Fantasy Baseball Key Offseason Movement: Trades
This offseason saw its share of trades. Some teams were trying to fill holes, while others were trying to pare salary.
Whatever the reason, a lot of quality players found new homes, some with interesting fantasy implications.
Yankees Bolster Roster Once Again
Where else can we begin than with the New York Yankees? The Bronx Bombers have acted un-Yankee-like this offseason by imposing salary restrictions on themselves.
The intention seemed more like a way to keep the other 29 teams off their backs for constantly bidding up the top available free agents. Being in the biggest market in the country and owning a cable channel for the explicit purpose of putting more money into the team's coffers does have its benefits.
However, when Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez came available via trade, they jumped. They didn’t have to give up their two best youngsters, pitchers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain , but the cupboard was emptied of most of their other top youngsters.
Granderson will see small increases in runs and homers, but his overall stats will likely remain unchanged. Vazquez will likely post similar numbers to last season but see a little bit of an uptick in his win total. If you are in a keeper league, beware that Vazquez is publicly talking about only playing a couple more seasons before he retires.
In the three-way trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, the Tigers received Austin Jackson from New York and Max Scherzer from Arizona. Most importantly, the Tigers received salary relief by moving Granderson’s contract off their books. Scherzer will be a solid mid-rotation guy, and Jackson has a chance to be special.
Detroit sent Edwin Jackson to Arizona in that deal. Jackson has a lot of potential but can’t seem to be consistent. He is already on his fourth team in seven seasons, which means he’s probably not a good team player. The Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to Arizona, another mid-rotation guy who isn’t good enough to find himself fronting a rotation.
To get Vazquez, the Yankees had to give up Melky Cabrera to Atlanta. Cabrera is the best fourth outfielder in the majors, but not a guy you really want on your fantasy team. He’s solid but will not get enough at-bats to make him worth a roster spot.
Cy Young Winners on the Move
In the biggest deal of the offseason, the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay for prospects and then reloaded their farm system by trading away Cliff Lee . Lee will form a great one-two punch with Felix Hernandez in Seattle and is in a contract year, so look for big stuff from the lefty.
Halladay got a fat contract after the trade, and the Phillies look to ride the big horse. Halladay will continue his dominance, but don’t forget that he is a guy with a track record of injuries and is also on the wrong side of 30.
The Blue Jays got Kyle Kendrick , one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and Michael Taylor , whom they immediately traded to Oakland for Brett Wallace . Wallace is best suited for the DH role but will be a good hitter in Toronto and will likely get a little time at first base.
Taylor is ready for a major league job right now but will probably have to bide a little time in the A’s farm system before finding a spot in Oakland’s crowded outfield.
Rays Find a Closer
The Rays’ most significant trade acquisition was Rafael Soriano from the Braves. Tampa Bay has been lacking a legitimate closer for several years, and Soriano will fill that void. Going with closer-by-committee isn’t a recipe for success, but Soriano will give them a guy to finish games so the other relievers will begin to have defined roles.
The player the Rays traded for Soriano was Jesse Chavez , a mediocre middle reliever whom they got from Pittsburgh for Aki Iwamura . Iwamura will provide solid defense and a little pop for the Pirates, and he also gives them position flexibility as he can slide over and play third base.
Sleeper Potential for Hardy
Hardy is a solid hitter and should be a decent acquisition for Minnesota. If he can regain his form and show 2009 was the exception and not the norm, you might get 20-plus homers and a .275 batting average.
Lopsided Trade Alert
The Chicago White Sox traded mediocre second baseman Chris Getz and a third baseman that was starting to look like he was never going to live up to his lofty potential, Josh Fields , for a guy who out-homered the other two in 2009 and can play almost a half-dozen positions, Mark Teahen .
The fact that the Royals thought this was a good trade is reason enough to believe Dayton Moore’s “process” is one that will guarantee the Royals will not bring them back to their 1980s glory. The only way this deal works out for Kansas City is if Fields ever comes close to the achieving his potential—otherwise it will be an in-division fleecing.
Another Pitcher Swap
Toronto will attempt to finish the conversion of Brandon Morrow into a starter that Seattle started but never had the gumption to complete. With a very inexperienced rotation and little chance to compete in 2010, the Blue Jays will have the opportunity to be patient with Morrow and see if he can develop into the starter that many big league scouts think he can become.
The Mariners received Brandon League in this deal. He will be a good late inning reliever, but don’t look for many saves.
Some Smaller Deals
Kevin Millwood isn’t the ace he was once considered to be, but the new leader of Baltimore’s rotation will provide good leadership for the Orioles young pitchers. He cost very little and was more of a salary dump by Texas that should pay nice dividends in Baltimore.
The Mariners pulled off a “we’ll take your trash and you take ours” deal when they sent Carlos Silva to the Cubs for Milton Bradley . The Mariners got the better player, but does anyone really want Bradley and his games? He has a chance to be a good left fielder in Seattle if Ken Griffey, Jr. can be a good mentor to him but also has a chance to be a major clubhouse disruption if he cannot be corralled.
Silva is past his usefulness and will be nothing more than a mop-up guy and someone to throw out there when the game is well out of hand.
The Mets acquired their own problem from the Angels in the form of Gary Matthews . The only good thing about this deal for the Mets is that the Angels will pick up most of his salary. Unfortunately, the Angels still got the good end of this trade. Matthews offers very little and shouldn’t be anywhere close to your fantasy team.
Oakland acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff from San Diego for Scott Hairston . Kouzmanoff is little more than a mediocre third baseman and isn’t worth more than a bench spot on your team. Hairston is a serviceable fourth outfielder for the Padres but offers little to your fantasy squad.
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