The July 31 trade deadline came and went with the usual surprises and unfulfilled expectations.
But while the rest of the world tries to make sense of the Blue Jays' ambitions for Roy Halladay, the Fantasy-playing world has enough damage to assess already. With every deal, players lost jobs and players gained jobs, and recognizing the biggest winners and losers can give your team that last little boost it needs to survive down the stretch.
So without getting lost in flowery rhetoric, here are the five deadline deals with the biggest Fantasy implications, in no particular order.
Yes, the most important deal actually went down a couple days before the deadline. Of course, we didn't know it was the biggest deal until the deadline actually passed.
Let's make one thing clear upfront: If you play in an NL-only league and have any kind of waiver priority or FAAB money remaining, you want to use it on Lee. He's clearly the best player changing leagues, and nobody of his ability will clear waivers and change teams in August.
True, he hasn't pitched much like a defending Cy Young winner this year, but pitching for a bottom-of-the-division team like the Indians has concealed what success he has had. He had back-to-back complete games just after the All-Star break, has an ERA just over 3.00 and should improve from a No. 3 Fantasy starting pitcher to a No. 2 just by moving to a contender.
And that's before you consider the peripheral factors. He's now pitching in a league without a designated hitter in arguably the worst-hitting division in baseball (though the NL West could certainly make a case). He could conceivably perform like a Fantasy ace between now and the end of the year.
As for the other players in this deal, the Indians certainly got a haul, though Marson's and Donald's stars have dimmed a bit in the minors this year. They stand the best chance of making an immediate impact, especially Marson after the Indians traded Victor Martinez on Friday. The Indians went with Fausto Carmona as Lee's immediate replacement, but Carrasco could end up in the starting rotation before season's end, making him worth stashing in AL-only leagues. Keep an eye on Carmona as well. He was an emerging ace just a couple years ago, remember. Most analysts consider Knapp the biggest prize of this deal, but you won't need to worry about him for two or three years, probably.
Francisco was heating up just before the deal, but as a reserve in Philadelphia, he doesn't matter. Chris Gimenez, who takes his spot in Cleveland, bears watching just because he's eligible at catcher.
Martinez certainly has the biggest name here, but his Fantasy value changes the least. He'll still play every day and still bounce between catcher, first base and designated hitter. The supporting cast helps a little, but it's not like he's suddenly batting in front of Albert Pujols.
From a Fantasy perspective, this trade matters because of what happens in Cleveland. Sooner or later, Matt LaPorta has to come up to the majors. The Indians had already moved him to first base in the minors and now cleared a spot for him by trading the two players blocking him, Martinez and Ryan Garko. As we've seen with Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters and some of the other big hitting prospects to reach the majors this year, LaPorta might not make an immediate impact in mixed leagues, but he certainly would in AL-only leagues.
Martinez's departure also creates an opening at catcher, either for newly acquired Lou Marson or Carlos Santana, who Baseball America rates as a better prospect than LaPorta. I could see the Indians going with Marson just because, unlike Santana, he's in Triple-A and not Double-A, but if I had to choose one in an AL-only league, I'd go with Santana. If the Indians plan to make him their everyday catcher next year anyway, why not have him learn the ropes now, with nothing on the line? He's right behind Matt Wieters among catcher prospects and is clearly the team's future at the position, not Marson.
After having to pitch out of the bullpen just because the Red Sox had no other place to put him, Justin Masterson finally gets a chance to shine as a starting pitcher. He's not quite Clay Buchholz, but he's not far behind him either. He could be the Indians' best pitcher over the final two months, making him worth a look even in mixed leagues.
Back on the Red Sox's end, the Martinez acquisition means Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and even David Ortiz lose some measure of at-bats. Most likely, Lowell and Varitek will each sit two or three times a week, with Ortiz sitting against lefties, which makes each of them less appealing in mixed leagues. Of course, Lowell had already lost most of his mixed-league appeal following the short-lived acquisition of Adam A. LaRoche.
If you play in an AL-only league and shelled out big bucks for LaRoche, so sorry. You got about a week of part-time at-bats from him. Now, he's heading back to the NL.
And that's a recurring theme with all of these deadline deals. Most of the big-name players went from the AL to the NL, leaving patient AL-only owners high and dry, at least for now.
They certainly wouldn't want to spend a large sum of their FAAB dollars on Kotchman, who adopts the LaRoche role of part-time left-handed-hitting first baseman in Boston. If LaRoche didn't get enough at-bats for mixed-league use before Victor Martinez entered the picture, think of how few Kotchman will get now, with Martinez a permanent fixture in the Red Sox lineup.
In other words, Kotchman's already minimal Fantasy appeal is completely destroyed. If you liked what Mark Kotsay did for the Red Sox, you could give him a look, but otherwise, steer clear.
As for LaRoche, he suddenly deserves a roster spot in mixed leagues again. The Braves had a desperate need for power hitting, so you can rest assured they'll play him every day. And he had his best year playing for Atlanta back in 2006, when he hit .285 with 32 home runs. You can't expect him to do that again -- in fact, you can't expect anything more than intermittent hot streaks and a .260 batting average overall -- but in some leagues, LaRoche is one of the few potential 25-homer guys you can find on waivers, assuming everybody dropped him when the Pirates traded him to the Red Sox.
This trade deserves a mention here just because it's the one case of a big-name player (Peavy) going from the NL to the AL.
But let's get real: Peavy probably won't come back until September, and if he suffers a setback or the White Sox fall out of the race, he could potentially miss the rest of the season.
It's a risk, but if you play in an AL-only league and saved your waiver priority or FAAB dollars for today, what other choice do you have? You could wait and see which players clear waivers and get traded in August -- something some pundits expect to see happen more this year with the economy in its current state -- but you'll probably have to settle for a lesser player than Peavy (even an injured Peavy) and could potentially end up with nothing.
As crazy as it sounds, the Padres now have a loaded pitching staff, though Carter is still a few years away from contributing. Richard has made significant progress over his last two starts, pitching eight innings each against the contending Tigers and Rays. He's a must-add in NL-only leagues, and now that he's in a dramatic pitcher's park and a league without a designated hitter, he actually has a better chance of making an impact in mixed leagues even though the Padres won't give him the run support the White Sox did. Poreda has even more upside than Richard, though we haven't gotten a chance to see what he can do as a major-league starter yet. He's also a must-add in NL-only leagues and potential contributor in mixed leagues.
Of course, to get those two pitchers in their rotation, the Padres will have to remove two. Josh Geer seems a likely candidate given his relatively low ceiling, but the second choice between Kevin Correia, Chad Gaudin, Tim Stauffer and Mat Latos isn't as clear.
Given Latos' successful debut as a top prospect and Stauffer's successful resurgence as a former top prospect, Correia and Gaudin seem the more likely choices. Then again, they've both pitched well. Be on guard if you own either of them -- or any of the four, really -- in an NL-only league.
Despite a 2.64 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and a streak of five straight starts allowing no more than one earned run, Washburn remains unowned in 14 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues.
That number should dwindle almost to zero in response to this trade.
The Mariners aren't a bad team, but they didn't always give Washburn the support he needed, which led to a somewhat unsatisfying 8-6 record. At least, that's the only logical reason why Washburn would go so widely unowned.
Now that he's with a first-place club in Detroit, he should only improve that record without any obvious statistical backslide. Hey, if nothing else, he won't have to pitch as often against the Angels, who have accounted for the only two starts in which he's allowed more than four earned runs.
French and Robles are strictly future considerations. Most likely, French will work out of the Mariners rotation just as he did for the Tigers, but he's not much of a Fantasy option at this stage of his career, especially now that he's moving to a lesser team.
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