According to the MLB Communications Department, there were 48 trades from June 1 through Monday’s trade deadline, which is the most in at least the last 20 years. We saw 18 trades on Monday, which was the most active deadline day since at least 1995. As someone who was tracking news and transactions for a good part of the day on Monday, I believe it. It was an exciting day, but I was a disheveled mess by the time the smoke cleared.
The biggest storyline surrounding the trade deadline was the massive turnover with closers. I hope you stashed well, because boy, these trades have added an interesting wrinkle to the stretch run. We’ve also seen some roles change due to injuries and underperformance. Guys like Tony Watson, Ken Giles, and Edwin Diaz have already been scooped up in most leagues, but there are a number of newly-minted closers still widely available. You’ll find a bunch of them below, as well as my thoughts on some new blood coming to the majors.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter. You can also email your fantasy baseball questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast on iTunes. And remember to rate and review if you dig it. New episodes come out every Friday.
Andrew Benintendi OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)
The Red Sox were one of the most aggressive teams in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but they stopped short of adding an outfielder. There’s a reason for that, as Benintendi will now get a chance to prove himself in the show. Selected No. 7 overall in last year’s draft, the 22-year-old has quickly emerged as one of the top prospects in the game by batting .312/.392/.540 over 151 minor league games while amassing more walks (74) than strikeouts (63). He’s small in stature at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but offers across-the-board ability and has a good lineup and ballpark as the backdrop. Keep in mind that Benintendi initially struggled in Double-A and is skipping Triple-A altogether, so there’s certainly a chance that his first stint in the majors will be a shaky one. He’s a fun lottery ticket as long as you keep expectations in check. Brewers prospect shortstop Orlando Arcia (Yahoo: 13 percent) was the other big call-up this week, but he shouldn’t be on the radar in most mixed leagues yet.
Jake Barrett RP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)
This week’s closer merry-go-round starts here, with the recent trades of Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard officially opening the door for Barrett. This opportunity might have gone to Daniel Hudson if he was pitching well. Then again, he might have also been traded if he was pitching well. As for Barrett, he’s coming off a nightmare outing on Wednesday against the Nationals where he gave up four runs on two hits and three walks after retiring the first two batters he faced. Still, he was rock-solid for most of July and should continue to get chances for the time being. I’d probably put him well behind some of the other new closers Edwin Diaz, Tony Watson, and Tyler Thornburg, but saves are saves and he should be owned everywhere as long as that’s the case.
Cam Bedrosian RP, Angels (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
I mentioned Bedrosian as a stash last week in advance of the trade deadline. While the Angels dealt Joe Smith to the Cubs, they were unable to find a taker for Huston Street. And that’s understandable, as he’s been terrible this season and now finds himself back on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. Bedrosian notched his first career save on Tuesday and should continue to get chances in his absence. The 24-year-old has been dominant this season, putting up a microscopic 1.12 ERA and 51/14 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. Even after the rough appearance Wednesday, it won’t be long before he has the job for good.
Yasmani Grandal C, Dodgers (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
Grandal struggled miserably during the second half last year while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, but I was optimistic that we’d see some improvement after surgery. It took a while, but Grandal is coming around. The 27-year-old has hit .320/.440/.733 with 10 homers over his last 23 games. He’s still batting just .221 on the year, but keep in mind that he was at .178 as recently as June 28. Hitting the ball hard hasn’t been a problem for him, but only recently has he started hitting the ball in the air more often. Per FanGraphs, his fly ball rate has been at 48 percent for the timespan I mentioned above. That’s nearly 20 points higher than where he was through the end of June. Who knows if he’ll keep it up, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take at the catcher position.
I grouped Eickhoff and Hellickson together here because they will both pitch against the Padres in PETCO Park this weekend. I dig those matchups. Eickhoff owns a 3.68 ERA for the year and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine out of his last 12 starts. Hellickson looked like an obvious candidate to be moved by this week’s trade deadline, but he stuck around after the Phillies were unable to find a satisfactory offer. The 29-year-old has been a pleasant surprise this season, posting a 3.70 ERA across 22 starts. This includes a 2.27 ERA over his last seven starts. Fantasy owners should feel confident going with both of them against San Diego.
Tyler Thornburg RP, Brewers (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)
Not only did the Brewers trade closer Jeremy Jeffress as part of the Jonathan Lucroy deal with Texas, they also swapped Will Smith to the Giants. How dare they break up the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” connection? Sigh. There’s money in that. At least the Brewers have a deserving in-house replacement in Thornburg, who I actually recommended as a stash not too long ago. The 27-year-old right-hander notched a save on Tuesday against the Padres and should have a clear path to the job the rest of the way. With his velocity finally back up after Tommy John surgery, Thornburg has compiled a shiny 2.27 ERA and 61/14 K/BB ratio over 43 2/3 innings this season. Coming into play on Wednesday, he had struck out 35.5 percent of the batters he has faced. Only four relievers (min. 40 IP) have been better. Corey Knebel could still be the guy here for the long-term, but Thornburg is getting it done right now.
Jameson Taillon SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
Another matchup play, Taillon carries some momentum into a start against the Reds this Friday in Pittsburgh. The Reds were already a lackluster offensive team even with Jay Bruce in the fold, so his bat will be missed in that lineup. Fantasy owners should try to take advantage when they can. Taillon looks like a solid enough play here. The rookie right-hander had a 3.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings over three starts in July after returning from a bout of shoulder fatigue. He’s exhibiting elite control and inducing plenty of grounders while also showing an uptick in swings and misses, so there’s plenty of reason to buy on him right now.
Justin Bour 1B, Marlins (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
Bour has been out since July 2 due to a sprained right ankle, but he’s expected to make his return from Friday’s series opener against the Rockies in Colorado. He’ll probably sit that first game against the lefty Jorge De La Rosa, as per usual when there’s a southpaw on the mound, but the Marlins will get right-handers for the remainder of the weekend. After slugging 23 homers with an .800 OPS during his first full season in the majors last year, Bour has 15 homers and an .873 OPS in just 68 games this season. The 28-year-old slugger has cut down on his strikeouts in a significant way while also showing more patience. Sure, Derek Dietrich will probably take away the occasional start now that Dee Gordon is back from his suspension, but Bour should be owned if you need some pop for the stretch run. Just be sure to use him strategically.
Aaron Altherr OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
I liked Altherr as a deep sleeper coming into this year after he put up an .827 OPS with 20 extra-base hits (including five homers) and six steals in 39 games as a rookie last season, but unfortunately he went down with a wrist injury during spring training and required surgery. After going through a lengthy rehab process, the 25-year-old finally rejoined the Phillies last week and has two homers, eight RBI, two steals, three walks, and six runs scored over his first six games. Altherr has hit second each of the last two games and figures to get regular playing time for the stretch run. Strikeouts might limit the batting average, but there’s some nice category upside here.
Brandon Maurer RP, Padres (Yahoo: 34 percent owned)
Maurer took over as the Padres’ closer after the Fernando Rodney trade last month, yet he’s somehow still widely available. What gives? It’s time to fix that. The 26-year-old has converted all four of his save chances since taking over the gig and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he has allowed just one run over his last 19 appearances to go along with a 19/1 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He has struck out 58 batters in 51 innings overall on the year, so there’s a lot to like here. If you missed out on one of the big names, Maurer could still be out there.
Gary Sanchez C, Yankees (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
The future is now in New York. After dealing Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran for a nice haul of prospects, the Yankees called up Sanchez on Wednesday and plan to give him regular at-bats down the stretch between catcher and the DH spot. Originally signed by the Yankees way back in 2009, the 23-year-old hit .274 with 18 homers and an .815 OPS in 93 games last season between Double-A and Triple-A and has backed that up by hitting .282 with 10 homers and an .807 OPS in 71 games at the Triple-A level this year. He even has 14 steals over the last two years. Given the power potential and the ballpark, he’s at least worth adding in two-catcher formats.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Tommy Joseph 1B, Phillies (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
I’m really high on the Phillies this week, apparently. I actually considered putting Astros rookie A.J. Reed (Yahoo: 10 percent owned) in this spot and I suppose you could go grab him if you need a corner infielder-type in a deeper league, but he struggled during his first stint in the majors and I’m not necessarily banking on consistent value or playing time for him the rest of the way. We know playing time won’t be an issue for Joseph. He’s also coming off a month where he hit .328 with six homers, four doubles, and a 1.065 OPS. After drawing just three walks through his 41 games in the majors, he has eight of them in his last 20 games. He has also steadily cut down on his strikeout rate, which suggests that maybe he’s getting more comfortable as he gets more experience. Not a crazy concept. Either way, he continues to be a nice story.
Yulieski Gurriel 3B, Astros (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Yay, Gurriel is officially available in the player pool at Yahoo. Recently signed to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, the Cuban infielder is 5-for-11 with two doubles over three games in the minors as he gets tuned up to join the Astros in the next couple of weeks. The Astros have a lot of moving parts, but they also have some flexibility between third base, left field, and the DH spot. Gurriel was one of the best hitters in Cuba for a long time and is capable of being a difference-maker as the Astros try to make it back to the postseason.
Aaron Judge OF, Yankees (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
I’m bad at predicting prospect ETAs. I mean, who saw Andrew Benintendi coming this week? There’s plenty of chatter about Yoan Moncada (Yahoo: 9 percent owned) potentially following him, especially now that he’s beginning to work out at third base. Could he be coming soon? Sure, it’s possible. And you won’t need me to tell you to pick him up if it happens. Moncada owns a .290/.394/.482 batting line in the minors with 93 steals in 174 games. As far as dynasty league prospects, he might come in at No. 1 due to his five-tool ability. But for this week, let’s focus on Judge, who should make his way to the majors soon now that Carlos Beltran is out of the picture.
Judge recently missed about a month with a mild PCL strain in his knee, but he made his return this week and it’s easy to imagine him getting a call-up in the next week or two if he swings the bat well. The 6-foot-7 slugger struggled during his first stint in Triple-A last year (eight homers, .680 OPS in 61 games), but he’s hitting .264/.357/.472 with 16 homers in 85 games at the level this season. He’ll have immediate appeal in mixed leagues if he takes over the starting right field job in the Bronx, so put him on a watch list at the very least. Feel free to stash in deeper formats.
Jharel Cotton RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Most of the league-only pickups are obvious this week, so I don’t have go into detail on those. Hopefully you have some FAAB dollars to spend. I’m looking a little bit deeper with my recommendations here, which is why I think Cotton could be worth a flier. Many think he profiles best as a reliever long-term, but the Athletics could give him an opportunity to start initially. The expectation is that he’ll see some time in the majors this year. The home run ball has been an issue for him in the Pacific Coast League (17 homers in 97 1/3 innings this season), but he has missed plenty of bats. I could see using him for matchup plays at home at the very least.
While we’re on the subject of starters, Luis Severino (Yahoo: 16 percent owned) should be owned everywhere on the chance he moves back into the Yankees’ rotation. He looked really good in relief on Wednesday against the Mets. I considered putting Astros prospect Joe Musgrove (Yahoo: 14 percent owned) under my mixed league recommendations, but the upcoming matchups are pretty tough. He gets the Rangers on Sunday and then projects to face the Blue Jays and Orioles. Tough sledding for the rookie, but he’s a no-brainer pickup in this sort of format. Probably should have been stashed long before this week.
Mikie Mahtook OF, Rays (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Mahtook has been limited to just 44 games between the majors and minors this season due to a fractured left hand, but he began a minor league rehab assignment earlier this week and should get a long look down the stretch now that both Brandon Guyer and Steve Pearce are out of the picture. The 26-year-old hit just .154 (10-for-65) with 24 strikeouts in 24 games this season prior to the injury, but the potential for a modest power/speed combo is still here. Just be sure to mostly use him against southpaws, if possible. Aaron Judge (Yahoo: 4 percent) and Tyler Austin (Yahoo: 0 percent) are two names to keep an eye on with the Yankees now that Carlos Beltran is out of the picture. I probably don’t have to tell you about Judge. He’s back from a knee injury, so his time should be coming soon.
Scott Schebler OF, Reds (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Most expected that Jose Peraza would get a chance at regular playing time following the trade deadline. We likely would have seen it if the Reds managed to trade Zack Cozart, but a deal didn’t happen and now Peraza will get a chance to work with his new double-play partner Dilson Herrera in Triple-A. The 25-year-old Schebler struggled a stint in the majors earlier this season, but he was mashing in Triple-A (13 homers, .934 OPS in 75 games) and the Reds might as well see what they have here.
Jake Thompson SP, Phillies (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Aaron Nola could very well be shut down for the season due to an elbow strain, but the injury could allow us to get a look at Thompson, at least until he meets his innings limit. Acquired from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels deal, the 22-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.50 ERA and 87/37 K/BB ratio in 129 2/3 innings across 21 starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. He’s been rolling over the past two months, so he’s deserving of the promotion. We’re probably not talking about a future ace here, but many consider him a solid mid-rotation starter for the long haul. Make sure he’s owned.
The same goes for Ivan Nova, who was flipped from the Yankees to the Pirates at the deadline. The league change could be good for him. Braves right-hander Rob Whalen didn’t have the smoothest major league debut, giving up four runs on four hits and four walks over five innings on Wednesday, but he’s another name to consider if you are really in need of a starter.