Making sense of deadline deals
The Boston Red Sox made sure this year's deadline day was far more interesting than last season's, when the biggest names moved were Jake Peavy, Ian Kennedy and Bud Norris, and the Tampa Bay Rays added the exclamation point at the end of it all.
Boston traded long-time ace Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster deal for Yoenis Cespedes and followed that by dealing John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Tampa Bay then traded David Price to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team deal that also included the Seattle Mariners.
Here's an analysis of those three trades and the other major activity Thursday:
In three-team trade, David Price goes to Detroit Tigers, Austin Jackson goes to Seattle Mariners, Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and shortstop prospect Willy Adames go to Tampa Bay Rays
Price: In his last 12 starts, Price has gone 7-4 with a 2.03 ERA and a 105/15 K/BB in 93 1/3 innings and he's 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP this season. With the Tigers, he'll have a better offense behind him and get to pitch in a bunch of favorable ballparks in the AL Central. Plus, he's staying in the AL so AL-only owners won't have to lose the ace for nothing.
Jackson: Seattle center fielders have the lowest OPS in the majors this season, so Jackson, who has hit .362 with 13 extra-base hits (one HR) and 18 runs in his last 24 games, will help immensely. Seattle's offense isn't nearly as good as Detroit's, however, so Jackson will have fewer run-scoring opportunities. He doesn't do much else for fantasy lineups.
Smyly: Smyly is a promising young left-hander who has been inconsistent this season. He holds a 3.93 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and an 89/31 K/BB in 105 1/3 innings. He was a low-end fantasy option with the Tigers and he'll be a low-end fantasy option with Tampa Bay, at least for the rest of this season.
Franklin: A former first-round pick, Franklin has batted .214 with 12 homers, 134 strikeouts and a .649 OPS over 464 plate appearances in the majors. That pales in comparison to his minor league resume, which includes a .288 average, 55 home runs, 72 steals and a 398/215 K/BB in 2089 plate appearances. Fantasy owners should take a wait-and-see approach.
Rajai Davis: Davis has been sitting against right-handers lately, but he figures to become Detroit's everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter following the trade of Jackson. He's batted .295 with six homers, 33 RBI, 38 runs and 25 steals this season.
Red Sox trade Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
Lester: The Athletics probably thought they had enough quality pitching after trading multiple prospects for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but Hammel has gone 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA in four starts with the A's. Lester is having his best season, going 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 149 Ks in 143 innings. O.co Coliseum is much more pitcher-friendly than Fenway Park, but Lester had a 1.91 ERA at home this season. He can't possibly get better than he's already been, though the move should prevent him from tailing off and may get him more victories.
Cespedes: The 28-year-old two-time Home Run Derby champion has hit .326 with three home runs and a .963 OPS since the All-Star break after starting off 3- for-45 (.067) in July. Cespedes' power plays well everywhere so Oakland's park didn't hurt him much, but fantasy owners should still be excited for his move to Fenway. He has a 50.2 percent fly-ball rate and Fenway should turn some of the balls that were outs in Oakland into doubles or home runs. Plus, Fenway has far less foul territory than Oakland.
Jesse Chavez: Chavez never threw more than 67 1/3 innings in his career prior to this season and he appears to be wearing down. He's lasted fewer than six innings in five of his last six starts and gone 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in that span. He also has a 7.36 ERA in the sixth inning this season. Hammel has been horrific since he joined the A's, but the team is expected to keep him in the rotation over Chavez, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Red Sox trade John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly
Lackey: Lackey has pitched in the AL for the entirety of his 11-and-a-half- year career, so he should relish the chance to throw to NL lineups. Lackey has gone 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP this season and he's actually been better at Fenway than on the road, but he could shave a third of a run off his ERA just by pitching in the NL.
Craig: Craig hit .307 or higher in each of the past three years, but he's batted a paltry .237 with seven home runs, 44 RBI and a .637 OPS this season and has failed adjust to pitchers busting him inside more often. Moving to the Red Sox doesn't change his outlook for the rest of this season.
Kelly: Kelly has served as a valuable swing man for the Cardinals the past three seasons, making 38 starts and 30 relief appearances and recording a 3.25 ERA. But the right-hander gives up a lot of baserunners (career 1.38 WHIP) and doesn't strike out enough batters to sustain his 77.2 percent career strand rate.
Oscar Taveras: Taveras is finally going to get a spot in the everyday lineup and he should be added in all leagues even though he's batted .208 with one home run in 96 at-bats this season. The 22-year-old is one of the top prospects in baseball and has hit .320 with 53 homers, 35 steals and an .892 OPS in 1,860 minor league plate appearances.
Anthony Ranaudo: Ranaudo, a 6-foot-7 right-hander, has gone 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA and a 99/48 K/BB in 119 1/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket this season. He'll join Boston's rotation Friday against the New York Yankees and is worth a shot in AL-only and deep mixed leagues.
Athletics trade Tommy Milone to the Minnesota Twins for Sam Fuld
Milone: Milone went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA from May 9 to July 4, but his rotation spot was yanked away from him after the Samardzija trade and he requested a trade soon thereafter. Milone has recorded a 2.96 ERA in his career at O.co Coliseum (216 IP), compared to 4.52 on the road. Target Field has a reputation as a pitcher's park, but it has a Park Factor for runs of 1.112 this season, fourth highest in baseball, and was in the top 12 in each of the previous two years. Even if Milone pitches well there, he's still a pitcher who can be trusted only in favorable situations.
Arizona Diamondbacks trade Gerardo Parra to the Milwaukee Brewers for a prospect
Khris Davis: Davis is the player fantasy owners should be concerned about after this trade. Parra is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and hits righties well. Those are two areas in which Davis doesn't excel. He's hitting .232 with a .723 OPS against righties and a .319 with a .961 OPS against left-handers this season. If the Brewers limit Davis to playing only against lefties it would improve his average and OPS, but he wouldn't get enough at-bats to be a fantasy option.
Cleveland Indians trade Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington Nationals for Zach Walters
Cabrera: This would have been a big deal in 2011, when Cabrera had 25 home runs, 17 steals, 92 RBI and 87 runs, but he averaged 15 home runs and nine steals per season the past two years and is on pace for similar numbers this year while hitting .246. He'll replace Danny Espinosa at second base, but nobody is relying on Espinosa and his .630 OPS.
Francisco Lindor: The Indians' top prospect just so happens to be a shortstop and Cleveland suddenly has an opening there. Lindor only has eight games above Double-A this season so he isn't going to come up yet, but he could be an option in mid-August. He's batted .282 with eight home runs and 26 steals in 96 games this season.
Red Sox trade Stephen Drew to New York Yankees for Kelly Johnson
Drew: The Yankees and Red Sox called a brief detente to swap struggling infielders. Drew has never played a position other than shortstop, but he's expected to take over as the Yankees starting second baseman. Learning a new position on the fly won't help him turn around his horrific season at the plate (.176, four homers in 145 plate appearances).
Xander Bogaerts: Bogaerts will get the starting shortstop job back just as his bat has awakened. Since the All-Star break, Bogaerts has gone 13-for-41 (.317) with three doubles and two homers. Overall, though, he's hit .182/.217/.300 since he became the starting third baseman compared to .296/.389/.427 as a shortstop.
Arizona Diamondbacks trade Martin Prado to the New York Yankees for a prospect
Prado: With Chase Headley at third base Prado will likely start in right field for the Yankees, but he'll bat near the bottom of the order and offers very little power or speed. He's struck out in 13.1 percent of his plate appearances, most since 2010, and hit .270 with five home runs and two steals.