On Monday night, the Blue Jays executed not one, but two stealth trades for quality relief pitching, reeling in Brad Lincoln (4-2, 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 60/14 K-BB) from the Pirates and Steve Delabar (2-1, 4.17 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 46/11 K-BB) from the Mariners.
But since this is a fantasy column, let's focus on Pittsburgh's coup from the Lincoln swap: Acquiring outfielder Travis Snider.
Heading into the 2009 season, Snider was a top 10 prospect (according to Baseball America), sharing the fame train with current MLB stalwarts Matt Wieters (No. 1 prospect), David Price (No. 2 prospect), Tommy Hanson (No. 4), Jason Heyward (No. 5), Madison Bumgarner (No. 9), Buster Posey (No. 14) and some random cat named Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton at No. 16. (Whatever happened to him?)
At four different levels of the minors, Snider has racked up double-digit homers and a batting average of .313 or higher, and his career on-base percentage in the minors was a robust .383. All this begs the question: if Snider had been a can't-miss prospect at so many stages of his play, then why is he only batting .248 through 242 major league games (2008-12)?
To be honest, I see no problems with how Snider (.335 batting average, 1.021 OPS in 56 games at Triple-A Las Vegas) has developed to this point. Yes, the Blue Jays probably thought a 20-year-old wunderkind would be an All-Star around his 24th birthday—not trade fodder for a good setup reliever (Lincoln).
But he's still averaging one home run for every 7.8 MLB games; and at Triple-A ball this season, Snider had three Josh Hamilton-esque spurts of three homers/13 RBI (April 6-13), three homers/11 RBI (June 19-26) and four homers/10 RBI (July 14-19).
In other words, I would be shocked to see Snider fail in a great environment like Pittsburgh, a city that's going bonkers over the Pirates' genuine playoff push (58-44...division/wild-card contention).
Verdict: If you have room for a No. 6 or 7 outfielder in 12-team leagues, I highly recommend grabbing Snider for the stretch run, even if Pittsburgh keeps dynamic rookie Starling Marte in left field (fingers crossed on a Marte/Snider/Andrew McCutchen outfield).
Simply put, Snider could end up being a top five fantasy acquisition when all the pre-deadline wheeling and dealing comes to an end.
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