The trade deadline has come and gone, and while the big names usually capture all of the fantasy headlines, it’s often the lesser parts included or influenced by these trades whom you should most notice, as they’re the ones usually out there for the taking in a whole lot of leagues. Here are three players whose situations improved as a result of this year’s deadline dealing.
Things sure changed quickly in the Baltimore bullpen, didn’t they? Cole Sulser, who seemed to have captured the closer role for himself as recently as a week ago, struggled through back-to-back outings in Buffalo during the weekend, after which point Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the right-hander would get a “breather” in lower-pressure situations. Then the team traded Mychal Givens on Sunday and Miguel Castro on Monday, activated Harvey on Sunday and — violà — we’ve got a new prospective closer in the Charm City! Hyde, as well as pitching coach Darren Holmes, indicated that Harvey indeed would take over the coveted ninth-inning role, though he’d be eased into it initially after having missed a month with an elbow injury.
Considering that nearly half of the league’s closer pictures are either clouded, opportunity limited due to poor team play or led by a sketchy fantasy option, Harvey absolutely warrants a speculative pickup with word that he’ll get his chance. He was a popular preseason sleeper before getting hurt, thanks in part to his 98 mph fastball and splitter, which helped him strike out 11 of the 26 big-league batters he faced in 2019. Harvey has the stuff to handle the job, though his control can waver at times and he’s a bit of a fly-ball pitcher, a shaky combination for a finisher. Still, with the Orioles squeaking out wins more often than expected and little competition for save chances, he might deliver you another 6-8 saves with a respectable ERA.
Here’s another prospect who has never been considered one of the top prospects in baseball, in part because he’s above average at many things but not elite at any one. But if you’re looking for new-player opportunities following the trade deadline, there’s no greater hint than this: Arozarena’s first start as a Ray came as the leadoff hitter against New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Monday night.
Interestingly enough, Arozarena served as the designated hitter in that game, though he’s skilled enough to handle center field, if there’s a need, and either outfield corner otherwise. He’s the kind of player who could fill all five traditional rotisserie categories, though his ceiling for home runs in a 162-game season might be 12-15. Consider this: In 153 career games at the Triple-A level, he’s a .292 hitter with 17 home runs, 66 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and 93 runs scored. Those are numbers you’d happily welcome to a fantasy team, even in a standard mixed league. That the Rays, a matchups-oriented team, will presumably pick his best spots also helps him as he adapts to big-league pitching. Stash him now in the event he sticks in a high lineup spot.
Speaking of commitments to regular roles, the Indians are reportedly expected to install Naylor as their starting left fielder, following his acquisition from the San Diego Padres in the Mike Clevinger trade. Considering they had been rotating Greg Allen, Delino DeShields, Jordan Luplow and Domingo Santana between two of their starting outfield spots depending upon righty-lefty matchups, the Indians’ lineup should be a lot better off with Naylor in a corner.
Naylor has long been a high-contact hitter, and his swinging-strike rate as a major leaguer thus far is 9.8%, which is solid when you consider that the league’s average rate this season is 12.2%. He’s also expected to develop more power as he matures, especially if he can bring his ground-ball rate down from its current 53% to the 47% numbers he used to flash in the minors, and preferably even lower than that. Remember: Cleveland’s Progressive Field is favorable for left-handed power, so it’s possible that Naylor will adapt well to his new confines and deliver a .270 batting average and 5-7 home runs the rest of the way. He’s a definite add in 12-plus-team mixed and AL-only leagues.