This offseason saw a fair number of trades, even the same player being traded more than once in the case of Mike Napoli from Anaheim to Toronto to Texas. Some teams were trying to fill holes in their roster to put a better product on the field, while others were trying to pare salary, and perhaps put a better product on the field down the road.
Whatever the reason behind the trade, a lot of quality ball players found new homes. Here is a recap of the trades involving players switching teams who have the most significant fantasy implications this season.
Let’s start with the biggest trade of the offseason, the Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox trade. This trade was more than a year in the making as the San Diego Padres were rumored to have A-Gone on the block since last winter. Gonzalez will provide yet another big bat in the heart of the Red Sox order, but at the price of some very talented youngsters. Baseball fans and fantasy players in particular will be eagerly anticipating the impact on Gonzalez’s already impressive stats as a result of moving from notorious pitchers’ park PetCo to Fenway.
The most noteworthy future prospect of the bunch is Casey Kelly, a shortstop-turned-pitcher with great stuff. The other minor leaguers in the deal were Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes, as all three players are young with high ceilings, but Kelly was the man San Diego had to have in this deal.
The Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers trade isn’t as flashy because it involves two under-the-radar teams sending a shy, but excellent pitcher for a bunch of young talent, none of which pops off the page. The teams swapped shortstops in the deal and any time you can get another team to take Yuniesky Betancourt’s contract off your books, you won that deal. The Kansas City Royals also received an undervalued Alcides Escobar and an overvalued Lorenzo Cain.
The Brewers were busy adding talented pitchers to the rotation when they also traded for Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays. Marcum will make the Milwaukee rotation much deeper as he’s a quality pitcher. He’ll be third in the rotation behind Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. In return, the Jays received much heralded infielder Brett Lawrie. Lawrie is still about a year away from The Show, but when he gets there he’ll likely be a third baseman.
The most surprising deal in the offseason was the one that saw the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquire Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. The Angels picked up a contract that will pay Wells more than the one that the Red Sox gave to Carl Crawford, who wanted to play for the Angels. It makes little sense why the Angels just didn’t pay Crawford, who is younger and much more talented, but they opted for the Wells deal instead.
The Blue Jays then traded Napoli to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco. The addition of Francisco means four pitchers who were once their team’s primary closer are in the Jays bullpen. Francisco is expected to assume those duties in Toronto. Napoli will serve as a part-time catcher, part-time first baseman in Texas.
Rivera is threatening to take his ball and go home if he doesn’t get his way with the Blue Jays. Whether Rivera is an everyday outfielder for the club depends where they decide to play Jose Bautista, at third base or in the outfield.
Armando Galarraga was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The very mediocre pitcher who pitched brilliantly for one game and was robbed of perfection is moving to the desert to become the sixth pitcher in the five-man Diamondbacks rotation.
Tom Gorzelanny was sent to the Washington Nationals. He will be a reliable option for the rotation, but don’t expect anything special. In return the Chicago Cubs received a handful of magic beans that they hope will one day grow into beanstalks with quality players on them.
The move that made Gorzelanny expendable in Chicago was their acquisition of Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. He will fit nicely into the front of the Cubs rotation and likely be their most consistent pitcher. Tampa Bay received Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee and a few other youngsters who likely won’t be much for the Rays. Lee and Archer are expected to contribute, but not for a few more years.
The only reason that the Jason Bartlett to San Diego deal is of any importance is that it brings Reid Brignac’s bat into a starting role. The Rays new starting shortstop is solid, yet unspectacular, but he is better than Bartlett. The good news here is that fantasy owners have one more shortstop in an already thin group to select for their fantasy team.
J.J. Hardy to the Baltimore Orioles is more of the same. A solid shortstop replaces an all-glove, no-bat shortstop. The new name here is Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the newest Japanese import to come to the States as an over-hyped everyday player to take Hardy’s spot as shortstop for the Minnesota Twins. Even if Nishioka is only mediocre, he’s better than the guy pushed out in this equation, which is anybody else the Orioles were about to field at shortstop this season.
The Oakland Athletics added Josh Willingham to their outfield. Willingham is a very solid and dependable outfielder, but don’t look for any spectacular numbers playing in Oakland’s very spacious stadium.