Fantasy Baseball: B.J. Upton and 10 Players Who's Value Will Go Up If Traded

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: B.J. Upton and 10 Players Who's Value Will Go Up If Traded

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    As the MLB trade deadline approaches, fantasy owners are sitting on pins and needles waiting to see where their top players go.

    With movement comes production, whether for better or worse, so paying close attention to the potential moves over the next week could separate the fantasy winners from the losers.

    While the ends with justify the means as far as overall statistics and fantasy output, players who have a chance to perform in a more diverse lineup definitely possess an advantage over other weekly options who are staying put.

    All of these players on this list minus one deserve to start every week, but by basing future fantasy potential on eventual front office decisions, here are the top 10 trade targets who's production will increase if they get dealt over the next six days.

10. Rich Harden SP

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    This may be a reach, but I truly think that if Rich Harden gets dealt over the next few days, he could regain his ace-like form.

    People fail to remember that Harden was one of the best, if not the best, strikeout pitchers in the entire league back in 2008.

    And it seems that with his track record and new found health, a move to a solidified contender that boasts consistent offensive production could launch Harden back into league-wide recognition.

    Even pitching for a team like the Oakland Athletics in 2011 with a mediocre 4.63 ERA, the 29-year-old has still gone 2-1 with nearly a K/IP.

    Is it that crazy to think a move to say Texas, New York, or even Milwaukee isn't going to increase his value going forward?

    It isn't.  Wait and see.

9. Carlos Pena 1B

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    If Carlos Pena happens to move back to the American League his fantasy value could go through the roof.

    When you consider that the power hitting first baseman has already logged 20 home runs and 51 RBI for a team like the Chicago Cubs, it's pretty easy to predict his production would only go up if he's traded to a playoff contender.

    The thing with Pena is you know what you're getting.

    A low average, decent walk totals, high strikeout rate, but a huge ability to hit home runs and even carry your fantasy team for a week or two out of the month.

    Besides Aramis Ramirez and even Starlin Castro atop the order, the Cubs offense has been pretty dismal thus far in 2011, which has ultimately led to all these trade speculations.

    If Chicago decides to part ways with the 33-year-old power house it could do wonders for fantasy owners of all kinds.

8. Hiroki Kuroda SP

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    Not a lot of people know this, but despite his 12 losses, Hiroki Kuroda has been one of the best pitchers in baseball.

    He's currently sporting a 3.19 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, showcasing that he's got a bright future pitching for a playoff contender.

    Kuroda has recorded nearly 100 strikeouts in 127 innings of work, allowing only 33 walks and five stolen bases.

    Now while a lot of owners will look at his 6-12 record and be turned off, you have to look beyond the beauty and get to the real beast.

    It's going to be hard for any pitcher, except someone of Clayton Kershaw's caliber, to successfully win on the back of a one man Matt Kemp offense. The 36-year-old Japanese pitcher has been a product of that fantasy pit fall.

    If owners have trusted him this far into the season, why shy away over the next month and a half?

    Because a trade to an offensive heavy team would nearly double his weekly production.

    Think more wins, a better bullpen, and a chance for success somewhere other than the pitcher heavy NL West.

7. Aramis Ramirez 3B

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    The only reason why Aramis Ramirez is relatively low on this list is because realistically, what more can he do?

    Ramirez is in the midst of a serious bounce-back campaign and doesn't have that much room for fantasy improvement over the next two months.

    Now that's not a bad thing considering he's currently hitting .299 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI.

    With that said, Ramirez does in fact possess potential to improve in run production.

    You put him in a lineup like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh and the sky's the limit.

    Start him regardless of where he goes. Or if he stays, for that matter.

6. Josh Willingham OF

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    Considering he plays on one of the most offensively challenged teams in the big leagues, for what he has to work with Josh Willingham has been one of fantasy's most consistent run producers.

    The 32-year-old has accumulated 50 RBI in less than 300 at-bats, putting him on pace for nearly 120 RBI given a full season.

    It's easy to see that given a change in scenery and a full-time chance to hit in a respectable lineup Willingham could not only become an elite must-start option in fantasy for the remainder of the year, but could end up being the steal of the 2011 MLB trade deadline.

5. Michael Cuddyer 1B/2B/OF

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    Michael Cuddyer has been raking all year long.

    Not only has the 32-year-old dominated the plate as far as walking and striking out, 57:40 K:BB ratio, but he's added 14 home runs, seven stolen bases and eligibility at second base, first, and outfield.

    It's starting to look more and more likely that Minnesota is going to move Cuddyer so owners are in for some much needed scoring help.

    In basic leagues Cuddyer has hovered around the 20 point mark on a weekly basis, but a move to a playoff contender could increase his production by as much as 10 points.

    As far as I'm concerned, there was no reason to sit him before this week and they'll be no reason to sit him ever again after this week.

4. Wandy Rodriguez SP

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    The Houston Astros seemingly have no inclinations in trading Hunter Pence, but as far as Wandy Rodriguez is concerned, trade talks remain open.

    If Rodriguez were to leave Houston it would do wonders for his fantasy owners.

    The 32-year-old hasn't been quite himself in 2011. He is on pace for less wins, innings, strikeouts and a higher WHIP from the year before, so a team change would be great for the lefty.

    Rodriguez has a chance to become a must-start option down the stretch, taking over for players like Michael Pineda, Jhoulys Chacin and other top notch pitchers who are bound to be benched for rest.

    If you have a chance to grab the Astros ace from an unsuspecting fellow owner, it could be the difference between winning a playoff game or losing.

3. Heath Bell CL

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    I'm putting Heath Bell at No. 3 because he's that good.

    Rarely does a closer deserve a spot ahead of elite hitters and starting pitchers, but Bell's ability to produce 20-30 points on a weekly basis with the San Diego Padres becomes even more worthwhile if he gets dealt somewhere else.

    Can you imagine him closing games for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels?

    It would be incredible and for that type of potential he would immediately warrant consideration as the best fantasy closer around.

    Bell easily deserves to be on this list and should be one of the most sought after trade pieces before the end of week, hopefully landing in a pitcher friendly park and a rotation heavy ball club.

2. Carlos Beltran OF

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    Currently in the middle of an injury free bounce-back 2011 season, Carlos Beltran has been the most talked about trade target over the past month.

    The New York Mets have already made it official that they intend to deal the veteran outfielder and teams have already started discussing possible trade packages.

    But beyond the MLB and certain team's postseason hopes, how does a Beltran move stack up as far as fantasy baseball is concerned?

    I would say fairly well.

    When you consider his .291 average, 15 home runs, 64 RBI, and 30 doubles more or less came during a season in which David Wright and Ike Davis have been nonexistent, it translates into a huge production swing if the 34-year-old were to move somewhere else.

    I realize that Beltran's ceiling isn't that much higher than it is now, but when you think about the lineup protection he'd receive in Boston or Philadelphia, it coincides with weekly fantasy wins.

    Stay tuned, continue to roll with the must-start option on a weekly basis, and pray to the fantasy gods that he doesn't get traded to the San Francisco Giants.

1. B.J. Upton OF

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    Entering Monday night, B.J. Upton trade talks are at an all-time high.

    The 26-year-old could be on the move sooner rather that later and has consequently taken over Carlos Beltran's spot as the top outfield target before July's trade deadline.

    But how does this fair with Upton's fantasy value and owners alike?

    It's great news.

    Upton is finally producing like he did during 2007 when which he hit 24 home runs with 22 stolen bases.

    Now while his .229 average is relatively unbearable, he's still on pace to hit 24 bombs and swipe 37 bases.

    Moving to a new lineup, city, and all-around stage could benefit Upton in more ways than one.

    The young outfielder has already drawn interest from many playoff bound contenders including the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.

    Considering he's been a top level option so far this season while playing only a portion of the year alongside a disappointing Evan Longoria, Upton has enough talent to increase his fantasy production over the next two months.