UPDATE: Accidentally said that the Devil Rays traded Cantu to the Astros and analyzed it from there. This has been corrected and changed, as Cantu was actually traded to the Reds. — D.C. 7/29/07
The Devil Rays have been active so far, and a couple more trades seem likely. We’ll take a look at the two with the biggest fantasy ramifications that they’ve made so far.
Devil Rays get: RP Dan Wheeler
Astros get: 1B/2B/3B/OF Ty Wigginton
Quick outlook: Wheeler gains value. Wigginton gains value.
Indirectly Affected: CL Al Reyes loses value. 1B/3B Mike Lamb loses a tiny bit of value. 3B Morgan Ensberg loses value.
Wheeler definitely improves his value with this trade. He might not be the Devil Rays closer, but he is much more likely to become the closer in Tampa Bay than he was in Houston with Brad Lidge back pitching the ninth. As there were already rumors of Al Reyes getting traded, acquiring Wheeler only makes this more likely. Wheeler needs to be owned in all leagues until the trade deadline passes. Reyes, on the other hand, should be traded immediately if at all possible. It is unlikely he would close if traded.
The possibility still exists that the Devil Rays will keep both Reyes and Wheeler. They have a solid core rotation (Jamie Shields, Scott Kazmir, Andrew Sonnanstine) and have several positions filled out (Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Akinori Iwamura, etc.), but their bullpen is terrible. Perhaps they are trying to put together a solid bullpen for a chance to be serious contenders in 2008. Reyes is 37, though, so he might not be in their long-term plans.
If Reyes stays, Wheeler will still have slightly more value than he did with the Astros in deeper leagues. The AL is tougher to pitch in, but given that he is head and shoulders above any other Rays reliever other than Reyes, he should see plenty of time coming out of the pen.
The last possibility is that Wheeler was acquired only to be used as a chip in another trade. If that is the case it will depend entirely on where he goes. This seems to be the least likely scenario, and, for now, he needs to be owned in all leagues.
Wigginton moves from the AL to the NL, a helpful change in and of itself. He also moves to Minute Maid Park, where the left field fence (where he hits a lot of his home runs) is just 315 feet at its shortest point. He will become the Astros’ everyday third baseman and is batting fifth today. With Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman ahead of him, Wigginton should really do well with RBIs.
Morgan Ensberg was designated for assignment and doesn’t seem likely to find an everyday job somewhere this year. Wait and see where he lands, but this trade really hurts his value. Mike Lamb might see a few less at-bats if they decide to let Wigginton play everyday, which is a shame because Lamb is really playing well.
Devil Rays get: P Calvin Medlock (AAA), P Brian Shackelford (AAA), and future considerations
Reds get: 1B/2B Jorge Cantu, OF Shaun Cumberland (AA), and cash
Quick outlook: Cantu gains value. Cumberland’s value remains the same. Medlock gains a little value. Shackelford gains a little value.
Indirectly Affected: Juan Castro, Norris Hopper, Jerry Gil, Pedro Lopez, and Jeff Keppinger all lose a little value.
Not a blockbuster trade as none of these guys are even in the majors, but Cantu has been useful in the past, so we’ll take a look. The Devil Rays simply had nowhere to play Cantu, so a move out of there could be beneficial. The Reds don’t have an immediate place for him either, but given their mish-mash of mediocre and below-average bench players (Juan Castro, Norris Hopper, Jerry Gil, Pedro Lopez, Jeff Keppinger), it seems likely that Cantu will see some time in the majors this year. He could end up playing first, second, third, or outfield. If Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr. is traded, that could also potentially create a spot for Cantu. This scenario is much better than sitting in Triple-A for Tampa Bay with guys like Jonny Gomes and Greg Norton ahead of him. In deep NL-only leagues he might make a decent pickup
Juan Castro, Norris Hopper, Jerry Gil, Pedro Lopez, and Jeff Keppinger all lose a little value. Cantu adds more guy into the mix for playing time, and one that is a bigger name and likely more talented than most of these guys.
Medlock and Shackelford join a team that has one of — if not the — worst bullpens in baseball. They could see time down the stretch. They still wouldn’t have much value, but having a chance at playing in the majors is better than playing in the minors. Cumberland is only in Double-A, so he is relatively unaffected for this year.