Well, that definitely wasn't boring.
With the additional Wild Card in both leagues, we have more teams in the playoff race than previous seasons, so most weren't expecting an active trade market before Thursday's non-waiver deadline. Boy, were we wrong.
According to my math, we saw 12 trades on Thursday, with 37 players changing teams. It was an absolutely bonkers day, with plenty of fantasy implications. I'll do my best to get into most of them below.
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David Price to Tigers; Nick Franklin, Drew Smyly, and Willy Adames to Rays; Austin Jackson to Mariners.
This one came down just moments before the trade deadline and what a doozy it was. It feels like a light return for the Rays on the surface, but the Tigers get an upgrade in their rotation for this year and next (and a replacement for Max Scherzer, who is a pretty good bet to leave as a free agent this winter) and the Mariners end up with the center fielder they have long-coveted. Still, I feel good about Smyly's future in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and Franklin is worth watching in deeper mixed leagues, even though it's unclear where he fits on the roster right now. He might be more interesting for 2015.
I don't see Price's value changing all that much in Detroit. He's awesome regardless of where he pitches. The real interesting situation from a fantasy perspective is what the Tigers do in center field without Jackson. For now, it looks like J.D. Martinez will be a regular in left field while Rajai Davis and Ezequiel Carrera will split playing time in center field. Carrera was batting .307/.387/.422 with six home runs and 43 stolen bases this season in Triple-A and makes for a decent option if you need speed in deeper formats.
Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Athletics; Yoenis Cespedes to Red Sox.
Well, this was a stunner. It's hard to imagine Lester being much better than he already has been this year, but trading in Fenway Park and the AL East for one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the majors is a pretty good scenario and puts him in fine position to finish his walk year strong. The recently-acquired Jason Hammel is expected to keep his rotation spot even though he has struggled since coming over from the Cubs, which means that Jesse Chavez is out. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.
It's a bit strange to see the Athletics move on from Cespedes, but they are set up pretty nicely to fill the void in left field with a platoon of Stephen Vogt and Gomes. Vogt, 29, has hit .351 with five homers and a .911 OPS over 45 games this season and should get the majority of at-bats over Gomes. He's worth adding in mixed leagues if he's still on the waiver wire in your league. As for Cespedes, he's due to become a free agent after 2015, so this was a creative way for the Athletics to cash in on him before the inevitable. The 28-year-old has actually performed better at home than on the road during his career, but there's every reason to believe that he'll thrive at Fenway Park and the other hitter-friendly ballparks in the AL East. He gets a decent boost in value here.
John Lackey to Cardinals; Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Red Sox.
The Cardinals already added Justin Masterson in a deal with the Indians on Wednesday, but Lackey is better and provides extra insurance for Michael Wacha. The 35-year-old right-hander has quietly been very good since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2012, posting a 3.55 ERA over 50 starts while averaging 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He gets a boost in value with the league switch. He's also a tremendous bargain, as the Cardinals hold a $500,000 club option on him for 2015.
It looks like Shane Victorino is headed back to the disabled list, so we will likely see Craig in left field and Cespedes in right for the Red Sox. The loser in this situation is Daniel Nava, who has played well during his most recent stint in the majors. And who knows where top prospect Mookie Betts fits in this. Still, Craig was a fine gamble for Boston, even though he's had a down year and carries plenty of health questions. Kelly is strictly an AL-only play, as I'm still waiting for his velocity to translate into strikeouts and contact could come back to hurt him with the league switch. The big winner in this deal might be someone who wasn't even in it, as Oscar Taveras should be the primary right fielder for the Cardinals the rest of the way. He homered Thursday against the Padres and should be picked up in most leagues.
Red Sox trade Stephen Drew to Yankees for Kelly Johnson; Diamondbacks trade Martin Prado to Yankees for Peter O'Brien.
I grouped these two deals together. While they aren't going to grab headlines, it continues to play into Brian Cashman's theme of making incremental upgrades to his roster without mortgaging the future. Prado should see most of his playing time in right field, which (thankfully) pushes Ichiro and his .636 OPS to the bench. Meanwhile, Drew should get most of his playing time at second base. While he has never played there in the big leagues, it shouldn't take much for him to be an improvement over Brian Roberts, who was designated for assignment on Thursday. For what it's worth, Drew has started to look a bit more like himself recently. Signing late probably didn't help him. The Yankees also get some flexibility with Thursday's deals, as Jeter can spend some days in the DH spot while Drew can play shortstop and Prado can move in to play second base.
With Chris Owings still sidelined, the Diamondbacks figure to move forward with Didi Gregorius at third base and Nick Ahmed at shortstop. That's not much to get excited about in mixed leagues. As for the Red Sox, they are going to move Xander Bogaerts back to shortstop and call up Will Middlebrooks to play third base. Middlebrooks hasn't exactly been tearing up Triple-A of late, but he'll now get two months to show what he can do. It could be his last chance. Still, his power potential is worth watching in deeper formats.
Jake Marisnick to Astros; Jarred Cosart and Enrique Hernandez to Marlins.
I'm mostly highlighting the fantasy relevant players, but I thought the Astros deal really well here to get Colin Moran (last year's No. 5 overall pick) and a competitive balance pick for 2015 along with Marisnick. Not a bad haul for a team who failed to sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken this year.
The Marlins clearly believe in Cosart and moving to the National League increases his chances of reaching his potential, but his strikeouts haven't caught up to his mid-90s fastball yet and his control is a work in progress. Some still think he'll end up in the bullpen. Hernandez has played well in a small sample so far in the majors, but he's never hit this well until this year. Still, he could be interesting in NL-only leagues if he gets some time at second base. Marisnick is expected to play center field immediately for the Astros and should continue to get playing time in Houston's outfield even after Dexter Fowler returns from the DL. His power-speed combo makes him interesting, but it hasn't translated to success at the major league level yet. The good news is that he's still just 23 years old. There's still a lot of promise here.
Gerardo Parra to Brewers; prospect outfielder Mitch Haniger and prospect left-hander Anthony Banda to Diamondbacks.
This is mostly interesting to me because of what it could mean for Khris Davis. The 26-year-old has 17 home runs, 54 RBI and a .782 OPS through 99 games this season, but he has just a .723 OPS against right-handed pitching compared to a .961 OPS against southpaws. Losing at-bats against right-handers could really hurt his value. Parra's overall production has taken a dip this year, but he has a .760 OPS against righties for his career and he's one of the game's best defensive outfielders to boot. He and Gomez together could be quite a treat. This is a situation to watch in fantasy leagues.
Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals; Zach Walters to Indians.
Ryan Zimmerman could very well miss the remainder of the regular season with a Grade 3 strain of his right hamstring, so the Nationals added Cabrera on Thursday to give them another option at second base. The most likely scenario is that Cabrera gets at-bats against righties while Espinosa starts against lefties. That's not good for either of them from a fantasy perspective. While nothing appears imminent, it's probably just a matter of time before the Indians call up top prospect Francisco Lindor to take over at shortstop. Known for his excellent defense, the 20-year-old has compiled a .279/.362/.384 batting line over 327 games in the minors and offers plus-speed and impressive plate discipline for his age. He should be worth adding in deeper mixed leagues when the time comes. Hopefully it's really, really soon.
The Phillies were strangely inactive before Thursday's non-waiver deadline and things got worse for them a few hours later when left-hander Cliff Lee was forced to leave his start against the Nationals in the third inning due to a recurrence of the flexor pronator strain which already cost him two months earlier this season. The Phillies have already placed him on the disabled list and while more should be known when he's examined on Saturday, it's safe to say that he's done for the year. I can't believe I'm saying it, but those in redraft leagues can move on. It's a real bummer.
Some speculated that Lee could be an option for a waiver deal in August, but that's obviously out the window now and it's highly unlikely that anybody will take a chance on him this winter. The Phillies owe him roughly $45.8 million through the end of 2015. This includes $25 million for next year and a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016. Ouch.
AL Quick Hits: Jose Bautista had a solo home run and a sacrifice fly in Thursday's win over the Astros … Albert Pujols went 2-for-6 with a go-ahead RBI single in an extra-inning win over the Orioles on Thursday … Jose Abreu went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two intentional walks Thursday against the Tigers … Chris Davis missed his third straight start Thursday due to the flu … Eric Hosmer could miss a month with a stress fracture in his right hand … C.J. Wilson (ankle) is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Saturday against the Rays … Yordano Ventura allowed two runs (one earned) over seven innings in a win over the Twins on Thursday … Mike Zunino launched a go-ahead two-run homer in Thursday's win over the Indians … Jason Vargas (appendectomy) will rejoin the Royals' rotation on Saturday against the Athletics … The Twins signed catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $12 million extension with a vesting option for 2017 … Nolan Reimold socked a pair of solo homers Thursday against the Astros, including a go-ahead solo shot in the ninth inning … Tyler Skaggs left Thursday's start against the Orioles after 4 2/3 hitless innings due to left forearm tightness and will go for an MRI on Friday … The Twins acquired left-hander Tommy Milone from the Athletics for outfielder Sam Fuld … Adam Eaton went 3-for-5 with two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base in Thursday's win over the Tigers … The Mariners acquired outfielder Chris Denorfia from the Padres for outfielder Abraham Almonte and prospect right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen … The Orioles acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the Red Sox for prospect left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez … The Red Sox will call up prospect right-hander Anthony Ranaudo to make his major league debut Friday against the Yankees … The Twins have called up first base prospect Kennys Vargas from Double-A New Britain …
NL Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw held the Braves to one run in a complete-game victory on Thursday night. He's ridiculous … Giancarlo Stanton launched his 25th home run Thursday in a loss to the Reds … Johnny Cueto struck out nine batters over seven innings of one-run ball in Thursday's win over the Marlins … Carlos Gonzalez (ankle, knee) went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his return to action Thursday … Yasiel Puig went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and two runs scored Thursday against the Braves … Julio Teheran took the loss Thursday against the Dodgers despite allowing two runs over eight innings to go along with nine strikeouts … Gio Gonzalez was hit hard for five runs over 3 2/3 innings in Thursday's loss to the Phillies … Starling Marte (concussion) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Indianapolis … Jake Arrieta struck out seven batters while holding the Rockies to one run over seven innings Thursday for his sixth win … Matt Cain doesn't have any damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, but he's dealing with "loose bodies" in his elbow and the Giants are weighing their options … Ben Revere went 4-for-6 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored in Thursday's win over the Nationals … Shelby Miller allowed two runs over six innings and struck out five batters in a win over the Padres on Thursday … Andrelton Simmons aggravated a nagging right shoulder injury during Wednesday's game, but intends to play through it … Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable both homered in Thursday's loss to the Cardinals … The Braves acquired infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and left-handed reliever James Russell from the Cubs for prospect catcher Victor Caratini … Nick Ahmed went 2-for-4 with his first major league homer and two runs scored in Thursday's win over the Pirates … New Cubs left-hander Felix Doubront has been placed on the disabled list with a calf strain, which conveniently allows for him to be stretched out as a starter in the minors …