MLB executives didn’t wait until the last minute to start making trade deadline transactions this year, pulling off a couple notable deals and also taking a key potential trade chip off the market over the weekend. Let’s dive in on the fantasy ramifications as August kicks off.
Luis Castillo traded to Seattle
After missing all of April (which is typically his worst month of the season), Castillo was good in May (3.38 ERA), slightly better in June (3.26 ERA) and terrific in July (1.93 ERA). Unsurprisingly, the right-hander was solid at Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly home park (3.64 ERA) and terrific on the road (2.09 ERA), even though his strikeout and walk rates were identical in both situations. Castillo’s splits have fantasy managers dreaming of how well he could fare now that he pitches for a team with an offense-suppressing venue. And of course, he won’t mind that his new club has a much better bullpen than his old one. Castillo should be valued as a top-20 starter for the remainder of the season.
The biggest fantasy loser of the Castillo trade is likely rookie righty, George Kirby. The freshman has been effective this year (3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) but has already reached the 100-inning plateau (Majors and Minors combined) after tossing just 67.2 frames in 2021. With five more experienced starters in their rotation, Seattle could limit Kirby’s innings by having him only make occasional spot starts going forward. The team can easily keep Kirby around in the short-term, thanks to a double-header this week, but they have just one other seven-game week down the stretch.
David Peralta dealt to Tampa
As a player who has logged massive platoon splits throughout his career, David Peralta is a perfect fit for the Rays' mix-and-match strategy. The left-handed hitter will start against all righties from this point forward while coming off the bench to pinch hit in most games that are started by a southpaw. Peralta is an afterthought in most mixed leagues, but those who put in the work to stream in daily formats could extract value from the 34-year-old down the stretch.
Back in Arizona, Peralta’s departure should be filled by a cast of characters who will each get small bumps in playing time in the outfield or as a designated hitter. Catcher/Outfielder Daulton Varsho is among the beneficiaries, which could give Carson Kelly a few extra starts behind the dish. Most fantasy managers will look past Kelly, but he was among the best fantasy contributors at his premium position during July (.344 AVG, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 14 R).
Rockies pull Daniel Bard off the market
The Rockies removed one of the best relievers on the trade market when they agreed to a two-year extension with Daniel Bard. Fantasy managers who stuck with the right-hander this season will now be rewarded with two more months of saves production, as Bard now has a contract that guarantees his firm grip on the ninth-inning role. I expect to see some late-season regression from the 27-year-old, who has thus far enjoyed a .196 BABIP that has helped produce a 1.86 ERA (3.59 FIP), but I also recognize that those who need stretch-run saves are married to Bard at this point.
Hader heads west to San Diego
After hearing his name in trade rumors for a couple years, Josh Hader is finally on his way out of Milwaukee. The left-hander had some hiccups prior to the All-Star break, but he had a sub-2.00 ERA just three weeks ago and has been one of baseball’s best relievers since debuting in 2017. He will immediately step in as San Diego’s closer and is among the favorites to be the most valuable fantasy reliever down the stretch. Those who added Luis Garcia last night or this morning can send him back to waivers.
Back in Milwaukee, Devin Williams becomes the favorite to take over ninth-inning duties. With a 1.72 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and a 15.4 K/9 rate since the outset of the 2020 season, Williams is among the few relievers who has a skill set that rivals that of Hader. And like Hader, Williams is now among the most valuable relievers in fantasy baseball. The Brewers could give save chances to newly-acquired reliever Taylor Rogers, but that feels like a risky move, as Rogers lost the closer’s role in San Diego. The club is more likely to maximize Rogers’ value as a left-handed situational setup man.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article had Padres reliever Luis Garcia as a pickup of the day. The San Diego Padres announced a trade for Milwaukee Brewers star closer, Josh Hader, on Monday, relegating Garcia to the waiver wire again.
DFS Plays of the Day
Starling Marte (OF, New York Mets, $25)
The Mets figure to torch Nats lefty Patrick Corbin, who has been arguably the worst starter in baseball this year (6.49 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) and produced especially poor results in his past four starts (20 ER, 16.2 IP). I want to stack as many Mets who hit high in the lineup as possible, led by Marte, who this season has posted a .937 OPS vs. southpaws.
Max Scherzer (SP, New York Mets, $56)
I know that there is no such thing as a sure thing, but Scherzer tonight feels about as close to a sure thing as you can get in baseball. The future Hall of Famer was his typically awesome self in July, posting a 1.39 ERA and a 45:5 K:BB ratio in five starts. He should dominate a last-place Nats team, and his lineup will stake him to an early lead when they beat up on Corbin. I’ll pay any DFS salary for Scherzer tonight and figure out the rest later.
· Julio Rodriguez (OF, Seattle Mariners) was placed on the 10-day IL yesterday, due to a bruised wrist that was suffered when he was hit by a pitch on Saturday. His IL stay is expected to be a short one, which is welcome news for fantasy managers and Mariners fans.
· George Springer (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) sat out on Sunday for the second time in three days due to a nagging elbow injury. He is day-to-day and will likely have additional sporadic absences.
· Trevor Story (2B/SS, Boston Red Sox) was diagnosed with a hairline wrist fracture. He will be shut down for 10-14 days, making a late August return his best-case scenario.
· James Outman (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) had an impressive MLB debut yesterday, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. The prospect is someone to keep an eye on but does not yet warrant mixed-league additions.
· Clay Holmes (RP, New York Yankees) blew a save when he gave up his first homer of the season in a loss to the Royals on Sunday.
· Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Colorado Rockies) left Sunday’s game with left foot soreness. He is day-to-day and may need to DH in upcoming games.
· Pablo Lopez (RP, Miami Marlins) endured his worst start of the season when he allowed six runs over 2.2 innings against the Mets on Sunday.
· Bobby Witt Jr. (SS, Kansas City Royals) left Sunday’s game against the Yankees in the ninth inning after being hit on the hand by a pitch.