For about a week, life imitates fantasy baseball.
When MLB general managers are dealing with real players, real dollars and real sense, there's a world at stake when trading a player. That's not so much the case with fantasy, where big risks often yield the biggest rewards and where you never have to personally break the news to your outgoing shortstop.
But in the days leading up to the trade deadline, actual GMs do their best to emulate fantasy's frantic "buy low/sell high" market and those moves could inevitably alter your team's roster. So how did this season's real-world deadline decisions alter the fantasy landscape?
It's almost impossible to speculate about Francisco Liriano.
Just when you think he's a burgeoning future ace, he inevitably implodes. And when you abandon all hope in him completely, he throws a no-hitter. The Twins apparently had endured their fill of Liriano, and now he's the White Sox's problem.
Or is he? It was only his first start with Chicago and happened to be against his former team, but Liriano was impressive in his White Sox debut Tuesday. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out eight in six innings, but that still only lowers his ERA to 5.18.
Owned in a little more than 30 percent of fantasy leagues, Liriano's ownership was in decline when he was traded. But a few more starts like his last, and that trend could reverse.
Paul Maholm is owned in about 35 percent of fantasy leagues, and that's 25 percent more than before he was traded.
What does that say about Maholm? It could be that expectations are heightened now that he's going from Chicago to Atlanta (and, really, why wouldn't they be?), but it could also say that he's enjoying a little more attention thanks to his status as a Ryan Dempster consolation prize.
Maholm was definitely a bright spot in the Windy City, supplying a 9-6 record and 3.74 ERA this year. And that, of course, was before going to a contender at a park where he has a 1.69 ERA. But, remember, wins are just one statistic—and probably the least bankable. Is he really that different from the guy with a career 4.30 ERA and 5.6 K/9?
Reed Johnson, who came along in the package with Maholm, could prove to be a factor for the Braves, but probably not your fantasy team.
Largely written off as a disappointment after up-and-down years in Toronto, Snider is still just 24 and now on a clear path to regular playing time. Most days, he'll man right field for the Pirates alongside NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and recently promoted phenom Starling Marte.
A career .248 hitter, Snider has frequently shown prodigious pop (including three homers in his last eight games with the Jays) and could see his ownership rate jump with a full-time role that will mostly affect Alex Presley and Garrett Jones.
Meanwhile, the Pirates sent Brad Lincoln to Toronto, and although his future could be bright, his immediate fantasy future is just about non-existent.
And just like that, the Dodgers are one step closer to fielding an All-Star team.
On paper, Shane Victorino doesn't look like much—but if that paper is a lineup sheet and he's at the top of it every day, things could change. The Flyin' Hawaiian has struggled this year, possibly due in part to his uncertain spot in the Philadelphia batting order and trend toward pulling the ball to the short porch in right field.
But his change to west coast scenery also means an opportunity to take the leadoff role and run—most likely quite literally—and a spacious ballpark where Victorino could return to his small-ball prowess.
He already had 24 steals, and now Victorino should see improved contact, on-base percentage and an overall jump in value now that he'll be followed in the order by Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez.
If Geovany Soto has been your starting catcher, you're either in a 16-team NL-only league or stuck in 2008.
He was beyond brutal for the Cubs this year, managing a meager .199 average, six homers and 14 RBI through 52 games. Odds are high that he's spent most of the season sitting in your league's free-agent pool.
But being shipped to Texas can make even the most pedestrian hitter look intriguing. Don't be fooled. While Soto will find his way into the lineup (most likely on days when former Cubs teammate Ryan Dempster pitches), his presence will likely have more effect on others. Mike Napoli has solid job security, but Soto (who already made Yorvit Torrealba expendable) could indirectly steal at-bats from infielders Michael Young (who was horrible in July) and Mitch Moreland when Napoli plays first base.
That performance led to sleeper status in fantasy, and Pence entered this season drafted in the general vicinity of outfielders like Andrew McCutchen and Josh Hamilton (who were perhaps insanely underestimated). But a .217 average with one extra-base hit (a homer) since the All-Star break has turned Pence into a buy-low candidate—and that's exactly what the Giants just did.
No longer on a team where Carlos Ruiz is the arguable offensive MVP, Pence will be thrust into a lineup with Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera 2.0. He'll also be moving to AT&T Park, where he's hit .329 lifetime and where he'll likely be able to capitalize on the dimensions with his right-handed swing.
Considering the way Pence's summer has been going, the move to California can really only help. It also means—for better or worse—the Domonic Brown era has dawned in Philly.
He's hitting an ugly .202 this season with just three home runs, and that was before Carlos Lee came to town and prompted a dump to the minors. But the Pirates are in uncharted territory with legitimate postseason aspirations and open bench spots (thanks partly to the Casey McGehee trade).
If you've been holding onto Sanchez this long, there's no reason to give up on him now—but expectations should be tempered, at least until it's clear how the Bucs want to use him.
If you've benefited from Jonathan Broxton's relatively unexpected success as the Royals closer, you're out of luck. Actually, you're not out of luck yet—run and see if Greg Holland is still available. Grab him, then come back.
If you know Holland's gone, yeah, you're out of luck.
Broxton has managed to amass 23 saves—the eighth most in baseball—even with an unimpressive 1.40 WHIP and just 25 K's in 35.2 innings. And now that he's going to Cincinnati as a set-up man for Aroldis Chapman, Broxton's fantasy value should all but dissolve.
In the meantime, Holland is a flamethrower with 56 K's in 39.2 innings, and he has been competent in his limited closing duty. As long as he hangs onto the gig, Holland could stand to gain the most of almost anyone affected by the trade deadline moves.
Although McGehee has been a relatively solid option for the upstart Pirates, his occasional numbers (.230 with eight home runs) have translated to next to no ownership in fantasy. Do the Yankees change that? Strange things can happen once you put on pinstripes.
He's going from a team that has scored 418 runs, to one with 492 (although nobody in the NL has scored more than the Pirates since June 1), but it doesn't change McGehee's platoon player role. Rodriguez is on the DL, but Eric Chavez will remain at the warm corner and Jayson Nix is around should Teixeira go down.
You might hear McGehee's name a lot in October, but anyone outside AL-only leagues probably won't need to listen.
In the real world—the one where the Rangers have lost two straight World Series—Ryan Dempster going to Texas sounds like a grand idea. The rebuilding Cubs needed to take what they could get, and the Rangers needed any veteran arm capable of potentially delivering clutch postseason wins.
But is the move really that big a thing in fantasy?
After all, Dempster's 2.25 ERA may be second in the majors, but he's only a top-25 starter in fantasy. While it's logical to assume he should see more wins, it isn't necessarily so. Everyone assumed Roy Oswalt could go from the couch to the Rangers rotation, and now he and his 6.49 ERA are on their way to the 'pen.
Dempster is stepping right into Oswalt's spot, and there isn't much to suggest changes in his stats. If anything, he's bound to see his luck catch up with him. He's been able to sneak out of trouble when he allows a lot of baserunners. Will he get away with that at Arlington?