It may not seem like it, but even the most minor MLB trade can have an impact on your fantasy season. While your fantasy outlook shouldn’t change on guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Michael Bourn or Hunter Pence; value can be found in lesser deals — where players are given new opportunities at playing time. Two recently traded players that may fit that description are Brandon Allen and Jerry Hairston Jr. Will they play a significant role in the last few weeks of your fantasy season?
Brandon Allen has been written about quite a bit on FanGraphs — particularly because our own Eno Sarris is a big fan. While it appears the #FreeBrandonAllen movement may be able to celebrate once again, his role with the Oakland Athletics in unclear at this point.
The A’s aren’t particularly strong at first, as Conor Jackson has been filling at the position since Daric Barton’s collapse. The acquisition of Allen would seem to indicate that the A’s are willing to give him an audition for the 2012 season, but we can’t be certain at this point. Jackson will be a free-agent at season’s end and Barton will not be ready early on next season; leaving Chris Carter as the only real competition for that position next season. Carter, however, is currently in AAA — not exactly a ringing endorsement of how the A’s feel about his potential.
That’s actually somewhat troubling, though, as Carter and Allen have similar profiles. Both are capable of hitting for power at the big league level, but ballooning strikeout rates will suppress their averages. The deal signifies that the A’s think more of Allen, so he is probably the best bet to play now.
That doesn’t necessarily make him an attractive fantasy option. First base is so deep that Allen likely becomes nothing more than an injury replacement for most teams. Normally, he would be a decent pickup for teams looking for cheap power, but the move from Arizona to Oakland is going to hurt Allen’s strongest skill. Allen is likely to receive increased playing time with his new team — and that will increase his fantasy value — but unless you’re really desperate, there’s no need to run out and pick him up.
Based on his new opportunity — and the lack of talent at the middle infield positions — Jerry Hairston Jr. might be a more attractive option in fantasy leagues. For teams that may have recently lost Stephen Drew or Rickie Weeks, Hairston could make for a decent stopgap for the time being.
Hairston Jr. should receive a lot more playing time with the Milwaukee Brewers; as Weeks is out for at least three weeks and the left side of the Brewers infield in generally terrible. While Hairston Jr. isn’t a great player, he’s not as likely to hurt you in 1-2 fantasy categories as some of the other options on your waiver wire. Hairston Jr. at least has some semblance of the strike zone, should provide an average of at least .250 and could score a lot of runs in a strong Brewers lineup. Depending on the size of your league, he might be just as good as the rest of the waiver wire guys out there. He’s worth a shot if you need an injury replacement.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.