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Fantasy Baseball Survival Guide to the MLB Trade Deadline!

The MLB trade deadline is coming.

Maybe that doesn’t have the same effect as “Winter is coming,” but in terms of your fantasy baseball team… it’s kind of similar! The trade deadline changes the fantasy value of many players and leads to some of the craziest waiver weeks. You should not be going into the trade deadline blindly, but rather, you should be preparing yourself for the craziness. Learning how to properly deal with the deadline is something you can really only learn after you experience it, but if you have struggled in the past or are a new fantasy baseball player, reading this preparation guide will help!

Surviving the MLB Trade Deadline

Pay Attention to Rumors

The first big piece of MLB trade deadline advice I have is to pay close attention to the rumors. It may sound basic, but you do not want to be blindsided by having one of your players suddenly traded. Why does it matter so much? Because a trade is going to change factors for any player. If it is a big name player that gets traded the playing time likely won’t be a factor, but the new ballpark and lineup surely will.

If it is a more marginal player, they could be traded into a limited role. Teams often trade for solid pieces that then get used either in a platoon, as depth, or in a super-utility role. These are not fantasy studs, but you do not want your second baseman to suddenly become a utility player on a contender.

Being up to date on the latest rumors may not help you prevent a trade of one of your players, but it allows you to be ahead of the game in knowing whether or not you may need to replace someone.

Additionally, teams that fall out of the race sell off veterans all the time and end up calling up prospects to fill those spots. Knowing that a player is being shopped can allow you to pick up the replacement, particularly if they are a highly rated prospect. You can also see prospects traded for pieces, and if those prospects are near MLB ready, teams will often allow them to play out the second half in the big leagues. You’ve heard the expression when there is smoke there is fire… that applies for the trade deadline as well and being up to date is a great way to proactively manage your fantasy baseball team.

Handcuff Your Closers

Every year in recent memory, relievers are a heavy commodity at the MLB trade deadline. Contenders can never have enough late-inning options, which means that teams that are out of the race often ship their closers out of town. Not all closers will be dealt, but there is a long list of relievers that we have heard mentioned in rumors already. Alex Colome, Will Smith, Ken Giles, Shane Greene, and Sergio Romo are closers that we have heard a lot of rumors about and are likely to be dealt. There are also closers such as Kirby Yates, Felipe Vasquez, Greg Holland, Ian Kennedy among others who are in plenty of rumors, but are not slam dunks to be traded.

If you see your closers name mentioned about, you should be looking to add their handcuff right now. If you own Colome and know he is likely to get dealt, you should be adding Aaron Bummer. If you have Giles you should add Daniel Hudson, but knowing he is being shopped you could try to add Joe Biagini as well. You can add Joe Jimenez if you have Greene, but it is not as clear-cut for some other options. The Giants and Marlins have multiple options who can step up, with Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson being the top bets in San Fran, while Nick Anderson is a player I am taking a shot on in Miami.

If you are scared of your closer being dealt, handcuff him to cover yourself. If you wait and the closer is dealt, the replacement is going to cost more on waivers/FAAB and you may miss out. Be proactive and keep your team in a good position.

Take Fliers on Other Relievers

Much like handcuffing your closers, you should be looking to take some fliers on could be closers. If you do not own any of the closers that are being shopped, that does not mean you cannot exploit potential value off the waiver wire. Not having Colome should be no reason not to add Aaron Bummer. Closers are a big commodity in fantasy baseball and adding one off the waiver wire can be a vital piece to your second half. Not only can you find potential saves that you would not otherwise have, but you can then trade a closer if you have a surplus and help your teams in other ways. I do not own Sergio Romo anywhere, but I have been taking upside shots on Nick Anderson. You should be doing the same with the replacement options.

Spending in Mono Leagues

There may be no leagues with more emphasis on the trade deadline than in mono leagues. First, mono leagues mean AL- or NL-only. Some of those leagues may have rules in place to manage the deadline, but in many of them, if a player is traded from one league to the other, you will see one of two outcomes: If that player is traded into the league that you are playing in (NL or AL), they will appear on waivers. If a player is traded from the league that you are playing in, they will disappear. For example: if you play in an AL-only league and Alex Colome is traded to the Braves… he disappears. But if Madison Bumgarner is traded to the Yankees, he will appear on the waiver wire.

How can you prepare for this? Well, it is a lot harder, but hopefully, you have budgeted for this. If you have saved FAAB this season, you should be looking to unload most if not all of it around the deadline. Think about it when would a player of that caliber appear on the waiver wire other than at the MLB trade deadline? These could be season-changing adds. If your league does not have FAAB, use your top waiver wire claims. If your league is first come, first serve, you may want to set an early alarm! A few years ago I was playing in an NL-only league and Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the Mets. The next day I set an early alarm and was saddened to see someone woke up even earlier than me and got him! I did land Jose Reyes that season but it just was not the same. This is a huge time for AL and NL-only leagues!

Prospects to Know

With many teams making deals it often leads to prospects getting more of an opportunity. Either a team will sell veterans opening spots for their prospects, or a team will sell some youngsters, who are then given an opportunity by the team that acquires them. Either way, we are sure to see a lot of young players get the call in the final two months. Here are some prospects you should know and either be looking to stash or at the very least, keeping an eye on going forward:

Kyle Tucker: Fantasy owners have been waiting for Tucker all season and with the Astros DFA’ing Tyler White, perhaps there will be a spot for him in the second half. The Astros have a lot of talent so cracking the lineup could be tough, but Tucker has nothing left to prove in the minors as he has hit .271 with a .355 OBP, 25 homers and 21 stolen bases. There is a lot of upside here.

Bo Bichette: The Blue Jays have given young players plenty of chances this season and Bichette should be next, especially with Eric Sogard drawing interest in trades. Bichette is hitting .296 with .350 OBP, seven homers and 14 steals in limited minor league action this year. Once he is up, he should get everyday ABs. Stash him.

Carter Kieboom: Failed in his brief stint with the Nats, but remains their top prospect and has had his name mentioned in trade rumors. He could be dealt for a big piece, or potentially replace Brian Dozier in the Nats lineup. Either way, there is potential to be had here. He is hitting .314 with a .413 OBP and 15 homers in Triple-A this season.

Gavin Lux: He has absolutely been dominating in the minor leagues, batting .487 with a .552 OBP and seven homers in just 18 games in Triple-A. Prior to that, he hit .313 with 13 homers and seven steals in Double-A. The Dodgers lineup is loaded and that may prevent hi from getting the call, but he could be dealt in a trade or an injury could open up an opportunity here. There is upside here.

Isan Diaz: He has hit .305 with a .394 OBP, 24 homers, 77 runs, 64 RBI and five stolen bases. Add in that Starlin Castro has heavily been involved in trade rumors and you see why you should be stashing Diaz.

Others to consider: Luis Robert, Jo Adell, Ryan Mountcastle, Jesus Luzardo, Anthony Kay.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

Are you ready for the MLB Trade Deadline? For more from Michael check out his full archive.

Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!

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