Trade Impact: Martinez, Quintana, Cahill, Frazier
With the trade deadline approaching, plenty of hypothetical trades are still simmering on the hot stove, but I wanted to take this opportunity to look at a few players who have already been moved and what their new situation does for their fantasy value the rest of the year.
On the topic of the relievers that have been moved, there’s less in-depth analysis that can be offered when so much of the value is tied to the closer role. It’s clear that David Robertson and Brandon Maurer’s value has gone down, and Sean Doolittle’s has gone up, given the respective changes in their closing situations. The less said about Tyler Clippard the better. Even those relievers who stand to immediately benefit from receiving the closer role, such as Brad Hand, may well be on the move themselves soon, so their value bump may be short-lived, and the real value may be in the sneaky dollar pickup of the second or third-in-line who finds themselves closing when the dust settles, rather than blowing most of a FAAB budget on the incumbent.
J.D. Martinez, Tigers to Diamondbacks
After getting hit on the hand by a pitch in his first game with the Diamondbacks, Martinez returned to the lineup last night and promptly hit his seventeenth home run, so we can feel a little more comfortable discussing his value now. In terms of park, this is a clear upgrade for Martinez. Comerica Park is either average or slightly below it depending on which set of park factors you choose to look at, whereas Chase Field is clearly above average and is a leading contender for the title of second-best hitter’s park in the league, behind Coors. Speaking of Coors, Martinez will get to hit there too for a series, although that is balanced out with the other divisional locations, all of which favour pitchers.
It’s less clear that the lineup is an improvement, with both teams hitting remarkably similarly this year: only 2 points of OPS separate them. Given that Martinez has been responsible for much of the Tigers’ positive production to this point, we should expect Arizona to be better than Detroit going forwards, and in Paul Goldschmidt, Martinez has a comparably elite hitter ahead of him in the lineup who is going to get on base a ton. Arizona’s baserunning prowess shouldn’t be overlooked either, making it considerably more likely that they’ll score when they do get on base, especially compared to some of the sub-par baserunners Detroit has.
Opponent-wise, this might be a little worse. Martinez gets away from Cleveland’s formidable arms like Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller, but replaces that with the Dodgers, who have almost been as good by cFIP, although the loss of Clayton Kershaw significantly affects that. He won’t lose out on the benefit of facing the Twins’ largely uninspiring staff, as Arizona heads into Minnesota for interleague play in mid-August, but that is balanced with four games against Houston, who have been as good as Cleveland by cFIP, and he won’t get to face another of MLB’s worst pitching teams in the White Sox, now even worse after moving two of their best bullpen arms. The other divisional opponents have been at or slightly below average, but the Giants do now have their best pitcher back.
Jose Quintana, White Sox to Cubs
Quintana’s first two starts in a Cubs uniform have been promising for fantasy owners, albeit much less so in the second than his debut, when he struck out 12 Orioles over seven scoreless innings. The parks are extremely close here, with FanGraphs’ park factors suggesting Wrigley is a slightly better place to pitch, while Baseball Reference indicates that Guaranteed Rate Field has the edge, so we’ll call that a wash.
Willson Contreras is basically an average framer this year, which is an improvement on Geovany Soto (poor) and Omar Narvaez (very poor), although perhaps not Kevan Smith, who also appears to be average based on the limited sample we have. Replacing those below-par innings from Soto and Narvaez with average ones from Contreras should help a little, and it may simply help Quintana to be caught by a more regular fixture behind the dish, instead of the mish-mash of receivers he’s had thus far. The change from Tim Anderson to Addison Russell at shortstop might be the biggest defensive upgrade for any player on the move this year, and the Cubs generally rate significantly better than the White Sox in the field, even if they aren’t as impressive as their historic 2016 campaign.
The move from the AL to the NL is obviously great, and on a deeper level it looks like Quintana may also have got lucky with how the schedule lines up (bearing in mind that this could rapidly change and render this moot), as he’s set to get the terrible Giants in arguably the best pitcher’s park in the league in early August, as well as skipping trips to Arizona and Cincinnati and a home series against the potent Nationals. In fact, after that Washington series on August 4th-6th, the Cubs won’t face any of the league’s top 5 lineups by OPS the rest of the way.
Trevor Cahill, Padres to Royals
So Trevor Cahill is good now, a team actually wanted to acquire him for their rotation at the deadline, and that team was the Royals, who look like they can actually give Cleveland a challenge for the division. Baseball is weird. Petco isn’t the pitcher’s park it seemed to be a few years ago, and Kauffman has developed the reputation of being a hard place to hit home runs, which certainly seems to be the case again this season even in this home run happy environment.
Catcher is a definite downgrade, as Austin Hedges is an excellent defensive catcher and Salvador Perez is certainly not. Aside from that, however, this is a great move for Cahill. The Padres’ infield is a disaster for a ground ball pitcher, whereas the Royals have a handy up-the-middle defensive combination in Alcides Escobar and Whit Merrifield, although Mike Moustakas comes in for some abuse from DRS, if not UZR. They also still have two excellent defensive outfielders in Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, and Jorge Bonifacio is passable in right, albeit a far cry from the previous member of what was one of the best defensive outfields of all time, Jarrod Dyson.
The NL-AL switch is less promising, but there’s not a whole lot on Cahill’s schedule that should scare owners, with dates against the Red Sox, Mariners, Cardinals and White Sox likely coming up – that’s three average offensive teams and a bad one. Kansas City still gets the NL West in interleague play this year, so he may still see the Rockies and Diamondbacks, but they would both be at home and he gets to skip the Dodgers altogether, as well as the Nationals, and the Royals don’t face the terrifying Astros the rest of the way either. There aren’t as many obviously bad teams on the slate as there would have been in the NL, but fantasy owners shouldn’t find too many matchups here to scare them away from starting Cahill.
Todd Frazier, White Sox to Yankees
Moving to Yankee Stadium isn’t as attractive for Frazier as it would have been if he was a left-handed hitter, but it’s still a great place to hit home runs and a definite upgrade over his old home in Chicago. Speaking of great places to hit home runs, that also goes for Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto, all of which are above-average for home runs from righties.
The Yankees are 4th in OPS this season, and the White Sox are 23rd, so that tells you something about the extent of the lineup upgrade Frazier is receiving. Any lineup with Aaron Judge in would probably automatically beat the bottom ten teams in baseball this year, but the likes of Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius all help to fill out what is one of the league’s strongest lineups. A word of caution, though: Frazier has hit 7th and 8th so far for the Yankees, compared to 4th and 5th for the White Sox. A drop of three lineup spots for the rest of the year would probably cost Frazier in the region of 20 plate appearances on average, and while this team doesn’t have many weak spots in the lineup, having the likes of Chase Headley or Tyler Wade hit behind you isn’t going to be an awful lot different to Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez.
The schedule is mixed, with an appealing seven games against the moribund Baltimore rotation, but also ten against what is starting to look like an excellent Boston staff. One nice bonus is that the Yanks have played just 43 of their 97 games at home so far, so 38 of the remaining 65 will be in those friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.