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2022 MLB Trade Deadline: Fantasy Impact

In the days leading up to the 2022 MLB trade deadline, we heard rumblings that this was shaping up to be one of the craziest deadlines in several years. It didn’t disappoint. From the Mariners kicking things off with the Luis Castillo trade to San Diego acquiring Juan Soto and everything between, the 2022 MLB trade deadline lived up to the hype. And with so many players changing teams, fantasy values are bound to change one way or the other.

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2022 MLB Trade Deadline: Fantasy Impact

Juan Soto & Josh Bell to San Diego For MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, Robert Hassell III, James Woods, Luke Voit, & Jarlin Susana

This was the big one we were hoping for and it came to fruition around lunchtime on the East Coast. Well, a little later that that after Hosmer didn’t want to go to Washington and the trade pivoted to Luke Voit.

Let’s start with Juan Soto and Josh Bell who immediately see an uptick in value in San Diego. Why? It’s simple; They have much better protection around them. In Washington, it was basically those two and no additional firepower in the lineup on a nightly basis. Now, they’ll have players like Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, and others near them in the lineup. Oh yeah, and some dude named Fernando Tatís Jr as well once he returns from injury. This move is especially beneficial to Juan Soto who didn’t have anyone to drive in early in the season with nobody getting on base in from of him in Washington. Oh yeah, and some dude named Fernando Tatís Jr once he returns from injury. This also helps the values of really everyone else in the top 2/3 of San Diego’s lineup.

On the Nationals’ side of this trade, the return package is very intriguing for a plethora of reasons. Luke Voit is still Luke Voit, but the prospects and young MLB talent heading to Washington in this deal have plenty of value and excitement moving forward.

CJ Abrams (SS/OF): At this moment, I’m not sure where Abrams will land on the diamond, but this move likely opens up regular playing time, something he wasn’t quite receiving in San Diego. Abrams performed better in July, hitting .294 in 37 PA, but the playing time just hasn’t been there consistently for him. That should change in Washington who has no reason not to play Abrams full-time in their middle-infield or outfield. Abrams projects as a high-average hitter with the potential for 15-20 home runs and 30+ steals annually, giving him early-round fantasy potential. That power/speed hasn’t been there thus far, but the talent is undeniable. He’s a great buy-low in all formats if the price tag has dropped some.

MacKenzie Gore (LHP): In general, this deal doesn’t alter Gore’s value at all in my eyes. However, I’m certainly concerned with Gore’s performance and command/control issues recently. In Gore’s first nine MLB starts, he posted a stellar 1.50 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 48 innings with a .199 BAA, 8.9% walk rate, and 30% strikeout rate. That performance vaulted him all the way inside my top-100 overall dynasty rankings after starting the season as a massive question mark following two rough years of development, especially in the command and control departments. Unfortunately, those issues have resurfaced. Since his start on June 4th, Gore has recorded an ugly 11.05 ERA, 2.36 WHIP, and .330 BAA with more walks (16.8%) than strikeouts (12.6%). There’s still plenty of talent and value to be had with Gore, but I’m not sure I’m targeting him right now in dynasty given recent trends.

Robert Hassell III (OF): Hassell has been a top-10 prospect for me for the better part of a year now. The former top-10 pick has shown plus contact skills with an advanced approach, plus speed, and additional power projection down the road. In 2022, Hassell has performed well in Hi-A, slashing .299/.379/.467 with 19 doubles, 10 home runs, and 20 steals to go along with an 11% walk rate and 19.1% strikeout rate. He’ll need to drive the ball in the air more consistently to unlock his power (53.4% GB rate in 2022), but there’s all-star upside in Hassel’s profile and the potential to develop into a top-50 fantasy player in time.

James Wood (OF): While I don’t have James Wood ahead of Hassell in my prospect rankings yet, there’s no denying that the big 6’7/240 outfielder possesses more upside with a higher ceiling for fantasy purposes. Wood has dominated in L0-A so far this season with a .321/.439/.565 line in 255 PA with 19 doubles, 10 home runs, and 16 steals. There’s massive raw power in Wood’s profile and he’s a solid runner as well that could add double-digit steals early in his career. Wood is also proving to be a better pure hitter than many gave him credit for, recording a 15.7% walk rate and 19.2%  strikeout rate to go along with that .321 average. Wood is a fantasy beast in the making.

Jarlin Susana (RHP): While Jarlin Susana isn’t a big name like those above him, this is still a prospect to take note of in dynasty leagues. Signed by the Padres back in January, Susana is a big 6’6 right-hander that has posted a 2.45 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 39.6% strikeout rate through 29.1 innings in Complex ball. Keep an eye on him.

Josh Hader to San Diego for Esteury Ruiz, Taylor Rogers, Robert Gasser, and Dinelson Lamet

The Soto deal wasn’t the Padres’ only significant splash during this year’s MLB trade deadline. The day before the Soto deal, San Diego acquired stud closer, Josh Hader, from Milwaukee in exchange for the package you see above. After not giving up a run for what seemed like a decade, Josh Hader created a human being and hasn’t been the same on the mound since (8.82 ERA since 6/16). As a father of two, I totally get it. Hader has had a couple of bad blowups in this stretch and some bad luck in general though. So overall, I’m not that worried. He’s still a no-doubt top-5 fantasy arm in San Diego. So much for all the Luis Garcia FAAB bids this past weekend though.

The return for Milwaukee is both interesting and intriguing. Esteury Ruiz is the most exciting piece heading to Milwaukee after the dominant season he put together in the upper minors before his promotion to San Diego last month. His production and playing time was wildly inconsistent in San Diego and Milwaukee optioned him to Triple-A after acquiring him. While I believe in his impact speed, I’m still not 100% sold on the bat as I feel part of his offensive explosion was caused by the hitter-friendly PCL. He’s a sell-high in dynasty for me right now.

The other three have minimal value right now. Lamet is more of a project for Milwaukee to try and fix, and Gasser has some value but the upside is limited. But with Hader out of town, Devin Williams’ value gets a major increase as a potential top-10 fantasy RP ROS.

Frankie Montas & Lou Trivino to NYY for Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Cooper Bowman, and Luis Medina

Even with already having one of the top rotations in baseball, the Yankees added another big arm to the mix with Frankie Montas while also beefing up a bullpen that recently lost Michael King for the season. Trivino will likely slide into a setup role with Clay Holmes still being the name to have in this pen. As for the rotation, Montas slides in behind Gerrit Cole at the top and gives the Yankees a scary-good 1-4 for the postseason with Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes as well. For fantasy, this is a slight downgrade for Montas though who will now pitch in a tougher ballpark and division than he did in Oakland. Montas has a 2.36 ERA in Oakland at home this season compared to 5.01 on the road.

For the prospects, Waldichuk and Sears could see time with Oakland this year at some point, but Bowman and Medina are lesser pieces at this point. Medina’s command and control simply has not improved.

Luis Castillo to Seattle for Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Levi Stoudt, and Andrew Moore

This was the first big trade to kick off the 2022 trade deadline season. And frankly, I’m digging the move for fantasy implications. To start, Luis Castillo gets out of Cincinnati and into a more pitcher-friendly ballpark in Seattle. Castillo was already enjoying a nice bounce-back season with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts and should be considered a top-25 SP ROS.

The two big pieces going back, Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, rank inside my top-15 and top-60 respectively right now. After a slow start to the season, Marte cranked up the heat in July with seven doubles, seven home runs, five steals, and a stellar .384/.455/.709 slash line. I’m chalking up some of his struggles to the cold weather in the Northwest League earlier in the season and have him back pushing top-10 overall in my prospect rankings. Arroyo is nearly as exciting offensively with a nice power/speed blend and a good feel for hitting already. If this production continues, he’ll likely be top-25 overall by the end of the season.

Tyler Mahle to Minnesota for Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer, and Steven Hajjar

Finally! Many of us had been clamoring for the Reds to trade Tyler Mahle out of Cincinnati and that finally happened yesterday. Mahle has some of the most extreme home-road splits in the Majors, especially in 2021, and could return top-30 SP value moving forward. The headlining piece heading to Cincy is Encarnacion-Strand. the slugging corner infielder already racked up 25 doubles and 25 home runs in 87 games this season with a .302/.374/.612 slash line. There’s the potential for an above-average hitter with plus power here with Great American Ball Park awaiting him in a year or so. CES is a great dynasty target.

Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta, Tucker Davidson and Jesse Chavez to Los Angeles (AL)

This was a great move for the Angels who add Raisel Iglesias to a bullpen that also includes AJ Minter, Kenley Jansen, and others. Who will close between Iglesias and Jansen? Probably a little of both, but each takes a slight hit in fantasy following this trade, and more so to Minter who was the next man up when Jansen couldn’t go. All in all, this move was insurance for Jansen’s health issues. As for the Angels, Ryan Tepera would be my guess as the next man up.

Jorge Lopez (BAL) & Michael Fulmer (DET) to Minnesota

With Minnesota acquiring both Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, how does the back end of that bullpen shake out? My guess is that Lopez is the lead guy for save opportunities with Duran and Fulmer pitching in setup roles, but still getting a save opportunity here and there. In Baltimore, this opens the door for Felix Bautista who has been lights out this season. Bautista is an immediate add in 10+ team leagues.

Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis, Harrison Bader to New York (AL)

This is a solid move for both St. Louis and New York in real life, but doesn’t really adjust fantasy values at all. Bader has been out since late June with a foot issue and isn’t close to a return but definitely is an upgrade in New York’s outfield defensively. As for Montgomery, he was pitching very well earlier this season but struggled to the tune of a 4.91 ERA in six July starts. This move could create a slight uptick in value for him though, getting out of Yankee Stadium and the American League East. Montgomery’s arrival means that St. Louis either has to go with a 6-man rotation or move one of Andre Pallante or Dakota Hudson to the bullpen.

Whit Merrifield to Toronto For Two Prospects

Not long after missing a series in Toronto due to not being vaccinated, Whit Merrifield will now play half his games there for the rest of the season. And don’t worry, I’ll never make this political, but you gotta figure he’s going to get vaccinated or else Toronto wouldn’t have traded for him. Merrifield’s career is currently in decline but he still has the speed to provide value for fantasy managers. His arrival likely means a decrease in playing time for Santiago Espinal.

Noah Syndergaard to Philadelphia

At this point, I’m not expecting any major turnaround from Noah Syndergaard to the levels we saw pre-injury. He’s been fine this season with a 3.83 ERA but the strikeout rate has plummeted to below 20%. He was never a massive K rate arm, but a high-3 ERA, sub-20% K rate pitcher just isn’t as valuable as it used to be. He’s more of a back-end 12-team option right now that produces as a top-80ish arm moving forward. This move to Philly isn’t great for his value either due to the park and subpar defense behind him.

Brandon Marsh to Philadelphia, Logan O’Hoppe to Los Angeles (AL)

This was an exciting trade on a few fronts. First, Brandon Marsh needed a change. The former top-50 overall prospect has struggled mightily with strikeouts in the Majors posting a K rate above 35% in each of his first two seasons. The power/speed blend has remained to a degree but the massive swing and miss issues have really limited Marsh. Maybe Philadelphia can help him right the ship and return to the Marsh we saw come up through the minors. I’m still a believer that a .250/15/20 player is in there, maybe more power/speed if the approach and contact skills improve.

Back in Los Angeles, Marsh’s exit should open up additional opportunities for Jo Adell. As with Marsh, Adell has struggled with contact and approach issues in the Majors but that upside is hard to fully write off. At least, not yet anyway. I’ve certainly faded Adell in my rankings but I want to see him get one last extended look as an MLB regular before completely closing the door on him as a potential impact player.

Logan O’Hoppe is a catching prospect that often gets undervalued for fantasy. There’s so much exciting catching talent in the minor leagues these days and his name doesn’t get brought up as much as it should. After emerging in 2021, O’Hoppe has continued hitting well in 2022 with a .270/.335/.459 slash line and 13 home runs in 85 games.

Other Deals

Brandon Drury to San Diego, Victor Acosta to Cincinnati: Drury has been enjoying a breakout season at the age of 29 with 20 homers and a .274/.335/.520 slash line in 385 PA for Cincinnati. He’s not a drop quite yet but I’m wondering if he plays as much in San Diego with all the pieces they already have. If you roster him, hold for now and keep an eye on how the playing time shakes out this week.

Darin Ruf to New York (NL), JD Davis to San Francisco: The one piece here that I’m interested by is JD Davis. The once rising corner infielder fell out of favor in New York but has posted solid statcast metrics for the most part. Maybe a change of scenery can jumpstart his floundering career.

Christian Vazquez to Houston for Two Prospects: Vazquez remains more of a two-catcher league option but the lineup around him is a bit better than it was in Boston.

Tommy Pham to Boston for PTBNL: Minor upgrade for Pham due to the better lineup around him in Boston. Still more of a back-end roster guy for fantasy though.

Eric Hosmer to Boston: This deal has zero fantasy impact outside of pissing me off as a Red Sox fan. But after writing that last sentence, the deal continued to grow as the Sox sent Jay Groome (who cares) to San Diego and also received Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson from San Diego.

Joey Gallo to Los Angeles (NL) for Clayton Beeter: This is a low-risk move for the Dodgers to see if Gallo can find any success after a terrible 1st half. Clayton Beeter has good stuff but has struggled this season and is buried on the Dodgers’ pitching depth chart. This also might signal decreased playing time for Bellinger and/or Muncy. We shall see.

Darin Ruf to New York (NL) for JD Davis & prospects: This trade was basically Darin Ruf for younger Darin Ruf. There are no immediate fantasy value changes here but maybe this could be a fresh start for JD Davis who fell out of favor with the Mets.

David Robertson to Philadelphia: Honestly, I have no idea how this Phillies bullpen will shake out after acquiring Robertson. It’s likely that Seranthony Dominguez still leads this pen in save opps but Robertson and Hand will likely factor in as well.

Houston gets: 1B/OF Trey Mancini and RHP Jayden Murray | Baltimore gets: RHP Seth Johnson and Chayce McDermott | Tampa Bay gets: CF Jose Siri: Trey Mancini gets a slight boost in value as the left field wall in Houston is about 2.6 miles closer than in Baltimore. Johnson and McDermott are solid targets in deeper dynasty leagues as well.

Media Credit: MLB Pipeline, Mariners Minors, Pitching Ninja, MLB Vault

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