This offseason, as transactions on the big league level unfold, we’ll take a look at how the ripple effects shake out on the prospect side, focusing primarily on 2013 fantasy impact, with an eye toward the future, too.
This week: Because such minor, no-name non-prospects who won’t make any impact at all next season were traded over the past few days, we’ll split this into two posts, the first of which will cover the deal between the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. The second one, coming Friday, will break down the three-team swap involving the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
Really, nothing major to get into here over the next two days, just a few guys named Myers, Bauer, Skaggs, Odorizzi and Archer. You’ve probably never even heard of them.
ACTION: Rays trade for OF Wil Myers and SP Jake Odorizzi (Part I)
PROSPECT IMPACT: Myers
For all the various opinions on this trade and how it plays in real life, the good news is that it doesn’t actually affect Myers all that much in fantasy. By now, even if you’re the sort of owner who doesn’t do much in the way of prospecting, you should know who Myers is: a 22-year-old with a true swing from the right side that should help him hit for both power and average in the majors. His 2012 was just monstrous, with a .314/.387/.600 slash line and 37 homers (second in the minors) across Double- and Triple-A. The one pock mark that’s been pointed out is his career-high 140 whiffs, but that can be attributed to a combination of facing higher-level arms and hitting for more power than before — a tradeoff that fantasy owners won’t mind as long as he can keep the average respectable his first year or two (think: .250-.270). While Myers has been moved around the diamond on his climb up — he’s seen time everywhere from catcher to third to centerfield to corner outfield — he should settle in nicely in right or left for the Rays, and he has the stick to profile there. Best of all, Myers is major league ready, so he should provide 500-plus at-bats’ worth of production.
FANTASY VALUE: There are a bunch of small factors to debate, from whether the notoriously cost-conscious Rays would keep Myers down for a month or two to delay his service time clock to where he might hit in the lineup, but the bottom line is that he’s now free from being “stuck” behind Jeff Francoeur (as if that were a thing) in Kansas City. The guess here is Myers debuts with the Rays by the end of April because the Rays should know how important it will be to get as much out of him as possible (see: Mike Trout, Angels) to stay competitive in the AL East. The expectations are likely going to be sky high (see again: Mike Trout, Angels), but Myers will have some growing pains as he adjusts to MLB arms who can exploit even the best young players. Myers will be a tough player to obtain via draft/auction in 2013 because you’re going to have to completely buy in to acquire him, which means sacrificing a more-proven commodity. If you can fit him into your lineup as a third outfielder next year, that’s fair value for the upside while also accounting for the potential risks. Longer-term, Myers is easily a Top 10-15 outfield keeper, so he gets a bump in those formats.
*For more on Myers, read Marc Hulet’s write-up of the Royals’ No. 1 prospect, written before Myers was traded to the Rays.
ACTION: Rays trade for OF Wil Myers and SP Jake Odorizzi (Part II)
PROSPECT IMPACT: Odorizzi
The “other” prospect acquired by Tampa Bay, Odorizzi is also ready to contribute in the majors, but the problem is he might not get the chance any time soon now that he’s switched from the pitching-starved Royals to the arms-galore Rays. The 22-year-old right-hander profiles as a mid-rotation guy, with a solid-across-the-board four-pitch arsenal. His pitchability is better than his stuff, which is how he took advantage of younger, less-experienced batters in the low minors and explains why his stats were a notch worse in the upper levels (not that a 2.93 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 7.4 K/9 are bad). There isn’t much projection left, so it’s unlikely Odorizzi will improve a ton, but he’s also already at the point where he can be a pretty good innings-eating arm who knows his strengths and weaknesses well enough to carve out a career as a No. 4 at worst.
FANTASY VALUE: As far as 2013 impact, Odorizzi gets shafted by this trade. He likely would have seen 150-plus innings in K.C., where he would have been one of the top three or four starters from the get-go next season; but as a Ray, he’ll almost certainly start out in Triple-A — and looks to be no higher than sixth or seventh on the depth chart (more on that below), so he could be stuck there for a while. Basically, he’ll have to pitch well in the minors and hope for an injury or two to those in front of him, and then he’ll still have to take full advantage of any opportunities he gets. Given that, Odorizzi is risky in any redraft formats next year, even in AL-onlies, but once he crack the Rays rotation for good in 2014, he can be a capable fifth starter in single-league play and a mixed league streamer.
*For more on Odorizzi, read Marc Hulet’s write-up of the Royals’ No. 4 prospect, written before Odorizzi was traded to the Rays.
ACTION: Rays trade for OF Wil Myers and SP Jake Odorizzi (Part III)
PROSPECT IMPACT: SP Chris Archer, Rays
With the trade of James Shields, Archer’s path to the majors gets cleaned up a bit, but the addition of Odorizzi in the same swap muddles things. That’s because the Rays are the only team in baseball that could jettison a durable, legitimate No. 2 starter like Shields, possess a nearly big league ready pitching prospect like Archer and still not replace the former with the latter. Granted, it’s better for Archer, 24, not to have Shields ahead of him in the rotation, but it’s far from a guarantee that Archer will break camp with Tampa, even minus Shields. A quick rundown of their five-man, in case you’ve forgotten how ridiculously deep the Rays stable of arms goes: David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann. So not only will Archer, a 6’3″ righty, have to surpass one of those via either performance (Cobb?) or injury (Niemann?), he’ll still have to worry about Odorizzi being right on his tail. What Archer does have in his favor are a couple of plus pitches in his mid-90s heater and a dynamite slider, which have always helped him pile up whiffs (9.0 K/9 career), but his control has also always been spotty (5.1 BB/9), so the possibility of his switching to a relief role has followed him around for years. Still, he pitched well in his debut with the Rays last season (3.80 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.8 K/9 in his four starts), so he should continue to get the chance to start until he proves he can’t do it.
FANTASY VALUE: All in all, Archer gets a bump in fantasy value because he now has one fewer pitcher ahead of him. However, he’s still on the outside looking in, and Archer will need to pitch well in Triple-A — or at least better than Odorizzi — while also not drop the ball when given any spot starts or injury fill-ins. Chances are, he’ll wind up making 10-15 starts in the majors this year (and possibly more), but whether they come consecutively or interspersed throughout the season will depend more on those ahead of him than anything else. That makes Archer a tough pitcher to gamble on if you need a starter every five days, but he should certainly be a Watch Lister who gets snatched up whenever he’s in line to pitch in the bigs. And he’s still an intriguing, if not altogether secure, arm to own in keeper and dynasty formats.
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11