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Fantasy Extra: Breaking down the deadline deals

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The July 31 trade deadline is a time when Fantasy owners and baseball fans alike gather around their Twitter feeds hoping to see the entire league overhauled in a matter of hours.

But this year, that time would have been better spent on a nap.

Talk about a snooze-fest. What happened to Alex Rios changing leagues? What happened to those closer openings that were sure to arise as contenders restocked their bullpens? What happened to the July 31 blockbuster?

Well, we didn't get it this year. We got a July 30 blockbuster, though. I'll start there in my look at the five deadline deals with the biggest Fantasy implications, backtracking a couple days just to hold everyone's interest.

Fortunately, that one deal has enough Fantasy implications for the rest of them.

The Big Deal

Red Sox get: Jake Peavy and Brayan Villarreal
Tigers get: Jose Iglesias
White Sox get: Avisail Garcia and prospects

When a third team gets involved in a trade, you know it's a serious swap -- the kind destined to have far-reaching effects in Fantasy. This one is no exception.

Though Peavy is the most notable name here, his Fantasy value only marginally improves, mostly because he goes from one of the worst teams in baseball to one of the best. You can't predict wins, no, but that move certainly improves his chances for them. He goes from one small park to another, but at least at Fenway, he'll have a better chance of keeping left-handed hitters at bay.

The real winners here are those in line to replace what the Red Sox gave up. Jose Iglesias had been starting at third base, and though benchwarmer type Brock Holt gets the first crack at replacing him, sooner or later the Red Sox will want offense at the position and turn to either Will Middlebrooks or Xander Bogaerts. I'm thinking Bogaerts. Not only has manager John Farrell hinted that the 20-year-old is in the conversation for a promotion, but the Red Sox shifted him from shortstop to third base about a week ago, possibly in anticipation of this move.

Middlebrooks has already gotten two chances in the majors this year and couldn't capitalize on either. His swing-at-anything approach is a liability at the major-league level, and his .257 batting average at Triple-A Pawtucket suggests he hasn't made the necessary adjustments. Plus, in terms of upside, he's just not on the same level as Bogaerts, who could end up giving the Red Sox what they traded away in Hanley Ramirez eight years ago.

Even if Middlebrooks beats him to the big leagues and claims the third base job forevermore, the Red Sox could simply slot Bogaerts in for Stephen Drew, who's in the last year of his contract and batting only .226. The bottom line is that, before this trade, Iglesias blocked Bogaerts at both third base and shortstop. Now, he blocks him at neither. His time is coming. Iglesias' departure ensures it. I'm scooping him up wherever I can get him.

As for Iglesias, he'll simply step in for Jhonny Peralta in Detroit whenever MLB hands out the Biogenesis suspensions, which is an important sidebar here. If the Tigers thought Peralta had any chance of avoiding or even delaying a suspension, they might not have pursued this deal, which leads me to believe the evidence against the Biogenesis players is so overwhelming that, like Braun, the majority of them will just accept their punishment rather than try to appeal. Time to take what you can get for Everth Cabrera and Nelson Cruz.

Garcia is the other notable name here for Fantasy owners, and his value certainly improves with this move. Going from a contender to a rebuilder, his .374 batting average at Triple-A will earn him a promotion sooner than later, and the move to a smaller park can only improve the startling lack of power he has demonstrated in the majors so far. Still, I see him as more of an AL-only option at this stage of his career.

Best of the Rest

Tigers get: Jose Veras
Astros get: Danry Vasquez and player to be named later

Like the Jake Peavy deal, this one didn't happen on deadline day, but it's still worth dissecting here, especially since we have yet to learn all the Fantasy implications. And we won't learn them until the next time the Astros have a save opportunity.

They traded their closer, you see, and they traded him to a team that doesn't really need a closer. No, Joaquin Benoit isn't exactly proven in the role, but his track record in middle relief gives him a better chance of holding up in it than Veras' does.

Of course, that's no consolation for the owners who have relied on Veras' 19 saves to this point. While it's possible a meltdown for Benoit could open the door for Veras to reclaim ninth-inning duties, the better bet for saves going forward is to gamble on whomever he Astros ultimately choose to replace him.

Right now, they plan to go closer-by-committee, but that arrangement never lasts long. Ultimately, someone always emerges as the preferred option, and in this case, my guess is Jose Cisnero, who has strikeout-per-inning stuff and a 2.67 ERA over his last 19 appearances. But Travis Blackley is also in the mix, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Josh Fields and Wesley Wright get looks as well.

Colleague Nando Di Fino keeps hyping recent call-up Chia-Jen Lo as a closer candidate, and frankly, nothing would surprise me at this point. But if the Astros really thought he had the potential to do that, why is he only now in the majors? Seems like a long shot to me. I'm going Cisnero.

Padres get: Ian Kennedy
Diamondbacks get: Joe Thatcher, Matthew Stites and a draft pick

As a general rule, good players are good players regardless of where they play, so I try not to put too much emphasis on park factors when assessing trades.

But when the player in question is a former Cy Young contender who has fallen on hard times lately and the place he's going is San Diego, I just can't help myself.

I'm referring, of course, to Kennedy, who has known mostly misery since going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 2011. He had a minor resurgence in the second half last year but has so thoroughly bombed this year, compiling a 5.23 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, that he's now virtually unusable in Fantasy. And stashing him has gone out of style as well, his ownership rate dropping to 68 percent.

Maybe this deal changes that.

Granted, it won't fix what's wrong with him, but it may hide it pretty well. Petco Park has a history of making the unusable usable (see Eric Stults), thanks to its larger dimensions. Kennedy has fared better there than anywhere else in his career, compiling a 2.27 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in six starts, so if he's unowned in your league, I'd take a flier on him just to see what happens.

And if I already own him, I'd consider shopping him now just to see if anyone else buys into that theory. Hey, if you can get all of the benefit with none of the risk, why not? And if you play your cards right, you really could get all of the benefit. Kennedy's numbers figure to improve with this move, but I doubt he'll get back to being Cy Young-caliber.

As for the opening his departure creates in the Diamondbacks rotation, I don't think it matters in Fantasy with Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) on Trevor Cahill (hip) on the verge of returning from the DL. Maybe it improves Tyler Skaggs' chances of contributing down the line, but he's been shaky in his previous opportunities anyway.

Orioles get: Bud Norris
Astros get: L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader and a draft pick

Now begins the snooze-fest. I could pretend that Norris' move to an actual contender where his starts will actually matter will propel him to new heights or that his move out of Minute Maid Park (where his career ERA is two runs lower than on the road, mind you) will have a favorable impact on his numbers -- and I'll certainly keep an eye out for any change in production -- but I don't have enough evidence for either of those theories to act on them.

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Remember how I said good players are good players regardless of where they play? Well, mediocre ones are mediocre regardless of where they play, and that's the stance I'm taking with Norris until he shows otherwise.

The ripple effect of the Astros' side of the deal probably won't reach Fantasy owners. The candidates to replace Norris are Lucas Harrell, who was the definition of the bottom-feeder in his earlier stint in the rotation, and Brett Oberholtzer, a non-prospect whose greatest claim to fame is being part of the deal that sent Michael Bourn to Atlanta two years ago. Even in AL-only leagues, I'd try my best to avoid them.

With Justin Maxwell shipped out in a separate deal, Hoes will probably get a look on the major-league roster, but he's a fourth-tier prospect -- one on about the same level as Robbie Grossman -- and profiles as more of a reserve in the long run.

Angels get: Grant Green
Athletics get: Alberto Callaspo

This trade raised eyebrows if for no other reason than because Baseball America rated Green the Athletics' top prospect just two years ago. He had plate discipline problems back then and hasn't really improved on them since. Still, a player who hits .325 with an .879 OPS at Triple-A and can play any position but pitcher and catcher should have some measure of long-term appeal, walks or no walks.

Of course, to have traded him for someone as assuredly low-end as Callaspo, the Athletics must have felt that Green is a lost cause, which means they must think his success at Triple-A is either a product of his advanced age -- at 25, he's certainly old by prospect standards -- or the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He didn't make a strong case for himself by going 0 for 15 in a stint with he big club earlier this season.

Maybe they're right -- hey, they'd know better than I would -- but because the Angels moved their starting third baseman in this deal, I think Green will get another chance to show what he can do after getting a refresher at third base in the minors. In a deep AL-only league, I'd take a flier on him.

With the trade, Callaspo will apparently move back to second base -- a position he hasn't played with any regularity since 2009 -- which will slightly improve his nearly insignificant Fantasy value. But in the long run, this deal will be a bigger deal for Green.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Rangers plan to stretch out Ross Detwiler's starts in spring training
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the team plans to stretch out pitcher Ross Detwiler's starts to open spring training, reports foxsportssouthwest.com

Detwiler did not start a game in 2014, making 47 relief appearances with a 4.00 ERA. In 2013, he started 13 games for the Nationals and went 2-7 with a 4.04 ERA.


Red Sox trade Anthony Ranaudo to Rangers for Robbie Ross
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday Ranaudo is in play to become the No. 5 starter in the rotation, but if he doesn't win the job, he will likely start in the minors.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


Report: Blue Jays also interested in Jonathan Papelbon trade
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


Report: Orioles, Pirates rekindle Travis Snider trade talks
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Orioles and Pirates have revived trade talks regarding Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider, a source told The Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are closing in on a framework for a deal for Snider and are encouraged a trade will happen in exchange for one or two minor-league players.

The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


Report: Angels, Garrett Richards set arbitration date
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have reportedly set an arbitration date for Feb. 11, according to the L.A. Times.

Talks for the new contract have been moving slowly with no discussion of a multi-year deal coming, according to the report. Richards asked for $3.8 million, but the team only offered $2.4 million.

Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 2014, amassing 164 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford agrees to $3.175M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:34 pm ET) The Giants and shortstop Brandon Crawford avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a $3.175 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Crawford, who is in his first year of arbitration, made $560,000 in 2014.

Crawford just finished his fourth season in the majors and third full season in 2014. He had career highs in triples (10), home runs (10), runs (54), RBI (69), walks (59) and games played (153).


Mariners' McClendon toying with idea of using Wilhelmsen as starter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:28 pm ET) The acquisition of J.A. Happ means Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't have to head into spring training with long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen competing for a spot in the rotation.

However, McClendon hasn't totally given up on the idea of Wilhelmsen potentially transitioning to a starting role down the road, per MLB.com.

"I don't think it's totally dead," McClendon said. "I would say it's probably a long shot. My plan, as we speak right now, is to maybe stretch him out in spring and just play with it a little bit and see what happens, but I think it's a long shot. He was just so good in the role he was in, it'd be hard to take him out of that role."

Wilhelmsen pitched multiple innings in 24 of his 57 appearances last year. The former closer went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.

"I really tried not to change anything at all, [other than] try to simplify a little bit," Wilhelmsen said. "If I was going in in the fourth inning, I knew I'd have to throw two or three innings and I just really attacked the zone. But it's not like you don't attack the zone any other time. It's the same thing. You have to get outs."


Tigers' Castellanos works to be 'more comfortable' at 3B in 2015
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(4:17 pm ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos struggled in his first full year playing third base at the major-league level in 2014, so he is hard at work this offseason improving his defense

"Last year was [about] the actual ground-ball catching," Castellanos said, per MLB.com. "This year is a lot more [about] quickness, working on my range, lateral movement."

On top of committing 15 errors, Castellanos' Ultimate Zone Rating of negative-18.4 was nearly twice as bad as the next-lowest rating among third-base regulars. He also had a Defensive Runs Saved of minus-30 and a plus/minus rating of minus-39, which was lowest in the majors last year.

"I'm going to be more comfortable this year," Castellanos said. "Last year, I knew nobody [in terms of hitting tendencies]. Also I was getting used to the tempo of the game. It wasn't like I was in the big leagues for a while at another position and then had to go to third base. It was pretty much me making my first year in the big leagues at pretty much a new position, or trying to relearn an old position."


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


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(3:17 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports on Tuesday that it is "highly, highly unlikely" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.

Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season on a seven-year, $80 million contract. He is also recovering from surgery in August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee.


 
 
 
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