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Acquired SS-R JaCoby Jones from the Pirates in exchange for RHP Joakim Soria. [7/30]

For being such a premium athlete, Jones doesn't look exceptionally smooth doing much of anything on a baseball field. Luckily, this is baseball, where form doesn't matter and players like Hunter Pence, whose mannerisms Jones sometimes calls to mind, can be successful despite their unorthodox styles.

Jones is currently a shortstop. He's not terrible at the position, and his arm strength is more of an issue than his glove. He's probably best suited for second base. He's a good runner, however, with long strides that would be fun to watch in center field, should the Tigers decide to move him around. With the bat, he's similarly flawed, with an aggressive approach that leads to a lot of swing-and-misses. He's strong and generates bat speed, though, which gives him good power potential, especially for a potential up the middle player.

There's enough that Jones doesn't do well to make it difficult to envision him as an every-day player, but he there's enough he does do well that it's easy to picture him on a major-league roster in some capacity. With plus athleticism, some power, and the ability to play multiple positions, he should be able to find a niche somewhere. –Jeff Moore

Fantasy Impact
Al Alburquerque/Bruce Rondon
Al-Al has the best name in the game and an electric arsenal, but the issue, which has plagued him for years, is his lackluster command. He's averaging over 4.5 BB/9, which is less than ideal in the ninth inning, but he still possesses the critical ability to strike batters out (8.9 K/9) that every closer needs. He is the odds-on favorite to succeed Soria given his experience, but don't rule out a challenge from the big fella (Rondon). His 8.25 ERA (in 15 appearances) this season is downright ugly, but his strikeout rate (13.5 K/9) is frightening in a completely different fashion. Did I mention he has 80 career saves in the minor leagues since 2009? Keep him on your radar, especially in keeper and dynasty leagues. –George Bissell

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Acquired OF-L Dustin Ackley from the Mariners in exchange for OF-L Ramon Flores and LHP Jose Ramirez. [7/30]

On the same day Michael Pineda hit the disabled list, the Yankees made another trade with the Mariners, this time acquiring outfielder Dustin Ackley, reportedly a long-time target of the club.

While Ackley's numbers this season, or really any season since 2011, leave much to be desired, it's easy to see why the Yankees have an infatuation with him: He's a left-handed hitter with some defensive versatility and previous success who could see a significant boost in his numbers moving from Safeco Field to Yankees Stadium.

Ackley's poor production makes it easy to forget, but it wasn't all that long ago he was roughly a league-average hitter. A reputed tinkerer, he seemed to have things figured out in the second half last year (.269/.307/.476) before sinking in September (.149/.205/.299) due to bone spurs in his ankle. The Mariners had every reason to think Ackley was breaking out.

Then 2015 started and those good vibes vanished, right along with Ackley's playing time following a rough few months: After starting 34 games in April and May, he has started just 19 since, thanks in large part to the Mariners' offseason additions, the in-season acqusition of Mark Trumbo, and the reemergence of Franklin Gutierrez.

Now Ackley is headed to New York with an unclear role. The most appealing option is to have him split time in the outfield and infield, perhaps phasing out Garrett Jones. While the Yankees rank last in baseball in average, on-base percentage, and defensive runs saved from second base, and while even a slumping Ackley represents an upgrade over those numbers, Joe Girardi has already expressed some skepticism about playing Ackley at the keystone, at least right off the bat.

The Yankees will have some time to figure out what to do with Ackley, who is in his first season of arbitration. Of course, given how often they've tried to acquire him before, odds are they already have a pretty good idea. –Nick Shlain

Fantasy Impact
Dustin Ackley
Going anywhere but Seattle probably sounded appealing to Ackley after the tough time he's had there. Failing to live up to one's draft status in front of the hometown fans can be draining and he'd likely stand to benefit from a change of scenery to almost anywhere, but taking his left-handed bat to Yankee Stadium is a total slam dunk for his value the rest of the season. If the Yankees eventually name him the starting second baseman, there should be two arrows pointing up because then his value will truly be way, way up.—Nick Shlain

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Acquired OF-L Ramon Flores and LHP Jose Ramirez from the Yankees in exchange for OF-L Dustin Ackley. [7/30]

Flores is the type of high-floor, low-ceiling player who often gets underrated; while there is no standout tool, there's a chance for four average ones when he's done developing.

Flores' swing is very simple, short to the ball without much hip rotation, but with enough bat speed to square up and make solid contact to all parts of the ballpark. The lack of loft along with his small stature means he won't put up big power totals, but there's enough strength here to put the ball into the gaps and hit middle-in fastballs out to right field five or 10 times a year. He's an average runner who can handle center field in a pinch, but he's better suited for the corners; his arm is strong enough to handle right. Ultimately what you're looking at here is a fourth outfielder, but one who can play three positions and be effective as a left-handed hitter off the bench.

Ramirez was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in the Yankees' system, but injuries and regression have hampered his stock significantly. He still has elite arm strength,and the fastball typically sits 93-96 mph with the occasional spike into the high 90s. He'll also show a changeup that flashes plus at times because of its velocity difference, generally in the mid-80s, and his arm speed, though at times he struggles to locate it. What was once an above-average slider has become only an average offering—at best—and it is rarely in the strike zone.

Because Ramirez will show two plus pitches, there's still a chance he becomes a high-leverage reliever, but the command will have to take a step up if he ever is going to pitch in the eighth and ninth inning on a consistent basis. –Christopher Crawford

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Acquired RHP Keury Mella and 1B/3B-R Adam Duvall from the Giants in exchange for RHSP Mike Leake. [7/30]

Mella has slowly risen up the Giants prospect board, and many I spoke with believe that he was the best prospect in the Giants system, so this is obviously a nice coup for the Reds.

A 21-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, Mella has outstanding arm strength, and he uses it to hit 97 mph on radar guns, usually sitting 93-95 with life. He'll also show a distinct low-90s fastball that basically acts as a sinker, which makes him a ground-ball pitcher and would play well in Great American Ball Park. Mella also uses a true power curveball that he buries down in the zone, and the spin and depth make it a borderline plus offering, though it sits more comfortably in the 50-55-grade range. Mella also possesses a change that he's still gaining feel for, and it's shown marked improvement over the past few years.

Some believe Mella is going to end up in the bullpen, and it's not because of his arsenal, but rather the delivery. The arm action is across the body, and while he doesn't struggle to throw strikes, it makes it very easy for left-handed hitters to pick up the ball. We've seen starters come up and succeed and this sort of delivery, but many of them have had arm issues, and most of them have had better changes to keep opposite-handed hitters off balance than Mella does.

The Reds have been willing to take chances on arms that most consider relievers over the past few years, and they'll give Mella every chance to pitch every fifth day. If he can, he's a potential no. 3 starter. Because of the cross-fire delivery and lack of a consistent third pitch, though, there's a strong chance he ends up a high-leverage reliever.


Duvall's calling-card is his power, as seen in his 26 homers this year at Sacramento and his .509 slugging percentage over his six years in the Giants system. Unfortunately, there's no other plus—or even average—tool here, That power comes from a long swing that has a considerable amount of holes in it, which gives him almost no chance of hitting for average at the big-league level. He's a well-below-average runner, and though he can make the plays hit in front of him, he's not a guy you want preventing runs at third base every day because of the lack of range, along with only an average—and inaccurate—arm.

Duvall's floor is a player who puts up big power totals at the minor-league level, but because of the strength, he could be a power bat off the bench against left-handed relievers. —Christopher Crawford

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Acquired RHP Joe Blanton from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations. [7/30]
Acquired RHP Joakim Soria from the Tigers in exchange for SS-R JaCoby Jones. [7/30]

Thanks to the strong work of Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, and Jared Hughes, the Pirates already had one of the better bullpens in the National League. Yet that didn't stop Neal Huntington from dipping into the market twice on Thursday in order to add more depth to the unit.

Soria is the more notable of the additions. He served as the Tigers' closer throughout the season, continuing to show good control over an assorted arsenal of pitches, including a low-90s fastball and slow, biting curve. Most pitchers who move from Arlington to Detroit see their home run rates improve; Soria's actually worsened, as he allowed 10 bombs in 52 career innings with the Tigers. It's worth noting that four of those came within an eight-day period in June, so it's possible he's gotten over the gopheritis. Soria's exact role within the Pirates' bullpen is to be determined, but he'll probably take over the sixth or seventh inning.

Blanton's comeback attempt has seen him primarily serve as a multi-inning reliever, with six of his 11 appearances stretching multiple frames. He obviously isn't going to be working in high-leverage spots for the Pirates, but his peripherals are excellent and his rubber arm provides him with more utility than the typical low-leverage middle reliever. –R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact
Joakim Soria
Mark Melancon is 32-for-33 in save opportunities this season, so it's unlikely that Soria will supplant him, barring a meltdown, over the final two months. The veteran stopper can be safely dropped in all mixed leagues (even in deeper leagues where high-strikeout middle relievers are relevant) at this point since he's no longer racking up saves and the gaudy strikeout totals are a thing of the past. –George Bissell

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Acquired RHP Mike Leake from the Reds in exchange for RHP Keury Mella and 1B/3B-R Adam Duvall. [7/30]

Brian Sabean never leaves a contending team unimproved at the end of July, and 2015 is to be no exception. The Giants have gotten surprising, sensational breakouts from Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, and Brandon Crawford, and while it’s too early to assume that any of them—especially Duffy and Panik—have made a permanent leap forward, their emergence has been enough to make the team’s positional core playoff-caliber. (Buster Posey and Hunter Pence are a good start on that front, after all.)

The starting rotation, though, has been a shambles. Only six teams have a worse collective DRA for their starting pitchers. Madison Bumgarner is a great first guy, but Chris Heston is a pretty uninspiring second one. Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain all have been great for a long time, but all have questions of health or age-related decline (or both) hanging over them. This team’s success to date has come on the strength of their hitters and fielders, and while that was the story in 2012 and 2014, too, one can only imagine that Sabean would like to find a smoother, less brutal path to the World Series this year.

Leake helps balance the roster, and he should help save the bullpen. He’ll see a nice bump in his statistics thanks to AT&T Park, although his value doesn’t really change. He’s an elite ground-ball guy, which doesn’t take full advantage of a park the dimensions of which prevent a lot of fly balls from going out. He’ll pitch in front of a very good defensive infield in San Francisco, but (little though many know about it) he’s actually had an even better one behind him in Cincinnati this year.

While he might not be the fit for his new home park or supporting cast that some make him out to be, though, Leake is an excellent fit for the Giants’ pitching philosophy. He throws the kitchen sink at hitters: sinker, cutter, slider, curve, changeup. He can use and command all five pitches, and he wouldn’t succeed without all of them in the arsenal (although, as any good pitcher must, he can get by when one or two of them aren’t working in a given start). That’s not so dissimilar to the repertoire Heston uses: sinker, slider, curve, change, four-seamer. Or Tim Hudson: sinker, cutter, four-seamer, curve, change. Or Jake Peavy: cutter, four-seamer, sinker, change, curve. Of the four pitchers, the only one who throws any single pitch even half the time is Heston, and even then, it’s narrowly.

This isn’t by accident. The Giants do prefer veteran pitchers, and those guys do necessarily use a more varied repertoire (to survive their softening stuff), but there seems to be a specific preference on the part of Dave Righetti and the Giants organization for pitchers who are comfortable mixing their pitches. A lot. Leake is a good athlete, he’s durable, and he approaches hitters the way the Giants want their pitchers to do so.

The Giants aren’t fixed. They’re going to have to overcome regression from the likes of Duffy, Panik, Crawford, Heston, and others. They have an inside track on a playoff spot, but they’re not clearly superior to the Cubs or Pirates. Sabean went to bat for his team, though, and if the price was high (it was), so be it. If the Giants can survive trading Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran and missing the playoffs, they can survive trading Keury Mella and (less critically) Adam Duvall for Leake. —Matthew Trueblood

Fantasy Impact

Mike Leake

Leake has quietly been very good and, perhaps just as importantly for head-to-head purposes, very consistent over the past couple of months. Since the calendar flipped to June he's posted nine quality starts in eleven turns, allowing more than three runs just once in a clunker against Minnesota. He's managed to find an extra 1.5 mph on his four-seam fastball, and with it greater command to the outside corner. It's been a potent combination, and one he'll now bring to a much better team and a much, much better home ballpark.

Leake doesn't give up a ton of fly balls, but when he does they manage to find their way over a fence at a fairly alarming rate. He also shows a significant vulnerability to left-handed hitters. The move to AT&T addresses both issues, and he'll slide from one good defense to another. Add in the increased win potential, and this deal amounts to one of the better case scenarios for boosting Leake's rest-of-season value.

Tim Hudson

Ol' Huddy may have finally reached the end of the line. He hasn't been bad, per se, but he hasn't really been good or consistent enough to roster outside of deeper NL-only leagues. Well, the temptation is no more, as he'll be the odd man out of the San Francisco rotation and can be safely ignored in all formats. —Wilson Karaman

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The Yankees acquisition of Ackley is so wrong on so many levels. He makes even Garrett Jones look good. And putting him on the roster was a bad idea with the DH role locked up (even without Arod).

Now with Valencia DFA'd the Yankees could have picked him up in trade for only slightly more than they gave for Ackley.