In a deal that had been rumored earlier this offseason, the Houston Astros sent shortstop Jed Lowrie, along with reliever Fernando Rodriguez, to the Oakland A's for first baseman/DH Chris Carter, starter Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi. The A's had shown interest in Lowrie earlier this offseason, and this deal probably had it's roots during the Winter Meetings.
So how does this impact the fantasy values of the players involved in this trade? Here is my take;
Bret Sayre wrote this piece on Lowrie last week, where he opines that Lowrie's injury risk outweighs what he brings to the table for fantasy owners. There is chatter that Lowrie will be a super-utility type player, as the A's are still planning on going with Hiroyuki Nakajima at shortstop, so Lowrie will be keeping plenty of gloves in his locker on a daily basis. Here is more on GM Billy Beane's plans for Lowrie, courtesy of Jane Lee from MLB.com:
The 28-year-old Lowrie has spent the majority of his career at shortstop -- 240 appearances in 368 starts -- but will be asked to get comfortable at essentially every infield spot, with newcomer Hiroyuki Nakajima still pegged as the everyday shortstop. Lowrie's a reliable option at third base should youngster Josh Donaldson stumble, and he can not only lend his glove at second base, where Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks are expected to duke it out for playing time, but as a switch-hitter, he offers a nice complement to the left-handed Brandon Moss at first base in Carter's absence.
So, for now, it appears Lowrie will be playing all over the infield. Oakland appears to be building a roster of guys that manager Bob Melvin can mix and match based on matchups this season. Lowrie's fantasy value stays relatively the same as he should see plenty of at bats, but we could see a slight drop in power with the move from Houston to pitcher friendly O.co Coliseum, which was the 8th toughest park to homer in last season. Minute Maid Park increased home runs by 6% for left-handed hitters and 9% for right-handed hitters last season, while O.co depressed home runs by 28% for left-handed hitters and by 11% for right-handed hitters
The move to Minute Made Park is a good one for Carter, who will see plenty of at bats at first base and DH for the Astros. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's plan for the Astros is obvious. He is rebuilding the team and trading for young major league talent and prospects. Here is what he told Brian McTaggart from MLB.com after making the deal:
"I feel like we helped ourselves in the short term by adding the power we desperately need from the right side and also gave ourselves some long-term benefit in this deal," Luhnow said.
Carter's fantasy value improves as a result of this deal, as he will be moving from the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum to Minute Maid Park, which is more conducive to his power from the right side. Carter finally got a chance to play every day last season, hitting .239-.350-.514 with 16 HRs, 38 runs and 39 RBI in 260 plate appearances. His 15% walk rate made his 31.5% strikeout rate just a bit more palatable, but he obviously needs to work on cutting the strikeout rate a few points in 2013.
This trade probably means that if Wallace can't beat out Carlos Pena at first base, he may find himself in a three way platoon at third base, first base and DH with Pena, Carter and third baseman Matt Dominguez in 2013. Or, he could end up playing everyday in Triple-A. Wallace was once a top rated hitting prospect, but he failed to live up to expectations since making his minor league debut back in 2008. He doesn't hit for much power, which makes his 27.0% strikeout rate tough to accept.
Peacock will have a shot at winning a spot in the Astros rotation in 2013, but will have to beat out one of Erik Bedard and Philip Humber to do so. With Bedard's injury history, Peacock could be the first starter called up should he have to start the season in Triple-A.