Teams are beginning to make the hard call if they are going to buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. I’ll start investigating the players most likely to be traded, how their value will change, and their possible replacements. I’m not going to make the call on who is or isn’t going to be moved. I’m going to rely on the great writers at MLBTradeRumors.com and use their top-50 trade candidate list. I’ll start with the top five players.
Machado is nearly a perfect trade chip. A complete hitter who can play either shortstop or third base. I can’t envision a single scenario where his value takes a hit. He may end up in a pitcher-friendly park but he’ll be hitting in the middle of a better lineup. It can’t be worse than Baltimore’s lineup.
Every single contending team could use Machado as an upgrade while some teams need him worse. Trying to pick a destination right now is about impossible. I’m a little worried he’s more likely headed to the National League for those owners with him in AL-only leagues. I don’t see Baltimore trading him to the Yankees or Red Sox to help them win a World Series.
None of Machado’s replacements have much fantasy value. First, no one but Machado has started at shortstop this season. The most likely replacement, Tim Beckham (groin), is on the 60-day DL but could return on June 23rd. Beckham has generally been a disappointment except for last season when he rode a .365 BABIP and 22 home runs to a decent season. He’s by far the best option with Jace Peterson and Engelb Vielma also in the mix. Also, Jonathan Schoop could move to short and one of the scrubs can play second base.
The odds are that Herrera’s fantasy value is headed down. He and other great bullpen arms will be in demand by every team with the possible exception of the Yankees. Or maybe the Yankees want all the relievers so he could head there.
Of the 15 or so playoff contenders, only three teams (Angels, Phillies, and Cardinals) would need Herrera to come in an immediately be their closer. He could also take the job on several other teams like the Cubs, Astros, or Braves. Most likely he is going to be a setup man.
As for a reliever to speculate on for the few Saves the Royals will get, there isn’t one. Our Bullpen Report is guessing first Jason Adam and then Kevin McCarthy. The official team website is going with Tim Hill as the backup and McCarthy after Hill. Roster Resource has McCarthy and Hill switched. Here is a quick comparison of the three using the Depth Chart rest-of-season projections and their current fastball velocity.
Using just this information, the order should be Adam, Hill, and then McCarthy. The problem is that their current ERA’s are in the exact opposite order McCarthy (2.96), Hill (4.05), and Adam (4.40). As of now, I’d stay away from speculating on Saves for this bullpen.
MLB Trade Rumors grouped the pair together and I will also. Except for the Astros, every team could use some additional starting pitching. While starters will be in demand, especially in the division and wild-card races, these two aren’t post-season difference makers. They are fill-ins to keep replacement level arms from starting until the postseason.
The fantasy value for both should go up after the trade. They’ll be surrounded by better lineups to get a lead and better bullpens to keep it.
Additionally, both will be heading to better home ballparks with the possible exception of going to Atlanta, Milwaukee, or Philadelphia which makes the stadium change a push.
In all fairness, their replacements don’t matter. The Rangers have been running out a joke of a rotation all season. The Blue Jays have been scraping the bottom of the starters barrel so no intriguing arms will be coming up.
I see Moustakas as the consolation prize for the team who won’t pay Baltimore’s asking price for Machado. Moustakas doesn’t have the positional flexibility of Machado or the elite bat, but he’s a huge third base upgrade for several teams like Atlanta and Philadelphia.
While the lineup around Moose will be better, he may not be guaranteed a premium top-of-the-order lineup slot. He’s likely to hit 5th to 7th with the hope of driving in runs. His value will stay even to slightly up.
Any of Moustakas’s replacements are probably unrosterable except in the deepest of leagues. The most likely replacement, Cheslor Cuthbert, is on the DL with a back issue. Ramon Torres has played some third with Moustakas playing some first base. Cuthbert and Torres are well below replacement level players.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.