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MLB Trade Deadline: Mitch Moreland, Trevor Rosenthal, Taijuan Walker, and more!

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Heath discusses the fantasy baseball impact of the trade deadline.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Let’s hit the high points thus far, that way you can sound smart at the water cooler today—six feet behind your colleague, please and thanks.

In general, what you need to lead with is that the Padres are GOING FOR IT ALL, son (or daughter). The Friars have made a flurry of moves, increasing the chance that we get to see Fernando “El Niño” Tatis Jr. in the MLB playoffs. I can’t wait.

The Blue Jays (18-14, third in AL East) add Taijuan Walker

Toronto actually has a team 3.73 ERA thus far, sixth-best in the majors. But they had to add some quality after losing three contributors to injuries—Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker, and Trent Thornton have all landed on the IL over the last two weeks. Thornton, in particular, is gone for the season. In general, I think you can use Walker how you have been so far—but this is a negative park shift that you’ll need to account for in some fashion, especially if it’s a tough opponent. Walker has benefited from a .225 BABIP so far, too. That’s only going to rise.

Athletics add Tommy La Stella to upgrade second base

The A’s lead the AL West and this move makes them better right now. La Stella is a free agent at season’s end, so this move is a total rental to give them a boost—expect him to play every day at the keystone. He’s a clear hold in all leagues, as we should see him return to form a bit more now that he’s healthy. He’s slashing .265/.361/.461 so far, but his BABIP is on the low side at only .250. He’s also trimmed his strikeout rate this year, with his 5.8% mark residing inside the top 1% of the league. That, and he has doubled his walk rate, from 6.2% in 2019 to a 12.5% mark in 2020. He’s a solid MI type in deeper leagues.

Franklin Barreto gets shipped to the Angels, where the 24-year-old gets a classic “change of scenery” to see if that can bolster his production. So if you’re holding onto him in a dynasty format, I suppose this is good news.

Mitch Moreland is an immediate DH upgrade in San Diego

Here’s a snapshot of what the Padres have “enjoyed” thus far out of the DH slot, and what Moreland has produced as the strong side of a platoon at first base for Boston.

Ty France has gotten a lot of run in San Diego’s DH slot lately, but this is going to eat into his time as he falls into the short side of a platoon with Mitchy Two-Bags. Maybe hold France in your deep leagues, as he does have an ability to move around the diamond a bit. But I do think this is a clear hit to whatever value you were squeezing out of him.

As for Moreland, he probably isn’t going to keep up his otherworldly pace right now. But in any season you have to ride the wave. In a 60-game season, I think that’s even more true. He’ll sit against southpaws (again, France) but in leagues where you make daily moves get him in there against right-handed pitching. And in weekly leagues, he still makes for a low-end first base option and studly corner infield bat. Don’t believe me? Currently, he is the 10th-best first baseman in fantasy baseball. First base is paper-thin, folks.

Lastly, the Padres rank second in the majors with 192 runs scored thus far, trailing only the Dodgers (197). The Red Sox rank 15th, with 150. This is a better-hitting Padres lineup, so Moreland gets a boost in team context, too.

***Update*** The Padres unloaded Ty France to the Mariners, in exchange for Austin Nola. France gets a boost I think, as he’ll have the chance to DH and play the infield for Seattle. And Moreland seems freed up to get all he wants versus RHP in 2020.

RP Trevor Rosenthal to San Diego, OF Edward Olivares (and PTBNL) to the Royals

It’s just crazy what we are basing 2020 on. And no slight to the Padres here, as they had to make a move to try to replace the hole left by the Kirby Yates injury. But Rosenthal has pitched a whopping 13 23 innings so far in 2020, and we’re already saying he’s fixed? Color me skeptical, but I still think this is a good move for San Diego in real life. And if you were counting on Rosenthal for saves, I think you hold him for a week to see how things shake down in San Diego.

As for Olivares, he’s speedy and a quality outfield prospect for the Royals, who already traded for Franchy Cordero earlier this year. Olivares had a solid spring and summer camp but ultimately flopped in his time in the majors this year. Still, the Royals took a shot on Rosenthal as a reclamation project this year, and they enjoyed his 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and seven saves while it lasted. And now they have a solid OF prospect and a PTBNL to show for it. This is a quality move for both sides I think.

Tommy Milone gives the Braves some (quality?) veteran innings

Milone has quietly rebuilt some value this year, pitching to a 9.39 K/9 and a minuscule 1.14 BB/9. Of course, he was torched yesterday in his first turn for Atlanta. Yikes. Expect the Braves to continue searching for rotation help all day on Monday. At least, they better be searching.

Jose Martinez relegated to DH in Chicago, but fills a huge need vs. LHP

He won’t be needed to man first base, as that spot belongs to Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs need his skill set, though. Consider the current output by the Cubbies against each handedness of pitching:

Cubs vs. RHP/LHP

Split BB% K% OBP ISO wOBA wRC+
Split BB% K% OBP ISO wOBA wRC+
Cubs vs RHP 11.0% 27.6% 0.330 0.212 0.333 109
Cubs vs LHP 11.6% 24.3% 0.325 0.125 0.297 84

Put differently, the Cubs rank third in ISO against RHP, but 26th in ISO versus southpaws.

Yoshi Tsutsugo and Ji-Man Choi get more run in Tampa Bay, with both likely playing every day against RHP, at least. I mean, it’s the Rays, so who knows. I reached out to the great Yancy Eaton for an official comment. We’ll see what the greatest Rays fan of our time has to say.

Wrap-Up

Jason Castro to the Padres, Mychal Givens to Colorado, Jarrod Dyson to the White Sox..I didn’t cover everything. From a real life perspective, Castro and Nola to the Padres is just super-savvy—catcher was a big weakness for that club offensively and now it could turn into a strength.

Big names that COULD fall today are Mike Clevinger (Padres, Braves?) and Josh Hader (Cubs, Dodgers?). So stay tuned on those fronts.

I might have missed something. If so, eviscerate me in the comments!