene did show signs of being able to use his cutter and slider as effective pitches versus lefties. If he can become more consistent in that regard, then the concern about his long-term role will disappear shortly.

Given that Greene is relatively young (he turned 26 less than a month ago), the Tigers will give him time to figure things out. Expect the clock to start ticking come April, since Greene should be a member of Detroit's Opening Day rotation. –R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/FHLMyDjonqpuvx43g1njoW2h3IjeWsxscdsDOyY4ScaZP6y6iqUO6AsTxz9n5zZBd0NOdTZX8tKJ3kxR1Aww_USGdc7dqxxNnQqu7cOaGCWnP_B3YVzX5MghmcdgKZCmQQShane Greene

Greene induces ground balls like Pitocin induces labor. He racked up a ground ball rate of 50.2 percent in his 78.2 innings, a worthwhile skill given the home-run tendencies in that park. So while the move away from Yankee Stadium is a positive, it affects Greene less positively than it would someone prone to giving up fly balls. Weaker defense on the infield corners in Detroit is offset by the stronger defense up the middle (assuming Jose Iglesias plays), but who they position behind him could have a significant impact on Greene’s success.

Still, he struggles against lefties and it’s possible his run of success was due to offenses having limited looks at him early on, as he gave up more than a hit per inning in the second half. He did miss more than a bat per inning in the same time period though, so it’s not as though the stuff doesn’t play. With a strong offense behind him, his skills play up in the fantasy realm, and he should slot in nicely as a SP4/5 in deeper leagues and a solid streaming option in shallower formats for 2015. –Craig Goldstein

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Acquired SS-L Didi Gregorius as part of a three-way trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks; sent RHP Shane Greene to the Tigers. [12/5]

Gregorius arrives in New York as their new starting shortstop, a mild upgrade over Brendan Ryan and major upgrade over Derek Jeter. Barely 25 in April, Gregorius inheriting the mantle from Jeter will rank among the largest age differences in transferring the team position from baseball elder to youngster:

Team

Pos.

Year

Elder

Age

Next Year

Youngster

Age

Difference

WAS

3B

2005

Vinny Castilla

37

2006

Ryan Zimmerman

21

16

MIN

CF

1998

Otis Nixon

39

1999

Torii Hunter

23

16

PHI

2B

1983

Joe Morgan

39

1984

Juan Samuel

23

16

CAL

RF

1991

Dave Winfield

39

1992

Chad Curtis

23

16

FLO

LF

2004

Jeff Conine

38

2005

Miguel Cabrera

22

16

OAK

LF

1998

Rickey Henderson

39

1999

Ben Grieve

23

16

OAK

2B

1984

Joe Morgan

40

1985

Donnie Hill

24

16

CIN

RF

2007

Ken Griffey

37

2008

Jay Bruce

21

16

SEA

LF

2013

Raul Ibanez

41

2014

Dustin Ackley

26

15

WAS

C

2010

Ivan Rodriguez

38

2011

Wilson Ramos

23

15

SFN

LF

2007

Barry Bonds

42

2008

Fred Lewis

27

15

CAL

1B

1985

Rod Carew

39

1986

Wally Joyner

24

15

KCA

C

1989

Bob Boone

41

1990

Mike Macfarlane

26

15

NYA

SS

2014

Derek Jeter

40

2015

Didi Gregorius*

25

15

(Minimum 400 PA each season, since 1974)

In the first half of 2013, Gregorius, then a rookie, lit the big-leagues on fire, but has since shown his true, colder colors, losing the starting job to Chris Owings in spring training last year. Pitchers contently challenged Gregorius with hard stuff in the zone and they were right to; his soft contact rarely resulted in severe damage. He skews as a fly-ball type, so the right-field porch will be available to him during the rare displays of power. The Diamondbacks hid him against lefties as much as they could, against whom he sports a career .200 TAv in 180 plate appearances.

If insurance isn’t on its way—or at least a platoon partner—the Yankees carry the risk of Gregorius as an offensive liability at the bottom of their lineup, in an offseason where division mates Boston and Toronto have made tremendous upgrades to theirs. Initial PECOTA runs peg him as a slightly below-average hitter in 2015, though a move to the AL East might lower that, depending on your perception of the pitching there versus the NL West. Regardless, it’s a better offensive projection than that of Ryan or the ghost of Jeter. Add in his stellar arm and the Yankees have a reasonable starter at short.

Along with Ryan, the Yankees now carry two solid-to-elite defensive shortstops, and their combined cost sits around a mere $2.5 million. Ryan will likely rove around the infield in the late innings, whether that’s spelling Gregorius, Martin Prado, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, or whoever Joe Girardi starts at second—possibly Ryan himself, if one of the above sees DH time.

The departure of Shane Greene leaves the Yankees in need for starting pitching behind the confirmed trio of C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, each of whom comes with injury concerns. With Ivan Nova in Tommy John recovery and just a middling David Phelps healthy, expect more from Brian Cashman on this front. –Andrew Koo

Didi Gregorius
At first glance, a shortstop with a .226/.290/.363 slash line doesn’t seem worthy of fantasy consideration, save in the deepest of leagues. However, with that line in 2014 came more home runs per at bat than in 2013. Gregorius moves into a more favorable situation in New York in terms of playing time. Chris Owings was a legitimate obstacle in Arizona while Brendan Ryan in the Bronx is not. Gregorius will benefit slightly from the park shift, but will benefit greatly from the fact that he won’t have to travel to pitchers’ parks in San Diego and San Francisco on a semi-regular basis anymore. The AL East is mostly hitting-friendly venues (and not having to face Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner 5-6 times a year is a plus for any hitter). The short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium could give Gregorius a slight bump, and 12-15 home runs is a realistic possibility. Even if the batting average stays down in the .230 to .240 range, this makes Gregorius a deeper mixed-league candidate. Keep in mind that his BABIP was somewhat unlucky, so a moderate BA boost isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In standard mixed leagues, the play is to stream him against right-handed pitching and leave him on the bench against lefties. His .247/.304/.402 slash against righties last year was acceptable, and all six of his home runs came against right handers in 2014.

David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell, etc.
Forget what you see on the Yankees depth chart at the moment. It is extremely unlikely that the Bombers are ending the offseason with the current roster composition on the mound. Phelps and Mitchell move up a notch in AL-only leagues with deep reserve lists—as they will probably be the first arms out of the chute if there is an injury—but assume that the Yankees are going to bring in at least one free agent starter, if not two, in the next few weeks. –Mike Gianella

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Acquired LHP Robbie Ray and INF-S Domingo Leyba as part of a three-way trade with the Yankees and Tigers; sent SS-L Didi Gregorius to the Yankees. [12/5]

It turns out Kevin Towers wasn’t a necessary component for a Detroit-New York-Arizona three-team trade, as agent-turned-GM Dave Stewart makes his third major transaction, following the acquisition Jeremy Hellickson and the signing of Yasmany Tomas.

It’s difficult to evaluate this trade in the context of Stewart as a GM, mostly because we don’t have much information on him in this capacity. But pairing this deal with the prior acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson gives us some idea of how big an emphasis Stewart places on major-league quality pitching depth. It’s clear he’s willing to deal from a spot of organizational depth as well, with Gregorius possibly being squeezed out of a starting role by a healthy Chris Owings. Stewart also appears to be placing an emphasis on a quick turnaround in the desert—though he’s made just three moves, but each has brought a major-league ready or near major-league ready piece to the ball club.

In Ray, Stewart has acquired a pitcher with limited MLB experience who could slot in towards the back of the rotation, but retains some of the ceiling he had when acquired from the Nationals by Detroit. Still, he’s not the guy then described by Dave Dombrowski as “a number one left-hander,” though it’s fair to argue he never was. At the time, our scouting report on Ray pegged him as a likely back-end starter, who showed three pitches, including a low-90s fastball with good run, and below-average secondaries in his changeup and breaking ball, with the former showing considerable improvement throughout the year. A year later and he’s much the same package, as the changeup can flash above average, though he’s scrapped his curve for a work-in-progress slider. Despite the movement on his fastball, Ray is something of a fly-ball pitcher, which makes the choice of him over Greene as the return for Gregorius something of a head-scratcher given Greene’s groundball tendencies.

The 2014 season was a tumultuous one for Ray. He made his major-league debut, but the highlights were buried by his struggles. His 8.16 ERA overstates his issues, but his 5.25 FIP was none too pretty either. While the changeup came along nicely for him, Ray couldn’t find consistency with his breaking ball, and it showed. He wasn’t nearly as bad at Triple-A, but he wasn’t quite the player he was with the Nationals either, missing significantly fewer bats and sporting an elevated walk rate. A strong showing in spring training could see Ray crack a beleaguered Diamondbacks rotation, pushing either Josh Collmenter or Trevor Cahill to the bullpen (though Pat Corbin’s return could affect Ray’s status). He should ride the MLB/Triple-A shuttle a few times in 2015, as he’ll serve as rotation depth, and an option for spot-starts should top-prospect Archie Bradley not be deemed ready for the spotlight.

The Diamondbacks have nowhere to go but up following their MLB-worst record in 2014, yet it seems that Stewart is intent on getting them out of that cellar as quickly as possible. It might not make sense on the surface, to prize going from 64 wins to 74 wins (if this even accomplishes that), but we’ve seen players admit to the effect that losing can have on them. To that end, Stewart’s dealing of a backup shortstop for six years of a back-end starter, and a flier on a polished 18-year-old addresses short-term future of the club, while at the same time keeping an eye on the future. —Craig Goldstein

The Tigers signed Domingo Leyba for $420,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic in the same class as Willy Adames. A high-IQ player with good feel, the 19-year-old was challenged with an aggressive assignment to the AFL after only 278 stateside plate appearances—somewhat evenly split between short-season ball and Low-A. While he played some shortstop in 2014, he profiles as a second baseman, due to limited range and an average arm. His foot speed is average, but his lateral quickness is more than adequate for the keystone. At the plate, Leyba has a short, quick swing with good hands and a flat bat path. The barrel stays in the zone well, and he makes sharp contact to all fields. Since he is physically maxed without much room to add strength, his improvements will have to come in the way of hit-tool refinement. He's a pesky hitter with advanced command of the strike zone, but everything he hits has top spin, and the power is a potential 30 on the scouting scale. In the end, Leyba's upside is that of a second-division regular, with the floor of an up-and-down guy. —Jordan Gorosh

Fantasy Impact

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/Mb_UnmMOpsrEmtxvjhnLmEYQww46pNOOP17oBknQTG12ZtvkEdFee12cyCnEof9tGCI5w-TftO61pBr_E8w0HOt9diYrhGRZO3m0pQyu1SU_ProfCtm9bZqmbO4o_fd5ogRobbie Ray

Ray goes from the spacious confines of Comerica to the expansive outfield of Chase Field. While Comerica plays well to triples, Chase plays well to everything from hitter’s perspective, ranking in the top 10 in hits, doubles, triples and homers, and second overall in runs. Add to that negative change that Ray is a fly-ball pitcher at present, and the effect gets amplified. Let’s not forget to mention who will be manning that outfield either. While Torii Hunter was range-deficient in Detroit during Ray’s short stint there, the other defenders at least bordered on competent. There’s the potential for a similar case in Arizona, where Mark Trumbo has taken up permanent residence in right field, and A.J. Pollock and David Peralta will man the other two spots. At the same time, the signing of Yasmany Tomas portends a possible triumvirate that sports two range-deficient corner outfielders, clearly a long-term negative for Ray. Honestly, Ray’s fantasy value was teetering to begin with, barring an improved third offering, and this only pushes him further towards the edge.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/LJHjarpDEsRj4xsbilOmw9Mwp2T_SajuAMzpxsR2nAjVkCtg726YoUopTuCAQkuDA7cR7WvgVQ6PkaHtLs3JegU9Po3mZbLSAbySSUU2RU9wiJvTdZj4EY82YwH6Whm-9ADomingo Leyba

He’s too far away to take seriously at the moment, but how many people even knew his name before today? Now people are going to look at his stat line in Low-A, look at his age, and think he’s at least an interesting guy. That means his stock is up, and if for some reason you already had him, it’s a nice time to sell high. He’s a polished middle infielder who should look good in the lower minors, but his ceiling is limited to a second division player, with a realistic future as a reserve infielder. Still, people know his name now. –Craig Goldstein