Changing Teams, Changing Values

We’re meandering slowly through June right now and the All-Star break is still a few weeks away, but there are already multiple teams that are out of contention. There’s generally not much of use on those rosters, but there can be a few salvageable pieces that might make or break a contender’s season.

Two clubs, in particular, have the power to dramatically shift the baseball landscape, both of MLB and of fantasy, the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. Each of those two teams has a star closer and an elite starter.

Trades will be good for these four players. Pitchers are extremely dependent on their surroundings for their fantasy value, especially closers; how can a starter win a game or a closer save it without their team winning the game? Let’s take a look at each of these four pitchers individually to see if we can ascertain whether or not their value will increase, and if so, by how much.

Starting off with Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies’ closer, a prime example of a fantasy player who just needs a change of scenery. The Phillies have only won 23 games this season, fewest in the majors, and accordingly, Papelbon has a mere twelve saves, tied for 20th in the league. The 34 year-old veteran has continued to dominate, with a 10.52 K/9, along with a 1.05 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.

Similarly, Aroldis Chapman, closer for the Reds, has continued to be dominant with an insane K/9 of 15.73. Just like Papelbon, Chapman’s opportunities for saves have been painfully few, and he could benefit from a trade to a more competitive team.

One word of warning, though: these two pitchers may be traded to a team that employs them as elite relievers rather than as closers, which would hamper their value significantly. However, for the starting pitchers, that won’t be the case.

Cole Hamels, ace for Philadelphia, has been his customary brilliant self. He’s got his usual sub-3.00 ERA, with his usual low WHIP. He strikes out over a batter an inning, is 10-14 on quality starts, but only has five wins. With a change to a better team, the one weak spot in his fantasy profile will be solved, giving him a big increase in value.

Cincinnati’s ace, Johnny Cueto, faces the same problems as his counterpart on the Phillies, with impressive ratios without any wins. As with Hamels, if he’s traded to a better team, his worth will rise accordingly.

Before celebrating their impending trades, be aware that a trade isn’t without its drawbacks. As a reader astutely pointed out, if one of these pitchers switches to the American League, facing the designated hitter instead of a pitcher will worsen their ratios. Tread cautiously.

If you can convince someone that their value is inevitably headed upwards with no potential roadblocks, then sell. Otherwise, sit tight and enjoy.

Although Hamels has convinced reporters otherwise, these four players have yet to be traded, but for impatient owners, upset with their performance thus far, the day they’re dealt can’t come soon enough.

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