“Bruno’s Gold:” The American League Trades that Didn’t Happen Part 2, 2014
The trade deadline has come and gone, and while players can still be traded after clearing waivers, there were several potential trades that never happened. Fellow Major League Fantasy Sports contributor Joe Iannone tackled trades that didn’t happen in the American League yesterday focusing on the Yankees, and today, I’ll focus on some other potential AL trades that didn’t happen. There were many more buyers than sellers this year since so many teams were not out of the hunt for the playoffs. That also means that less big impact-type players were available, making this list rather underwhelming. As usual, any statistics I reference are courtesy of FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. Now, onto the list.
Alex Rios: The Rangers have been out of contention largely all season, thus becoming as a potential seller. Rios drew interest from several clubs, including the Mariners, Indians, and Royals from the American League, as they all needed help in the outfield. Rios is not the type of player who can take a fringe playoff team and make them a contender, but he certainly can serve as an upgrade. He’s currently hitting .294/.324/.415 with four home runs (HR), 47 runs scored, 46 runs batted in (RBI), and 16 stolen bases (SB). His power has been down this year as his Isolated Power (ISO) of .121 has only been lower once in his career during his rookie season. The Rangers are currently 15th in runs scored, yet have the 4th most hitter friendly stadium according to ESPN’s Park Factor. Considering that the Mariners, Indians, and Royals do not offer more hitter friendly parks and, minus the Indians, have offenses that struggle to score runs (Royals are 16th in runs scored, Mariners are 24th), Rios’ fantasy value would likely not go up by moving to one of these teams, unless a change of scenery somehow gets his bat going. Rios was likely drafted as one of the first 15-20 outfielders, yet is roughly the 35th best fantasy outfielder, even with his stolen bases. He’s cleared waivers since the trade deadline, allowing him to be moved to any team, but don’t bank on his value increasing simply because of a trade. Texas may prove to be the best team for him to play for (fantasy-wise), because of the hitter friendly stadium, which might be the best chance to see some of his power returning.
Josh Willingham: Another outfielder not traded is Willingham. I wrote about him in mid-June as a hot streak player who could offer some power help, but that he was difficult to predict because of his streakiness. He was killing the ball then, but has gone cold since and is currently sporting a line of .210/.345/.402 and his ISO of .242 at the time of my writing has since dropped to .192. He does have 12 HR in 68 games played, which is roughly a 30 HR pace over the course of a full season and interested teams wanted him for his power. He drew interest from AL teams in the Yankees and Royals, but the Twins decided not to move him. The Twins have been decent at scoring runs this year (11th best) and better than the aforementioned Royals (16th) and Yankees who are 18th. However, the Yanks’ stadium is giving up the 2nd most home runs per game in baseball this season, playing to Willingham’s power. Although Minnesota’s stadium gives up the 10th most home runs per game this year, Willingham actually has more home runs on the road than he does at home (seven on the road, five at home), meaning he doesn’t need his “home field advantage” in order to hit dingers. Willingham’s fantasy value would have increased with a trade to the Yankees, as fly balls easily turn into home runs in that stadium, and 54.3% of Willingham’s balls put in play this season have been fly balls.
Koji Uehara: I wrote about Uehara last month as a potential trade candidate, but he was one of the players the Red Sox chose not to trade. He’s had a great year for the last place Sox, posting a 1.32 earned run average (ERA) and a 2.38 Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) on his way to racking up 25 saves. His 1.9 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) is 7th best among relievers and his 100% left on base percentage (which “measures the percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season”) is best in baseball. American League teams that needed bullpen help, like the Angels, Blue Jays, and Orioles, showed interest in Uehara, but again, a move was not made. Considering these three teams are all much more competitive than the Red Sox this season and are likely to play in more games in which there is an opportunity for a save, you would think that Uehara’s fantasy value would go up. When I last wrote about Uehara I said that, “It’d be hard for Uehara or Street to increase their fantasy value by switching teams since they are already top-10 relievers, but racking up saves will do just that.” Well now Uehara is likely the best relief pitcher in your league, and that’s with having ten less saves than the MLB leader. His fantasy ranking may have gone up with a chance to record more saves with the Angels, Jays, or O’s, but he’s currently the best reliever in fantasy, meaning he can’t get much more valuable.
Asdrubal Cabrera: I’ll briefly touch on Cabrera since he was traded to the Nationals, but as the Blue Jays showed interest, that counts as a trade that didn’t happen. After posting some solid seasons in Cleveland, including a 25 HR, 3.6 fWAR season in 2011, Cabrera had a down year last season and hasn’t been much better this year. He’s currently hitting .245/.306/.380 with nine home runs, 57 runs scored, 43 RBI, and seven SB. The Nats traded for him because of the hole in their lineup after Ryan Zimmerman injured his hamstring, but the Blue Jays were interested as well after an injury to Brett Lawrie and lack of production from his replacements. While the trade to the Nats was a better real-life move for Cabrera than going to the Jays, his fantasy value would be better served playing in Toronto. The Blue Jays have the 4th most runs scored in baseball and have had a dominant offense all season. Even if Cabrera hit towards the bottom of the lineup for them, he’d still see plenty of RBI and run scoring chances with the potent Jays’ offense. The Nats on the other hand have struggled to score runs all year and their current ranking of 13th best in baseball is as high as I’ve seen it all year. Cabrera’s been a fantasy disappointment this year and his value took a hit after being traded to Washington. Fantasy owners would have much rather preferred a trade to the Blue Jays.
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