The 2022 MLB Trade Deadline certainly didn't disappoint fans and fantasy managers alike, providing a big trade last weekend (Luis Castillo to Seattle), a major swap on Monday (Josh Hader to San Diego) and a series of impactful deals over the past 24 hours. Let's break it all down.
San Diego goes all-in, acquires Juan Soto and Josh Bell
The Padres stole the headlines on deadline day, trading away some of their best prospects in order to acquire Soto and Bell. San Diego should have one of baseball's most productive lineups down the stretch, which bodes well for the fantasy value of their new acquisitions. Both newly acquired players should slot into the top-4 spots in the lineup, with Fernando Tatis Jr. likely occupying the leadoff spot when he returns later this month. And of course, the offensive additions could help Padres starters pick up an extra win down the stretch and enable new closer Josh Hader receive additional save chances.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that the Nationals lineup is now among the worst in baseball. This is a team that should be at the top of the list for streaming opposing starters down the stretch. That being said, there are opportunities available for players such as Yadiel Hernandez and Luis Garcia to hit higher in the lineup and get small bumps in fantasy value. Newly acquired prospect CJ Abrams was immediately optioned by the Nats and is unlikely to spend much time in the Majors down the stretch. One other acquisition — Luke Voit — gets a boost in value, as he should play regularly and hit out of the cleanup spot. I could see Voit being a streamer option in 12-team leagues.
Raisel Iglesias slides to setup role in Atlanta
Although the Soto trade was undoubtedly the biggest deal of the deadline in terms of real baseball implications, the trade of Iglesias to the Braves will have the most fantasy impact. Atlanta will stick with Kenley Jansen as their closer for the remainder of the season before putting Iglesias in that role when Jansen moves on as a free agent next winter. But for the rest of 2022, Iglesias is likely to earn just a few saves. He should fall to waivers in some 10-team leagues and is a marginal asset in 12-team formats. The guess here is that the Angels will likely use a committee to replace Iglesias as their closer, with Ryan Tepera and newly acquired righty Jesse Chavez among the best options. Los Angeles also added starter Tucker Davidson in this deal. The 26-year-old has a career 3.06 ERA in the Minors and should get some starting assignments from the Angels down the stretch.
Frankie Montas relocates to the Bronx
Montas has been one of baseball’s unluckiest pitchers this year, having collected just four wins despite producing a 3.18 ERA across 19 starts. Oakland has arguably baseball’s worst offense and New York may have the best lineup, making this a massive jump in win potential and offensive support. Of course, the big challenge for Montas will be to switch from a pitcher-friendly home park to Yankee Stadium and maintain his excellent ratios. But overall, this is a positive change for the 29-year-old’s fantasy value.
Yankees trade Jordan Montgomery to Cardinals for Harrison Bader
The Yankees added a rotation member in Montas and then quickly traded one away in Montgomery. This could be a positive change for the left-hander, as he could face some easier opponents down the stretch in the NL Central rather than the AL East. And Montgomery has just three wins to show for a 3.69 ERA across 21 starts, so pitching for the Yankees hadn’t helped him pick up cheap victories. Meanwhile, when Bader returns from the IL, he should use his superior defensive skills to take over center field and push Aaron Hicks to a fourth outfielder role. But I see this as a slight downturn in his fantasy value, as he now has more competition for playing time and hasn’t wielded a hot bat this year.
Blue Jays acquire Whit Merrifield
Merrifield has always been someone who uses his superior speed and premium lineup spot to have more value in fantasy than in the actual game. True to form, the 33-year-old has an unimpressive .643 OPS this year but has saved his fantasy value by swiping 15 bases. He is likely to take over a utility role for the Blue Jays, who have had to sit out George Springer with an elbow injury in three of their past four games. I expect Merrifield to draw multiple outfield starts per week and also get some time at second base. But his overall playing time should decrease and he will surely hit low in the lineup, which means that his fantasy value takes a sizeable hit. I could see Merrifield being dropped in 10-team leagues and some 12-team formats during the next two weeks.
Trey Mancini makes emotional move to Houston
Arguably the most popular player in Baltimore after missing the 2020 season while overcoming colon cancer, Mancini is now part of a contending team in Houston. The slugger’s power numbers were slightly down this year, and the fence changes at Camden Yards were definitely hurting his game. Mancini could see a power uptick as a member of the Astros, and he should certainly benefit from hitting in a strong lineup. The 30-year-old should experience a small uptick on his 70 percent roster rate in Yahoo leagues.
Jorge Lopez is off to Minnesota
The Orioles were wise to turn four months of successful closing by Jorge Lopez into multiple prospects by trading the 29-year-old to the Twins. This is a great landing spot for Lopez, as Minnesota lacks an established closer and should give the right-hander ninth-inning opportunities right away. Meanwhile, the Orioles need to find a new closer, and rookie Felix Bautista (1.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) might be the best man for the job. I expect to the club to initially share the closer's role, with Bautista eventually earning the majority of opportunities.
Tyler Mahle gains value with trade to Twins
For Mahle, being traded to Minnesota feels like a great fit. The right-hander never conquered the hitter-friendly park in Cincinnati, posting notably better numbers on the road both in 2022 and throughout his career, especially in the area of homer prevention. Mahle has great strikeout potential (210 whiffs in 2021) and could post a mid-3.00’s ERA down the stretch, which would easily make him a No. 3 mixed league starter.
Drury to finish breakout season in San Diego
The Padres weren’t done after acquiring Soto and Bell, also adding Drury to their revamped lineup. This is a good landing spot for the 29-year-old, as San Diego can offer him regular opportunities to get in the lineup as their DH and utilityman. Still, Drury will surely miss hitting in Cincinnati, where he posted a .915 OPS this year (.771 OPS on the road). Drury managers should hold him for now, with the intention of dropping him in shallow leagues if his bat cools off.
Christian Vazquez becomes the Astros backstop
Vazquez has bounced back from a disappointing 2021 season and once again ranks as a low-level starter in one-catcher leagues by virtue of hitting .282 with eight homers across 84 games. He should be Houston's No. 1 catcher but is unlikely to keep the heavy workload he had in Boston and therefore loses some fantasy value from this trade. Back in Boston, the Red Sox will likely use a combination of Kevin Plawecki and Reese McGuire behind the dish, with neither player immediately jumping onto the fantasy radar.
Tommy Pham lands in Boston
The Red Sox were neither sellers nor buyers, as they sent some players packing but also improved their outfield by adding Pham. The veteran power-speed threat was productive overall for the Reds this year (11 HR, 7 SB) but is coming off his worst stretch of the season when he logged a .500 OPS in July. Pham should hit near the team’s big boppers in the lineup and could have more fantasy value by virtue of joining a superior offense.
Thor invades Philadelphia
Noah Syndergaard's time in Los Angeles lasted just a few months, with the imposing right-hander now a member of the Phillies for the remainder of the season. Thor has been mostly a league-average pitcher in fantasy leagues during recent seasons, posting respectable ratios and a poor strikeout rate this year. He excelled at home with the Angels (2.96 ERA) but is unlikely to find the Citizens Bank Park as forgiving. For this reason, I see this trade as a slight downturn in Syndergaard's fantasy value.
Phillies address bullpen, acquiring David Robertson
Robertson has proven that he can still be a capable closer, posting a 2.23 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP en route to collecting 14 saves with the Cubs. He joins a Phillies squad that removed Corey Knebel from the closer's role in June, tried Brad Hand for a short time and had recently settled on Seranthony Dominguez. Early indications are that the Phillies plan to keep Dominguez as their closer and use Robertson in earlier innings, but I would try to hold Robertson until we see this situation play out in the coming days. Still, there are good odds that Robertson is on waivers in mixed leagues by mid-August.
Braves, Astros swap pitchers
Houston had an embarrassment of rotation riches and used that depth to trade starter Jake Odorizzi for reliever Will Smith. Odorizzi will continue to be a streaming option while with the Braves, especially when he lines up for favorable divisional matchups against the Marlins or Nationals. And in Houston, Smith will become the left-handed portion of a setup crew that includes Hector Neris and Rafael Montero, making all three waiver-wire fodder in fantasy circles.
Jose Quintana stays in the NL Central
Quintana has been surprisingly effective this year, posting a 3.50 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Staying in the NL Central and joining a contending team should be good for the left-hander’s fantasy production, which means that he remains a roster member in 12-team leagues and a streamer in 10-team formats.
Robbie Grossman joins Braves
Grossman has been unable to follow up a strong 2021 season and ranks among this year's biggest fantasy disappointments. The veteran will no longer have the opportunity to make a late-season surge, as he should settle into the short side of an outfield platoon with Eddie Rosario, which ensures that neither player will be a mixed-league asset. Back in Detroit, there are more outfield opportunities for Victor Reyes and Akil Baddoo, making them both players to keep on the watch list in deep-mixed leagues.