Weekend Transaction Analysis: Holliday, Beltran, Garcia, & More

Note: The great and powerful Paul Sporer will examine the Mark Melancon, Rich Hill, and Steve Pearce moves in the next day or so. I am just catching up on the moves from the weekend.


Yankees signed Matt Holliday

In a vacuum, this signing makes sense for the Yankees and Holliday. The Yankees needed a designated hitter and Holliday needed to transition away from playing the outfield. As the Yankees roster stands at this moment, Tyler Austin and Gregory Bird will be competing for time at first base and the outfield is Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Judge. All the veterans have a role and everyone should be content.

I just don’t think the Yankees are done making moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees added another bat like Edwin Encarnacion. Does Holliday push the pair at first base to the bench or does he become a useless defensive stump in the outfield? Only time will tell.

Holliday’s talent should not change much. He still has 20 to 25 home runs power. Even though his batting average dropped to a career-low .246 last year, I expect it to regress to around.270. The 36-year-old’s biggest issue was 10-year low walk rate because pitchers just attacked him the zone (44% to 46% Zone%). Pitchers may have attacked him more because he continuously deals with nagging injuries and missed most of 2015 with a quadriceps injury and the last third of 2016 with a fractured thumb. The Yankees will need to likely find a backup for Holliday at some point during the season.


Astros signed Carlos Beltran

By signing with the Astros, the 39-year-old Beltran just about guaranteed himself 600 plate appearances as the primary DH and occasional time in the outfield. His home run output will likely drop with him hitting 20 Yankee Stadium home runs and only nine on the road. Twenty home runs are probably more in line with 2017 expectations. His plate appearances, and therefore his Runs and RBI totals, will fluctuate depending on his lineup spot. Otherwise, I don’t expect much production change from the last few seasons.

The big losers will be everyone else hoping for the extra DH plate appearances. Backup catcher Evan Gattis along with Brian McCann and A.J. Reed are now projected for less playing time.

With the recent signings, every Astro looks more valuable with the overall better lineup. Increase chances for plate appearances, RBI, and Runs will boost everyone’s stats.


The Padres traded Derek Norris to the Nationals for Pedro Avila

The Nationals had a void at catcher with Wilson Ramos a free agent. The Padres could move on from Norris with Austin Hedges taking over as their catcher. The trade makes perfect sense for both teams.

Norris’s value jumps mainly from an improved starting cast compared to last year’s Padres lineup. Better team, more chances for RBI and Runs. My one worry is that he’ll bat in the dreaded 8th spot which will kill his value.

The 27-year-old did take a huge step backwards last season with a career-high 30% K%. The increase came from a drop in Contact% from 80% to 75%. Steamer is expecting quite a bit of regression (24.5% K%) but don’t be surprised if the strikeouts stay up and his AVG hovers around .200.

As for Pedro Avila, the 19-year-old is a fantasy non-factor. He didn’t make the MLB.com’s Padres top-30 prospects, but my own prospect finder loves him (33rd overall pitcher) based on his young age and performance in the lower minors. He has potential but is a ways from the majors.


The Cardinals traded Jaime Garcia to the Braves for John Gant, Chris Ellis, and Luke Dykstra

The current fantasy relevant player moved was Jaime Garcia. Garcia has shown signs of domination such as during the first two months of 2016 when he had a 3.47 ERA (3.11FIP). Over the next two months, he posted a 5.11 ERA (4.74 FIP). For Garcia, his struggles usually center around his health but this past season the reason is tougher to pinpoint. One difference was a transition from a good slider (22% SwStr%) to a horrible curve (5% SwStr%). By the season’s end, he was back to using the slider almost all the time. Besides ditching the curve, I could see the Braves have him cut down on or eliminate his four-seam fastball. His 2-seamer gets nearly as many swings-and-misses (4.5% vs 5.6%) but more groundballs (60% vs 49%).

The biggest issue with the groundball pitcher will always be his health with 194 being his season high innings pitched. When he is able to throw, he pitches well. Garcia slots into the Braves new rotation and will help the team and his owners when he is healthy enough to throw.

As for the three players going to the Cardinals (all three cover at FanGraphs by Eric Longenhagen), John Gant is the only one with any 2016 fantasy value and it is minuscule. He has started and relieved for the Braves while struggling in each role. His ERA estimators are lower than his ERA, but are still over 4.00. He flashed an above average curve in the majors, but the rest of his pitches are below average. I expect him to go to Triple-A to iron out his repertoire.


A’s signed Matt Joyce

What a weird couple of season’s it has been for Matt Joyce. On our main site, Jeff Sullivan went through Joyce’s changes including a reworked swing. Even if Joyce keeps all his 2016 gains, the move to Oakland Coliseum will be a drain in his power production.

The signing looks to put left-handed Joyce into the strong side of a platoon with righty Jake Smolinski. I could see Joyce get more plate appearances if Smolinski struggles, but he’ll be limited to around 450 PA. Because of the limited at bats, Joyce is probably only valuable in AL-only leagues or leagues with daily transactions.


Cubs signed Jon Jay

Jay was signed to be a content bench bat who will get maybe a couple hundred plate appearances next year. The 31-year-old Jay is fantasy irrelevant with no speed or power to go with no playing time. When analyzing Jay, I keep looking at how the Cubs will distribute their playing time. I need to stop looking, wait until spring training, and hope the situation clears itself up because right now it is a mess.


Orioles claimed Adam Brett Walker

For deep roster teams looking for sleepers, Adam Walker is your man. The 25-year-old slugger has been claimed by the Orioles. Walker is a true two-outcome player, home runs and strikeouts. If he can get the strikeouts under control, he would be a great fit in homer-happy Camden Yards. He may just strike out a ton and never get called up but there is a chance for out-of-no-where power production.


Royals traded Brooks Pounders to the Angels for Jared Ruxer

This trade is basically a non-factor with the Royals moving a player who has to be on the 40-man roster for one who doesn’t. Pounders projects to be just a back of the bullpen arm.

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 four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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