With the MLB trade deadline less than two weeks away, this is the time for fantasy managers to get ahead of potential moves. Here are some players who will see their fantasy value change if the most popular rumors come to fruition.
PLAYERS TO ACQUIRE
Joey Gallo (1B/OF, Rangers)
I couldn’t have put Gallo in this article a week ago, as he rode into the All-Star break on a massive hot streak that included a 1.270 OPS from June 26-July 10. But the slugger has recorded just one hit in four games since having had a few days off, which potentially reopens the window to acquire him. Gallo would be more valuable if part of a productive lineup, as even with his power production the Rangers rank 27th in the Majors in overall OPS (.678). And the slugger would certainly take advantage if dealt to a team with a hitter-friendly home park.
Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Pirates)
Frazier has been an outstanding leadoff hitter this year, batting .325 with an .844 OBP. Unfortunately, he has had this great level of success on a team that ranks last in the Majors in runs scored. Assuming that Frazier has a regular role and premium lineup spot on his new team, he should have the potential to collect runs and RBIs at a higher rate. And as someone with wall-scraping power, he could produce more homers on a club with a hitter-friendly home park.
Starling Marte (OF, Marlins)
Marte is a similar story to Frazier, having played very well on an otherwise unproductive team. A free agent after this season, Marte has been approached by the Marlins about a long-term contract but the two sides don’t seem close at this time. It’s easy to see the fantasy upside of this five-category contributor setting the table for an elite lineup down the stretch.
Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B, D-backs)
After a down year in 2020, Escobar is fully back to the form he showed when producing 35 homers and 118 RBIs in 2019. The slugger leads the D-backs by wide margins in homers (21) and RBIs (64), which makes him one of the only bright spots in their otherwise depressing season. I expect Escobar to be on a contending team down the stretch, at which time he could have more chances to be involved in run scoring.
Mitch Haniger (OF, Mariners)
Haniger has been the Mariners' best hitter this season, leading the team in homers (22), RBIs (58), runs scored (65), and OPS (.831). Seattle could choose to hang onto one of this year’s best stories, as Haniger has endeared himself to fans by battling back from significant injuries. But there is also a good chance that ultra-active GM Jerry Dipoto trades Haniger while his value is high. As part of a Seattle lineup that ranks last in OPS, Haniger will have more value as soon as he joins a more productive group.
Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Cubs)
Having hit .174 with a .554 OPS since June 1, Bryant should be easy to acquire right now. And I’m not going to offer a statistical-based reason to expect the veteran to turn things around. But the Cubs offense has been abysmal overall in recent weeks, and everyone in the lineup tends to get swept up in the struggles when these things happen. Going to a contending team with a productive lineup could spark Bryant, who is undoubtedly motivated to head into free agency on a hot streak.
PLAYERS TO TRADE AWAY
C.J. Cron (1B, Rockies)
The Rockies are in selling mode, and although everyone talks about Trevor Story, Cron is equally likely to be moved. The first baseman has been effective this year (.826 OPS), but most of his success has predictably come at home (.946 OPS). Getting traded from the Rockies is rarely good for a hitter’s fantasy production, and Cron certainly isn’t at the talent level that can overcome such a switch.
Ian Kennedy (RP, Rangers)
Here comes a long list of closers. I’ll discuss Kennedy first, as he is the most likely stopper to be moved. The right-hander has fared well in the closer’s role but does not have the type of resume that automatically puts him in the ninth inning on a contending team. In fact, Kennedy may not even be the primary setup man on his new club. Fantasy managers should be happy to get anything they value for Kennedy right now.
Richard Rodriguez (RP, Pirates)
Like Kennedy, Rodriguez is almost certain to be moved this month. And although Rodriguez has a chance to serve as the closer on a contending team, having another ninth-inning gig is far from a certainty. As a manager with Rodriguez on my roster, I would want more for him than I would for Kennedy. That being said, I would be willing to accept much less than I would have two months ago.
Yimi Garcia (RP, Marlins)
Garcia has been solid as the Marlins closer, mixing in successful stretches with the occasional meltdown. But the right-hander had never been a stopper before 2021, and he certainly doesn’t have a resume that suggests he can work the ninth inning on a contending team in October. The Marlins are close to turning the corner, but they likely aren’t close enough to keep Garcia and offer him a multi-year contract in the offseason.
Raisel Iglesias (RP, Angels)
The Angels are in a tough spot. They sit 6.5 games out of the Wildcard and need to climb over five teams. The standings scream “time to sell.” But this is also an organization that has wasted several memorable Mike Trout seasons and is now on the verge of wasting another year of Trout plus the eye-popping campaign that is being produced by Shohei Ohtani.
The club could get stubborn and decide to push forward, in hopes that Trout and Anthony Rendon find their top form down the stretch and join Ohtani for an exciting postseason push. Also, Iglesias has enough of a closer’s resume that he could work the ninth inning on his new team. For these reasons, I would look to trade Iglesias, but I wouldn’t be obsessed with getting him off my roster.