The hot stove has brought some surprising transactions this offseason, but none may be as surprising as yesterday’s trade that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati. The move cost the Reds a small bounty for their new ace, as they sent SP Edinson Volquez, 1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal and RP Brad Boxberger to San Diego in return.
Let’s take a look at the fantasy fallout of this trade from both sides:
The first thought is obviously that Latos’ value takes a significant hit as he moves away from Petco Park and into Great American Ballpark. However, while there may be a slight hit in ERA due to the move, it likely will not be as great as you would think. Just take a look at his home/road split from his first two full seasons in the Majors:
- 2010 – 2.59/3.14
- 2011 – 3.24/3.68
Would anyone really be upset if he simply posted a number comparable those road ERAs this season in Cincinnati? If he could do that (and it seems possible), he’d likely add at least 2-3 wins thanks to the improvement in run support. In other words, the decline in ERA is easily offset and will not alter his value.
He has already shown that he can strike batters out (8.65 career K/9) and that he has very good control (2.83 career BB/9). Those two things are going to bring a good WHIP and, as long as he doesn’t get completely burnt by the long ball, his ERA is going to be 3.50 or better, even in Cincinnati. Throw in the additional wins potential and he is looking like a great SP2 with the potential to perform like a fantasy ace. Things look just as good for Latos at this point.
San Diego Padres
It was quite the return that San Diego received, including a pitcher with as much potential as anyone. Volquez has shown how good he could be, though his control has always been his biggest issue. He was always capable of walking the ballpark, though it has been even worse in recent years since he has worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. In 108.2 innings in ’11 he walked 65 batters, a BB/9 of 5.38.
It’s an atrocious number, and one that will stop him from being productive regardless of the ballpark he calls home (his road ERA was 5.78 in ’11). Yes, the long ball should not be as much of a problem (he had a HR/9 of 1.57 last season), but is that going to be enough to make him an impressive option? Probably not. He brings sleeper potential, but unless he improves his control the new surroundings are not going to matter.
The new home will likely have a major impact on Alonso, whose numbers were never going to be as impressive as they were in his 88 AB in 2011. Why? There was no way he was going to replicate a .387 BABIP or a 20.8% HR/FB. While he did play in the International League at Triple-A, his .296 average with 24 HR (though he did have 55 doubles) in 764 AB does not scream impressive.
Is there upside? Absolutely (Baseball America did rank him as the team’s third best prospect), but don’t look towards him to be a monster source of power in Petco Park. As a first baseman, that is going to completely limit is value to minimal. If we can’t expect him to hit at least 20 HR, how much value is he going to have?
That said, he will likely start at 1B for the Padres, meaning Anthony Rizzo will either be at Triple-A or used as trade bait. Clearly, his value takes a hit thanks to the deal.
The other half of the haul are prospects, though Boxberger could step immediately into the Padres bullpen and eventually emerge as a closer option. Over his minor league career he has posted an 11.89 K/9, a number that we all love to see. He needs to learn how to harness his stuff, though, with a 4.10 BB/9, but if he can figure it all out he could be electric. Baseball America recently ranked him as the team’s tenth best prospect.
Grandal, meanwhile, is one of the premier catching prospects in the game. The 2010 first round draft pick had a cup of coffee at Triple-A this season, making quick work of the minor leagues. In 402 minor league AB he has hit .303 with 14 HR and 69 RBI.
Baseball America recently ranked him as the team’s fourth best prospect saying, “Grandal projects to hit for a higher average and has the advantage of being a switch-hitter. He has a balanced approach, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field.” He should be on all fantasy radars, as he likely will get an opportunity to break camp with the Padres. Even if he doesn’t win the job this spring, he’ll likely get a look before long.
What are your thoughts of the deal? Who are the big winners? Who are the big losers?
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