With the end of July quickly approaching, the trade deadline looms large. Some teams have already come out and stated that they were going to be “buyers”, attempting to add pieces for a run to a championship. Other teams will be “sellers”, trading away their current talent to acquire a haul of prospects in the hopes of future success. With multiple players having the chance to switch teams, it presents an opportunity for managers to exploit, should they be savvy enough.
In this installment of “Market Watch” we’ll take a look at some of the names who are floating around in trade talks, and examine what would happen should they end up moving. I’ll do my best to put on my “Swami” hat and predict what is to come. Let’s get started!
One of the keys to identifying a good “Buy Low” candidate is to search for players that have an adequate sample size, a proven history of success, and have recently made a change in their approach at the plate. Sometimes it may just be the smallest adjustment that helps a player get back on track, such as fixing their stride or closing their batting stance. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some folks that you’d benefit from adding:
(Indicates percentage owned in ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo! Leagues)
Matthew Garza – (100%, 93%, 71%) Garza has been mentioned in trade talks for the last several years running, but this may finally be the season that he breaks free from the Chicago Cubs. After a rough outing back on 6/11 he has been fantastic ever since, allowing two earned runs or less in six consecutive starts. Garza will likely cost several premier prospects, and the Boston Red Sox have been mentioned as the front-runners to acquire his services. Should Garza end up going to the AL, expect an uptick in his ERA and WHIP, but a large increase in his win totals due to better run support. He has been incredibly consistent in his career and is one of the most high profile candidates out there. Other teams that have been mentioned include the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers.
David Price – (100%, 97%, 98%) After being shelved for a month due to a triceps injury, Price has allowed a total of one earned run per start since his return, racking up 18 strikeouts in the process. Tampa Bay ranks sixth in total runs scored so far this season, leaving plenty of hope that Price will bounce back for a 10 plus win second half. If you are in a league with a frustrated owner in the bottom half of the standings, you may be able to acquire his services on the cheap, while his ERA still sits close to 4.00. Price likely won’t be moved this summer since he’s the ace of the staff and the Rays are still in the hunt, but stranger things have happened.
Chase Utley – (100%, 98%, 90%) The Philadelphia Phillies are currently being wishy-washy about whether they plan on trading some of their players or not at the trade deadline. Should they opt to build for the future, Utley is a prime candidate to be moved, along with Michael Young and Jonathan Papelbon. Hitting a respectable .272 on the season, he has still displayed plenty of power (11 home runs) and speed (seven stolen bases) for a 34-year-old. The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently the favorites to land him should the Phillies decide to deal, which would definitely boost his value. Hitting for a loaded team with incredibly deep pockets may be just the ticket for a championship run.
Tim Lincecum – (92.9%, 89%, 80%) I’m pretty sure that if my fellow RotoExpert Tom McFeeley or friend Ray Flowers read this portion, they will smile and laugh. Here is what you need to know about Lincecum. He’s maddening to own. He will post some starts that are absolute head scratchers in which he gets shelled. He will also make you wish that you had an awesome nickname like “Big Time Timmy-Jim”. With all that said, he’s also been fantastic lately, even before his recent no-hitter. Prior to that, he posted a 3.83 ERA with a 9.4 K/9 rate. He’s currently a matchup play, but has the upside to be much more if he ever regains his form of old. There are currently rumors that he’d be better served as a reliever moving forward, but I disagree with that train of thought.
With “Sell High” candidates, using different sabermetric data to suggest regression such as BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) or FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) helps to identify candidates who have been lucky and will start to decline. Here are some players that are likely to regress; you should attempt to trade them in the upcoming weeks if you can.
R.A. Dickey – (94.8%, 94%, 93%) I hate saying “I told you so”, but everyone who has read my work for a while knows that I’ve never been a believer in Dickey. Some experts were apparently bribed or brainwashed into thinking that he belonged among the top 20 pitchers overall going into the season, which I vehemently disagreed with. The switch to the AL hasn’t helped and neither has the ballpark in Toronto. His velocity was down earlier this season and he has been incredibly erratic with his performance. All that being said, should you participate in a league where someone still thinks that he holds value, I would trade him immediately. Trust me folks, his 4.69 ERA isn’t going anywhere.
Eric Hosmer – (100%, 95%, 76%) I want to believe in Hosmer, I really do. He seems like an incredibly talented player who arrived with a tremendous amount of expectations. After a glimpse of his talent in his rookie season, he’s been the poster boy of “sophomore slump,” with a terrible start to the season, in large part due to a very high groundball rate. Since George Brett took over as hitting coach for Jack Maloof, Hosmer has hit over .300 with eight home runs, flashing his talent. If you are in a keeper league where a manager still believes in his potential upside and ceiling, I’d look to trade him if at all possible. First base is a tremendously deep position full of youngsters like Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo.
Pedro Alvarez – (100%, 96%, 81%) The “baby bull,” as he is affectionately called, had a solid start to the season, hitting 24 home runs and 62 RBI. The problem that I have with Alvarez is how streaky and inconsistent he is, which will absolutely kill you in head-to head-leagues. Other managers in your league may be enamored with the amount of power he offers in a vastly improved Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, but I’d prefer to limit the number of “all or nothing” hitters that I have on my team if at all possible. In addition to killing your average, his on-base percentage isn’t anything to write home about, and he offers no chance of a stolen base.
FANTASY BASEBALL STRATEGY
As we reach the halfway point in the season, make sure to take a look at your team and examine how you compare in each category or statistic to the rest of the league. Are you behind in runs or stolen bases? You may wish to pursue a trade for someone like Adam Eaton before he breaks out and will cost more. Down in saves? The closer carousel is always spinning, so keep your ear to the ground with teams like the Brewers or Diamondbacks for the latest nominee.
Since there are no games this week, it is a fantastic time to reflect upon how you can improve your team. I receive many trade questions on Twitter asking me if trading X for Y is a good deal or not. Do you want to know the easiest way to measure what a good deal is? Examine the player you are potentially trading for, and the one that you are trading away. Can you afford to lose the statistics of the person that you are trading? Is it from a position of strength or weakness? Is the person that you are acquiring going to be a mainstay in your lineup, and are they a candidate for regression? If you add someone it should be based upon what you think that they will do in the future, not what they have done in the past.
Feel free to continue to send trades my way! I’m always happy to lend a hand when I can.
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