On Wednesday, the Diamondbacks and Mariners agreed on a trade that sent first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo and pitcher Vidal Nuno to the Pacific Northwest, and catcher Welington Castillo, pitcher Dominic Leone, and two prospects (one of which is the nephew of former Major League star Vladimir Guerrero) were sent packing to the desert. What kind of impact does this have for the fantasy community?
We’ll start with the Mariners side of this. Trumbo has been one of the better home run hitters in the game since he became a full-time player in 2011 with the Angels. Since 2011, Trumbo has hit 118 HR (or as I like to call them, “Trumbo jacks” or “Trumbombs”), which is the 12th most in the Majors — and that is with only playing half the season last year due to injury. Playing his home games at Chase Field in Arizona was a great spot for Trumbo and his right-handed power, so the move to the pitcher friendly confines of Safeco Field in Seattle will curb his appeal a bit. Just look at Nelson Cruz and how playing at Safeco Field has suppressed his power numbers. Only 4 of Cruz’ 18 HR this season have come at home. Also, Trumbo moves from an offense that was the top run scoring team in the National League to an offense that is the 3rd lowest scoring in the Majors. So maybe his presence will help the players surrounding him like Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager, but Trumbo’s value also takes a little bit of a hit in this regard. Another fantasy loser from the Mariners side of the deal is Logan Morrison. Trumbo is slated to be the team’s first baseman and will also see time at DH, which will shift Morrison into a bench role, but Morrison was likely not on many fantasy rosters to begin with.
For the Diamondbacks, this trade cleared up a big logjam that they were about to have with the impending return of third baseman Jake Lamb from the DL. Lamb started the season very hot and the Diamondbacks are high on him and need a left-handed power bat like his in the middle of their lineup. While he has been on the DL, Yasmany Tomas has been seeing most of the time at third base and has been very impressive with his hitting skills to all fields, so the Diamondbacks didn’t want to lose his bat from the lineup. So once Lamb returns, Tomas will move from third base to the outfield (but should also see some time at third base) and be a part of an outfield rotation that also includes A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte, and David Peralta. Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale will continue to give all of these guys playing time as he mixes and matches based on matchups, so the good news here is that none of these Diamondbacks stand to lose any value.
From a non-fantasy baseball perspective, I like the trade for both sides as the Mariners look to infuse their lowly offense with some life. Trumbo is set to become a free agent after this season, but the Mariners are in a year where they were supposed to be legitimate AL West contenders after adding Cruz in the off-season, so it makes sense to make some sort of move like this one. And the Diamondbacks traded from a position of strength and surplus to clear up their third base and outfield situations, and they got a decent backup catcher and some prospects in the process — in exchange for a player that they probably weren’t going to be able to keep after this season anyway.
Let’s take a look at Thursday’s action now.
Tyler Collins – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Collins was called up by the Tigers when Victor Martinez hit the DL. Martinez (switch hitter) and Alex Avila who is also on the DL are the team’s only real left-handed power threats, so without them the team has been struggling and very susceptible to poor games against right-handed starting pitchers as the team has now last 7 games in a row. Collins is probably not someone worthy of fantasy consideration, but if he can give the team some type of productivity from the left side of the plate then that would help out the hitters surrounding him in the lineup.
Shane Greene – 4.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the L. Remember when Greene had a 0.39 ERA after his first 3 starts? Since then, he has given up 4 or more earned runs in 6 of 9 starts to pump up his ERA to 5.40. He had very deep sleeper appeal heading into the year, but it’s looking like those first 3 starts of his were nothing but a tease as he is just not missing bats like he did last year with the Yankees and in his Minor League career. Leave him on the wire.
Jesse Hahn – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K with the W. So you know how I just said that the Tigers are struggling against right-handed pitching? Hahn, who has been far from dominant this year, is a right-hander who has now shut down the Tigers twice, including a complete game shutout versus them less than two weeks ago. Inexplicably, despite a 1.5 MPH increase with his fastball this season, Hahn’s strikeout rate is way down from 8.59 K/9 last year to 6.03 K/9 this year. Moving from the NL to the AL is a factor in that, but that’s still a big drop. It’s primarily his curveball that isn’t getting the same type of swings and misses even though his movement on the pitch is near identical to last year. Fortunately, his walk rate has also dropped big, down from 3.93 BB/9 to 1.89 BB/9. Hahn should provide some fantasy value and he has the upside for a whole lot more if he can get back to whiffing guys.
Wei-Yin Chen – 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Chen has been a reliable, if not unspectacular, pitcher for the Orioles since arriving in 2012. His start on Thursday against the Astros is just another example of how pitchers have high strikeout upside versus the “all or nothing” Astros. Take note DFS players. Chen now has 7.54 K/9 and if he can maintain a rate in that area then he makes for an underrated play. However, there isn’t much to suggest that he can keep it up and he is more likely to finish around 7.00 K/9 or a little lower.
Dustin Pedroia – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Pedroia continues to flex that muscle with his health at 100%. He now has 8 HR and is hitting over .300.
Pablo Sandoval – 0 for 4. Batting as a righty versus left-handed pitching this season, Sandoval was just 2 for 41. So recently, he has begun to hit left-handed versus the southpaw pitchers and is 4 for 11. It’s a small sample size but some improvement at least. He is definitely under-performing in his first season in a Red Sox uniform and it is hard to get too excited about him with his struggles versus lefties. He is hitting just .239 with 5 HR and 17 RBI in 49 games.
Blake Swihart – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Swihart launched his first Major League HR, so that has to be a good monkey to get off his back. But his production should at the plate will probably continue to be limited as a rookie hitter getting acclimated to the Majors.
Torii Hunter – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Hunter hit his 8th HR of the year and he is on pace to get to 20 HR for the first time since 2011. I’m sure he didn’t imagine being on a 1st place team when he signed back on with the Twins. I can’t foresee the Twins remaining in 1st place, but this is an incredible surprise run that has been led by the veteran Hunter.
Jake Arrieta – 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K with the W. A strong effort from Arrieta who improved to 5-4 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 77 K/14 BB in 71 IP. He’s a fantasy ace and the lowered walk rate has been a welcomed surprise.
Anthony Rendon – 2 for 4, 2 K. Rendon was activated from the DL in slotted in the 2-hole for the Nationals on Thursday. I wasn’t a fan of him entering the season, even before his injury, but now that he is back he should at least give his fantasy owners some sort of comfort.
Brandon Phillips – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB. Phillips is making it really tough on Billy Hamilton to reclaim the leadoff role. He is enjoying a bit of a resurgent year, but he has never been a .300 type of hitter, so that .311 AVG should settle down to the .280 range or so. However, it’s looking like he may have his first 20 SB season since 2009 if his legs don’t wear down on him.
Devin Mesoraco – The Reds placed Marlon Byrd on the DL on Wednesday with a fractured wrist and he is looking at a lengthy absence. Upon the bad news, the Reds are going to work Mesoraco out in the outfield as a way to try and extract some sort of value out of him this season. Mesoraco has been dealing with a hip impingement that has hindered him all season long and has prevented him from his regular catching duties, so this would be a welcomed move for fantasy owners if it pans out. If Mesoraco was waived in your league by a disgruntled owner, then it could be worth it to pick him up and stash him in a DL spot and see what happens with this experiment.
Carlos Rodon – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. Rangers manager Jeff Bannister put out the red carpet for the southpaw Rodon and invited him to dominate his team by constructing a lineup that was comprised of 5 lefties (including 3 in a row in the 2-4 spots in the order). That just doesn’t seem like smart managing, but Rodon didn’t mind and he put on an impressive showing. He lowered his ERA to 3.12, but his WHIP still is insanely high at 1.64 due to his lack of control. He’s got lots of potential, but erratic and inconsistent performance is going to continue to make him a bit a of a headache to start in fantasy.
Delino DeShields – 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K. DeShields continues to perform very well and with Josh Hamilton hitting the DL, that will give him some more time to establish himself as an everyday player. Hopefully you picked him up when I first mentioned him weeks ago because he’s proving to be a keeper.
Joey Gallo – 1 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K. Gallo couldn’t make it 3 straight games with a HR to start his career, but it was another multiple strikeout performance for him with the lefty Rodon on the mound. Expect lefties to continue to give him a very difficult time in the Majors.
Chris Young – 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the L. The luster is wearing off for Young and he’s going to continue to keep giving up more HR due to his fly ball tendencies, and he also will probably land on the DL at some point. But for now his 2.56 ERA and 0.99 WHIP look pretty spiffy.
Roenis Elias – 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the L. Elias took the loss on Thursday but pitched well to improve his numbers to a 2.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. His type of performance reminds me of Wei-Yin Chen — solid but unspectacular. He makes for a decent streaming option in the right spots.
Michael Wacha – 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the W. Wacha bounced back to beat the Dodgers after losing to them in his last start, and he also continues to see his strikeout rate steadily rise as it is now at 6.01 K/9. His ERA and WHIP will also steadily rise over the course of the remainder of the season, but the expected increase in strikeouts will help to offset that and he should remain a pretty valuable pitcher.
Matt Harvey – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W. Just another day at the office for Harvey. However, if there is something to complain about it is the fact that he is giving up a lot of HR. Both runs that he gave up on Thursday came on solo shots, and now he has allowed 9 HR on the season already, which is 2 more than he allowed in his breakout 2013 season. Even with the increase in HR allowed, Harvey is still one of the best pitching options there is, but we’ll have to monitor it just to make sure it doesn’t get too out of control.
Archie Bradley – Bradley landed on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, but it really seems like this might be a phantom injury and the Diamondbacks way of telling him that he needs to get his act together and stop being a gas can for opposing offenses.