The MLB trade deadline can be a tough time for fantasy baseball players. When a marquee player moves from one team to another, unless you are playing in an AL or NL-only league, the value doesn’t often change. But when a player such as a middle-reliever or a committee-closer goes on the move, there can be a ripple of effects that can cause a major shift in your league’s standings.
Chasing saves has been a daunting task at times this season, and watching some of the reliever movement we’ve witnessed near the deadline has likely left a number of fantasy owners on edge. When Washington sent Brad Hand to Toronto, the waiver wire suddenly became a hotbed of action. The assumption is that Hand will assume closer duties for the Blue Jays, especially considering how much movement Toronto has had at that spot. Kirby Yates got hurt in the spring and every subsequent reliever used to fill the role, from Julian Merryweather to Jordan Romano, has been less than stellar. Hand will, hopefully solidify the role.
But what is left in Washington now? Many expected the Nationals to be in the playoff hunt, so few were prepared for this. Daniel Hudson would have been the likely choice, but he’s on the move to San Diego. That leaves Kyle Finnegan, who recorded his first save Friday, as the front-runner for regular work. His 3.29 ERA and 1.42 WHIP aren’t exactly what you would think of as “closer material,” but he seems like their best option for the time being. Right-hander Tanner Rainey could be one to watch, but manager David Hernandez tends to go with one guy rather than play the matchups.
The two other situations to monitor involve Tampa Bay and Seattle. When those teams hooked up for a trade, it was obvious Diego Castillo was being viewed as the new closer by the Mariners who had just dealt away Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero. Castillo has experience in the ninth inning and the swing-and-miss stuff needed for the role. He is a must-add right now.
But what is left for the Rays? Manager Kevin Cash is expected to continue his committee approach. While waiting for Pete Fairbanks and J.P. Feyereisen to come back from the 10-day IL, JT Chargois and Andrew Kittredge will share the right-handed side of the platoon and Jeffrey Springs will handle the southpaw work. The righties, once healthy, will likely swap roles.
With more movement likely to come, don’t just follow the names on the move. Those left behind could end up as cheap alternatives for saves and could be potential league-winners.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.