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Fantasy Baseball: The Prospects from the Cliff Lee Trade

Parts of this post were originally written over at Jason's Baseball Blog.

Commenter rmarx asked about the prospects that the Mariners received in return for trading ace Cliff Lee. Here's my thoughts about the trade:

Clearly, the top piece they acquired here is Justin Smoak. Smoak will be penciled into the 1B spot for the Mariners, and while I think that he will see a drop in some of his power numbers compared to what he would have done with the Rangers, but he should still be a solid 1B. Long term, I can see him hitting .300+ with about 20 homers for the Mariners in a season. I think that his slugging percentage, while it should be slightly lower, should still be solid with the large alleys in the outfield of Safeco Field.

What about the other prospects that the M’s got back?

Blake Beavan is a 21 year old right hander who had been at AA for the Rangers. He has a 10-5 record with a 2.78 ERA and a very respectable 68/12 strikeout-to-walk rate while there. The numbers appear legitimate, as he has a 3.23 FIP this season, and a 5.1% HR/FB rate for the season. As strange as it sounds, he’s was almost an extra pitcher for the Rangers, as he was not even in their top 10 prospects according to Baseball America before the season. I imagine he’s going to still be in AA for the Mariners, and spend next season at AAA. A career 48% groundball rate leads me to believe he’s going to do well in Seattle once he gets there, even without a dominating strikeout rate.

Josh Lueke is a bit of an older prospect, only at AA this season in his age 25 season. A closer, he has recorded 12 saves between High-A and AA this season. The strikeouts are a bit ridiculous though, with 62 so far over 38 1/3 innings pitched between both levels. Even at AA he has managed to maintain an excellent rate, striking out 12.5 per 9 innings. I would guess that his ETA is probably next season sometime, as he could be fast tracked up to AAA by the Mariners potentially before the end of the season. I could see him potentially being a closer in the Majors someday, but he's someone who would be an extremely deep keeper league thought only.

Matthew Lawson seems like a bit of a throw in, as he looks like a solid prospect but nothing amazing. A 14th round pick originally, he looks like he might fit the mold of a good fielding, reasonable hitting 2B. At AA, he has hit .277/.371/.438 this season with 7 homeruns and 3 stolen bases. To me, he’s a bit of a project type, as he’s not dominating in the way you would hope he would to be a top prospect, but he is only 24 still and this is his first go around in AA. I think he does have a reasonable chance to be useful at the Majors, potentially as a utility type player. I'm not sure that really translates to anything for fantasy though, unless something changes.

The Mariners I think got a very good haul for Cliff Lee, and is clearly a better return than what they gave up to acquire Lee back in December. Job well done by Jack Zduriencik to maximize the value from Lee.