Fantasy Baseball: Mookie Betts Trade Fallout

Red Sox Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodogers completed a deal on Tuesday that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to LA for a package of young players headlined by Alex Verdugo.

From a real life perspective this trade is baffling from the Red Sox perspective. From a fantasy perspective this deal set off a series of dominoes that have changed the landscape for the players involved in this deal, the trades that made this deal possible and the players who were affected.

How should fantasy baseball owners tweak their expectations for the all the players involved? Let’s examine each case!

Hitters

Mookie Betts

While this Dodgers trade for Mookie Betts is an attention grabber, in terms of his 2020 fantasy value, this trade does little to change that. He was going somewhere between pick four and pick seven before the trade. There is no reason for that to change.

Betts will swap out facing Baltimore and Toronto, the only two teams he hit double-digit home runs against for the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Giants. He will remain at the top of the order in Los Angeles with Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger driving him in instead of JD Martinez and Rafael Devers.

His numbers should be around 30 home runs, 80-90 RBI and 100 plus runs scored all while hitting at or around .300.

Alex Verdugo

If you’re looking for the biggest winner of this trade in terms of fantasy value, look no further. Alex Verdugo has gone from a part-time player who was going to get 400-500 plate appearances hitting in the mid to late part of the batting order for the Dodgers to a guy who could have 600 PA’s leading off for Boston.

Fan Graphs and Roster Resource have Verdugo penciled into the one hole at the moment. The Red Sox could look to Andrew Benintendi or Jackie Bradley Jr. to fill in the lead off role. Even if that is the case, I’d expect Verdugo to hit somewhere in the top five of the batting order.

Verdugo should go from a player going outside the top 200 as a top 60 outfielder to a top 40ish OF and a top 150 player overall. He could approach 20 homers but with Fenway Park causing power issues for left-handers, 14-17 seems like a fair projection. Approaching double-digit stolen bases this season is also on the table as the Red Sox have been more willing to let their players loose on the base paths over the past three seasons.

Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson was on the move as well on Tuesday, although he didn’t have to go far. He will be playing right field and potentially leading off for the revamped Angels lineup.

Like Verdugo, he should play most days and see in the neighborhood of 550 plate appearances instead of the 450 most projections had him at. It will be interesting to see how much he plays against left handed pitching. Pederson has struggled against lefties for the bulk of his career.

Even if he sees the majority of his at bats against right handers, 35 or more home runs is on the table again with 80 plus RBI and runs scored. Facing mostly right handers will also keep his average closer to a more palatable .250. This likely means we won’t see Jo Adell as early as some may have hoped. Once Adell gets the call Pederson can play some first and DH to stay in the lineup.

Red Sox David  Price
Tony Dejak – Associated Press

Pitchers

David Price

This is a marginal move for David Price, who should be fine in Los Angeles. The switch from the AL East to the NL West should be a positive one. Not only will he get to face opposing pitchers but the division as a whole has worse lineups and better parks for pitchers.

I would expect a strikeout and an ERA at or around 4 which will definitely be useful in most formats. Don’t be surprised if Price limited at points during the season in an attempt to keep him fresh for a postseason run. He has missed significant portions of 2 of the last 3 seasons tallying 74.2 innings in 2017 and 107.1 innings in 2019. That said, when he is active you will want to make sure he is in your lineups.

Kenta Maeda

The Minnesota Twins ended up with Kenta Maeda. This is a pretty big deal, as Maeda should get the ball every 5th day, something that almost assuredly wouldn’t happen in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are notorious for signing players to incentive laden deals and then finagling playing time to avoid a big pay day. Maeda would consistently end up in the bullpen as the season went along.

He should see 25-30 starts for the Twins. This should get him to 160-170 quality innings and make 180 or more strikeouts a very real possibility. Facing the AL Central is a nice boost even if it means not facing the pitcher.

Ross Stripling

The “big league pitcher” that was included in the Joc Pederson deal is Ross Stripling. He is a pitcher that has potential to be a very useful part of a fantasy rotation but thanks to the Dodgers lack of commitment he has been constantly on the move between the rotations, the bullpen and the minors.

2020 could finally be the year we see a full breakout from Stripling. If we have learned anything from the Halo’s, keeping their starters healthy has been a chore. Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and Shohei Ohtani have all missed time due to injury. They added both Julio Tehran and Dylan Bundy this off-season who should also be fixtures of their rotation. That leaves three spots for Heaney, Canning, Patrick Sandoval and Stripling to battle for rotation spots when Ohtani is not pitching.

This season, he should shatter his career averages in terms of innings and approach 150 innings with a strikeout per inning and an ERA in the mid 3’s. He should go from being drafted as a top 300 player to just outside the top 200 around pitchers like Joe Musgrove and Mike Foltynewicz

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