Fantasy Baseball Winners and Losers Following 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 30, 2021

Fantasy Baseball Winners and Losers Following 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    The Major League Baseball trade deadline was one of the most active in recent memory as the contending teams loaded up on talent for the playoff push. 

    The Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs were the biggest sellers. Juan Soto was the only star from the two teams to remain on one of those rosters. 

    Soto is stuck in the Washington lineup with little help until the Nationals figure out how to approach their future. The lack of protection around the star outfielder dropped his fantasy baseball value a bit for August and September. 

    Liam Hendriks also saw his fantasy value potentially drop on Friday, but that was for a good reason, as the Chicago White Sox acquired Craig Kimbrel as part of the Chicago Cubs' fire sale. 

    While the big-name trades of Kimbrel, Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kris Bryant and others stole the spotlight, a few deals that flew under the radar could have a significant impact on how some teams approach their respective pennant races, which in turn affects their fantasy baseball values. 

Loser: Juan Soto

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    Juan Soto went from a red-hot slugger out of the All-Star break to a player with no one around him in the Washington lineup in a span of two weeks. 

    The left-handed slugger lost all of the lineup protection he had with Trea Turner off to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Josh Harrison on his way to the Oakland Athletics. 

    Opposing pitchers may show a larger willingness to pitch around Soto, with Josh Bell being the only power hitter still on the Washington roster. 

    Even if Soto goes on a home-run hitting spree in August and September, he likely will not have a ton of extra RBI with Turner removed from the top of the lineup. 

    Washington should be inclined to use as many young players as possible, which may add to some growing pains throughout the lineup. That could lead to more three at-bat nights for Washington's superstar. 

    In the long run, Washington will get better around Soto, but for the rest of the season, his fantasy value will take a hit because of the mass exodus from the NL East side. 

Winner: Craig Kimbrel

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Craig Kimbrel should receive many more save opportunities on the south side of Chicago as a new member of the Chicago White Sox. 

    The former Chicago Cubs closer recorded a 0.49 ERA with 23 saves in 39 appearances this season. He should boost that save total immediately with the White Sox leading the American League Central.

    A case could be made for Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks to split time as the closer, and that could happen in some stretches, but Kimbrel has been too dominant to keep him out of the shutdown role in the ninth inning. 

    If Kimbrel continues to pitch at the same rate, he should eclipse the 40-save mark for the sixth time in his career. The last time he reached that total was 2018, which was his last season with the Boston Red Sox. 

    Kimbrel is already rostered in a large majority of fantasy baseball leagues, and the managers with him on their squad should receive a boost in strikeouts and saves. 

Loser: Liam Hendriks' Save Opportunities

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Hendriks will still play an important role in the White Sox bullpen, but his save opportunities could come down. 

    The current White Sox closer had 25 saves in 45.1 innings, but he has a much lower strikeout total than Kimbrel.

    Hendriks could be used in the ninth inning on some occasions, but the White Sox did not acquire Kimbrel to pitch the innings before the final frame on a constant basis. 

    Hendriks should have value in ERA and WHIP because he could go multiple innings in some appearances to bridge the gap between Chicago's starters and Kimbrel. 

    From a non-fantasy perspective, the move was a huge win for the White Sox because they have three dominant bullpen arms in Hendriks, Kimbrel and Michael Kopech who could power the team to the AL pennant. 

Winner: Adam Duvall

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Adam Duvall loves hitting at Truist Park, and fantasy baseball players should run to the waiver wire to add him if he is still available. 

    Duvall was moved to Atlanta by the Miami Marlins in one of Friday's low-key deals, but it could turn out to be massive in Atlanta's ongoing quest to piece together its lineup without Ronald Acuna Jr.

    Duvall hit 26 home runs and recorded an OPS over .830 in his two full seasons in Atlanta. He moved to Miami in the offseason. He had a .755 OPS, but he hit 22 long balls for the Fish. 

    The outfielder has a .918 career OPS with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 76 games inside Atlanta's home stadium. 

    Duvall should hit behind Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman, and he may have the red-hot Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson right beneath him in the order. 

    Duvall should have one of the easiest transitions to his new club because he recently played in Atlanta. He should hit the ground running and provide more power to a lineup that was looking for it from the outfield positions. 

Winner: Ian Kennedy

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The team directly above Atlanta in the NL East standings made a move to solidify its wretched bullpen.

    Philadelphia landed Ian Kennedy from the Texas Rangers along with starter Kyle Gibson in exchange for three prospects.

    Kennedy should be the back-end arm for a bullpen unit that has struggled on countless occasions throughout the first half of the season. 

    Kennedy recorded 16 saves in 32 games this season for the Rangers. He had 30 saves in the 2019 campaign with the Kansas City Royals.

    Philadelphia's current save leader is Hector Neris, but he has not been in the closer role recently and owns a 4.57 ERA. Ranger Suarez is the only Phillies reliever with an ERA under 3.00. 

    The right-handed hurler should be able to double his current save total while the Phillies attempt to chase down the New York Mets in the NL East. 

Loser: Houston Astros Starters

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    The Houston Astros made it a clear point to add loads of bullpen help at the trade deadline. 

    Kendall Graveman came in from the Seattle Mariners, Yimi Garcia was brought in from the Miami Marlins, and Phil Maton was traded from Cleveland in exchange for outfielder Myles Straw. 

    The three new relievers join Cristian Javier and Brandon Bielak in a now-loaded bullpen that will build up to Ryan Pressly.

    With a handful of strong arms coming out of the bullpen, Astros manager Dusty Baker may be more inclined to pull some of his starters early and put relief pitchers into high-leverage situations. 

    Jake Odorizzi had two decent starts in July and then he did not make it into the sixth inning in each of his last three starts.

    Luis Garcia struck out nine batters in his last start against Seattle, but he also conceded six earned runs and did not make it out of the fifth inning.

    Even someone more notable like Lance McCullers Jr. could have a shorter leash for the rest of the season. He has a 3.23 ERA and 115 strikeouts, but he allowed four earned runs in each of his last two starts. 

    If Houston wants to maintain its lead over Oakland in the AL West, it may have to use its newly acquired players starting in the sixth inning or earlier, which could cut into the wins and strikeout totals of the team's starters. 


    Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.